Homeward bound…. .

Well, what can I say?  We’ve landed firmly on our feet once again.  In my last blogpost we were in limbo in France with a dodgy gas system meaning no heating, hot water or fridge.  I’m pleased to say that a motorhome dealer in Chinon came up trumps and, even though they were really busy, they took pity on ‘Les Anglais’ and booked us in the following day to take a look at the problem.  In truth we probably both looked like we needed a good scrub.  A cold shower or warm water in a bucket is no substitute for a proper shower.  Of course we could have just gone to a campsite but we’re made of sterner stuff.

Fortunately my French came in handy although it’s not as easy as you would think understanding someone in a foreign language when they’re wearing a mask.   But I managed.  We dropped the van off first thing in the morning, killed a couple of hours in the supermarket over coffee and cake and returned two hours later to find a fully working fridge and boiler.  Merveilleux.

Our next pressing concern was thinking about the timing of when to get back to the UK.  Looking online and hearing from others in ‘the know’ it seemed that campsites in the UK were likely to be able to open again from the 4th July.  With the new two week self isolation rule in place for anyone arriving in the UK from anywhere outside the Common Travel Area (Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) we were running out of time to get that done before starting work.  (If we still had a job).

What to do.

In the end I sent an email to the owners of the campsite where we’d (hopefully) be working to see what their thoughts were.  Like everybody else they were still waiting on the go-ahead from the government on the reopening date but were hopeful for the 4th July.  They assured us we would still have a job but with less hours than last year.  That gave us just a couple of days to decide on our options.  Meanwhile my brother offered us a patch on his drive to park up for the two weeks we needed to (thanks Richard:).  So that solved that problem.  However he was in Suffolk and we needed to be in Cornwall so we asked the campsite owners if we’d be able to arrive two weeks early and self isolate on our staff pitch.  It made more sense anyway as we’d have plenty of space and wouldn’t be coming into contact with anyone.  Not that we felt we were any risk to anyone.

As soon as we got the confirmation that we were welcome to come back two weeks in advance of the proposed re-opening of the campsite we booked the ferry.  DFDS ferries, as always, came up with a very good price for the four hour crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven which meant less driving than the Calais-Dover route and Brittany ferries weren’t operating their services for anything other than freight.  We felt much happier once we made the decision to book the ferry as we felt like we’d been circling the airport the previous week procrastinating on our future!

It’s always a culture shock arriving back in the UK after an extended period away as all the roads feel like they’re super busy.  Once we arrived on the outskirts of Salisbury we took a break for some lunch in the Tesco carpark.  We really felt like we just wanted to be back in France.  Although we didn’t get out of the van we could see a huge queue of people waiting to go into the supermarket.  Throughout the whole of this pandemic we have been extraordinarily lucky to have never had to queue to get into a supermarket.  Not in Spain or France.  And we are extremely grateful for that.  As I’ve said on the blog before we have been fortunate not to have felt completely restricted, isolated or frustrated during the last three months or so.

So here we are again at the campsite.  As soon as we arrived it felt like we hadn’t been away.

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Home-Sweet-Home.

The self isolation guidelines state that you can only go out in your garden and you aren’t allowed to leave the boundary of your property.  We have taken that to mean that anywhere within the campsite is fair game for us to walk around.

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One of the camping fields all ready for 4th July.

It makes such a difference having that freedom and space, especially when you live in van.

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View towards the Bassett Monument at Carn Brea.

So there we are, even though our plans for this summer haven’t worked out as we were expecting them to and we haven’t been able to spend time with family and friends yet we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome in the circumstances.

img_20200624_185906701The government has now given the green light on the opening date of 4th July so we just have six more days to do before we can get on with the next chapter.

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The foxgloves are out in force.

We did a big shop in France before we left to tide us over in our isolation period but you can be assured that Tim will be clearing the shelves of pork pies as soon as we’re free to go the supermarket here.

Let’s hope there isn’t a queue!

Proper job!

Back on the road again…. .

So, as the title of this blog post suggests, we are back on the road again after having left the chateau last Sunday.  With things opening up again in France and people being free to travel outside their localities we thought the time was right to get back out into the world and have a change of scene.

