France and Spain – Summer 2017

France and Spain were the chosen summer destinations again this year. Checking the ferry prices early in the year revealed that the Euro-tunnel price was similar to P & O Ferries so the tunnel it was

Destination – Camping Bon Repos,  Santa Susanna on the Costa Brava for the first week then back to our favourite West Coast of France for the second week.

The tunnel crossing was a first for us in a motorhome and proved quick and efficient, leaving around the same time as we would normally on the ferry, Thursday evening around 10.00 pm. Disembarking in Coquelles gave us at least an hour head start over the ferry crossing for our journey south. We hoped to arrive at the site in Spain around Map Paris to Bez 2017Saturday lunchtime so the plan was to drive straight from the train to near Orleans, sleep for a few hours then head further south intending to stop at Millau Friday evening then complete the journey Saturday.

It was quite obvious, after leaving Coquelles on the A16, that this night was some kind of celebration with many firework displays around us, from not just from the coastal towns but inland villages too. After some discussion we realised that Friday 14th July was Bastille Day.

Our planned shortest route south took in the Paris Peripherique, normally to be avoided but my rationale was that at approximately 2.00 am it would be fairly quiet. This it proved to be, with minimal traffic right from Calais, that is until the (new looking) Peripherique junction, direction Orleans, which has a 2 metre height restriction. Requiring a fair detour including

Aire Saran 2017

Saran

residential streets close to Versailles, we eventually arrived at the little promoted Aire de Camping Car at Saran on the outskirts of Orleans at around 3.30 am.

Friday morning, up early, for us,and we were on the road south again by 9.00 pm. Unlike previous years, the road south was particularly quiet, not the usual high volume traffic and stop start motorway flow. Bastille Day, a public holiday! We made such good progress, Millau was reached mid afternoon so we decided to press on and try for an overnight stop around Beziers. We found an Aire just outside the town adjacent to Camping Les Berges du Canal but decided that the campsite looked quite charming, they had a pitch available, so we checked in for a relaxing evening. Trip distance, just over 700 miles in 24 hours.

We arrived at Camping Bon Repos, Santa Susanna just after midday, the traffic between Beziers and the Spanish  border was the usual holiday crush. Checking in, reception were surprised that our van is 9 metres long, despite confirming this in the booking, made a great performance of the difficulty finding a suitable pitch but we suggested the one right in front of where we were having the conversation, behind reception, which they hadn’t noticed. Sorted.

The pitches on this site are really snug, there is little room to walk between outfits or Santa Susanna Pitch 2017tents once set up, but we soon became adjusted to this. There is a great atmosphere on the site, most of the campers here are Dutch and looked as though they were were set up for several weeks together with every home comfort possible. The big selling feature of this site are the beachfront pitches. We thought, with no shade, that the position would be unbearably hot with no shade for the van so dismissed these at the time of booking, but with a breeze off the sea most days, the heat did not look too much of a problem. Santa Susanna Beach 2017The site is split between different types of static “cottages” and camping pitches. The site stretches along the beach but is only about four rows deep, restricted by the coastal railway line, quietly passing the front of the site. All amenities are situated within a short walk from most pitches as is the beach. The immaculate onsite supermarket offered fresh bread and pastries from opening and a huge, fairly Dutch biased, selection of food and drink.

Santa Susanna resort is quite smart. The boulevard style strip has the usual holiday shops and eateries but in an upmarket setting. No sign of Sky Sports or John Smiths. There is an English pub, the New Crown and Anchor, on the roundabout at the beginning of the main street in adjacent Malgret. On Tuesdays a large part of the main street of Santa Susanna is closed off for a market and there was entertainment and craft markets on some evenings. Opposite the campsite entrance is Santa Susanna station with frequent trains to Barcelona. The weather was good during our time here, one morning was a little overcast though so we thought a little exploring on the scooter would be a good idea. Heading west towards Calella just through Pineda de Mar it started hailing, our only option was to turn around and head back to Bon Repos with Anneli laughing her head off whilst both getting absolutely soaked.

After five days of relaxing sun and sand it was time to move on, heading north west skirting Barcelona, along the south side of the Pyrenees, we had two days to reach Camping Les Sablères at Vieux Boucau-les-Bains. We intended to break the journey at Camping Banderas, Villafranca but they were full so we found a pitch at Camping Olite slightly closer to Pamplona. Camping Olite is mostly static type bungalows, appearing to be individually owned, but at the back of the site is a large quiet camping field overlooking distant mountains. There is a large bar and restaurant on site, swimming pool, tennis, football etc to keep you amused if staying longer.

