Roving South.

6th November 2018

RV Sunset

From today we are out on the open road again!!

The time has finally arrived for us to jump into the van and start making our way south.  We have plenty of time this year too, almost 5 months to be exact.  This extended period is a key point, after all this could be our last tour of Europe as EU citizens and we want to make the most of our current privilege of unrestricted travel and time within the EU zone.

We don’t really have a plan as per usual and initially our travel plans will depend on the weather and potential meet up points with fellow motorhoming friends.  Portugal will definitely feature and therefore France and Spain will have to be enjoyed as we travel through, but the mix of time spent in these countries will be made up as we go along.

All we can say at this point is that we are both very excited to get out on tour again, to feel the freedom of the open road where who knows what lies around the next corner………

Brexit

Who knows what the future holds for us.  Maybe this will be the last time we enjoy all the benefits of being EU citizens.

“If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a rover
And if the road was not for me
Then I would choose another
Across mountains and valleys deep
I would take these weary feet
If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a rover……”*

*lyrics by the Levellers

Advertisements

Leaving Normans Bay.

October 2018

It is funny how you end up at and consequently get to know places.  A little while ago I had never heard of Pevensey, never mind Normans Bay and now looking back over the last two summers it has been a place where we have termed as home.  So as the title of this post suggests after two summer sessions of working on ‘The Bay’ it is time to move on.  We are not just moving on to the normal winter sun travels either but moving on completely as next summer we will be working elsewhere in the country.

20180507_141259

This photo does not do the great weather justice.  Summer 2018 was a scorcher and it was brilliant to see people, locals and holiday makers alike, enjoying the beach at Normans Bay.  This was early on in the season too, May bank holiday.

20180530_163932

The wild flowers on the beach were in force during the summer months

100_3328 (2)

The sun rises, especially at low tide, made for some excellent photo opportunities.  

100_3321

Silhouette of the nearby Martello tower

20180813_183141

Sharon and Rita walking along the groins on Normans Bay beach.  Dog walking has enabled us to meet some of the locals from Normans Bay village too, notably Annette, who managed to arrange access to a piece of local private land called the Ballast Hole which certainly Rita has enjoyed immensely as it is inhabited by many rabbits and local foxes.

20180407_171546

Whilst beach combing I found this fisherman’s ice box which I re-purposed to become the tractors tool tray.  The box had washed up from a trawler originating from Port Bessin, France

20180608_140232

The land in and around Beachy Head became one of our regular day trips

20180703_192528

#BOTB, you know who you are!!  World Cup 2018 added a little spice to post work drinks

20180704_125906

Touching on work, you can not forget all the weird and wonderful campers that have visited Normans Bay.  This one was an old Swiss post office truck.

20180722_182205

Summer 2018 was the best weather since 1976.  Sharon and Rita dropping me and Kev off in Bexhill-on-Sea, enroute to see the Levellers.

maryann beach

Walking down the beach 2km to the local shops and pubs will always be one of my lasting memories.

As these photos suggest, being so close to the sea has been the major highlight of this location, we are literally 50 metres from the beach.   Living coast side is a unique experience, one that we hope to repeat some time in the future.  We will hold fond memories of Normans Bay in all aspects from the goings on of the camp site, getting to know the local area and working/living with our colleagues to more over arching aspects such as the great south east coast weather.

So, over the next few days we will be bidding our good byes to Normans Bay…….it has been fun getting to know you……..So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight, so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu……….

 

Visits and Visitors, Summer 2018

As we were to be working in the same place two summers in a row we had set ourselves the target of getting off site as much as we could to visit some of the many interesting places that are nearby in Sussex and Kent.

This objective started well as we did manage an overnight stop over at Crowborough back in May, however after this things went a little bit awry……Summer 2018 in Normans Bay will definitely be remembered not for our visits away but for all the visitors we had.  Not a bad thing at all, in fact it has been a pleasure to catch up with some old and new friends whilst we have been here.

