Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Holiday in France, The Journey Home

Tuesday, 6th October
Morag spent 10 days in the garage where some sort of repair has been carried out costing €1499! Looking at the worksheet from the garage it seems that the water pump, timing belts and glow plugs were replaced and the fuel injection was modified so that the "anti-vol" is disabled. Not what we expected but at least Morag starts reliably now.
I spent some of the past two weeks in the UK via Ryanair because of various appointments and events that had been arranged earlier, while Lyn stayed, with Button, at our friends' house in Villeneuve-lès-Béziers, and, after Morag's return on the 2nd October, in Morag at Boubals.
I flew back to Béziers today and Lyn met me at the airport. Back at Mostyn and Christine's in Boubals we had a simple evening meal in Morag followed by some more rugby watching with M & C.
Immodest Button relaxing in Morag!

Wedenesday, 7th October
We spent much of the morning getting Morag ready for our journey north tomorrow. Andy and Sue collected us to go for lunch at "Au Fil de l'Aire" with Chris and Caroline, the couple who had purchased our house in Lamalou. After another good lunch and chat we went back to Boubals to finish getting Morag ready. I did a trial engine start with no problems.
At Au Fil de l'Aire with, Sue, Andy, Caroline and Chris

For our last evening in Boubals, M & C had invited us to supper along with many of their friends from the local walking and social group, Lou Recantou. Thirteen sat down for a supper of Bobotie, followed by gateau and fruit tart.

Thursday, 8th October
We said goodbye to Mostyn and Christine and left Boubals at 10:15 calling at the vets to get Button her required pre-travel treatment.
We began our journey home by climbing up to and along the Escandorge ridge. The light and the views were superb.We joined the A75 at Le Caylar and headed north. We stopped for a cuppa at the Millau Bridge and Lyn took over the driving as we headed on towards Clermont Ferrand.
Approaching the Millau Bridge

George, driving across the bridge
Lyn, after the stop at the Millau Bridge aire

La Butte de Suèges, north of Millau


Tunnel de Montjézieux

There were several roadworks and contraflows on the A75 which caused us no problems until, shortly before the main services in Lozère, Lyn dozed off and drifted over the cones on the offside! We pulled over into the services and realised that one of the cones was wedged under the bodywork. It was very difficult to remove but I managed after a while but found that it had damaged the step which now won't open properly. We had a strong cup of coffee at the Aire!
I took over the driving and we reached the campsite, "Camping Municipale de Chanset" near Ceyrat, with no further incidents. We were allocated a pitch at the site which had a lamp post half way along the front which made access quite tricky. There were plenty of other, more easily accessible pitches. We had a much needed G&T and Lyn cooked a chicken stir-fry for our evening meal.

Friday, 9th October
We set off again at about 9:30. We stopped for fuel and lunch near Vierzon then took the amazingly straight D road as far as La-Ferté-St-Aubin. Near Chartres and Dreux we hit heavy evening traffic that slowed our progress. We eventually reached "Camping Etangs de Marsalin" at Vert-en-Dronais at about 6 pm. The campsite was small, with many resident families, but the owner was very welcoming and friendly.
Morag, George and Button at Camping Etangs de Marsalin

Saturday, 10th October
We had a fairly leisurely start as we had decided that yesterday was too long a day and we would just make for a campsite near Wissant, staying overnight before getting the ferry on Sunday. We made steady progress towards Rouen stopping at a McDonalds so that we could use their wifi. This is one of the only two good things about McDonalds, the other being their clean and well-maintained loos! Unfortunately, we managed to choose the only McDonalds in the world with no working wifi! The loos were OK though.
We reached the campsite, "Camping La Vallée" at Hervelinghen in early afternoon. The campsite is smart with good facilities, large grass pitches and an attached bar. We used the wifi at the bar to catch up with emails (and have a beer).

