Rosebud Camping

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Friday 3rd August 2018

Rosebud Camping, St. Teath Cornwall

We have found the Fawlty Towers of the camping world!!! We didn’t set out to find it, we just stumbled upon it really, we were looking for a quiet adults only site for a long weekend as we had been invited to Newquay for a family christening (more of which in the next blog!). We enquired about having 2 more guests to stay for the Saturday night but the owners mentioned (when we booked) that it was couples only, so we only planned to stay the one night before we moved on. Just as well we did.  Upon arrival at the site, each couple is offered a cup of tea or coffee, which we thought was a nice idea (we later realised this was to see if we were suitable campers!)  We were told of the camp rules, one of which was no talking or socialising with the other campers! Can you imagine what it was like for me not to be able talk to the other guests?

The owners were friendly enough to us, and Jane fell in love with Terri’s new puppy straight away, so everything started well.

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But I suppose Jon looked at me and thought I was trouble from the start as he gave us the pitch right next to his “command post”.  I did get slightly stressed when a Hungarian couple asked us about our caravan and without thinking I invited them in for a look around………….this was greeted with looks of incredulity from other campers who had stayed there a few nights, but as we had only been there an hour or so we were still relatively carefree and we got away with it!

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We did find some of the signs very helpful, as neither of us had flushed a toilet before, choosing always to use a bucket then throw it on the roses!

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The view in the morning was not quite as good as the day before! We were due to leave just before midday so I set about the daily caravanning duties, one of which was to empty the loo. The chemical toilet disposal was at the other end of the site and as I walked along the track other people were walking towards me and as we passed we both whispered “good morning” and under our breath said “look straight ahead no eye contact” with smiles on our faces! As I approached the far end of the field there was a group of 4 people gathered together and I said “what the hell do you think you are doing? you know you shouldn’t  be talking!” to which they laughed and said “I know it’s ridiculous, my wife saw Jon coming and she went and hid in the caravan!”  They told me that the  campers on the pitch next to them were posted a letter under their awning the previous evening, warning them about their bad conduct by having a chat with their neighbours and a reminder that they were being watched!

We had only planned to stay the one night and that was just as well. I actually found the stay very surreal and amusing. I got on well with Terri and Jon and they have got a lovely  campsite. The only thing that is needed here is a degree of flexibility.

I recommend that if you have time, stay here and experience a real life Fawlty Towers camping style!

If you don’t believe me I have added a selection of reviews taken from Trip Advisor, there are a fair few good reviews as well, but they are just not funny!

 

The Reviews 

 

I am in absolute shock, my husband and I have been thrown off a campsite for getting up too early, we were leaving to spend the day at the Royal Cornwall Show, at 7am, to avoid the traffic congestion. It seems the “rules” are that you cannot leave the site until 9am.

The gates were locked. We asked them to let us out.

We were shouted at by the wife: “HOW DARE YOU, HOW DARE YOU, HOW DARE YOU BREAK THE RULES, with a stern wag of the finger!!!

We were invited (or ordered) to switch off the car engine and told to go to the summer house where a cup of tea was on offer. John went off telling us he would come back to show us around and left us with Terri, who made our tea whilst chatting to us. All quite relaxed and friendly. We’d noticed on the way in the sign on the entrance gate that said that it would be locked between 11pm and 9am. My friend asked if it would be possible to leave before as we needed to make an early start. Terri replied that the gate would not be opened until 9am and this now looked non-negotiable. My friend then asked if we could park the car outside the site for the night at which point Terri (whose manner had become chillier by the minute) said that she would go and speak to John. John came back (having been spoken to) and told us that we were unable to stay. We thought he was joking as he had a smile on his face as he said it. He then got out his list of rules and we realised that he was smiling because he was enjoying the feeling of power! I found the whole encounter quite sinister as he really seemed to enjoy telling two ladies (I’m 64 and she’s 71) to leave in what was pretty bad weather. I asked if there were any other camp sites nearby and he replied, ‘None whatsoever’. My friend and I were made to feel like naughty children by this arrogant, controlling person but with hindsight, after reading some of the other reviews on here about other people’s experiences at the hands of these two individuals – cctv surveillance, not permitted to speak to other campers, locked gates etcetera – we’re glad we were thrown out