So in visiting order from April to September……..

Crowborough

We spent a pleasant night away at Crowborough visiting Joy in the local hospital, walking in the Ashdown forest and of course we stayed on the Club’s site.

Motleys

In April we had Mike and Mandy pass by for a night of catching up with our travels on their return back to the UK.  Their travel blog can be found at http://www.motleysmagicalmysterytour.wordpress.com.

20180418_150308

We visited the Midlands passing by both our folks.  Rita and my Dad enjoying the spring sunshine.  Was that to be an early sign of a good summer?

Scott 2

In June Scott, Irene, Iris and Fynn visited.  It was great spending some time with one of my best friends and his family.  My memory will be the BBQ on the beach.

Otis and Rita

June also saw Mick and Sheila, now retired Normans Bay managers, pass by the site in their Volkswagen camper.  Otis and Rita got along like a house (camper?) on fire.

20180628_161814

Now annual visitors, Chris, Pete and Al came back to the Bay.  This time we did a pub crawl within the local area taking in the ancient church at Westham village.

20180614_193337

By June the weather had really heated up.  We spent several evenings with Joy and Tracy at their home in Uckfield.

20180702_092018.jpg

Also in June we had a flying visit from Tim and Martha who we met earlier in the year in France.  It was superb that we met up again and hopefully we will see them all back out on the road at some point.

20180705_110349

My parents visited us in July and this photo was taken at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne.  The weather was still fantastic.

20180722_183817

Kev also visited in July and we went to see the Levellers play ‘We the Collective’ at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.

20180717_230233

Late July we had a visit from our old neighbours Janet and Elize and her friend Scarlet.  They managed to complete the Seven Sisters walk whilst they were here, something that we have not completed yet.  Our time is now ticking.

20180801_210141.jpg

In early August a last minute visit of Joy and Tracey’s friends Jo and Debbie was organised.  A night of dancing and drinking ensued to celebrate Jo’s birthday.

20180813_103856

Our old Normans Bay colleagues Frank and Rosie revisited for one night in August.  It is always fun to meet up with them.

20180824_115916

We visited the Camping Unplugged team and friends Katie and Pete at Lordswood Forest in Kent.  Here they are operating and developing an ecological campsite and we thought it was a special place off the beaten track.  http://www.campingunplaugged.com

Steve and Maryann

Sharon’s brother Steve and his wife Maryann visited us late August for a fun evening spent in the Bay.  Since ‘Eurosuntor’ hit the road we have managed several meet ups with Steve and Maryann spanning four countries in all:  Switzerland, Germany (for a total of 30 minutes!) France and of course the UK.  Where will we meet up next?

20180906_152149[1]

We left the site again in September visiting both sets of our families.  My parents were on the Shropshire canal which made for a different meet up location.

Finally, Karla and Tony, Sharon’s sister and husband visited us last Friday for a relaxed day spent around the Bay.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph of us all together messing up completely this theme.  Never mind, there is talk about a London visit in October as Jodie, their daughter, is arranging a birthday party so hopefully we can get an up to date photograph then to complete this post.  The socialising is not over yet though as October also brings Joy and Tracey’s wedding……………

Beautiful Days 2018, Devon

BD2018

 

After a break of a couple of years I was lucky enough to have the chance to go back to the Beautiful Days music festival in August 2018.  It is an event that I have been going to on and off since 2005 and over the years many a good memory has been made.

For 2018 saw me go in a hired Volkswagen Caddy, which was to be my living quarters for the four days, meeting up with old and new friends:  Kev, Barney, Enzo, Scarlet, Kathyrn, Darren, Cessil and Mark…………

Do you fancy a drink,
Just the one,
To clear your head,
We won’t be long.

It’s a beautiful day,
To waste away,
There’s plenty of time,
For another one.

You know you shouldn’t do it,
But see no reason why,
So you blow your mind,
Yeah, yeah,
Uh-ha*.