Sunday, 11th October
We sorted out Morag for the final phase of our journey back to the UK and left for the ferry port before 9:30. It was an easy and quick journey along the autoroute to Dunkirk where we booked in for the noon ferry. We had breakfast in Morag while we waited in the queue.
Waiting for embarkation

We arrived in Dover at 1:30 UK time, about 30 minutes late. The journey to Bob and Lucy's house in Kings Sutton was uneventful but the traffic was very heavy, as usual, on the M25.
After a nice salmon and pasta supper and a family chat, we watched France vs. Ireland in the Rugby World Cup. Ireland won quite convincingly. We slept in Morag on the road outside the house.

Monday, 12th October
We had breakfast with Lucy and Rowan, our granddaughter, then drove to Kenilworth to visit Lyn's sister Gillian for a coffee. We finally got back to Leek at 2:30 and, after a very welcome cup of tea, set about emptying everything out of Morag and sorting out 5 weeks washing!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Morag returns

Friday October 2nd
Well, Lyn has collected Morag from the Peugeot garage. It now starts without any problem but we aren't yet sure quite what the garage has done. Apparently he did some work on the fuel injection system which allows the car to start even without an "anti-vol" device (immobiliser), but hasn't done the job that we wanted, which was to replace the anti-vol. He still charged us the full €1500 though. The French are SO frustrating!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Holiday in France - Au Revoir Morag

Monday 21st September
Well, we've now pretty well exhausted all options for getting Morag going. A member of the Motorhome Fun web site, eddievanbitz, give me a comprehensive set of instructions on how to disable the immobiliser but Lyn and I were concerned that if something went wrong with the modifications suggested we would have even more trouble getting someone to effect a repair. So we bit the bullet and arranged for Morag to be taken to the Peugeot garage and for the full repair to be done. It's not going to be cheap but we really have no choice.
 The breakdown firm arrived to take Morag around 5:30 and we watched her being loaded onto the flatbed at taken away. The garage says it will take about a week to repair.

Morag goes for a ride

Disappearing into the sunset

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Holiday in France - Days 13 to 15

Thursday 17th September - Shopping and relaxing
We collected Button from Joy who had looked after her during our visit to Sue and Andy. We spent the rest of the morning doing a thorough clean out of Morag. I drove to Bédarieux to do some food shopping and after lunch we relaxed for while in the sun.
Mostyn gave us a package which contained the Graphite Spry I had ordered the previous day. This was suggested as a possible cure for key recognition problems - it didn't make any difference whatsoever! Morag now refused to recognise the keys at all.
We took some of our helpful friends to Gilles' bistrot at Les Aires for an evening meal. The meal and company was excellent.

Friday 18th September - Lunas and rugby
We drove to the Plan d'Eau at Lunas to give Button her morning walk. This used to be one of my regular dragonfly spotting locations. It has been enhanced greatly now and has good paths, information boards, a walkway across the lake and a pleasant water garden.
Lyn and Button in the Water Garden

Fishing platform at Lunas

"Come on Mum! It's a bridge!"

Information board - and everything was correct!

Another view of the walkway over the lake at Lunas

Sue and Andy had invited us for lunch and to play a board game. They were intending to go to Collioure on Andy's motorbike the next day and had offered to lend us thier car for a couple of days while they were away. Unfortunately when we got there Andy was having problems getting his bike to start which meant they may be going in their car. We had lunch together then Sue, Lyn and I played a game of Canalmania while Andy worked on his bike.
In the evening we had supper with Christine and Mostyn and watched to opening game of the Rugby World Cup. I'm pleased to say that England beat Fiji.

Saturday 19th September - Returning the hire car
On the way to Béziers to return the hire car I dropped Lyn and Button off at Sue and Andy's house. Andy had offered to lend us his car for the weekend as they were going to Collioure for a couple of days but the problems with his motor bike continued and on my return with Mostyn to Boubals I got a message from Lyn saying that Andy and Sue were bringing her back to Boubals as they were going to take the car to Collioure instead. We had a picnic lunch with Andy and Sue on Mostyn's terrace before they drove off for their break.
We took Button for a walk locally in the afternoon. Mostyn telephoned an acquaintance who worked at a garage to see if he would be able to help with our problems with Morag. Once again, no help was forthcoming! I was now getting very depressed about our situation as Morag had failed to recognise the key despite many repeated attempts.