Please avoid this campsite! It will ruin your holiday without a doubt.
The owner is an awful person.
We booked to stay at this campsite for 2 nights. The road to the campsite was closed (due to a lovely local village carnival taking place).
The campsite didn’t inform us of the road closure (despite them attending the local village carnival themselves that day), and so were arrived approx 1 hour late for check-in at the campsite.
As a result, the owner cancelled our entire booking with them, leaving us with nowhere else to stay for our holiday.
The owner was unnecessarily horrid and rude.
Don’t just take our word for it….We spoke with several of the local villagers in St.Teath (in the White Lion pub) and all of them advised “he isn’t a very nice man” and “not many people like him round here, he has a bad reputation”.
Says it all!

We arrived at Rosebud Farm after a gruelling 12 hour journey due to a burst caravan tyre on M5 – no friendly greeting for us ! I had inadvertently booked for a caravan and a pup tent for our adult daughter. Bearing in mind we are pensioners of 78 and 74 respectively and my husband is not very mobile. We were told in no uncertain terms that we could not stay because we were a group !! Our daughter offered to pitch her tent on the other side of the site away from us but, and this is the unbelievable bit, we were told NO because we would talk to each other ! So after a traumatic journey – 2 pensioners 2 dogs and daughter had nowhere to stay and it now almost 6.00 clock, he would not even consider a 1 night stay just kept waving a list of rules at us.

We were in this location because my sister who is 57 years old, was pet and house sitting in the area and was raving about the location. We had decided to spend a few days nearby to offer some company and to see the sites. I mention this because shortly after arriving and starting to put up the caravan awning, my sister arrived to welcome us and give us a hand. Oh dear!!!!!!! John was onto us like a angry bear. “What’s going on?” he asked. I explained. “She has 5 minutes to get off the site. We don’t allow visitors or groups!

On arrival at 10am having left Wales at 6am they were told quite abruptly no you can’t book in till 12, go away, we have chores to do. My friends were a little shocked as they could see people leaving and the site virtually empty, but being amenable agreed to go and visit Tintagel. I met them there and were back on our way back at just before noon when friends who we had arranged to meet elsewhere in their camper an on the weekend text us to say.We just tried to book in but they are nutters, we can’t stay there. Shocked our normally v quiet friends were having a reaction like this we called them and met up.
Apparently they had been v nicely greeted with a cup of tea shown round the park and everything was fine until they said have our other friends booked in? A dark mist seemed to descend over the hosts. Your friends , you have friends booked on site. I’m sorry we don’t allow groups. My friends replied but we didn’t book with them but heard they will be here. Sorry you can’t park your van by them and if we do let you stay you won’t be able to talk to them.

On arrival we were offered a cup of tea which sounds very nice however it felt more like an interrogation. We were given a page of rules that we had to abide by, only once we had spoken to the owners and read these rules did we ‘deserve’ to stay on the site.

After traveling 6hrs through the night to avoid traffic,we arrive at 8.30am(booking in time 12noon)we parked in front of some chained gates walked down a track signed campsite,entered through a closed gate,closing behind us,and was greeted by the rudest person I’ve met.He asked us what we were doing,I explained we were booked in that day.his response was unbelievable he said not at this time your not,I said we just wanted to park the car and walk to the village he refused,and told us we were trespassing and should never go through a closed gate and were likely to be shot around these parts.so we drove into the village and used are time sensibly and found a more friendly site avoid at all costs

However we soon discovered that you are not allowed to speak to your neighbours as no socialising whether in the day or of an evening was allowed. It was very regimented and it felt like being locked into a prison camp. The gates are locked at a specific time and you are not allowed to leave until they are opened at 9.00am.