*Lyrics by Levellers

Living with Rita

03 August 2018

20180313_165937.jpg

Rita

I have been waiting for this month to post this update as now we have had Rita for over six months.  In summary, our life has predictably changed and now most things that happen need consideration outside of just ourselves which takes a little getting used to. Only the other day we passed a local music festival poster and we both looked at each other and thought the same thing “that looks good, we could go” and then both shouted out in unison “Rita!” the new buzz word for ‘maybe not’!! Joking aside though, the benefits do out weigh the restrictions and we have all come on a long journey in mutual appreciation since that memory milestone day when we left Sao Bras with Rita in our ownership.

WP_20180414_07_34_54_Pro

A typical Rita pose on her corner of the sofa.  

I must admit one of the first major adjustments we had to make was understanding and attending a dog’s toilet rituals. Being new to dog ownership we had no real idea of when she wanted to go as she gave us very few signs, how long was too long? At times maybe I worried too much, especially during the night as I would lie in bed thinking that Rita might need to go to the toilet and there has been nights during the first few months that I have got up and taken her out in the early hours for her typically to do ‘nothing’ but then at least I can sleep through knowing that I have given her yet another chance to go to the loo even at the cost of her peaceful slumber. Thankfully those days have past now as we all learn each other patterns and I imagine that this will be a continuous process.

20180317_183506

Tucked up for the night

The next thing was food, initially we really struggled to get Rita to eat, which we thought was incredible as we were under the belief that dogs are ruled by their stomachs. This lasted maybe a month, whilst we were still on the road and we don’t know what made her turn the corner but one day it seemed that was just eating normally from her bowl instead on us taking her to the bowl or even moving it to her in hope that she would start eating, which invariability she would do after a little time. Moving on to today, she is a dog completely governed by her appetite as she just loves her food, so much so we have limited her to her correct portion size and now she has dropped from 13.5 Kg to a really athletic and fit looking 13.2kg. To put it short, Rita has very little trouble eating now and only yesterday she managed to swipe a chopped Saucisson Sec (it was French week in Lidl last week!!) from our table top which she managed to devour half of in the few minutes our backs were turned.

rita beach

Rita on her morning beach walk

There has been several other more psychological phases to her adjustment to spending time with us, firstly she had to get over the shock over leaving her home with Maria and Adrian (www.2ndhand4foooters.com) which is documented earlier in the year and after that she had to realise that she does not have a fixed home but instead learning that the motorhome and us are her constant.  She managed this too, to our relief, so we were shocked once we landed on the East Sussex coast where we would live and work for the summer months that she found this to be an obstacle.  We were obviously unsure of the problem, but what ever she was experiencing left her really anxious and stressed as she would bark constantly searching for us as we worked around the campsite grounds.  We tried leaving her outside and inside the motorhome to no avail and at this point with a little internet searching we educated ourselves about dog separation anxiety.  Rita was definitely showing all the symptoms so much so that during one her chewing frenzies she managed to call the ‘out of hours’ emergency phone which surprised all the campsite staff as we could not see anybody outside the office door ringing the bell only to find later a very molested phone hand set inside our van!  So after losing one TV remote control, a baseball cap and pair of my favourite flip flops we decided to build a space for Rita outside of the van in the hope that she would relax a little as she would be able to see us out and about showing her we were not leaving her. It worked, thankfully, and she completely changed almost overnight, happy with her space and her house.  She does not even go to the toilet in her space, meaning that it is part of her ‘home’.  Sure, she is still too pleased to see us when we return back to the van and we are now even ignoring her on purpose for the first 5 minutes so she understands what we expect from her, and that is a ‘calm’ dog, instead of celebrating her wildness, running in circles and jumping up as fun as it might have been.

20180414_134503

Rita’s house under construction

20180414_185733.jpg

The finished article.  Rita has a habit though of removing her padded bed!