Holiday in France - Days 9 to 12

Sunday 13th September - Curry with friends
Lyn went to church in Lamalou-les-Bains, the church she used to attend when we lived here. In the afternoon we drove to Aspiran to see Trish and Roger and, more importantly (!) their dog Olga; another of Button's puppyhood friends. We all went for a pleasant walk through the vineyards before returning to Joy and David where David prepared a very nice curry for our evening meal.

Monday 14th September - Getting Morag back 
We drove back down to the car hire place in Béziers, hoping to retrieve Morag. Once again the key was not recognised. Further tries resulted in either the key not being recognised or Morag not starting for some other reason. At this point we re-christened Morag, "Toe Rag"! We decided that there was no alternative to getting a garage out to look at the problem but, on one last try the key was recognised and she started.
Rather than leaving her in Béziers we decided to drive her back to the Peugeot garage in Bédarieux and ask if she could be looked at and, hopefully, fixed. We emptied most of the rest of our things from Morag and returned to Boubals.
After lunch we took Button for a walk in the hills behind Boubals. It was cool but bright but we kept Button well away from the very swollen River Orb. 
Lyn looks at view while Button busies herself with a stick

Grapes ready for harvesting
Our evening meal was a very nice pork stir fry prepared by Christine.

Tuesday 15th September - Trip to Clermont l'Hérault
We had breakfast with Christine and Mostyn and then drove to Lac de Salagou to give Button a walk. Unfortunately, it started to rain just as we arrived. Despite the rain Button got a short walk. We drove on to Clermont l'Hérault for a snack lunch. 
We drove back via Liausson as we were hoping to call and see other friends, Jenny and Allan but we couldn't get a reply on the phone so gave them a miss.
We relaxed back at Boubals before eating another very nice evening meal courtesy of Christine.
Morag (the Toe rag) at Boubals

Wedenesday 16th September - Quizzing with friends
We had a relaxing morning then all 5 of us (Mostyn, Christine, Button and us) drove up to Les Aires for lunch at Gilles Aubert's bistrot. Gilles used to own Les Marroniers, our favourite restaurant in Lamalou, but had to sell up because of illness. His new bistrot at Les Aires has a terrace with excellent views over the Orb valley to match his excellent and very reasonably priced food.
Later we drove to Bédarieux to see what the garage had to say about Morag. The mechanic was not very encouraging saying that it was difficult to obtain the parts for Peugeot Boxers and that it could take weeks to effect a repair to the immobiliser system. We decided to take Morag back to Boubals for the moment and to limp back north on Saturday. Morag satrted first time!
Lyn drove her to the Aire at Lunas to empty the grey waste and the toilet cassette. We left the engine running just in case!
Sue and Andy had organised a quiz evening in aid of the "All Our Children" charity. We formed a team with Mostyn and Christine. Many of our friends were there and it was really good to be able to see them and to chat. We didn't win the quiz! Andy gave us some songs playing his newly acquired 1934 National Duolian guitar. He was as impressive as usual and the guitar has a lovely sound. Sue and Andy raised about €200 on the night.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Holiday in France - Days 5 to 8

Wednesday 9th September - At Bouysse de Caudon
Enjoyed Croissants and Pains au Raisins for breakfast. Did a bit of tidying up in Morag. We walked up a footpath to Montfort for lunch. The path was quite steep in places. We had a beer at a café/bar in Montfort then lunch, Menu de Terroir, at another restaurant. It was a very good lunch. We walked back down to the campsite. By now it was very hot and Button had a good swim in the river to cool off.
Montfort village and castle
The Cingle de Montfort from the village
Interesting rocks at Montfort

Button cooling off

We sat outside and had a cold drink and I had a short siesta. Later ewe each had a G&T and I got the wifi password from reception and I posted the blog entries for the first four days.