We arrived at Camping Les Sableres late Saturday morning, I found I had booked us in from the following day and there were no pitches available for the night. It was a little quiet when I returned to the van with the news but we were soon consulting the “All the Aires” guide We checked an aire on the southern side of the town but this was full, we then found a good position at the large Moliets et Maa aire. We stayed here a few years ago and is quite a peaceful site considering the size. The beach is a bit of a walk but there are shops and restaurants across the road. There is a charge of €13 per night (2017) using a ticket entry and exit system. Unfortunately on our visit the payment machine did not accept cash or my UK credit card but a kindly French lady paid with her card in return for my cash.

Vieux Bocau Recept 2017Sunday morning we successfully checking in at Les Sableres, we then found that our reserved pitch was mostly soft sand so not suitable for the weight of our van. The site manger was only too keen to help, although the site was fully booked, found us an accessible pitch that would accommodate our 9m long van. Although situated at the perimeter fence next to the road, the location was actually better than the reserved pitch. The noise from passing traffic and  pedestrians did not intrude too much but  was a few steps from the toilet block and close to the pedestrian beach exit opposite a supermarket.

For some reason, our Thule awning with Sun Blocker sides creates an abnormally high interest from passers by on the campsite and the road who often stopped and discussed with each other, not actually knowing that we can see them from the inside. They are quite rare though, we have never seen them fitted to another van. Thule Smart Sun V B(See our separate review of these excellent accessories).

We have stayed in this area for nine years now but still find new parts of the town or see different events that are staged by the local council and feel quite at home here. Even the daily market is still quite interesting, lots of gift, clothes and fashion accessory stalls with a regional food market selling wines, cheeses and hot food etc. The area was much busier than previous years, our preferred beach alongside the entrance to the lagoon, usually deserted, but very popular this year.

My birthday was on the last day at Vieux Boucau so we booked a table at Le Bistrot for evening meal. The town was busy this evening with a Petanque match on the court next to the arena. The meal did not disappoint, the food is always very good and the service excellent.

Le Bistrot 2017Some years ago we were eating here and a brass band marched down the street to everyone’s entertainment and the same happened this year. An amusing choice of traditional tunes for brass with a couple of contemporary songs, including one by Coldplay, Viva La Vida I think! They marched off as we were asking for “l’addition”. Walking back to the campsite we realised the band were promoting a French version of a Bullfight at the arena and we arrived just as the band were playing out through the rear stage door. We spent a few minutes watching the Matadors being introduced by the compere then returned for our last nights sleep in Vieux Boucau.

Our route back to Calais is virtually the same each year, up the A63 to Bordeaux, to Angoulême, Poitiers,  then stopping at Sainte Maure de Touraine overnight, topping up supplies and diesel at InterMarche. The next day to Montreuil for an overnight then on to the tunnel for a Sunday afternoon train. We approached Rouen around lunchtime and foolishly thought the Buffalo Grill on the “cow” roundabout would be a convenient stop. Being a Saturday, the place was rammed but we had a passable meal for a reasonable price but we are no longer curious about their offering.

The campsite at Sainte Maure has been improved a little  since last year and has lost none of its calm relaxed atmosphere. Good value too at €11.50. Montreuil was staging more Les Miserables performances in the Les Miss Horses 2017Citadel and the town was buzzing with visitors waiting for the 10.30 pm start. The firework show after the performance was spectacular but brief. 

Our September break will be in England instead of a hotel beach holiday somewhere hot. Looking forward to a rare for us, touring in the home country. Starting in Brighton and finishing in the West Country is the plan.

 

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Thule Awning G2 Smart Panels.

With our current van, we inherited a 6m Thule – Omnistor roll out awning. All our previous vans had Fiamma awnings and the Aviano came with a privacy room included. Although the privacy room was not used a great deal, it was useful on some occasions, mostly in spring and autumn so we investigated the Thule equivalents.

Checking out the awning range, the Panorama privacy rooms are very expensive for a 6m awning, and there is a lightweight option, Quick Fit, that fits under the roll out which really can be duplicated using our existing Sunncamp awning. The alternative Smart Panel system offered a great deal of flexibility for our purposes so we decided to purchase both options, Rain Blockers and Sun Blockers and after much discussion, in a range of front panel widths allowing flexibility dependent on the weather and pitch situation.