So overall I think the threesome is doing very well from all angles considering our story. Rita is definitely much more confident about all aspects of life: she really enjoys other dogs and will always choose play first over all other responses, she is getting braver with strange people remaining slightly wary but not cowering as she would. Furthermore, above all, she has stayed the perfectly behaved dog coming back when she is called, sitting down when required and generally having a happy and kind disposition even with those ‘sempre triste’ Portuguese eyes that she has. Sharon and I often comment that Rita makes us look like accomplished dog owners as she is so well behaved and we chuckle knowing that for the most part that is all due to her and we also remark that we are really fortunate as we really did not know what we could have been getting into. People say when they hear Rita’s story that she has really fallen on her paws with her new life but we know deep down that we are the lucky ones!!

An update from Rita’s perspective:

“Dear oh dear, these two are really funny.  They keep talking to me and giving me fuss all the time which to be honest is really nice.  What I am struggling with though is the food, it is wheat free happy clapping health food and the same every day in the same portion sizes, completely boring.  In my past life, if I fancied a little piri piri chicken I would just pop down to the bins at the back of ‘Frango Louco’, sometimes I fancied seafood so I would go and visit the nice lady who cleaned the kitchens at the local Marisqueira and flash her my oh so lonely sad eyes.  It was only the other day though that I let my appetite get the better of me as I took a small nibble from a foreign looking sausage that they left out for a few moments whilst they watered their outside plants.  I thought I had got away with it but I was unfortunately caught in the act and was banished to my bed for the next half hour and they would not even look or speak to me.

The other thing that has changed is the toilet business, they keep picking the damn stuff up and placing it in little bags and then they proceed to carry it around with them.  How would you feel if you did your business and then somebody placed it in a bag for the whole world to see?  It is so demeaning.  I used to be able to go anywhere with complete dignity and decorum, this new world is weird.

Rita Beachy Head

On a walk over Beachy Head, I get to go to some amazing places

The next stumbling block that I ask myself about is where are all my free wandering doggie pals?  Oh we used to have some laughs, me and Roberta, barking at the horses or teasing that big grumpy Serra running free most of the time.  Now most the dogs I run into are tethered with a rope type thing being held back by their ‘human’.  As to the dogs I do see running free on the nearby beach they don’t seem too interested in old fashioned play, instead preferring to chase an inane round object that is thrown in one direction. Even my relativity sensible humans tried that with me, they waved this yellow round thing in front of my nose and then hauled it down the beach I just shook my head and gave them that look “I thought you knew me better, do you really believe I think that is a rabbit?” I just sat down, and then one of them even threw the object and chased after it themselves as some sort of demonstration, boy that was funny!!!! To be fair though to my two uprights, they are quite relaxed and at all times possible I am off the lead thing and I have learnt that I keep my freedom if I come back when called and in turn they have learned not to keep shouting my name out too much as I can be trusted you know.

Finally, I think I am getting used to this new life.  It seems varied and I see a lot of new places, meet new people and enjoy a safe nights sleep on my corner of the sofa. I have regular exercise and get to run free several times a day in the near by field and beach and get the chance to meet lots of other dogs. And even though I complain about the food, at least it is regular even if bland so all in all ‘tudo bem’.”

Rita Beach 2

One day I am going to catch a sea gull, I keep practising every morning.

A French fortnight (week 2) and one hour in Belgium

14th March to 20th March 2018

With only one week remaining we had only a few more hundred kilometers to cover whilst in mainland Europe.  We also had a new task to complete of taking Rita for her ‘import’ health check at a French vets before we reached the tunnel and using Mick and Sheila’s advice we had arranged this to be done in the town of Nonnancourt, which lies directly west of Paris on the N154.

