On the road again………. . Whenever we have stayed put for more than a couple of weeks we always spend the first few days back on the road singing the first line of that Willie Nelson song ‘On the road again’. We only sing the first line because that is the only line we know. No matter, it makes us smile and keeps us happy. And we are very happy to be back in the saddle as it were haphazardly making our way through Brittany. In fact, Tim has been grinning inanely for the best part of the last week. Even more so as the weather has improved day by day.
We’ve had no particular plan other than to head in a more or less southerly direction as we have a couple of weeks of Helpxing booked in to start this weekend near Niort which is south east of Nantes.
It’s been a bit of a reminiscing tour as over twenty five years ago we spent three weeks cycle touring around the coast of Brittany from Roscoff to Concarneau and back taking in the Finistère coast to the west. All we can really remember about it was after forty eight hours of continual rain in the second week and with everything soaking wet we caved in and hired a caravan for a week’s respite to dry out. We really aren’t cut out for hardship. Tootling about in the van this time it’s been a much more sedate and laid back affair.
I have to confess the bikes haven’t seen the light of day for quite some time. When we were working at the campsite in Cornwall we’d started with good intentions to use the bikes for all our trips out including the weekly shop. Yeah right, well that lasted for the first two weeks before we succumbed to going shopping in the van. Unfortunately, an eight mile round trip to Lidl on the bike after a week’s work lost its appeal pretty quickly and we haven’t quite got the cycling mojo back again yet. So it’s been a week of beach walking.
I’d forgotten how incredible the beaches are in Brittany. Long ribbons of fine white sand broken up by estuaries and rocky headlands. They are perfect for bracing walks when the tide is out. You are spoilt for choice for aires and campsites along the coast and we have enjoyed parking up behind windswept beaches and being able to roll out of the van in the morning for a brisk walk before breakfast.
One place we did remember from our cycling holiday was Concarneau with its 14th Century walled town built on an island in the harbour and accessed by a bridge. Alas, it’s sold itself out completely to tourism now with the compact interior lined with tourist shops and restaurants. It’s still pleasant to explore and enjoy the views from the ramparts though.
The town is also still a big fishing port with huge fish sorting sheds lining the harbour which we passed when walking in from the aire on the outskirts of the town.
Moving further south we pitched up for a night on an aire just north of Quiberon. This spit of land was once an island and the West side of it is known as the Côte Sauvage although it didn’t look particularly sauvage when we were there as the sun was beaming with just a light breeze ruffling the grass. It’s a busy stretch of coast line and appears to be very popular. We walked along the coast into Quiberon itself and spent a very pleasant hour basking in the sun out of the wind sitting on the beach eating our picnic watching the sailing boats ply to and fro.
Lazy days indeed. Tim can’t believe his luck. Normally he lives in fear of my plans for him. I’ve let him off the hook this week and he has been enjoying it to the fullest but deep down he knows it won’t last!
So. Bonjour à tous et à toute. We are back on the road. After over five months in the UK we landed in France this morning. Yay! We made the big journey of four kilometres from the ferry port to a free aire behind a lovely beach just outside Roscoff, Brittany. Here we will stay for at least tonight to rest up, regroup and, for me at least, reacquaint myself with writing a blog. My blog writing skills are somewhat rusty after such a long lay off so we may be here for three days. Still, I have a wonderfully inspiring view, which I will show you at the end of this post, to help me get the brain in gear.
Firstly, how good is it to be back in France? Merveilleux! In our opinion, France is the motorhomers dream country to meander around in and we are very happy to be back here. Tim was positively beaming from ear to ear this morning rolling off the ferry. Anyway, that’s where we are at but we need to wind back a bit to give an update on campsite life from the inside looking out.
For those of you that remember from the last blog post (I concede it was a looong time ago) we were about three weeks into our two month stint of working at a campsite in Cornwall. Up until that point the weather had been absolutely amazing but as we all know that kind of weather can’t last forever especially in the UK. So when did the weather break? The first weekend of the school holidays. Of course it did. Smiling, happy campers were leaving their homes under clear skies in thirty degrees of heat full of expectations of a sun drenched holiday in Cornwall. Like lambs to the slaughter they were, trundling down that A30 past Bodmin. They arrived on site and made the best of trying to get their tents pitched in the squally rain that was being whipped up by a gusty wind. I had to admire their optimism.