We were visiting Cornwall for a family wedding but decided to stay longer for a holiday. After reading the reviews for Rosebud Farm we were looking forward to our first visit to Cornwall. We knew the journey would take a long time from North Norfolk and pulling a trailer would take longer still, especially as we were travelling on a Saturday. We left home at 7am which allowed 11 hours with two half an hour stops to arrive by 6pm.
Our journey to the M25 was as we expected. However, from the South Mimms services it became an extremely slow journey due to the volume of traffic. We were constantly nose to tail on the M25, M4 and M5.
By 4pm we had reached Portishead services and knew we would not reach Rosebud Farm by 6pm. We rang to let them know and apologise for our delay. We were told that the first people to arrive had not been until 2pm which was unusual so they knew something was wrong, don’t worry if you’re not here by a minute to 6 and drive safely.
By 5pm we had only reached Tiverton and we had been travelling for 10hours! It had become the journey from hell made worse by our anxiety of being unable to reach the site by 6pm.
At 6pm we had a call from Rosebud Farm; where were we? were we travelling in the right direction as it only takes 1 hour from Exeter? I explained we were on the A30 near Okehampton, the traffic had been slow. At 6.45pm they rang again asking where we were and sounding angry that we still had not arrived, repeating it only takes an hour from Exeter. I explained about the time we left home, the volume of traffic, I apologised but that we could only go as fast as the traffic would allow. They hung up!
At 7.10pm we arrived at the site. There was not a friendly helpful face or a cup of tea to greet us. Instead we were told everyone else had arrived by 6pm, others had not experienced traffic problems, it only takes an hour from Exeter, they did not believe we had been travelling since 7am and to leave the site.
It was at this point, as we pulled away, that I began to cry and decided Cornwall was not a place I would visit again. It was pouring with rain, we were extremely tired after our 12hr journey, we had no idea of any other camp sites in the area, we had a trailer tent, a car full of belongings and a puppy. The owners of Rosebud Farm could not have cared less about what had happened that day or what we would do next. They were only concerned and angry that we had not arrived by 6pm. Considering the traffic we had done well to only be an hour late.
Luckily, due to our family wedding, relatives had rented a cottage at Pendoggett so we slept on their floor that night.
The next day we realised that every cloud does have a silver lining. we found a lovely camp site in Port Gaverne run by a genuine, kind and lovely lady. Its a small site with clean toilets and showers, is practically on the beach, has a local pub with great food and costs £5 per person per night with no extra cost for dogs or awnings.
On Thursday the journey home took 10 hours with two half an hour stops. It took 1.30 hours to get to Exeter.
Our holiday turned out to be fantastic and we will definitely return to Cornwall. However, I am disgusted by the behaviour of the owners of Rosebud Farm and will recommend that people do not stay at their camp site.

Rosebud farm has somehow single handedly ripped out and destroyed the most important quality of camping, and that is enjoyment.

 

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Rory’s Birthday Party

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Saturday 28th July 2018

Now I know you might think I’m a little remiss on this particular episode of my blog, but I did my best. We were invited to Rory’s 1st birthday party near Chichester by his proud mum and dad, Rose and Graham, and I appear to have got photos of everyone else except them!  The photo above is of doting grandparents Marisa and Chris, who both thoroughly enjoyed the day with their grandson, though from what I could see there was a competition between them as to who could get the longest cuddle!

I did manage to get a photo of one big kid (sorry not Rory!) but it was only Kev, and he was in competition with me to see who could eat the most jelly and ice-cream……….it was an honourable draw!

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Another big kid was Jane who was totally engrossed playing with one of Rory’s new toys, and she wouldn’t let me have a go!

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Tracy kept herself amused with the push-along car, but was a bit disappointed that Kev couldn’t get on it!

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But Kev thanked her for trying……………

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……….and it all ended happily ever after………even the car was smiling!

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Netley and Broadlands

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Wednesday 25th July 2018

We arrived back in the U.K on Tuesday the 24th and the weather was still great over here. In fact being back in a proper house makes it feel so much hotter than we have been used to in the caravan. So after a day of catching up with lots of jobs such as the washing and the unpacking of the car and caravan, it seemed like a great idea to go to the coast and get a little bit more of the sea breeze. We had planned a visit to Lepe which is probably the closest beach to us here in Braishfield, but after hearing that the Radio 2 traffic news had reported a lorry on fire and traffic gridlock in that direction, we needed another plan.

