We lazed by the lake near Thiviers and were reminded of the pointalism painting by Surat. Timeless!
Thunderstorms seem to be following us around Europe, and last night’s was an absolute lulu. At about nine o’clock a vast black cloud appeared on the distant horizon and came scudding towards us at incredible speed accompanied by sheet lightning and tremendous rolls of thunder. A sudden high wind swept through the site taking anything not nailed down with it, and there was a brief shower of rain before the sun came out for the last quarter of an hour of daylight. We thought that was the end of it and went to bed. Were we ever wrong! At about 11.30 another huge wind roared through, but this time accompanied by a tremendous drumming of hail on the roof of the van, continuous sheet lightning and unbelievable rolls of thunder. The storm hovered right above us for ages, and as we were pitched right beneath some rather large oak trees the acorns rattled on the roof like bullets in a bucket. I think Ann has definitely decided that caravan dwelling is a mixed blessing to say the least, particularly as she had to pick her way across the site to the loo in the pitch dark after all the lights had fused.
We had a very pleasant day today, first in St Jean de Cole, which is the prettiest place we have seen in an area full of attractive villages, then in Nontron, where we were reminded that France would be an expensive place to live. Fifteen euros for two lemonades and two small sarnies!
The beast is continuing to cause odd moments of anxiety with clunking noises, warning lights and occasional loss of power, so we are hoping it gets us as far as Littlehampton. Our ferry is at 5am next Monday morning, so we will probably arrive and go straight to bed! All the best, Andy.
Hi All, We are both well and having a good time. The campsite is lovely although the ablutions are a bit primitive, and the people who run it can’t do enough for you. Ruth, the lady who runs the place even did two bags of washing for us a couple of days ago. It is very strange to see her driving about on her ride on tractor, because she is Beverley’s identical twin, right down to colouring, hair, shape and gestures, and attacks life in just the same way.
We have seen some lovely towns, including Thiviers, Jumilac, and St Yriex la Perche, and have spent quite a lot of time in estate agents. Ann has found a house that she has fallen in love with, so I expect that will be where we end up! The area is absolutely beautiful, with lakes everywhere, and we have decided to leave the caravan here over the winter rather than bother to tow it back to Spain.
It was brilliant to catch up with Peter and Tatiana for a few hours yesterday. They were on fine form and seem to be having a great time. Apparently they have done over 10,000 km in five weeks, which must be pretty knackering, but they’ve been to some great places. Ann will post some photos soon. All the best Andy.
Hi All, We are currently at Le Tourolet camp site about 10 miles from Chalus in the Dordogne. Very rustic, nice people, very quiet. Trip up was as usual eventful. On the Saturday we left Carcassonne the tyre on the jockey wheel of the caravan burst as we were moving it, and we had a very stressful afternoon trying to find a replacement, eventually finding one at five to five on a Saturday afternoon with two days of public holidays looming. Half way here it started tipping it down, at which point both windscreen wipers, which had been replaced when the car was serviced a month ago and had not been used since, detached themselves. Trying to replace them in the pouring rain when you don’t know what you are doing is no fun, and I still don’t think I’ve got it right.
We are looking forward to seeing Peter and Tatiana on Wednesday, and exploring the area over the next couple of weeks. Ann is really struggling with her feet at present, and we are hoping that Peter might have some suggestions as to how things can be improved. She definitely overdid things trying to climb the mountain to Lastours last Thursday, and has suffered a bit of a setback. Both looking forward to getting back to England for a few weeks. Hope the weather is better there than it is here. Andy.
Hi All, we have had several very pleasant days out while we have been here, despite the weather being pretty iffy. We went to Lagrasse, which is supposed to be one of the prettiest villages in France on Tuesday. Tom and Sam stayed there last summer. Yesterday we went to the four chateaux at Lastours. These are right at the top of a mountain and Ann insisted on walking the whole way up. It took her ages and she can’t walk today but you have to admire her determination. I just wish she wasn’t quite so stubborn and was prepared to wear bandages and proper walking boots and carry a stick!
As you can see from the photo the sunflowers are out and I have done the necessary on my left ear. All I need now is an encouraging brother to subsidise me to paint for a few years and life will be sorted! Nikki Luxford has just sold another of my large sculptures on behalf of her charity One Step Malawi, which puts me two pieces ahead of van Gogh!
Sorry we can’t upload more photos. Upload speed is so slow they take about half an hour each. Congratulations to Chloe on doing so well in her talent competition playing guitar and singing, and much thanks to her guitar teacher. If she keeps it up it will be a pleasure for her entire life.
Leaving here on Sunday for a long drive to the Dordogne where we are looking forward to meeting up with Peter and Tatiana. All the best. Andy.
Well, we survived another storm of biblical proportions on the Thursday before we left Spain, with loads of flashing lightning and rolling thunder that continued for minutes at a time,before packing up and heading for Villegly, near Carcassone. The Beast behaved immaculately all the way, but I could hear the constant sound of Ann grinding her teeth with anxiety at the thought of being stranded at the roadside again. The journey went fine until about ten miles from our venue when we took a wrong turn as soon as we got off the motorway and ended up crawling round tight bends in tiny villages on the wrong side of the road. We eventually arrived at the site (very rural, very quiet, very pretty) with thunder rumbling all around and just managed to get set up before France welcomed us with a deluge similar to the one we had left in Spain but longer lasting and with much stronger winds. I had just gone for a walk when it struck and was soaked within seconds. It hammered down throughout the night, and apparently they had hailstones as big as golf balls just down the road. The caravan roof sprung a leak around one of the seals which will need fixing. Fortunately not over the bed! Today’s newspapers reckon that 70 per cent of the grapes have been lost over a swathe of country 20k wide. I feel an application for an EEC subsidy coming on.
We went out for a coffee this morning, which was exactly twice the price it is in Spain. The village seems very run down, and I would hate to be a paint supplier in France. You’d sell about two tins a year! All the best for now, Andy.
Hi All, When were in Africa I always reckoned that the best way to avoid being bitten by mosquitos was to sleep next to Ann. Fortunately for me European mosies seem to have similar tastes. Ann is waging a nightly war on the little buggers but is losing every time. The early part of the night is punctuated by constant cursing and slapping. The light goes on at about 3am and we slaughter as many of them by hand as we can. The walls of the van are beginning to resemble an abattoir! Thus far I remain completely unbitten.
Mosies excepted things are pretty good. We got completely flooded out last Wednesday and ended up in a swamp for a couple of days, but this is a really good campsite, even if it is a bit busy for our taste. We went to their entertainment night last night and it was just like Hi de Hi.
The photo is of the castle at the end of the beach. The Beast is now repaired, more cheaply than we had expected, and Ann is walking further every day, although her ankles are still swollen after a few hundred yards. We have had a good trip out into the mountains, and are doing swimming and aquafit every day. Even around here you only have to go fifteen miles inland to hit rural Spain, where the villages haven’t changed for decades.
Communications are still a major problem. My email only seems to deliver about half of the letters I send, Ann’s Hotmail is out of action as often as it works, and the download speed here is too slow to Skype anybody. We are really looking forward to seeing everyone in a month’s time.
Thanks to Bernard for reminding me about St Joan, I hadn’t connected a Spanish festival with a French saint. Still, bearing in mind that she was burned at the stake, a massive firework display was probably appropriate! All the best, Andy