The pile it high sell it cheap world we live in hasn’t escaped the outdoor activity market. The vast majority of tents these days are just not up to the job. Most are just about fit for one season. In the UK I would recommend a five season tent. A five season tent will see you through Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and the six weeks of the British school holidays. Anything less just won’t do. Most campers, if they weren’t actually inside their tents creating some ballast, were holed up inside their cars watching parts of their tents make their way to Land’s End. It was a shame as, apart from a few days, the weather was poor throughout the whole of August as well (or it just felt that way after the good run we’d had). We couldn’t grumble though as we had had the best of the weather since we had returned to the UK in April. It did keep Tim and Barry (the maintenance chap) busy clearing away all the abandoned tents, inflatable chairs, lilos, tables, camping chairs, barbecues, wet bedding, wet pillows, gazebos, umbrellas, dinghies, broken windbreaks and the like on their rounds of the campsite bins in the mornings. So much waste, just going into landfill, is sad to see.
Despite the weather the site remained practically full for the school holidays with just a few gaps here and there……….mainly from those that had left early as they no longer had a roof over their head or everything was soaked through. Ah, happy days indeed. Even though we are wusses now with the comfort and warmness and dryness of our van we were tent campers once and remember many holidays braved under canvas being at the mercy of whatever the weather had to throw at us. It’s a rite of passage really. We do still have a very lightweight backpacking tent with us in the van for the odd cycling or walking trip but I confess it’s not seen the light of day for the past four years or so. We had intended to use it for a week or two walking the coast path in Cornwall or a trip to the Isles of Scilly after our campsite job ended but, well, France beckoned and that was the end of that!
So despite the weather it was still busy on the site throughout the school holidays which meant we were kept busy too. Obvs. As you would expect you have to be a good all rounder when working on a campsite and turn your hand to anything and cleaning the shower blocks is all part of that ‘all round’ experience. Now you do learn a lot about the nature of both yourself and other people when doing the job of cleaning up after them. For example, I would never have known that urinals would give me the heebie jeebies but there it is, they do. It was just best if Tim dealt with those. Also, when we have worked together whilst we’ve been volunteering on our travels we have always sorted out pretty quickly between us a way of doing things in harmony. Mmm, not so with the shower block cleaning. We quickly decided on me doing showers, sinks and mirrors whilst Tim did toilets, bins and floor. I know everyone will be thinking ‘poor Tim’ but he, of his own free will, chose those jobs (the urinals were added later after discovering my phobia). So far so good. Well, not really. It became apparent that we each have our own ways of tackling cleaning jobs and things just didn’t ‘gel’ as it were. Working together in a limited space trying not to trip over each other was a challenge especially if we were tired and when we both wanted to do things our own way. On occasions it almost resorted to handbags at dawn. There were glares, there were tuts, there were mutterings of ‘where’s the bloody bin gone’. These were all from me of course as Tim just quietly and stoically got on with what needed to be done. It wasn’t until about the eighth week into the job that we decided if I did the Ladies and Tim did the Mens then we would all be happy. And so it was. What can I say, we are slow learners. If we’d just done that from the off we’d have saved ourselves a lot of angst.
Throughout our long camping, caravanning and motorhoming life we have stayed on countless number of campsites so pretty much knew what to expect in terms of shower block cleanliness. Basically we’d surmised that there are two types of people…..those that clean up after themselves……..and those that don’t. Oh but wait. No. There is a third type of person. This type of person does bizarre things just to make your life that little bit more difficult. For example, seals disappeared from shower heads and toilets, screws and locks disappeared from toilet doors. As I said, bizarre. Odd. Just odd. There’s nowt so queer as folk as they say.
It wasn’t all shower block cleaning though as we had a good mix of jobs from gardening, mowing grass, moving of caravans, office work, lodge and caravan changeover days, cleaning the pool and a new one for Tim ‘entertainer’. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog Tim’s musical life has suffered whilst we have been on our travels and it was the one thing that he knew would be his biggest compromise when choosing to do this trip. Since buying the amplifier several months ago though he has managed to carve out a new persona. That of solo musician playing to backing tracks. It’s not ideal as he would much prefer to play with a band but needs must and all that. The campsite has a small bar and puts on entertainment five nights a week during the school holidays. There were quiz nights, karaoke nights, bingo nights, horse racing nights and various singers and what not so Tim asked if they’d like him to play. Yes was the reply so he was kept busy entertaining the troops a couple of evenings a week. Result.
The music here in Cornwall has been a bonus as we’ve had folk nights at two different pubs we can walk to every week (although one of them is what I would term as ‘dirgy folk’ which has been a step too far for me). There’s been a choir night once a month which is an anyone can come and join in affair which we have really enjoyed with everyone belting out the old Cornish songs and of course Tim went up to have a sing song with the ‘Four Lanes Male Voice Choir’ when he wasn’t working. So all in all the we’ve had a decent amount of music added to our lives this summer.
That about wraps it up then on our venture into campsite work. We’ve had a great summer down in Cornwall and enjoyed the experience. The people we have worked with have been great and very easy to get on with which makes all the difference but with the busy season over it’s time for a break and pastures new. The question is……will we go back to do it all again next year? Of course!