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So that quick change of plan took us to Queen Victoria Country Park in Netley.  I think this is a very underrated, and consequently underused local resource. It was great to have a walk along the water’s edge and watch the sun set over Southampton. Admittedly you do have Fawley refinery on the opposite bank and that is a bit of an eyesore, but it was lovely to sit on a bench and watch the small sailing boats having a race along the Solent and around some of the buoys!

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Dad looks like he has got a halo in this picture!

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Thursday 26th July 2018

I have lived in and around Romsey for the best part of 52 years, having moved here from Southampton when I was 5,  and apart from a short period of time working away in London and Peterborough for Nurdin & Peacock (happy days!)  I have never been too far away.  However up until now I have never really had a good look around Broadlands house. I have a hazy recollection of being dragged around with my mum many years ago but none of these memories  have stuck with me………………..

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So it was time to rectify this shortfall in my Romsey history. The house is only open for 2 months each year, and this year it is open from 27th June to the 4th September, I suppose this is why it has taken me so long to visit, as whenever I remembered about going it was closed.

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The tour guide was very informative and he told us all about Lord Louis and Lord Palmerston who had been the previous inhabitants of this house. It was interesting to see all the pictures of many of the famous faces who had visited here over the years, the Queen spent part of her honeymoon here as did Princess Diana. The guide even told us of a flying visit the previous week by the Duke of Edinburgh, who was attending a christening but it was rumoured that he was here, keeping away from London as a certain Donald Trump was visiting the Queen that day!!!

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Another interesting (and very hot!) day!

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Boulogne

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Saturday 21st July 2018

After yesterday’s grey and misty day it was a pleasure to see the return of the sun. Neither of us had ever visited Boulogne before and I knew it as a major ferry port.  I have checked online and it looks like this has now stopped, but other aspects of the port seemed to be in full swing when we visited. The photo above shows how adventurous you can be with a car park. The theme was bringing the countryside in to the city, and I think it worked beautifully. This particular car park was outside the local town hall, which had about 3 weddings just whilst we were watching!

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This area of Boulogne is the fortified old city and it is a relative oasis of calm amongst all the other busy parts of the city.

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This is the Notre-Dame Basilica which was built between 1827 and 1866 and this huge building stands high above the old town,

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We walked all around the walls of this town, I think they had been recently renovated and it was great to see people enjoying a stroll in the shade of the trees that hung over the ramparts. They even had play parks for the kids, places to picnic, and benches just to sit and people watch!

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Hidden in amongst these walls was a geocache. I had been introduced to the wonderful world of geocaching many years before by my very good friend Kevin Heard, and if Jane lets me I like to have a go when visiting somewhere new.  It’s great when exploring a city to try and find a “treasure” that a like-minded person has hidden. We have found that it  takes you a little off the normal beaten track to see lesser-known parts of cities and other tourist attractions. I think secretly that Jane really enjoys it and it does have the added bonus of keeping me amused whilst she is shopping. The one thing I find the hardest to do, is that you are meant to do it discreetly, so while I’m ferreting around looking under benches and behind signs I do get some strange looks.  Sometimes I do feel obliged to let them know that I am not mad, and that I am just a grown man looking for treasure, and then funnily enough those strange expressions on their faces don’t disappear!  Visit http://www.geocaching.com and have a look, it just might transform your walks!

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The moat around the castle (which is now a museum) looked splendid with all the lilies in bloom in the moat.

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After our trip around Boulogne we decided to retrace our drive from the previous day and see the Opal Coast in the sunshine. First stop Ambleteuse, and a stroll along  the prom!

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Monday 23rd July 2018

Our last full day in France and a visit to Audinghen, which is close to Cap Griz-Nez, where on a clear day you can see the white cliffs of Dover.  Well it was a lovely day but I couldn’t see them!

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We had seen and smelt this place when we were out on our bikes so on our back from the coast we stopped by to get some strawberries for our tea. They were delicious, so much so that we returned to take some back for dad and tea the next day! (There is a joke about a fraise book, but Jane said it was too silly for the blog……..I’ll tell you later!)

