Friday, 8 July 2016

T4rdis2 Tour 2. Day 5 - 7 Northern France

Day 5
Tuesday 5th July 2016.  Rain early morning and very windy.  Cloudy through the day but sunny end.

T4rdis2 spent a peaceful night parked up on a free Aire at Le Hourdel, but when we first got up we thought our plans to cycle would either be scuppered or we would get very wet. Happily, neither happened, we dawdled over our 'Full English' breakfast, and then by the time we were ready to go out the rain had cleared leaving cloudy skies but with occasional glimpses of the sun, however, the strong wind did impede our progress at times.

We left T4rdis2 to undertake Le Circuit du Gravelot with a little detour to St Valery sur Somme which we had visited the day before in the van, but because of it's very narrow cobbled streets we didn't linger to explore properly.

You can see why John chose not to take T4rdis2 down
those roads!
The Harbour town is set on the River Somme Estuary and has a lovely tree lined promenade that leads down to the sea, and as we cycled along it we paused on numerous occasions to learn about St Valery's historic past. We learnt about gathering worms! - an occupation that provided a livelihood for many around the turn of the century.  It was usually undertaken by women, and as you would imagine, the pay was poor. Apparently a kilo fetched about 75 centimes, but it was estimated that annually the sales could net 100,000 Francs - that would be a lot of worms!

Amongst other things we also renewed our knowledge about William the Conqueror departing from here in 1066, we learnt that the bay has the largest French seal colony,  and about the masses of migratory birds (at least 360 species) that pass through the bay and use it as a stopover feeding ground.  We also paused for lunch while we were in the town, and then we went for a trip down memory lane!

We visited this part of France 28 years ago when our children were only 8, 5 and 3 and stayed in a ready erected tent at a place called Chateau Drancourt.  Today it's still a 'posh' campsite, but at over 50 euros a night I don't think we'll be revisiting!
Right kids - wrong holiday!

We continued our ride through quite country lanes often lined by fields of swaying wheat or barley which were peppered with bright red poppies, and we frequently passed through little villages that displayed abundant colourful summer flowers in their streets and gardens.

The lanes eventually led us back to the coastal town of Cayeux sur Mer, and it was here amongst the 400 colourful beach huts that we paused on their shingle beach for another break.  The final stretch of our ride took us along Route blanche - a road that the sand dunes have almost claimed for their own.  As we rode sometimes our view was obscured by the dunes, but at other times we could see spectacular vistas over the ocean with brightly coloured kites flying high above.  By now the sun was shining warmly on our backs and this lovely track took us right back to T4rdis2's front door, where we very quickly had the kettle on for a well earned cuppa.

Day 6
Wednesday 6th July 2016.  Hot sunshine all day!

Today dawned hot, bright and sunny, but despite the lovely weather, it was quite a frustrating day.  T4rdis2 needed servicing - our grey water bilges were bulging, our loo needed emptying, we were nearly out of fresh water, our gas tank was deeply in the RED and our food cupboards were almost empty, and the Aire we were parked on had no 'services' available.  However, we were fairly confident that none of the above would be difficult to remedy, and all except one of them were ticked off quickly,

We had already visited the nearby town of Le Crotoy  so we knew there was an Aire there that would meet our emptying out needs, so that was stop 1.  Then, we only had to travel a short distance to a Lidl - tick 2 - our cupboards  were full. Next we planned to address the gas situation - necessary for cooking and running the fridge, especially as we'd planned to continue to use Aires (the fridge runs of the engine battery while we're moving, electric if we're hooked up on a campsite, or gas when on Aires).  Therefore, the obtaining of some was fairly essential, so John had spent quite a while the night before trying to identify where we would be able to obtain some.  He'd identified a garage on the motorway, but that would mean we'd have to pay a dreaded toll, however needs must, so off we went - only to be told on arrival that they no longer stock it. Never mind we thought, we're bound to find some on the way to our next destination - WRONG.  So we backtracked into the town of Abberville - and bingo, we found a garage that stocked it, but we also found that they had a height barrier that prevented T4rdis2 from accessing it.  Now by this time we'd been searching  for about 2 hours so you can imagine how frustrated, grumpy and hot we were - not to mention hungry because we'd missed lunch!  So to lighten the moment I did suggest to John that maybe if we visited one of the many fields of grazing cows, maybe methane would do - but he said he hadn't got the right fitting!

The Town of Long from the side of the Somme
In the end we had to give up, and head for our next destination which was to be the town of Long on the River Somme.  We'd planned to stay on an Aire there for 2 or 3 nights, but right next to it there was a municipal camp site so we pitched up on that and plugged in to preserve our fridge food and cool our cider.  Oh well, salad will be the main thing on the menu for the next couple of days, and we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that we can eek out the gas for the the duration of our stay by being extremely careful with it. But looking on the bright side, the site is lovely, it's only 11 euros per night, and at that, the washing machine and dryer are free - so we'll be leaving here with everything clean again!

Day 7
Thursday 7th July 2016.  Very hot and sunny all day!

Happy Birthday Vicky xx

Not much to write about today except we cycled 68 kms - there and back to Amiens, all along the side of the lovely tranquil River Somme.  Our aim for going was to visit Frances's largest Cathedral - a Notre Dame that dates back to 1220,  but alas, we only got to see the outside, because despite the fact that John had packed our bike locks, he had forgotten the keys - good job he realised before we put them on!  However, we did get to see the stunning Gothic architecture with it's myriads of statues and filigree patterns as we circumnavigated it's massive footprint, and if parking allows we may revisit tomorrow.

Image result for swan with 10 cygnets
As we cycled we did debate if the ride was interesting enough, because although the meanders of the river and the frequent lily covered lakes were very picturesque, the scenery was fairly unchanging with tree clad banks nearly all the way. However, we also had the pleasure watching lots of pretty coloured damsel flies and butterflies, as well as seeing numerous ducks and moorhens with their chicks and also a swan with 10 cygnets - we couldn't quite decide what you would call 10 babies so we settled on 2 sets of quins!

Once back at T4rdis2 we were very glad to rest our weary bones with a nice cold drink followed by our usual predictable cuppa.  At the mo the gas is still holding out but, rather than push our luck, we had a very nice tinned red salmon salad for tea, so hopefully we'll manage till tomorrow when we absolutely must find some - keep your fingers crossed for us!

Until next time xx