Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Snow, Sand and Druids

The boys enjoy the beach

Love a palm tree more than snow
St Maxime, near St Tropez, is a busy port town. Mr Fluffy's undies are swinging from the side mirror in the slight breeze as the sun shines brightly, warming the aforementioned to a state of quick-dry snugness. 
Cold Feet

The road ahead

Our nail-biting snowy drive was short lived as we have hit the Mediterranean coast and the weather could not be more gorge. After our last couple of weeks driving through small villages in the centre of France it has come as a bit of a shock to experience such heavy traffic but we'll head off to Spain via the coast and it should improve.
Spot the Dickie

Our first rude Frenchman was encountered yesterday at an Aire not far from here. After being admonished by the wagging finger of the attendant followed by some tuts and shrugs for not parking Dickie directly next to a German van (despite them having their bikes in the space), we decided to leave and carry on to this much nicer site near the beach and port. Hugo has met some cute dogs although, in his excitement, he did almost de-leg a lovely red setter as he wound his lead around the poor animals long legs this morning. Thankfully his owner was English so we could manage the detangle fairly pleasantly. 

Votives in the Notre Dame de Roq in Castellane
We've even managed to find a Druid here.
Tableaux of menhirs and druids in Ste Maxime


Monday, 29 December 2014

Sun and Snow

Tap, tap, tap. Mr Fluffy's underpants were frozen solid. That's what he gets for leaving them out in the snow.
Aubignas

We've spent the last week staying in medieval villages in the south east of France and the weather has been stunning. Christmas Eve gave us a one night break from Dickie when we stayed with an old schoolfriend of mine from Australia who now lives in the Templar village of Richerenches. There were 4 Aussies and a Pom at the table - a bit unusual for these parts I think.
Gordes view

Gordes was the venue for Christmas day followed by Moustiers Ste Marie - stunning villages which looked even better with the sun shining on the surrounding mountains. I've decided I love olive trees. The colour is so soft and welcoming - aaaaah! What a shock when we woke up the next morning to see snow all over the ground. A lovely walk to the local lake followed and we returned - drenched - to head off once again.
 
Moustiers through the olive trees

Sunset at Moustiers Ste Marie

As a suggestion I would warn against driving around the Gorge of Verdon in a snow storm. After a tricky drive to Castellane we spent the night below a gigantic statue of the Notre Dame Du Roq and walked up to her this morning. it was not as hairy as it looked but, due to the overnight snow, it was a tad slippery and Hugo did a few scrabbling dances on the rocks and Mr Fluffy joined in for an occasional unscheduled skating experience now and then.

As the Tom Tom knows all and Mr F will follow it no matter what it says, instead of taking the main road to our current location (Nice) we spent a couple of terrifying hours driving over un-snowploughed roads adjacent to bloodcurdling drops to possible death. Mr F's white knuckles gripped the steering wheel with such vigour that he needed a shot of whisky and a block of cheese when we finally (and safely) reached Nice. The Tom Tom was vindicated as it did help us find an alternative Aire as the main one is jammed with Dickies.

Now to settle down for a night of Antiques Roadshow and a spot of Inspector Morse. Surprisingly the satellite dish still works this far south - hoorah!


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Aubignas

by the lake
The medieval village of Aubignas lies just below us in the valley near the Rhone river and the sun is setting ever so quietly behind the mountains to our right. Graham is sitting in the pique nique spot watching the sunset and  reading his book while I'm writing the blog. We've spent a few days staying in 'les petites villages des caracteres' along the Loire and have now moved on to the Rhone.

Hugo has been enjoying himself immensely, especially today when he hoed into some foie gras, fromage, and reindeer sausage (left over from Norway) at lunchtime. Although he only had a little bit he still managed to throw up, thankfully, on the grass outside the van. No more gout-inducing treats for Hugo, methinks. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of his 'diarrhoea on the duvet' incident which we endured on his first overnight stay.

Graham has successfully been duped into 'taking things slowly' and moving south at a pace where we can still get television reception so I could watch the Strictly Come Dancing final. Hoorah! Even managed The Apprentice final last night. Good to see an Aussie beat 'Les Anglais', by the way.