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After a great day out I enjoy an interesting read and its not every day that you find out your next door neighbour is an author. Steve Foster, my neighbour from Huntingdon Gardens, has written the true story of his dad’s exploits in the 2nd World War. He explains how he escaped from a German prisoner of war camp in Poland and then caught several trains to Switzerland. It is a great story which I’m sure will be made into a film, and it only came about when Steve retired and started researching his family tree and found an old suitcase full of his dad’s old letters……………………………(the book is published by Mirror books and can be found on Amazon.  It’s well worth a read!)

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Camping St Louis

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Camping St Louis is our last campsite in France for this trip, it is a small site, normally used as an overnight stop by most of its customers as it is only 1/2 an hours drive from Calais. We have decided on a longer stay here as we don’t really know this area of France at all, as like most people we just use Calais as a gateway to this lovely country.

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The area around the campsite was pretty flat so this was ideal for a bit of exploring by bike, not only are the roads flat but they are remarkably traffic free so this makes for a lovely carefree cycle!

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After our “tour de france” on the bikes it was time for a healthy meal with local ingredients  cooked “al fresco”, always the best way to eat when camping!

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We visited the town of Calais on a rare overcast day for us on this holiday. Jane had said that she wanted to see the burgers of Calais and I was obviously up for that, only to find that The Burghers of Calais was a statue by Rodin depicting the 6 leading dignitaries of the town that surrendered to English forces in 1346 to enable a siege of the town to be lifted.

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I thought the statue looked great, but when you have your heart set on a cheeseburger…………

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Where is the clock?………. Oh thanks !

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After Calais we drove along  some of the Côte d’Opale which stretches for over 120 kilometres from the Belgian border to the border of Picardy. This was a very scenic drive, however the weather on this occasion was a little unkind to us and we  couldn’t really enjoy the views.

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We did take a little stroll along a huge great wide beach, and I saw in the distance an unusual looking object and decided that a closer inspection was needed. It was strange to see the wreck of a ship in the middle of these pristine sands, apparently it as left there to encourage wildlife and whilst I was there a couple of children had netted some small crabs.

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This is mussel beach French style, not be confused with muscle beach in California………..!

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Up to the North

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Wednesday 18th July

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Today we decided to get as many miles under our belt as possible, and then as soon as we felt tired we would look for the nearest campsite and then rest there overnight before continuing on the last leg of this journey to our campsite near Calais. The journey was fairly uneventful, just a lot of motorway driving and a lot of listening to Desert Island Disc podcasts, we know how to live! We had no problems with the traffic this time until we came to the country lanes that led to the campsite and then we came across this combine harvest travelling at 5 miles an hour, a push bike overtook it, with barely enough room to get by, so I stood no chance.  So we just had to bide our time and listen to another podcast!

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The campsite was another great choice arranged by my travel agent Jane. We didn’t bother to unhitch as we had planned an early start in the morning. But as it happened we slept in later than intended and didn’t get going until 10am after a leisurely breakfast!

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After our tea the previous night, we took a short stroll up the road to visit and pay our respects at a First World War cemetery. So many headstones marking the graves of fallen soldiers.

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It seemed bizarre  on such a beautiful calm night that such fierce battles  had been fought in and around this area over 100 years ago. It was sad to see so many headstones marked with the simple words “A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR, KNOWN UNTO GOD”.

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In  a corner of this quiet cemetery we found the graves of a bomber crew that were shot down on the 18th April 1944.  It really brings it home to you when you see the ages of some of these airmen and the responsibilty they carried at such a young age.  A sergeant at the age of 20…………and never making it to 21, its so sad that these brave young men had to give their lives so we could live with the freedom that we have today, it makes you think!

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Dompierre-les-Ormes

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Tuesday 17th July 2018

This is a view from the top of our latest campsite, Camping Le Village des Meuniers. The campsite is far more peaceful than we initially thought it would be when we saw the facilities that they had for children. The campsite was well run with lots to do for all ages, the kids looked like they were having fun but thankfully that was all in a separate area!

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One of the attractions of this place that was loved by all was the pond and the petting zoo, although Jane nearly jumped out of her skin when  a frog jumped over her foot and dived into the water! Jane also loved all the little animals in the zoo, goats, hamsters, pot belly pigs and chickens, I did have to remind her that she should let the little ones have a look!