The panels don’t create the same weatherproof interior as a privacy or safari room, the side panels do not connect to the roll out awning roof or fit flush with the van sides.  Our Sunncamp awning fulfils that function if necessary.

Thule Smart Rain Ext

Thule Rain Blockers

Rain Blockers do a fairly good job of keeping the interior dry but are not designed to cope with anything but light wind. Attaching a draught skirt to the van improves the weather proofing. The panels have fixed plastic windows and the front panels can be rolled up to create an entrance or open up during the daytime. The Sun Blockers are essentially a see through fine rubberised mesh. This shades direct sunlight and also acts as a windbreak too, but finish about 30cm from the ground. They look a little intimidating from the outside, unless there is light on the inside, they look like dull grey solid panels but from the inside you can view the outside world normally. Great for people watching! 

Thule Smart Sun Ext

 

 

 

 

 

Thule Smart Sun IntThe side panels slide into roof bars which attach to the inside of the roll-out awning cassette and connect to a small socket in the awning front rail. Tensioning up the roll-out fabric holds them in place. The system is really easy to set up, front panels slide into a channel on the front rail, and a 6 metre marquee can be constructed within about 15 minutes, pegging out takes the majority of the time. The pictures show some of the different possibilities.

Considering the huge range of size options available in the range, we have never seen these panels in use anywhere on our travels. There are a couple of very hard to find stockists in the UK and understandably carry a limited stock, with special orders coming from Belgium. This may explain why it takes so long to get some of the panel sizes. Two of the panels ordered took nearly three months to arrive. As with most camping accessories, the prices are pretty well fixed, combined with few Thule camping stockists, discounting is virtually out of the question.

Now into our second season, were really pleased with our purchases, the Thule products are certainly well made, particularly compared to the functional Fiamma equivalents and the ease of assembly means that we use them more frequently.

Panels purchased from:

www.motorcaravanning.co.uk

www.bowenawnings.co.uk

 

Honda Vision 50 – Long Term Review.

Update on Honda Review.

Scooter No MH

Four years on and only 1,250 miles, this is an occasional use bike which has covered as many miles in France  and Spain as in England. The quality of construction is still impressing.

The Vision was serviced at one year by the supplying dealer, John Banks Honda of Cambridge, while I waited. This did make a difference to performance, possibly the valve clearance adjustment. Prior to the service it misfired once or twice, two up, going uphill. The cost was around £145 from memory. 

At the three year anniversary it passed the MOT OK. My pre test check over found the tyre pressures very low but not actually noticeable when riding. A light bulb in the speedometer display appeared to have failed but has now returned to life and once or twice the starter motor has failed to engage on the first try otherwise completely trouble free. Oil consumption has been zero. The white body finish does show scuffs from shoes, particularly the lower panels which are a textured matt finish but always clean off.

When riding two up, care is needed crossing speed humps as the frame around the stand can ground. An uprated shock absorber would probably help but have not currently found a suitable alternative. Although care is needed to not exceed the maximum weight, a surprising amount of items can be carried using the under seat helmet storage space, the Givi top box and the handy bag hook below the handlebar.  

I have found that a 40 minute trip is about the maximum one up before a leg stretch stop. Fuel consumption has not been calculated but fairly irrelevant for our use, £5 average to fill. €5 too at the time of writing.

Scooter Camp

I had not envisaged using the Vision other than when away with the motorhome but have found it really useful to pop into town to collect parcels from the Post Office, quick shop etc, and no parking fees. Obviously a 50cc engine is not going to be very quick but is quite capable of keeping up with traffic in town, its limitation is when two up and venturing onto faster roads and uphill. I have considered trading in for the 110 version which would be more suitable for two up trips further afield but I need to take another driving test first when I have some time.

Scooter Super U

I am really impressed with the little Honda and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

Summer 2015 = Part 1.

This trip, our aim was to travel south in the shortest possible time, we decided that instead of our usual late night embarkation and overnighting in Calais, we would head south until tiredness caught up. Our plan including a straight eight hour run to a possible campsite near Valences, which left just a short drive to our first booked destination, Camping Le Soleil at Argeles sur Mer. I had researched a couple of Aires as possible stopovers en route just in case, which proved good planning as we had had

2015-07-10-Laon

Laon Aire.

enough after about three hours and with some relief, we found  the pleasantly empty Aire at Laon for a few hours sleep. Leaving early Friday morning, in daylight the old town looked to be quite interesting and we both agreed that it looked worthy of a revisit sometime to explore.