Before reaching there, we had an uneventful stop over at a 4 euro private camperstop just outside St. Maure de Touraine.  If we passed through here again we would not be taken in by the blue camperstop ‘aire’ style signs that are attached to the lamp posts as you approach the town because these lead you to the private site, as on an afternoon walk with Rita I spied another sign, right in the town centre, that directs you to a free parking area outside the town hall close to all the town’s amenities and sights.  Oh well, win some you lose some but we feel comforted that this one night will not dilute our free night percentage too much (on this trip we have had free nights 78% of the time, which is quite low for us thanks to the very extended unplanned stay at fee paying Manta Rota).

20180315_090819

The 4 Euro camperstop at Ste. Maure de Touraine to be fair was very pleasant and peaceful as it was located in a small field on the outskirts of the town.  It also had a novel charging approach as everything you used had a separate price, including even draining your grey water.  Needless to say we used none of the extra facilities to minimise our costs.

Courville sur Eure was our next place where we stayed choosing to ‘moor up’ outside of the municipal campsite as in winter this is a permitted motorhome parking area.  It was also really pleasant lying next to the river.  Even though the weather was wet we still managed a lengthy walk around the town picking up an expensive Leffe beer and cheaper wine in the local PMU bar plus of course the obligatory baguette purchase from one of the several bakeries.  The locals must love their bread here as there were five bakeries in total serving this seemingly small sized town.

20180316_092803

Only in France would you see this sign stating that the hardstands intended for motorhomes could not be used to play boule.  Courville sur Eure.

Before arriving at Saint Andre de I’Eure we passed by the vets in Nonnancourt.  At the moment we swung around the corner at the town hall’s entrance we realised at once that we had been here before, way back in January 2016.  Like last time the aire was closed meaning that we would move on to near by Saint Andre for the night.  Before this though we had to make our appointment at the vets which was organised by Sharon speaking in French with the receptionist some weeks ago.  Using our acquired directions we set off on foot to the vets only to find that it had moved meaning we had to dash back to the van and drive around to their new location.  It was no big deal at all, in fact we were still early and we smiled to ourselves when we checked in with the receptionist as in her diary all that was written in on the 3pm slot was ‘Anglais’!!!

Saint Andre seemed like a very normal town and I imagine tourism would be low.  However the aire was practical, safe and of course free.  We parked next to quite a shabby old Talbot van which looked like it had not moved in ages and I always find this intriguing.  Therefore I did not miss the opportunity to chat with it’s owner on my return from one of Rita’s walks.  His name was Pascal who was originally from the Czech Republic even though he had been in France a long time.  He lived in St Andre on the aire in his muraled motorhome and he seemed pretty much installed there and even his son and daughter went to the local school.  He seemed a happy peaceful character and talked positively as we shared a beer and a couple of hand rolled cigarettes about the town inhabitants and local police in terms of their acceptance to him, which as he was Rastafarian living on the margins of accepted society spoke volumes about the town and France’s culture.  This may link to the fact that in France you can easily become of no fixed abode without the obstacles placed on you in the UK.  In France you apply to a local mayor and then he assigns a nomadic status for you which entitles access to all the same rights as a person with a conventional residential address which is considerably much better, easier and less discriminative than the UK, as anybody who has attempted to move outside the traditional system will acknowledge.

With our days now numbered we wanted to move much nearer to Calais and have the luxury of our final two night stop over before going home.  Montreuil was highlighted on the map and again it was an Aire that we had been to in 2016.  Then we drove around the ring road without entering the town centre to access the aire in hope to use the services only, but resurfacing of the car park prevented us from stopping.  What we did use though on that visit was the new automated toilet which we smirked to ourselves as we read the camper contact reviews was believed to be a location frequented by a local prostitute with her clients, really sometimes I wonder what these people are seeing or even what world they come from!!!!

This time we did park on one of the motorhome dedicated spots, which are nicely partitioned by small lines of shrubs, for the planned two nights.  Montreuil is an interesting town and I recommend anyone to go there.  If you like shops and restaurants there are plenty of these placed around the square and the streets behind but it was the wall that surrounds completely the town that we really liked, especially as you can walk along the top of it enjoying views of the old town to one side and the countryside on the other.