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This is the view that we had from our pitch for a couple of days…………………..

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………..until something unthinkable happened and someone arrived on the opposite pitch and put up a tent, some people are just thoughtless! We still had a great view and nothing was going to spoil my breakfast.  It took me a while longer that day as Jane had decided on cereal that morning, and I had to eat the lot because as you know French bread goes stale very quickly!

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With an abundance of all different types and varieties of wine we found ourselves quality controlling a bottle or so most evenings, so we decided to cut our intake down to only one bottle a night and then Jane found the ideal bottle!

These two photos are a bit out of sync, they were taken as we watched the World Cup Final in the bar at the campsite.  The shot on the left was taken with two minutes to go and the one on the right was taken two minutes after the final whistle……………….we both thought that being in France when they won the World Cup, we would be involved in one big wild party, but alas we weren’t so we headed back to the caravan and selected one of Jane’s choice of wines!

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This area of France that we were staying in was Burgundy, of which we knew very little, but soon found that we were falling for its charm, the rolling hills, the small villages, quiet roads and interesting towns. The nearest town to us was Charolles, and we decided to take a drive through the winding lanes and explore. Our intention was just to have a quick look around and then head back for a spot of bread and cheese back at the van.

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After about an hour or so of walking around in the heat we thought that a cooling drink before the drive home would be a good idea. We passed a small bistro that looked ideal to stop at and partake of a beverage, and whilst waiting for our order to be taken I noticed that roast lamb was on the menu du jour…………..so after 20 seconds of deliberation we decided that eating out would be a good idea, and the meal was delicious!

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Dieulefit

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Thursday 12th July 2018

It is an absolute pleasure driving around this area of France. These roads are so quiet that you feel fairly relaxed about cruising around sightseeing, you do occasionally get an over enthusiastic young driver that will want to pass you at any cost. I do sometimes wonder how these drivers will live to a ripe old age!

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Whilst out exploring the area we got a bit peckish and, passing a small bistro in a little village, we decided that it would be a great place for a spot of lunch. We took our seats at a small outside table and began to browse the menu. It slowly dawned on us that this was more than a little restaurant when we saw the Michelin recommendations on the wall and the prices on the menu. We were in two minds as to whether we were going to stay, as we had only really wanted a little snack, but I’m really glad we did.  We had a wonderful meal in lovely surroundings, and chose the menu du jour, which was mussel and courgette soup, pork noisettes in a black curry sauce followed by locally grown apricots, roasted with jus on a biscuit base and homemade ice-cream ! Delicious !

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We needed to walk some of those additional calories off, so climbing up the many steps of a perched village was an ideal way to work them off.

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Great views…………

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And many photo opportunities before heading back for an afternoon doze!

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Friday 13th July 2018

This is the view that greeted me on my early morning walk on this Friday, I walked for an hour and a half and during this time I saw only 2 cars. It was great for the soul to walk in all this tranquility.

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We had brought our push bikes with us on this trip but so far the terrain had been a little too hilly for us, so it was back to the car for another tour of the locality………

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To see places like this,  with the main road in to the town coming through a small archway cut through the rock!

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The fields of sunflowers were also in abundance, not as much as the lavender but again a bright primary colour to really knock your socks off!

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Saturday 14th July 2018

Driving in France at the weekend has always been our preferred option. Generally the roads are a lot quieter with people not having to go to work and on Sundays most lorries are not allowed to use the roads. So we thought that this Saturday, Bastille day, would be quieter being a national holiday and all that, how wrong we were! We had only a relatively short drive to our next campsite and the most direct route was on the main autoroute the A7/A6 which went through the centre of Lyon. Well let me tell you that with the exception of the first peage, which took us half an hour (thank god we had a fast pass to go through the barriers otherwise it would have been much longer), we were doing very well time wise and then we hit the outskirts of Lyon. Then all of a sudden the traffic stopped and it took us well over an hour to travel the 3 or so miles along the motorway through the centre of France’s second city.  We will have to put that down to experience!

