Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Wednesday 2 March – Wissant

Where’s Colin? Much to his surprise, he’s at a Municipal Aire in Wissant. That’s not where he expected to be, but there was a late change of plan.

There was an early (by our recent standards) alarm this morning with the aim of getting on the road as soon after 8 as we could manage. After a few days of doing very little except driving, I fancied getting to our destination early today so that we could get out for a walk. A place just south of Bolougne-sur-Mer was our chosen destination, where €7 would get us a pitch at a commercial Aire with direct access onto the coastal paths.

The plan persisted until about an hour and a half before we reached our destination, by which time we couldn’t deny that the forecast had become reality. With the wind coming from the west at over 50mph, and with frequent wintery squalls blowing through, sitting on a west-facing coast wasn’t looking like the most sensible choice. Plus, my desire to go for a decent length of walk along that coast was waining by the minute.

The replan was formed whilst we sat in Lidl’s car park in Bolougne, waiting for a dry spell before we dashed into the store. I had thought that we would have to pay for our parking tonight, as all the Aire’s I’d noted previously had fees, so when I saw that the town of Wissant (between Bolougne and Calais) has provided a free Aire, which isn’t immediately on the seafront, it seemed an obvious choice to head here.

Our brief stroll down to the beach saw us wrapped up like Michellin Men, with full waterproofs on top of our insulating layers. That did keep us warm and dry, but it wasn’t enough to make us want to explore for any distance against that wind.

Tomorrow, the Chunnel awaits. Our crossing may be preceded by another quick shopping trip, as a quantity of the cheese we bought earlier this afternoon seems to have disappeared…

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Tuesday 1 March–Bonneval

Where’s Colin? He’s at a Municipal Aire at Bonneval at N48º10.771’, E1º23.304’.

Leaving Mick to put the bed away and do all the pre-journey chores, my day started with a quick speed walk around the village (Mick has a poorly calf muscle at the moment, ruling out fast walking or running). Fortunately he adn’t left without me by the time I returned!

We were, however, soon on the road and much driving did ensue, although we did splurge some of yesterday’s saved tolls, having remembered that the section of free-road between Tours and Poitiers is a tedious succession of roundabouts and traffic lights every two minutes. It all required a bit of navigational attention on my part, as not only did our SatNav want to take us some ‘interesting’ routes today, but it also doesn’t have a handy setting that says ‘just follow the toll road for Xkm, then don’t allow tolls for the rest of the day’, nor does it have a setting that says ‘no matter what the speed limit, we’re only going to be cruising at 90kmph, so please choose the best route on that basis’ (it’s a weakness that the SatNav thinks that we’ll do at least 110kmph on a motorway and thus plans a route based on that false premise).

Chartres had been our intended end point for today, with the thought that we could take a tea-time stroll to look at the magnificent cathedral. However, as we got nearer and the day got duller, I consulted a weather forecast which stated a 100% chance of rain after 4pm. Would we want to walk into a town in the rain so late in the day? No, was the short answer. It being gone 2pm by the time that decision was made, and with our lunch-stop having been omitted*, we re-directed ourselves towards Bonneval, which lies just a stone’s throw off-route.


Exiting the car park, via a bridge over the Loir, it is apparent that this town isn’t young.


The Aire is in the car park next to the hospital. Quite an impressive building for part of a hospital!


Another shot of the Loir as it runs through the town

With a very late lunch consumed, and only a light drizzle falling, off we went for a brief look at the town and to stock up on a few driving essentials (like a big bag of crisps to sustain us when no suitable lunch-stop presents itself). Even though it took us a while to pass the initiative test as to how to get into the huge (and slightly structurally unsound) church which sits in this town, we managed to make it back to Colin just ahead of the proper rain. We’re now sitting looking through rain-streaked windows, but at least it’s going to be warmer tonight.

(*oddly, no suitable lunch stops were seen until we made the decision to skip lunch and cut short the day, then there were laybys everywhere we looked).

(Electrical update: After continuing intermittent functioning of speeds 1, 2 and 3 on the cab fan, I lay uncomfortably under the dashboard yesterday and established the whereabouts of the fan motor and that there are two electrical connectors going into the bottom of it. When the fan stopped working again shortly into this morning’s drive, I gave the wires a bit of a poke with my toe. The fan immediately sprang back into life, suggesting that a lose wire is the cause of the problem. As an aside, the failure of the fan two days ago caused some discomfort, as every time we turned it off max (which is loud!) the temperature immediately plummetted (we were driving through snow at the time). It was about three hours later that I nipped into the back for a bag of crisps and found that the skylight was open. Ooops.)

Monday 29 February–Roullet St Estephe

Where’s Colin? He’s in the Municipal Aire at Roullet St Estephe (N45 34.812’, E0 2.681’), which is the same place as he spent the night of 11 January, when we were Spain-bound.


The church at Roullet St Estephe under a glorious sky

Today has consisted of driving and very little else, almost exactly retracing our tyre-tracks of the 12 January. The only difference today (except that it was warmer, and that we enjoyed clear blue skies for the second half of the journey) was that whereas on our southbound journey we used toll motorways to avoid lengths of road which looked like they would be a tedious trial of roundabouts and traffic lights, today we went for a cheaper option, reducing out outbound outlay of €23 to just €6.20.

I was most bemused by the bit where we left the motorway at the junction immediately before the toll plaza and rejoined at the next junction a few miles further on, and thus avoided paying at all for that section. The SatNav had said it would be so, but I really did expect to find a toll barrier on the exit or entry slip. Meanwhile, we saw not another vehicle on the service-road-esque road which ran almost parallel to the motorway.

By the time we arrived here at 3.30 this afternoon, the extent of my exercise today had been a walk over to the toilet block* this morning for another shower and a walk to a bin when we stopped for lunch, so it probably goes without saying that we went out for a walk when we got here. Can’t say it’s a particularly interesting place to go for a walk, mind, unless you count the detour to patisserie :-).

(*Incidentally, yesterday’s campsite was by far the nicest we’ve stayed on this trip, even if I didn’t approve of the entirely unisex nature of the toilet/shower block. It’s so integrated that girls have to walk past the men’s urinals to get to the toilets.)