The traffic on the A26 south was particularly heavy for most of the day and

2015-07-10 Rhone

Charmes sur Rhône

it was a welcome relief to get a small pitch at the Camping Municipal at Charmes sur Rhône. No relief from the heat though. It was 36⁰C on arrival and the deafening noise from the Cicadas made it difficult to have a conversation outside. The campsite, as it’s name implies, is on the banks of the river Rhône and quite small, perhaps around twenty pitches, has a bar with food available and a restaurant at the entrance. The toilet block is old but seemed adequate and we were shown an ice machine which was freely available to campers. With electricity, our pitch was €13.

We left at 7.00am on Saturday morning, unusually early for us, to get a head start on the southbound holiday traffic. The first queue was shortly after joining the motorway but improved further south and we arrived at Airotel Camping Le Soleil around midday. Our 100th pitch with the Aviano in four years.

Le Soleil is sold as a Five Star site and has around a thousand pitches of mixed camping, statics, EuroCamp and tourers. The reception staff were friendly and helpful but knew little about the site and the finer points like the location of freshwater points and chemical toilet disposal. The toilet blocks are well maintained and seemed to be constantly cleaned. The brasserie and restaurant looks quite run down, the staff were friendly but the prices are so high, we realised that mostly only the Dutch and Germans ate there and tables were always available. The brasserie menu was also available from a takeaway counter which was cheaper and very popular. The supermarket was well stocked and prices reasonable. The site

2015-07-16-Soleil Camp

Camping Le Soleil

has it’s own beach which is, at most, a five minute walk from most pitches. Situated at the far end of the site, next to the beach, In total contrast to the rest of Le Soleil, is the modern entertainment area. With spacious areas for sports and large children’s play areas, a fabulous swimming complex with a modern bar, an evening entertainment area and disco, it’s almost like being at another camp. The evening entertainment was standard campsite stuff. Although Le Soleil was mostly full during our visit, there was an air of calm and peace throughout the camping areas.

The site is a fair distance from Argeles sur Mer resort centre. Probably a good thirty minute walk. There is the usual “train” which stops about a ten minute walk from the camp entrance. The resort is not the best we

2015-07-15-Argeles Vill

Argeles

have visited on the Med coast. More Blackpool than Cannes and really busy, lots of tat shops and eateries for everyone. We made a bad decision for our first meal out but Anneli had spotted a Logis Hotel, Les Charmettes, where we dined later in the week and had an excellent three course meal for the price of a main course at Le Soleil. Argeles Village though is worth a visit. A charming, sometimes picturesque area with many quirky buildings and shops. We did enjoyed our stay at Le Soleil though, it was more reasonably priced than the five star sites La Yole and Camping Brazilia of previous years. Would realistically give it 3.5 stars.

After five days it was time to pack and head for Barcelona…….

April Travels 2015

Houghton Mill near Wyton.

Houghton Mill near Wyton.

Just before returning from our Easter break in France we booked the next weekend at Wyton Lakes near Huntingdon. Hardstanding ensured an all weather pitch although the forecast was fairly good.

Within a few hours of arrival we decided to book a May Bank Holiday weekend here but due to our late decision making and the popularity of this site we could only book the late May weekend. Checking out the familiar surrounding area we found a couple of changes, Hartford Mill a Whitbread eatery adjacent to the site had re-opened after a fire last year with improved food and ridiculously low prices. The garden centre opposite the site entrance had been taken over and updated. The main attraction for us here is the new butchery and deli area where we could not resist leaving without purchasing a few pies and cakes.

Well one weekend merged into the next as mid week we booked again for Wyton lakes enjoying a lazy couple of days in Wyton Delirather unseasonable warm sunshine. On Saturday after an hour out on the bicycle and a couple of photo opportunities, a trip to the Three Jolly Butchers to sit in the beer garden for a couple of hours soaking up the rays had to be done. Oh and another stocking up with pies and cakes from the garden centre.

Meanwhile we booked a P & O crossing to Calais for the first May Bank Holiday weekend.