20180318_115041

It was cold in Montreuil as Sharon’s clothes demonstrate.  However the weather did not distract from the town’s splendider.

20180318_103650

The walk on top of the wall was a great way to pass a few hours.  Montreuil or Montreuil-sur-Mer as it was once a seaside town but due to tidal changes it now lies 10 miles inland.  This fact reminded us of Pevensey where we worked last summer and will be returning to this year where the now inland castle was once on the coast.

After two relaxing nights we woke up early and decided to use these extra hours to drive to Belgium so that we could make a bulk tobacco purchase.  Once again we choose Adinkirke as our destination and we were literally in and out within the hour as we refrained from having some Belgium frites for lunch.

Adinkirke

It always seems wrong buying tobacco in bulk but when you look at the economics it just makes sense.  Tobacco Alley in Adinkirke, Belgium.

As we trundled back over the border we noticed that Grand Fort Philippe now seems to sport an Aire, we don’t know whether this is just a location we had overseen or whether it was a new installation, inconsequently, upon arrival we were pleased with our new find.  On the morning I took a long walk out to the light house in the strong winds, we even spotted a large seal on the estuary sea defence who seemed completely oblivious to us walking just several metres above.  I like these small wind swept north west coastal French towns, not maybe for their beauty or their weather, but for my time spent imagining (in a positive way) who lives here and about the lives they lead.

20180319_165218

The estuary at Grand Fort Philippe

So on the 20th March we were unhappily waiting for our train back to the UK where we would be based until November.  We have had a another great trip, this one life changing again, but for a different reason than the others.  The life change would be now having Rita in our lives but we are both looking forward to see how that chapter develops.  It also shows us how different things can turn out as originally this was supposed to be a trip with a more cultural emphasis where we would use last summer’s earnings on entrance tickets to cathedrals and museums, instead though it has gone on dog food!!!!

20180316_102630

Rita has turned out to be a fine motorhome dog.  New challenges lie ahead for all of us as we return to the UK where we will be in one place for six months.

Une quinzaine de Français – A Fortnight in France.

Week 1, 8th March to 14th March 2018

The finale to our current trip through France, Spain, Portugal and Spain again was of course France.  Leaving San Sebastian was early and uneventful as my birthday hangover and tiredness was no where near as acute as normal (cue: Lagos, 2017, which took a full two days to recover from) and our drive over the border to Dax in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France was completed in the sunshine.

Of course we had co-ordinates for a free aire as we were now in the leading country for motorhoming (in our opinion) and this lay adjacent to the town’s bull ring but also right next to the wheelie bins for the local Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.  We decided that since we were this close that a fix of American fried food would be what we needed causing I am sure many a local chef to ‘disapprove’ as our purchase from the Colonel meant that we missed out on one of their probably much better ‘plat de jours’.  As a point of reference, the KFC cost us 20 euros for two people so joking aside, a plat de jour for that money is a possibility.

Dax bull ring

The Andalucian styled bull ring at Dax

We found Dax itself a pleasant place with a town centre that actually had people wandering around unlike so many other French locations.  Also for me and Rita who whilst on a walk discovered the large park in the grounds of the bull ring, where on this mid week afternoon was taken up by multiple boule games, where over 100 local people battled it out on the shingle park paths.

We were travelling quite slow as we still had plenty of time before our ferry was booked meaning that we drove to the next region and decided to stay at Casteljaloux, Lot-et-Garonne.  However this small shunt north was enough to return back to poor weather swapping the sunshine for drizzle and this meant the massive nearby LeClerc had it’s attractions.  We actually made some purchases, Sharon optimistically bought some sunglasses and I decided I needed some new cheap pumps to kick about in.  We spent two nights here chilling out, I managed a visit to the local ‘Grand Cafe’ where I enjoyed a few Pelforths chatting to a local cyclist and we all survived a rainy walk taking in the historical old town and river side.  Also quite comically due to my poor French and the Pelforths, I enquired at a vets about how much they charged to complete the ‘5 day before travel health check’ where Rita got placed on the scales, she now weighs 13.2 Kgs which is slightly more than when she was picked up by 2ndhand4footers back in August 2017, which we both concluded was a good thing as we think she looks in great condition.