 

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As the sun sets on on a lovely day for us in the Bourgogne we prepare for the Bastille day celebrations. Jane had seen a poster advertising a lantern parade for that evening, so we arrived at the specified place at the allotted time armed with our lanterns……………….

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………..Only to find it was really aimed at the younger element of the campsite………………..

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…………Oh well, it seemed like fun and we had never been in France on Bastille day before so we thought we would join in with the celebrations……………………….

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……….We paraded around the campsite proudly waving our lanterns to the crowds of watching campers, and as we walked more and more joined us as the parade was going to lead to the culmination of the evening……………….

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……………the firework display.  I am always amazed at the size and scale of French fireworks. Our parade had led us to the village football pitch where we met up with the rest of the locals to enjoy a loud and glorious display that lasted for about 20 minutes.

 

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When you are on the road as long as we are, we still have to do all of the normal jobs that you would at home. The housework takes no time at all, but the washing takes the same and we get to try to figure out a new washing machine every few days or so! Jane was very concerned when she took these pants out of the machine fearing she might have shrunk my undies, a quick look at the label showed that they were for age 4/5 and although I am told that I act that age most of the time, they were not mine!

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Fields of Lavender

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Wednesday 11th July 2018

Tuesday was spent moving camp. Fiona (Sara’s sister) had recommended northern Provence to see the lavender fields, and the beautiful villages. Our new campsite was high in the hills near the small village of Comps, called La Source Du Jabron, and is situated in the region of Drôme Provençale. This campsite was a lot busier than the last and had a lot more children and a lot more going on. Most of the site was devoted to tents and we did feel a little conspicuous in our caravan with the satellite dish on top!

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The lavender field were beautiful to look at and addictive to photograph, I just had to keep stopping the car to take just one more shot! Every now and again a tractor full of this flower came by and the smell was unbelievable.  This is a memory that will stay with me forever!

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Then you must get just one more picture, this time with a typical Provencal house in the background . The campsite had provided us with a map and tour of the local area which also took us to some of the “perched villages” (villages perches).

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One of the towns on our route was Grignan, and what a wonderful place that turned out to be.  It looked like the set of a Renaissance movie.

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This was definitely one of those magical picture postcard places, and again we were lucky with the weather, the blue skies really set all the colours off to their best advantage and we were blessed that we got to see this town without the hordes of tourists who will be making their way down in early August.

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The French seem to “do” their small towns and villages very well.  By that I mean that they don’t  have any of the generic signs above shops, no double yellow lines, no out of place advertising etc. The only thing that let the ambiance down were the few satellite dishes that were on view!

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The fountain in the middle of the square could have been straight out of a Victor Hugo novel, the cafe behind was a great place to sit and people watch.

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We sat on the steps of this fountain and had a cake that we had bought from the local patisserie, and looked at the menu of the Michelin starred restaurant opposite, with starters at €40 we thought we would give it a miss!

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As we strolled back to the car we came across a very serious game of boules being played under the shade of the trees, this is the first time I have ever seen a tape measure being used!

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Time for a leisurely drive back to the campsite along the quiet back lanes, and who knows, maybe a chance to take another photo of the fields of lavender!!!

 

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Steve and Sara Come to Stay

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Thursday 5th July 2018

Steve and Sara came to join us on this leg of our adventure. They had stayed with us on the first leg in Lisbon last year so obviously they are getting a taste for life on the open road, all be it one weekend a year, although there was talk of them getting a VW camper….watch this space! Their flight to Marseilles was delayed by a couple of hours but we still had plenty of time to catch up over a bottle or two of wine. After a few glasses of wine Steve is always keen to play the old catch a malteser in the mouth game, however Jane had neglected to tell him she had run out of her favourite chocolate sweet and made do with something the rabbits had left behind, still after a couple of bottles of wine who cares!!!

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Friday 6th July 2018

As it was a day when Jane was doing her hair,  Steve and I decided to go for a long walk in the woods and put the world to rights.  We knew that we would have at least a couple of hours and that should be long enough.  However the first thing we had to ponder on was why were there so many snails on one fence post at one time…………to which we didn’t really come up with a sensible answer!