So the early May Bank holiday weekend started as well as Easter. Another record drive time to Dover with no stops at all. The Dartford crossing changes are working well for us. Following a lot of prior searching we were heading for Le Touquet with a plan to drive straight from the late night ferry crossing to the Aire in the north of the town, get a few hours sleep then then on to Camping Stoneham were we had pre booked a couple of nights. This was also an opportunity to test our new Sanef “Bip and Go” toll tag or “liber-t” on the short stretch of A16 motorway between Calais and Etaples. More on this later.

Stella Plage Aire

Stella Plage Aire

Well the best made plans don’t always work out. The Le Touquet Aire was jammed when we arrived at around 2.00 am, the backup location at the Equestrian Centre along the road was jammed too so we headed down to Camping Stoneham but found no early arrivals area here either. Stella Plage was the next destination and we eventually found the Aire, with one space left. After a bit of messing about on Saturday morning we found we could not pitch at Camping Stoneham until after 2.00pm so we returned to Stella for a lazy morning, bit of walking and had rather a good Filet de Bouef at Le Resto de Fred in Boulevard Labrasse. We didn’t do much once pitched up at Stoneham for the rest of Saturday but on Sunday had a rather enjoyable few hours in the town centre and a bit of a tour around the area on the scooter. Lunch at Jean’s Cafe – American Bar was at best, average, the centre of attraction being a seemingly real Harley Davidson “Night Rod” on a waist high plinth just inside the door. Only the second one I have ever seen, the other being in the South of France last year.

When we returned to Stoneham, the sun was so strong late afternoon I spent a couple of hours sitting outside. Camping Stoneham is mostly a static home park with about forty touring pitches. Just out to the south of town, about a twenty to thirty minute walk to the centre, the site is fairly quiet. The amenities are a little old but the showers had plenty of hot water. The pitches vary in size from one that looks like just a Romahome would squeeze on up to comfortably fitting a tag axle Autotrail. There is a proper motorhome service point on site too. Bread and croissants are available from a kiosk early morning and there is lots of tourist information in the reception. We will revisit this site later in the year.Camping Stoneham

Returning via Calais, we were targeted for the first time by an immigrant. We were topping up with diesel at the Total garage next to Pidou, as I walked round the back of the van to pay, a young man was trying the rear garage door. A bit startled, I was lost for words, he just turned and calmly walked back behind the building.

I ordered the “liber-t” tag as we use the French autoroutes quite extensively. There is no financial advantage, discounts on tolls etc, in fact there is a €5 admin fee each month the tag is used but linking from the Caravan Club site to register for an account saves a €10 set up fee. My rationale for using the tag is I believe it will save us time when travelling long distances. The times we have sat in queues at the toll booths waiting to pay only to see lorries we had overtaken an hour ago pass through the “t” lane on the right. I think we could gain close to an hour a day in the summer season. Anyway, it worked as advertised on this trip. I will report back in the summer when it has been used for a couple of weeks. BTW, Sanef are the same company that are operating the payment scheme on the Dartford Crossing, although this uses number plate recognition, there may be a possibility of using the tag in the UK in the not too distant future.

Cable Clutter solved.

With an ever expanding collection of mobile phones and tablets, inevitably the chargers have to be carted around for the devices to function. My desk, and when travelling, the motorhome table get cluttered with cables and differing chargers which take up space and I find all the cables so annoying. When travelling I have lately been carrying a sizeable four gang 13amp extension cable to accommodate all the chargers.

Recently I read a favourable review about the Proporta 6 port USB charger. Having purchased some items from Proporta previously, I knew that they only supply top quality mobile accessories so I ordered one immediately.

USB boxThe charger was delivered the next working day together with, I believe for each purchase, a tea bag in the packaging. Presumably this is so you can unpack and read the instructions for your new purchase whilst having a cup of tea. The instructions for the 6 port hub are pretty straight forward. Plug in the not so long mains cable on the rear of the plain rectangular box, plug in a USB cable on the front attached to a device to be charged and the unit identifies the correct power requirement for each connection. The unit is so small and simple and works faultlessly, not even heating up with six devices attached. The only small negative is the bright blue led mains light on the front of the charger. This does light up the inside of our motorhome at night.