Casteljoux houses

Old timber framed houses dotted the town of Casteljaloux

We continued north choosing a small village called Clérac in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France  as our next stop.  The free aire was a picture of tranquillity as it lay on the outskirts of the village next to a small lake in park land which seemed popular with local dog walkers.  Sharon’s recent purchase proved to be enough for the weather gods to change their minds about the climate as we discovered the local area in blazing sun.  We also found the two privately owned chateaux and a football game taking place at the village’s ground.  We also discovered that the village’s bakery and shop were closed meaning we would have to survive on stock that lay around in the cupboards.

20180311_145402

Our parking place at sleepy Clerac, we had the place to ourselves until Tim and Martha pitched up!!!  “We hope you guys are doing well, we would love to see you again and lets try and meet up in Portugal winter 2018…..”

Upon return to the aire another motorhome had appeared and since it was a tag axle Autotrial we guessed correctly that it was an English van.  The occupants were lazing around on a nearby picnic bench with their dogs and also intriguingly looked to be of a similar age to us.   Naturally we went over and introduced ourselves and as history has proven we ended up sharing our travel stories and exchanging notes of places to visit and see.  Two memories of our meet up with Tim and Martha was that it was their second night on the road with their new motorhome and they were full of excitement, as we were in 2016.  Also, they had just started and were embarking on their adventure and we were depressingly on the way home, leaving us with a really happy feeling for them and a slight depression for us, we had to make the most of our now short time on the road.  The second memory was that we decided to cook for them and to Sharon’s despair she managed to cook such a small portion of rice that it was almost embarrassing, even Tim commented once we had served them undersized portions and him noticing the very small amount left for us “Aren’t you guys going to eat?” and us in return feigning that we had small appetites.  I reckoned that Sharon must have being seeing double due to all the wine as normally she cooks far too much!!!

Verteuil-sur-Charante was next up and we instantly fell in love with this small town with it’s skyline that is dominated by the Chateux de Verteuil.  Again, another free excellent aire nearby to the river that winds itself through the centre.  Heavy rain greeted our arrival and following on from the closed shops of Clerac we needed to find some local amenities, after all this is France and often local shops are closed at seemly sporadic hours.  Digging out my Camino waterproof, I ventured into the town finding that I had just missed the opening hours of the small supermarket (it was 12:40) and I therefore had to venture into the often scary for non french speakers looking local butchers purchasing some massive pork chops and selection of locally grown vegetables.

20180313_140846

The town of Verteuil in the distance.  As we walked around we picked up by chance the ‘Camino de Frances’

Verteuil was such a beautiful town that we decided to stay another night and enjoyed a long walk through the surrounding country side on our second day.  It was Tuesday afternoon and therefore we were confident that the local shop would be open, I had even checked the opening hours that morning on Rita’s walk as we needed some supplies (editors note, read: beers for Matt) but of course it was not open and we were met with a had written sign saying due to ‘exceptional’ reasons the shop was closed.  Therefore I was really pleased when the occupants of the French registered motorhome that was neighbouring us were sitting on the communal bench and instantly offered if we wanted a beer in native southern English accents.  Mike and Michelle were living in the Charante region and were staying at Verteuil for family reasons and it seemed they wanted a blow out from their recent loss and therefore we joined on the bench enjoying their cold Spanish beer in exchange for our warm french wine, cheers and merci beaucoup!!!

20180312_124013

We picked up this bottle of lemonade from the butchers in Verteuil, I think the label is pretty cool!!