Thursday 10th September - On to Cahors
After breakfast we packed up and left for Cahors. We stopped near Gourdon to give Button her walk. We found a nice path through woodland near to the Plan d'Eau. The path followed a "Parcours Sportif" (Trim Trail). Needless to say we didn't do all the exercises - or any of the exercises!
We parked in the centre of Cahors and walked to find a restaurant for lunch. We sat at a pleasant pavement café sheltered from the sun by trees trained over a trellis. The meal was ok, but the service was terrible - even by French standards!
We returned to Morag to leave for the campsite but she wouldn't start! The immobiliser wouldn't recognise either of our keys. After several attempts and several minutes of panic We rang Ray at Cara in Stoke where we bought Morag. He advised that we might need the keys re-programmed. We were wondering where we were going to find a Peugeot dealer to help when Ray rang back to suggest that if we hadn't activated the 90 day breakdown cover that we were given when we bought Morag that might help and gave us the relevant contact information. I decided to have one last try before contacting them and, wonderfully, she started!
We decided that we would complete our journey down to our friends Mostyn and Christine in Languedoc but had to stop to top up with fuel. Morag started fine after the fuel stop so we changed our mind and looked for a nearby campsite. We found one near Montricoux. The site was nearly empty but we were allocated a pitch and were happy to stop for the night. G&Ts and Pasta and cheese lifted our spirits.
Our pitch at Montrocoux

Friday 11th September - Languedoc at last
After breakfast we were pleased that Morag started without difficulty and decided it must have been a glitch and all was now well.We continued on our journey south, stopping to give Button a walk along the Voie Vert, a disused railway line, between Albi and Castres.
We had lunch in the garden of a hotel in Réalmont. It was a nice lunch and very reasonably priced but the waiter obviously didn't enjoy his job and didn't smile once - not even to his French diners!
We continued our journey via Mazamet and St Pons, now in familiar territory near where we lived in France.We reached Mostyn and Christine's house in Boubals just after 5 pm, set up Morag in their garden and joined them for our evening meal,
Saturday 12th September - NOT a glitch!
We had pre-booked a hire car in Béziers for the week and went to collect it today. The weather had broken with heavy thunder storms during the night continuing through the day. At times the rain was absolutely torrential. Mostyn had offered to take us down to Béziers to collect the hire car but as Button is quite upset by thunder we decided to take her with us in Morag.
We completed the formalities for the car hire and were about to leave with Lyn bringing Morag (and Button) back but once again Morag refused to start! We tried several times but the immobiliser again failed to recognise either key. As the hire place was to close at midday we asked if we could leave Morag there until Monday when we would be able to contact a garage for help. We piled as much of the contents onto the back seat of the hire car and Button into the boot.
Our friends Joy and David offered to put us up for a couple of days so we drove to their house in Hérépian. Button was delighted to see Joy and her doggy friend Régis again. They played like puppies as they had five years ago.
We had arranged to go to one of our favourite restaurants for dinner with more friends, Sue and Andy. The restaurant "Auberge de Gorges de Madale", has a truly inventive chef. The 6 course meal, aperitif, unlimited red and white wine, coffee and muscat with the dessert costs only €30. The entrée was particularly impressive with a ring of sliced champignons de Paris arranged on a tomato coulis base surrounding a forest of tiny oriental mushrooms served alongside a savoury cauliflower icecream on abed of crisp fried Girolles! After a superb meal we drove Sue and Andy home and returned to David and Joy for the night.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Our 3 week holiday in France - days 1 to 4

5/9/15 3 week holiday in France
We spent a few days preparing Morag for our holiday in France. The biggest problem we had was finding somewhere with a 6Kg propane cylinder in stock! Eventually located one at GO Outdoors in Stoke. We checked the oil, water and tyres and drained and flushed through the waste tank. All ready to go on the 5th.
We left at about 10:30 headed for Kent for an overnight stop before catching the early ferry on the 6th. The journey was pretty uneventful and we reached our destination, a CL at the Waggon and Horses pub near Charing, at 4 pm. We took Button for a walk then had an early dinner in the pub. We settled down for the night early ready for an early rise tomorrow.

