Showing posts with label wissant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wissant. Show all posts

Saturday 1 October 2022

That's It Folks!

Saturday 1 October 2022

Nido's parked up at Wissant, our last aire of this six week trip to France.  The alarm is set for 0400 tomorrow morning ready for our 0750 Shuttle and, so long as Salty's EU Pet Passport passes muster again and assuming no train or UK road delays (bound to happen now!), we'll be back in our home on Ynys Môn (Isle of Anglesey) by this time tomorrow. 

We've had a walk along the seafront and on to a noisy and busy beach with Salty; the over-stimulation set him off barking so he came back to the van for some 'quiet time' and we went back for another walk.  Although there was a strong onshore wind, it was warm and sunny.  Consequently we were in t-shirts and shorts; everyone else was wrapped up in fleeces, scarves and quilted jackets.  I'm not sure who was out of sync, but we felt very comfortable!  We're now hunkered down in the van, something to eat then an early night.

The main effort yesterday was two fold: a trip to the vet for Salty to take his worming tablet and have a 3-year rabies vaccine booster and meet up with a friend and his dogs, also travelling in France in his motorhome and also visiting the vet ready to return to the UK.  Both accomplished.

We met up with Nigel in his A Class Rapido motorhome, with his two dogs onboard - Judy (who is an elderly lady now and prefers to stay in the van) and Matt (who is much younger and Salty's walking buddy).  We met at the aire in Buchy at around midday and spent an hour or so stood outside in the sunshine, catching up on our respective trips.  We left first for Salty's 2pm vet appointment, with a plan to all meet up at another aire later that afternoon.

The vets in Buchy was very good.  I booked his appointment via their website before we left home.  The practice is on a small industrial estate just outside the town and is clean and modern with five vets in the practice.  We were soon chatting to the vet who spoke excellent English.  After Salty had taken his worming tablet (which I sneakily wrapped in ham!), the vet gave him is rabies booster.  Although Salty's rabies booster runs until October next year, there's no guarantee we'll be back in Europe then. UK vets can no longer register rabies jab in an EU Pet Passport, so if it had lapsed, his pet passport would have become invalid.  Now he's covered until 30 September 2025.

Nigel's dogs weren't booked in until 3pm, so we continued to the aire at Mesnières-en-Bray to make sure there was room for both vans to stay the night; otherwise we had a couple of reserves.  Luckily there was plenty of space, so we parked up and had a spot of lunch and a cup of tea until Nigel arrived about an hour later.  We took our dogs for a walk while Cathy had a bit of peace of quiet - not really, she spent the whole time giving the inside of our van a really good clean!  One of the reasons we picked this aire (apart from  being free) was that the village had a pizza machine!  It was just opposite the entrance to the aire, so later we bought three and spent an enjoyable hour or so (with a bottle of red) in Nigel's van catching up.  His ferry's booked for this evening so he left early this morning to make his way to Calais.  We followed on a bit later, topping up with diesel close to tonight's stop.

We've had a blast on this trip, extending our summer by several weeks and even having to head north early due to the extreme hot weather in the Dordogne.  This is our first long van trip after a three year break due to the Covid pandemic; it was eagerly awaited and we've enjoyed the journey. But we're ready to return home and pick up our retired lives. The garden will be a jungle, so will need taming and Cathy has lots of plans to move plants around, plant new ones and add some structural changes.  I have a busy period coming up with Môn SAR as a bunch of new recruits start their six-month training programme on Wednesday, I have a couple of watches booked in with the National Coastwatch Station at Rhoscolyn and it'll be back to the tools on Friday, working on improving and maintaining the footpaths and coastal path somewhere on Anglesey.

Like most countries around the world, France has been impacted greatly by the financial crash of 2008 and the Covid lockdowns.  In our early trips to France, before we had the van, we used to eat at many of the small, family-run bistros and restaurants dotted around France.  Similarly, nearly every village had a Bar/Resto or Tabac and a boulangerie.  Sadly, the financial crash wiped out most of the former and the lockdowns took out many of the latter.  Sadly, many French villages are a shadow of their former selves, with no bar, boulangerie, boucherie or shop to act as the community hub.  Combined with many young people moving away from the countryside and into the cities, lots of these French village and hamlets are slowly dying and it's sad to think they could be empty and forgotten in a few years.  France isn't unique of course, many other countries including the UK have suffered a similar fate.  But it's particularly sad as it's these institutions that make France special and, in a selfish way, we miss them.

So we head back to the autumn and coming winter, hoping the fuel bills are affordable and, probably like many others, thinking where we can make savings to survive the cost of living crisis.  It's going to be a very difficult 12 months for many.  Because of this, we're uncertain if we'll be travelling into Europe next year. We'll need to wait and see how the finances stack up.  But we have some plans for exploring more of the UK in 2023.  We're planning on a fortnight in the Lake District in the Spring, meeting up with some of my old Navy friends for some walking and reminiscing.  Then before the main summer holidays we're looking at two weeks in the Highlands of Scotland, spanning my 60th birthday in July (only seems a short while since I was 18 and partying all night!).  Then perhaps a trip to either the Yorkshire Dales and east coast, or the south coast, covering Dorset, Devon and Cornwall into the autumn.  These are all loose plans and subject to change - aren't they all.  But it'll give me something to do on the dark winter nights, planning where to stay and researching places to visit.

I hope you've enjoyed my very amateur blog posts and thanks for staying the course.  If you've read them all - you deserve a medal!  I started the blog as a reminder of all the places we've visited in motorhomes over the years, otherwise I'd soon forget! Looking back, we've had a great time and hope to continue them for many years to come.

That's it Folks!  See you back in Blighty!