I thought I'd have a 'Discover Dickie' competition with a few photos of our recent locations. No prizes, just a sense of great achievement when you 'spot the Dickie'. Some of them are not very difficile as you'll see.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Hugo's Dash (Beware - Poetry Alert)

butter wouldn't melt
Graham was cleaning his Dickie
leaving the door ajar
when Hugo
spotting his chance
ran off to chase a car

The driver stopped
and shook his head
Hugo's 'mechant' - means naughty
If he carries on like this
he's not going to make it to 40
(in equivalent dog years)

Dickie Poem

In our wisdom (or lack thereof) we have decided to describe some of our trip using the medium of dance. However as it takes so long to upload videos of ourselves in the throes of a sensual rhumba or jaunty quickstep we will stick to poetry - albeit rubbish poetry. Here is our first one. I'm sure you'll love it - insert smiley face.
Chateaudun
Dickie sits by the river
alone
not a care

then Hugo comes bouncing
and bounding and flouncing
straight back from his romp
to the Aire.

He's been for a walk
for a pee
and a poo
he's met a few people
he's barked
'who are you?'

Dickie smiles
(if he could)
family's back
from the wood.

Hugo's strapped
to the seat
not impressed with his plight
when we stop at the next place
he plans to take flight.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Chateaux, Green Men and Underpants

Dickie in the distance
The Loire is a tad full at the moment after the heavy rain they've had here recently but the last few days have been glorious. We are parked in the shadow of the chateau of Chateaudun, not far from Chartres, and the river has broken its banks in a few places but is not out of control. The town is busy with Christmas shoppers and the boulangeries are as fabulous as ever. We've just consumed a 'cravatte' - no not a neck garment for Terry Thomas fans - a chocolate and custard yummy thing in the shape of a flat rectangle.

Green Man Peeping
We managed to see our first Green Man of the trip. Hiding behind a down pipe in the old town, he peeped out and said hi - in a muffled voice of course as his mouth was full of leaves. Just around the corner is a rather smart set of carved doors I thought worthy of a photograph. These look a little more girly than the Green Man - perhaps they were a couple/threesome.

Green Man's Girlfriends?
Mr Fluffy's underpants have remained unmolested even though he insists on draping them over the back of the van to dry every morning. Quite remarkable. Even in the lovely village of Nonancourt, where we noted a rather 'out-of-character for the place' penis drawn on the road, the inhabitants weren't tempted to nick Graham's genital coverings. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Bienvenue a France

loving this beach
sticks

Arrived to a gorgeous day in Calais and headed straight to the beach at Wissant followed by a second night by the beach at Quend. It's amazing how much fun a dog can have with a feather. 
Dickie in Quend
The beach had a very eerie quality as the low wind and setting sun made the sand swirl like dry ice. I have a video of it which I'll put up shortly.

We're now heading south where the weather is a little more grey. We're in Nonancourt parked up next to a lovely old french mansion...very lovely.

Off We Go

As we sit in Dickie (on 13th Dec) waiting for the train in front of us (which is stuck in the Eurotunnel) to be towed out of the way, I am wondering why Mr Fluffy thought it would be a good idea to feed Hugo the old sardines he has been rejecting all week. Dickie now reeks of rancid warm fish and poo-flavoured warm dog. Hopes for a good resale price for the van are fading fast.
Linda meets Hugo 

Mr Fluffy and our friend Ray on the razzle

After a night of too much red wine (again) with friends in Eastbourne we are once again heading across to the continent, this time southwards in the hope of getting a bit of winter sun. We plan to wend our way through France to Spain and Portugal, catching a few megalithic sites along the way. Will post pics when we get decent wee fee.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Winter Exit

Sunset over Boscastle
We've been very lucky with the weather in Boscastle since we came back from Scandinavia. There's been sunshine, rainbows, and cloudless skies. Cornwall is such a lovely county and we feel like we're on holiday even when we are at home. The murmurations on Bodmin Moor have been rather spectacular too. As the gales and rains start to come in it's now time for us, like the birds, to head south for winter.
Murmuration of starlings at Bodmin Moor
Our trip may be a little different this year as we have Hugo the chorkie to contend with. We've been slowly getting him used to Dickie the Van and he's starting to get more comfortable with it. Unfortunately his first night went a little awry as I foolishly fed him some leftover gnocchi and he had a rather aromatic attack of diarrhea on my duvet. Not something I'll forget in a hurry!  
Hugo learning a few tricks
We'll be starting out a little later this week and have several house sitters booked in over the next few months - funny how people love the idea of a free holiday in Boscastle:). It's great to have the house looked after while we're away. Portugal and Spain are our destinations and we're hoping to check out the sacred sites - stone circles, underground temples and prehistoric cave paintings are on the list. Our friend Paul Broadhurst has given us a list of sacred sites in Portugal that are a bit off the beaten track.

If you're interested we will be restarting this blog to keep track of our travels so check in occasionally if you feel the urge.