Waggon and Horses, Charing

6/9/15 Ferry and on to Nonancourt
We woke at 5am to get ready - it was still dark! We were at Dover in plenty of time for the 8 o'clock ferry to Dunkirk. Cooked English breakfast on the boat set us up for the journey.
Once in France we made our way via the A16 and A28 to Rouen, stopping near Le Touquet to stretch our legs and give Button a proper walk. We drove on to the Camp Municipal at St-Remy-sur-Avre. This site was small, friendly and inexpensive. The facilities were all very clean making it a good overnight stop. We ate Chilli andRice for our evening meal and polished off a nice bottle of Merlot!
Walking Button at the Aire near Le Touquet

Our pitch at St-Remy

Button relaxing after the long drive

7/9/15 On to the Limousin
We had a much more laid back start to the day leaving the site at about 10:30 to head down via Chartres and Orleans to the free A20 autoroute. We stopped for a break at the Aire du Hèron Cendré, a very pleasant rest area on the A71 with woodland to walk Button. We stopped again for lunch in Morag near Salbris then continued down to Bessines. The campsite at Morterolles-sur-Semme we had headed for (in the Caravan Club book) was closed and looked like it ahad been that way for some time so we set up in a car park near the Stade for "Camping Sauvage".
"Camping Fermé"

"Camping Sauvage"

We had our evening meal in Morag. No-one disturbed us or told us we couldn't stop there so we spent a very peaceful night.
8/9/15 To the Dordogne
Before setting out we had decided to aim for the Dordogne for a few days on our way south. We called at a nearby Intermarche for supplies before rejoining the A20. The weather was perfect with near cloudless skies all the way down to the Dordogne. We stopped at the Aire du Porte de Corrèze for a break. This is another very nice rest area with extensive open spaces to walk Button.
We reached the Dordogne around 1pm and quickly found or intended camp site, La Bouysse de Caudon, right on the banks of the Dordogne river. We had a celebratory G&T before taking Button for a walk and a swim. She seemed delighted not to be travelling on in Morag!
Once again we ate our evening meal (and drank another bottle of wine) in Morag before settling down for a good night's sleep.
At Porte de Corrèze

A shady pitch

Button Enjoying the Dordogne

The beach next to the campsite

Monday, 13 July 2015

Short Break Near Chester - Part Two

10/7/15 Higher Kinnington
We walked back to the Royal Oak pub for our lunch. Once again it was very nice and we were able to sit out in the sunshine to eat it. In the afternoon we watched Andy Murray lose to Federer in the Wimbledon Semi-final. Then had a simple evening meal. A rather uneventful day really.

11/7/15 Delamere Forest and Home
After breakfast we prepared Morag for the journey home. We left Crab Mill Farm at about 10:30 and headed for Delamere Forest for a walk. We had been to Delamere many times in the past when we lived in Macclesfield. We enjoyed a walk round Balkemere Moss (about 3 miles) and had lunch back at Morag.

The journey home was uneventful.

We wouldn't stay at Crab Mill again. The site was fine but there was very lttle to do locally. No good dog walks and nothing that we could visit without taking the bus or Morag. Still, a nice break.