Sunday 19 October 2014

Day 16 - Fort Mahon Plage to Wissant

Saturday 18 October 2014

A good night's sleep and I was up at 0900 for our baguette and croissant.  It was another warm, sunny day.  Our transit was only 1.5 hours today, so we set off just after 1030 and, after stopping for diesel (Crazy Frog style!), arrived at the Aire at Wissant just after midday.  It was already quite full with only 2 or 3 spaces left and we managed to park up beside a British Burstner coach-built.  We took the footpath from the Aire and walked through the small, quiet streets down into the village square.

Wissant is a lovely little village, with a small church in the square, several small hotels and some great little bistros, brasseries and cafés.  We stopped off at Chez Nicole for a beer; I'd read this place does great Moules and it was really popular, with most of the tables inside taken up by locals - always a good sign.  We followed the road down towards the beach and popped into a clothes shop.

Cathy bought some short blue wellies to keep in Nido and I bought a polo shirt and jumper, both very much in the style of Fat Face clothing.  We returned to the van, packed a small picnic with the remaining stuff in the fridge, grabbed our chairs and walked down to the beach.
The sand is lovely and soft here and the beach very long and wide, albeit a bit windswept.  We could see the white cliffs of England quite clearly and lots of families were out enjoying the very warm sunshine.  We sat in shorts & t-shirts with our picnic and feeling the sun and wind on our faces.

Cathy had a read while I walked down to the sea, which was warm and fine for swimming - shame I left my trunks in the van!  Cathy then wandered off for a walk while I just shut my eyes to soak up the last of the sun and listen to the sea - very relaxing.  I walked up from the beach to buy us both a salted caramel ice cream, which I (almost) managed not to spill on me by the time I returned to Cathy.  We were both ready for a cup of tea by then so walked back to the van.  There are some lovely little cottages in Wissant, many of them holiday lets.  It's difficult to imagine we're just 14 minutes drive from the Channel Tunnel.  Back at the van a small conversion pulled up with a man driving, he went round a couple of times but by then all the bigger spaces were taken, so we offered to move over a little so he could squeeze in next to us.  He was an interesting chap.  A thatcher by trade he'd done a few jobs in France and was travelling down to see an old lady aged 98, an ex-customer.  She had a painting she wanted him to have, one painted by his thatcher friend who was now dead. He came from Yaxley near Peterborough and had done a couple of thatching jobs in the Hemingfords - small world.

Our faces were glowing from the day's and sun and so after a shower and change, we walked back into the village to Chez Nicole for some Moules Frîtes. We sat outside to start and ordered a drink, listening to some demented monk hanging off the church bell, but with food not starting until 1930, we moved to an inside table. This place had just two items on the menu - Moules frîtes and Jambon frîtes.  But it was clear it was very popular as many of the tables were already taken half an hour before food started.  We gave our order - Cathy had the ham and me the mussels - and also a pichet of rosé.  Pretty much everything except the food bowls, glasses and cutlery was plastic, but the service was fast and the food plentiful. My mussels came in a huge plastic bowl and Cathy's ham was hidden under a large pile of homemade chips with salad. Both were delicious and filling.  The food and buzz in this very basic café was great.  It was still warm when we paid up and walked back through the quiet, narrow streets. The stars were out and it felt like the best of British summer evenings rather than a night that was closer to November than September.  It's been a lovely last day.
Back at the van Cathy went to bed to read while I had a cup of tea and wrote up the blog.  The alarm's set for 0600 - my normal time on a work day - and we'll be up and ready for our long journey North.

A quick beer at Chez Nicole

Sundowners Pastis at Wissant Aire

Moules Frites for me & Jamon Frites for Cathy 

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Day 4 - Gosport to Wissant

Monday 6 October 2014

It was a very windy night and the rain started at about 0700.  After breakfast, we secured for the journey and drove over to fill up with water.  The supplied hose had been joined - very badly! - so filling was difficult.  I was getting wet from the driving rain and from holding the leaking hose together.   Then it was over to empty both waste tanks, thankfully this was less stressful.  We drove to the large Asda in Fareham to fill up with diesel and buy some food and drink.  It was absolutely teeming down and the supermarket was busy so a very wet and hacked off Cathy finally returned to the van.  Goods packed away and Cathy changed, I drove over to Wickes to get some hose clips and some sticky tape to hold down the rear camera screen.

The journey to Folkestone was uneventful, just very wet.  We stopped about half an hour before the tunnel for lunch and I checked all the lockers to make sure we didn't have any English stowaways looking to get over to Pakistan for a free council house and benefits - sadly my cattle prod remain unused, maybe until we return!? We arrived a little over 2 hours ahead of our crossing and so were able to get an earlier crossing free of charge and 1.5 hours ahead of schedule - result!  Cathy had a snooze while I filled out a Form C39 for one day's submarine pay.  Travelling underwater is alien to me, but I didn't have a wash today in preparation.

Half an hour later and after resting our eyes on the bed we arrived in Calais.  Cathy did see one illegal skulking as we left the tunnel port but unfortunately he was out of cattle-prod range. Our passports were checked in Folkestone so we drove straight out on to the A16 and 20 minutes later were parked up on the free Aire at Wissant.  It was still raining quite heavily and looks set in for the night, so we stayed in and cooked garlic chicken with rice, plus a cheeky G&T and glass of wine to get us in the holiday mood. The wine was from Dave & Lesley, called Santa Caterina - thanks both!  So day one en France is here already and today's flown past.  But we don't want to rush about so we'll rest up tonight and hit the road early tomorrow morning, heading along the coast for our next stop, wherever that may be.  Let's hope the weather clears up, if not we may need to sprint south to find some sunshine.