Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Bonjour ma famille et mes amies

Bonjour ma Famille et mes Amies!

Saturday 31st October to Monday 2nd November 2015

The T4rdis's mileage on arrival in France - 4820

Well, we've finally made it across the water but not without a few hiccups along the way!

Hiccup number 1 -We left our campsite in Ripley at about 11am on Saturday morning with a plan to drive down to Newhaven, park up overnight and then catch the 10.30am ferry over to Dieppe the following morning - and that's exactly what we did.  However, the 200 mile journey down took quite a bit longer than expected, mostly because in several places, we got caught up in very slow moving traffic and by the time we arrived it was pitch dark.   This resulted in worries about finding a parking spot,  but in the end it wasn't a problem.  We headed straight for the port and the very kind lady in reception said we were fine to park and sleep in the car park, therefore The T4rdis very quickly found itself tucked in between a building site on one side and a HGV  park with lots of lorries on the other.  Having said that, we spent a very comfortable night, and following our KFC supper we were soon snoozing, then up bright and early next morning and on our chocks in the queue ready for our crossing.    

Our overnight sleeping spot
It was in a state of quite high excitement, but with a fair measure of trepidation thrown in, that we boarded and then watched the ferry chug out of Newhaven, and it was here that hiccup number 2 struck.

We thought the crossing would take about 4 hours so we'd planned to treat ourselves to lunch on board. However, this wasn't to be - because by the time we'd messed about exploring the boat, had coffee and read for a while - the dining room was shut - because we were nearly there!
Therefore, no lunch for us, but on the plus side, the crossing hadn't taken as long as we'd expected.

And, as an added bonus, the sun was shining brightly to welcome us to France.  We pottered off the boat, through passport control and out off Dieppe without incident, and John very quickly regained his confidence at driving on the 'wrong' side of the road.

Then came hiccup number 3.  We were heading for an Aire (a motorhome parking area) at Auffay, but when we got there it turned out to be just a service area, and although we could probably have got away with stopping there overnight we decided not to.  We continued on for about another 20 km and stopped at a lovely little Aire at Cleres,  but this led to hiccup number 4. Unfortunately, the service point, where you can access water, and sometimes electricity, had been vandalised so neither were available, and although we could manage without power, our water level was quite low! Therefore, what we had was mostly reserved for cooking and drinking, and washing was demoted to baby wipes!

All in all, we managed quite well - I cooked a chilli which wasn't the best but as we had missed lunch we weren't to fussy, and even though the T4rdis had been hiding in the hold of the ship, thus reducing the amount of solar power we had collected, the leisure batteries lasted until we went to bed.

Our final hiccup was our inability to connect to the Internet.  John and I both have 3 phone contracts with unlimited data, and before leaving England I'd checked and with their 'feel at home' offer we knew we could use up to 500mgb of data (for a 2 month period each) without being charged any extra.  Therefore, my sneaky plan was to put one of the sims into our unlocked EE modem so that we could log on with our other devices - WRONG (John said it wouldn't work) - even with an adaptor the modem wouldn't recognise the sim.  So now our internet access will be quite limited - but we do have one or two other tricks up our sleeves so fingers crossed one of them will work - at least some of the time.

On Sunday morning we left the Aire and headed south to a camp site about 20 km outside Chartres.  I had read about Chartres's Notre-Dame Cathedral, along with it's light show (Chartres en Lumière), in another blog, and although I knew the light show had finished in mid October I still quite wanted to see the Medieval building which is UNESCO listed.

We arrived at the camp site 'Les Ilots de Saint Val' and managed to communicate with the owner that we wanted to stay 2 nights, and we even managed to buy 48 hours worth of internet access for 3 euros.  Once settled (on the rather muddy site) we toddled off for a walk around the surrounding leafy lanes and fishing pools, and with the  mid afternoon sun beating down and  making us over warm  (even though we were only wearing short sleeved t-shirts) you would never have guessed it was the first day of November.


When we got back to the T4rdis we did a little more planning and decided that the next day (Monday) we would try to follow the V40 cycle trail into Chartres to see the Cathedral, but this didn't quite work out as planned either.

See original image
As we didn't get to see it in the flesh I stole this off Google!
When we drew back the blinds back in the morning it was to find quite dense mist and murk - the question was should we cycle or should we stay where it was warm and dry.  In the end cycling won out so we wrapped up warm and set off.  We joined the V40 cycle trail at Villiers-le-Morhier and started merrily cycling along, and as we regularly saw cycling signs  for Chartres we thought we were on the right track. We passed through Hanches where we found this lovely little Church, and as it had been All Saint's Day the day before, the grave yard was festooned with chrysanthemums (a French tradition apparently)

We continued on to Epernon, and it was here that John realised we had made a bit of a mistake - the air went rather blue!  We were at least 15 km down the track - in the wrong direction - for some reason John's inbuilt compass had gone on strike!

By this time it was to late to re-route to Chartres, so instead we headed for Maintenon where we  knew there was a Château and an ancient aqueduct.   

You can just about see the Château through the arch 
Château Maintenon

When we arrived we had our  picnic lunch and then a little mosey around the town with a few photo stops but we didn't linger long because we were both starting to feel a bit cold, and I thought we still had quite a long ride to get back.  However, this was not so - Maintenon was only about 6kms from our campsite so the return journey didn't take long at all.  

On our return we quickly did our housework - swept the floor, emptied the loo, filled up with clean water, and then settled in with a nice cuppa.

We also did a bit more planning for the next few days.  The question was should we dawdle and take our time going down through France, or should we get a shuffty on  and try and stay in front of the cold weather - the jury is suggesting not lingering to long - but our priorities for tomorrow are food shopping and getting fuel for the T4rdis.  Then I think we're heading for an Aire at Chateaudun - about 45kms down the road - where we may visit The Grottes du Foulon (luminated caves) if they are still open.

Finally, Ben sent me this lovely pic of him and Evelyn, so as a very proud Mommar, I thought I'd share! xx