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We couldn’t have asked for a better place to be ‘confined’.

In all we spent nearly eleven weeks in lockdown with our hosts and two other helpers.  Our situation couldn’t have worked out any better really and we are very grateful to Jenny and David for taking a chance on two refugees from Spain in our hour of need!  Ironically it was probably the most sociable time we have had in a long time.  With our fellow helpers, Bernice and Ronnie and owners Jenny and David we shared many evenings with meals, music and laughter together.  

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A Sunday afternoon to remember!

Of course there was a lot of work to do but we were free to get on with what suited us which is exactly how we like to work.  Tim was just starting to see the fruits of his labour in the garden with strawberries (when Bella the puppy hadn’t already got to them first!), courgettes, peas, spring onions and lettuce being sampled.

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Peas, courgettes et al.
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Spring onions are ready.

He’s a bit bereft at having to leave his ‘children’ just when they were doing so well but needs must.  Growing vegetables will definitely be on his agenda if we ever go back to being in one place on a permanent basis.  As will making music.  Being at the chateau Tim was able to get back ‘on it’ with his saxophone playing as he had the space and didn’t need to worry about upsetting the neighbours.  He’s experimented with some new types of music and surprised himself in the process on how much he has enjoyed it.  If you’d have said to me a few years ago he would enjoy playing Ibiza Dance Club Classics I’d have never have believed you.  But there you go.  When there’s no Big Band to hand you have to find alternatives.

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Free to play without annoying the neighbours.

 

So there ends another chapter of our travels and it’s on to pastures new.  Except, it doesn’t quite feel like pastures new.  We’ve spent the last week on an aire (which used to be a former campsite so has plenty of space) on the edge of the Loire a few kilometres outside Saumur.

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A former campsite, now aire 5km outside Saumur.

For our first week out and about we planned to do nothing. Which we have achieved with flying colours.  Other than a trip into Saumur by bike and a nosey around the former troglodyte village a short walk away we’ve barely moved from the campsite.

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Souzay-Champigny.

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The village was first founded in the 10th Century and flourished as a source of Tuffeau stone used for building houses.
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The old troglodyte village is being restored.

We were pretty tired and needed a bit of rest and relaxation before deciding what to do next.  Now feeling recharged and reenergised we’re in a dilemma what to do next.  If everything had gone according to plan we should have been arriving in Yorkshire today to spend the week on a CL site a mile or so from where my parents live catching up with them and frequenting any Wetherspoons within a twenty five mile radius.  With campsites still closed in the UK and anyone arriving from another country having to self isolate for two weeks we decided we were better off staying put in France.  Shops, bars and restaurants have reopened here and things are slowly getting back to normality.  Everything is pretty quiet though and not as busy as you’d expect but with this being quite a touristy area it’s not surprising.

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First stop: Lidl.

Until the UK government make a firm decision on the reopening of campsites we are in a state of limbo. Our job was due to start at Lanyons Holiday Park at the beginning of July but that is on hold until they know if, or when, they can reopen and what strings might be attached to that.  It might be that if they aren’t able to open the shower blocks, bar or pool then they may be able to run the site without two extra pairs of hands as it is just a small family run business.  Who knows.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  Also, as it stands at the moment, we’ll need to self isolate for two weeks on returning to the UK which is a bit tricky without an address.

Anyway, aside from those dilemmas our most immediate pressing issue is that we have a problem with our gas supply.  Since we’ve been back in the van we seem to have lost the pressure so the boiler won’t fire up which means no hot water and no heating (not that we need heating at the moment).  Yesterday the fridge died as the gas isn’t getting to that and today we can only use one burner on the hob as there’s not enough pressure to have two going at once!  It’s likely to need a new regulator but we’ve found a garage in Chinon that deal with that sort of thing so we’ll ask them to take a look tomorrow.

In the meantime I’ve been having cold showers telling myself it’s just a state of mind whilst Tim has gone down the boil the kettle route.

Today I’m doing a one pot cookathon as everything has defrosted in the freezer.  Fortunately it’s only a small freezer so we should be able to eat our way through it all in a few days without having to waste any of it.

Other than that all is well!

Bon Courage et à la prochaine!