Desk

Desk

At an initial cost of £19.99 in black or white, it’s not cheap but I expect a long life from the unit. In fact, I was so impressed with the decluttering of my desk, I bought a white one for the motorhome which was a little cheaper using a discount code supplied with the previous purchase. For the motorhome I replaced the average length mains cable with a longer one from Amazon for about £3.50, so the cable could be hidden behind upholstery trim in the van.

USB vanA recommended purchase and check out Proporta for other mobile accessories.

Easter – Charleville Mézières. 2015.

For our 2015 Easter break we settled on Charleville Mézières in the Ardenne region of north east France. The town website is inviting and informative and the Camping Municipal, Parc du Monte Olympe looked to be within a short walk from the town centre.

Our journey started well, with an afternoon of traffic chaos on the eastern side of the M25, by the time we left for Dover around 6.30pm on Thursday evening, it had cleared giving us the fastest run to the ferry we can recall. The new toll system at Dartford, for the southbound side anyway, gave us a non stop run from home to ferry arriving just in time to be offered an earlier sailing. After disembarking in Calais, we drove round to overnight in the marina car park.  A little suspicious that there were only four others parked up plus another Bürstner we followed in, a new sign at the entrance confirmed the camping car area and the twenty four hour fee which has been reduced to €7. This was promptly collected at 8.30 next morning by the same official as previous visits.

Camping Parc du Monte Olympe

Campsite

The uneventful journey, mostly down the A26 took a little over four hours including a lunch stop at Jacks Brasserie in Rethel. Approaching Charleville, Camping Municipal, Parc du Monte Olympe was well signposted through the town and is situated next to the river La Meuse in a sports complex which includes a small marina. Due to the previously wet weather, we were offered one of six hard standing pitches adjacent to the reception building and the fairly good toilet facilities. Electric hook up is 10amp with waste and water for most pitches. The majority of pitches are of a generous size with low hedges bordering. There is free wifi within the reception building but virtually no signal outside. There is also a snack bar/ takeaway at the entrance to the site. Pitched next to us was ChasandCath who were returning to the UK ending a three month trip to Spain. Chas is known for his “Postcards from ******” blogs on the Caravan Club website “Club Together” forum.

Footbridge to Town

Footbridge to Town

Charleville, the “Coeur d’Ardenne”, has a lot of history but is also known for it’s own poet Arthur Rimbaud. There is a museum dedicated to his life and works with an entrance off the impressive  town square, La Place Ducale. The town centre is within an easy ten minute walking distance from the campsite.  Via a pedestrian bridge over the river, there are plenty of interesting buildings and shops to browse. Continuing our travelling tradition of sampling as much of the local food and drink as possible, we took lunch at the friendly Brasserie Le Chene in Rue Bérégovoy on Saturday and then a truly excellent Sunday lunch at L’antre-côte in La Place Ducale. Here we were only seated a moment when approached by an English speaking French gentleman from the next table who offered to translate anything we needed as he had learnt English whilst training as a

La Place Ducal

La Place Ducal

pilot in the US, in 1953. Later, his fairly recent partner told us her life story (including lovers). A darling 80 year old couple. The food by the way, was excellent, finished off with the best Cafe Gourmand ever.

On Easter Monday we left for Montreuil sur Mer, deciding to take a virtual straight route across country to Cambrai, then Arras to Montreuil, passing through many small villages and differing landscapes. We tried to lunch at Hirson, arriving just as a huge street market was packing up. We walked up and down the rather lengthy main street, around the square, up side streets, but only found a chinese buffet and a kebab house. Eager to continue our journey, we settled for a very rare visit to McDonalds on a retail park on the edge of town. The rest of the journey was uneventful, traffic in our direction was light to say the least but as we approached the coast, traffic in the opposite direction was jammed for several miles.

Montreuil

Montreuil

At Montreuil, there were few people at the site, in fact on the first morning, only four pitches were occupied. The day started foggy but soon cleared with glorious warm sunshine so lunch at La Paloma was decided followed by a walk around town and a little light shopping to top up supplies. I then spent sometime in the afternoon sun exploring the outlying surrounding villages on the Honda whilst Anneli nursed a cold, cosied up in the van.

The return trip started with a tank full of diesel at InterMarche, for £63, twelve months ago it was £90 odd pounds to tank in the UK. Again, traffic was really light for the 45 mins to Calais, another splash of diesel at the Total garage and lunch at our favourite La Tour Brasserie in the square.

All too soon we were home and booking the next ferry to France for May and we will definately be revisiting Charleville later in the year.