Short Break Near Chester

8/7/15 Leek to Chester
We left Leek in very wet, drizzly conditions to drive over to Crab Mill Farm CL near Chester. Thankfully, the weather improved and by the time we arrived it was bright but very breezy. We set up quickly on hardstanding in a decent sized field. There were 4 other outfits in place. We had a wander around the site finding two fishing ponds and a rough grass meadow where we could walk Button. We watched quite a bit of the men's quarter finals at Wimbledon.
Morag at Crab Mill Farm

Quirky sculpture at Crab Mill Farm

In the evening, we walked into the village of Higher Kinnington (about 12 minutes) and had a meal at the Royal Oak pub. The menu was very interesting and the food was excellent with good portions. Lyn had Goujons of Mackerel followed by Fillets of Sea Bass on a nicoise salad. I had Pigeon Breast, Black pudding and apple salad to start followed by Rib-eye Beef on Horseradish Mash with a Peppercorn Sauce and selection of vegetables. We were both too full for a dessert! We walked back to the camp site and settled down for the night.
9/7/15 Chester
After a reasonably good night's sleep we had croissants for breakfast then walked back into Higher Kinnington to catch the bus into Chester. Despite us starting out in Wales (just) our bus passes were valid as our journey finished in England. We had decided to walk round the walls in Chester. The nearest access point to the walls from the bus stop should have been the Victoria Clock at Foregate. However remedial work was taking place and the clock was not visible and the access point had been closed. It seems that there is scaffolding wherever I go! We were able to get up onto the walls near the Cathedral (no scaffolding there!).
The Victoria Clock hidden behind scaffolding!
The weather was much calmer and very sunny so we were able to enjoy our walk round. It took a little over an hour and we were ready for some lunch by the time we had completed the walk. We found a nice bar/restaurant where we had a sort of tapas type lunch.
Button meets a sand sculpture

Walking the walls

More scaffolding!

The Old Dee Bridge

After lunch we made our way back to the Cathedral where Lyn sat and read while I took a few photos.
The Cathedral Gardens
The bus back to Higher Kinnington was very full and, as usual, Button spread herself out as much as she could! Back at Morag we refreshed ourselves with some dilute orange juice and sat in the hot sun for a while. We enjoyed a lasagne that Lyn had prepared at home and very nice strawberries and cream for dessert. It rained during the late evening.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Holiday in Wales - Hendy and Home

June 9th - Tywyn and Barmouth
After breakfast, Rose and Chris picked us up and we took the train to Morfa Mawddach. We walked across the Barmouth Bridge to Barmouth itself. There were wonderful views from the train and from the bridge.
Panoramic view of the estuary from just before the bridge

Once in Barmouth we gave Button a run on the beach and walked out to the point at the end of the harbour bar. Chris and I had a look at the lifeboat before we all went to "Davy Jones Locker" for something to eat and a cuppa.
We returned to Tywyn by train from Barmouth and went back to Rose and Chris house for a coffee. Another walk along the beach followed, for Button to have a run. She also had a good swim in the sea chasing a stick. We all went back to Morag for yet another cuppa before saying goodbye to Rose and Chris.
Barmouth beach with the bridge in the distance

Easter island style wood carving on the Barmouth beach

Train on Barmouth bridge

June 10th - Home again
We got up early, breakfasted, and prepared Morag for the journey home. The journey through Wales was very beautiful with glorious blue skies and bright, early summer greens. We had a short break between Welshpool and Shrewsbury and got home just after 12:30.
A very enjoyable holiday!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Holiday in Wales - Hendy CL

8/6/15 Hendy
We had bacon and egg for breakfast then went to catch the Talyllyn train at the Hendy halt. We travelled up to Dolgoch and walked to see the Dolgoch Falls. They were very impressive as was the walk through the wooded valley to see them. Returning to Dolgoch station we caught the train down to Tywyn where we had a decent meal from the station restaurant.
Catching the train at our very own station

Views of the Cader Idris foothills from the train
Dolgoch Falls
The beautiful Dolgoch valley
Our engine "Tal-Y-Llyn"
 Back on the train again to travel to Nant Gwernol, the last station on the line. We went for a second walk through beautiful woodland beside a casacding stream then back down to the railway at Aberglynolwen. We had a cup of tea while we waited for the train to take us back to Hendy. Back at Morag we sat outside for a beer in glorious sunshine but the chilly wind sent us indoors for our tea.
Nant Gwernol valley
Nant Gwernol valley
View from the train on our return journey