The last ten days have passed us by in a bit of a travel fatigued blur. After leaving the Ardèche region we’ve just been making our way north towards Calais in a more or less straight line with little regard to any sightseeing on the way. I couldn’t even really tell you what regions we have passed through or towns we have stayed the night at without consulting the map. Mentally, in our heads, we have been two weeks ahead of ourselves. My little brain has found it hard to focus on ‘seeing’ France when I’m thinking about our return to the UK to meet up with friends and family, scoff a full English breakfast and enjoy a cheap pint at a Wetherspoons pub! Everything else has taken a back seat, including the blog. My plans for France have, therefore, not gone according to plan.
For the last week I haven’t even taken the camera with me on our excursions out. It’s actually been rather nice not to have it welded to my side like an extra appendage. The photos you are seeing were taken a week or more ago. Fear not, though, the mood in ‘chez Ollie’ hasn’t been a glum one but a kind of ‘chomping at the bit I just want to get back to the UK and get on with things’ one. We just need a bit of a ‘reset’ and some downtime with familiar people and familiar things to rejuvenate the travel mojo.
Still, being in France for the last three weeks has given me the opportunity to come on in leaps and bounds with practising my French everyday with my constant chatter. NOT! Ah, I wish. I had hoped to have a bit more confidence in shooting the breeze with any passing French person I encountered but my introvertedness has definitely got the better of me. It has been an epic FAIL. I shouldn’t have been surprised really as I’m socially inept at making small talk in my native language let alone in one I’m learning. Sitting comfortably behind a laptop watching Youtube clips, listening to podcasts, reading the news and flicking through children’s stories isn’t quite the same as engaging in a halting conversation about the weather with a surly Frenchman in the van next door. Oh, I’ve been able to converse in the shops to get what I want and quiz a lady at the Tourist Information Office on the whereabouts of the nearest ‘Laverie’ but I haven’t exactly been taxing myself. Instead Tim has had to endure me stopping at any random information board and reading it out loud just to get some practice at speaking French outside the four walls of the van. I had mentioned to Tim that maybe if we were to have a dog again then it would serve as a lead in to getting a conversation started but it fell on deaf ears, he’s not buying it.
So onto other news then. Today is a big day in our calendar as it marks the second anniversary of our vagabond life. Two years ago today we locked up our house, passed the keys over to our letting agent and drove off into the sunset never to look back………..or something like that. Seven hundred and thirty days on the road. It’s hard to believe really. Where has the time gone? Over the past two years we have:
- Visited fourteen countries (UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Greece)
- Driven fifteen thousand one hundred and forty two miles
- Stayed two hundred and eighty eight nights on aires (some paid, some free)
- Stayed one hundred and one nights on campsites
- Wildcamped for one hundred and fifty two nights
- Stayed three nights at Britstops
- Endured three nights on ferries
- Done one hundred and sixty seven nights with seven different Helpx hosts
- Completed a sixteen night Housesit
- Taken seven ferries and
- Had one insurance claim for the bump we had in France in the first year.
All in all it’s been a roller coaster and quite the journey which, looking back, seems to have passed by in a flash.
Looking forward now, what have we got coming up for season 3? As ever, we don’t plan too far in advance but we do have a loose plan for at least the next four to five months or so. We’ll be spending more time in the UK this year with perhaps up to six months on UK soil. After three weeks or so of visiting friends and family and our annual dental and opticians appointments and the like we’ll be heading north for a tour of Scotland for around six weeks. It was something we’d planned to do last year but we just never got around to it as other countries beckoned. This year we WILL do Scotland as I’ve only ever been as far north as Berwick on Tweed.
Then we’ll travel the length of the country back down to Cornwall at the end of June to start a job. Yes, you read that correctly, a J.O.B. We’ve proved to ourselves that we aren’t quite unemployable just yet and we’ll be working on a campsite in July and August which will give us time to stop, stay still and focus on something other than travel for a short while. We are really looking forward to it as it will be a complete change for us and nice to return to familiar territory as we know Cornwall well having spent many weekends and holidays touring there in the past. At the end of our assignment, assuming we make it through to the end, we’ll temporarily part company with Ollie for a brief period and either visit the Isles of Scilly or spend a week or two walking a stretch of the South West coastal path that we haven’t yet done.
The road leads ever on……………
À toute à l’heure!