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With the stunning backdrop of the Provencal hills,  solving the world’s problems became relatively easy……….so Teresa May give us a call, I’m sure we can fit you in, and America is easy, just get rid of Donald Trump. There that’s all that sorted………….

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Back for a small low calorie lunch, thats mine by the way, Steve had a dried cracker and a  glass of mineral water!

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Sara had work to do, so the three of us set out to explore Cotignac, a beautiful medieval village recommended in the guide book.  It was handy having a photographer with us as we don’t often get too many photos of the two of us together.

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What a beautiful place it was as well, you don’t get more typically French than this photo with a 2CV on the drive!

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The shops were particularly quiet…………….

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This could be something to do with a certain football match being played, France V Uruguay. The whole town was in the main square and every bar was packed, they even closed the main road!

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What a great atmosphere and lovely place to watch a football match, they even set a flare off after the first goal.  Steve was disappointed as for the first time in years he hadn’t packed his flares!

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I can’t believe after nearly 52 years of friendship it still makes us laugh when we take silly photos like this!

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We all thought this was a great place to visit, the faded elegance gave this place a charm all of its own!

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Saturday 7th July 2018

Meanwhile back at the silly photographs………………….

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Steve again was a little disappointed that his first choice of cafe for our petit-dejeuner was rejected by the girls, however the second choice of breakfast venue in Aix-en-Provence proved to be fine.  Aix, pronounced aches and not A, as I kept saying, is another charming city that is a must-see when visiting this area of France.

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We visited on a Saturday morning which is market day, and we were advised to catch a bus, as parking was very limited and difficult to find.

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These markets are a real joy to all your senses, the sights, sounds and smells make it more than just a shopping experience!

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Whilst I don’t mind a little bit of shopping what I really do enjoy is the photo opportunities that a place like this has in abundance !

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Well Steve finally got his choice of lunch venue, he found this small restaurant using the Yelp app on his phone and it was lovely. This eatery was well away from all the normal tourist areas and had a fresh menu du jour, and not the usual plastic coated photographic cards you might find in the aforementioned places.  The food was excellent and thoroughly enjoyable.

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All this fun proved too much for some of us, although Jane said it was probably too much wine!

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That evening we were invited around for a BBQ chez Sara’s sister Fiona and her husband Andre.  We were joined by their friends Marie-Lou and her husband Eric.  Fiona has been living in France for over 40 years now after having met Andre on a gap year from college.  Both Sara and Steve had said that Andre was an excellent cook and not to fill up too soon as they know that I enjoy my food. Well to say the food was excellent would be an understatement, and I couldn’t really pace myself, course after course of the most tasty home cooked food kept arriving in front of me, and I didn’t want to appear rude and not clear my plate……..and everyone else’s come to that!  I think I might have to start planning one of next year’s road trips so that we can all do it again!!

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Andre and Fiona have two huge great Irish Wolfhounds which were about the size of small ponies! You can see them here giving me a look of disgust as they saw me finishing off what could have been their tea!

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Sunday 8th July 2018

After the previous late night we decided a restful day around the pool would be a good idea. Still the household chores still need to be done and with a bit of basic training Steve slotted right in to the caravanner’s life, although holding his stomach in and sweeping at the same time did prove to be a little difficult……………..and he did however  draw the line at emptying the loo!

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And still the silly pictures keep coming, I’m not sure how Steve could tell it was me in there!

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Monday 9th July 2018

Fiona had recommended a few places to visit and told us of a great route back to the airport.

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First stop Cassis. We all had a great time when we visited the home of the inventor of the open-toed sandal, Phillippe Flop, although Sara did find some of the scenes sole destroying !

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Cassis is a lovely port on the Mediteranean, and our plan was to drive along the Corniche to Marseilles and have lunch there.

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So before the coastal drive we thought a couple of pre lunch drinks would be in order, so we had a couple of corniche pastis ( I know its a bad pun but it made me laugh!)

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This photo is in here for no other reason than I like the colours!

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Marseilles proved to be a fitting place to end our great weekend together, where will the next place be that Steve and Sara join us on our travels?

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When we arrived back at our site that night we found that we had new neighbours.  I had my reservations at first but the were a very nice quiet friendly family!

 

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