Motorhoming in France … Sand beneath his paws

We left the village where my sister lives, a couple of days ago, to be honest the camera hasn’t really shown it’s face, the weather has been so grey and so miserable, I found it difficult to get motivated. I think I took 3 photos while we were there! This is one that I find quite beautiful – a hellebore in her garden, as you see after yet another rain shower!

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It’s been raining again!

It’s so good to be back in Harry again, I’d really missed him/her!! I just love this way of life, although it was such a thrill to see my family, it was a perfect break although let’s not mention the weather eh?

We were making our way to the coast, we thought it would be good to see Charlie on a beach again and after all, he was a little down in the mouth. We headed towards the west coast and stopped on route in a tiny village called Rochefort sur Loire, this was in fact our second choice as the first aire we had chosen was totally flooded. I don’t know how much rain they’ve had here in France while we’ve been sunning it up in Southern Spain, but every single waterway we came across was bursting it’s banks, some quite scarily.

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Burst river banks

We thought to set up the van next to an overflowing Loire River probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do and so left as soon as we arrived. It was getting late and the sky was getting blacker by the minute. On arriving in the little village, could we find the motorhome aire? could we heck as like! We did see another motorhome (more fools motorhoming out of season!) and decided to pitch up in the same area. We had a bit of a problem in that we had no water in the van, even though we’d filled up, we’d somehow sprung a leek during the journey and were bone dry, we had bottled water for drinks, but not enough for cooking and it also meant we had no heating!!! Fingers were crossed as we hoped it wouldn’t be a really cold night.

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Rochefort sur Loire

We walked in the miserable weather to the village and bought some more water and a loaf of bread, we crossed over the swollen river and into the village, which I’m quite sure is a beautiful sight on a summer’s day full of tourists, however with the wind whipping our faces and the rain coming down horizontally it left a lot to be desired. I think that’s probably why the photos are black and white! Suited my mood!

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Such a large church for such a small village!

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So typically French

No sooner had we made a coffee, we noticed the other van left. We were on our own! We had always said that we weren’t really ‘wild campers’ but we had no choice, we were on the side of a road, near a flooding river and it was dark, wet and cold, we had no heating and we were shattered after a journey navigating through ‘delightfully quaint’ villages with narrow roads, narrow bridges and flooded fields. We settled in for the night, extra blankets and covers on the bed. Would we be moved on by the police in the middle of the night? Would we be flooded? Would we be mugged? Hell no, we slept like babies and woke refreshed at 7 the next morning! We sat watching cars zipping along the main road on their way to work! We looked at the map and chose our route, we’d already changed our mind at least 5 times as to our destination and now we were firmly set on the Ile d’Oleron, a little island just off the coast, very close to La Rochelle.

To access the island we crossed a very long aqueduct and I noticed as we crossed the weather just seemed to clear a little.

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Aqueduct to the Island of Oleron

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One of the many forts off the island

We drove almost the length of the island and arrived at the campsite I’d made a note of, well it was the only one open so we didn’t really have much choice! I jumped out and went to the reception, closed! WHAT? It can’t be!!  It said in the book, it was open all year, I pushed doors and I pulled doors, to no avail, it was well and truly closed up! A man walked up to the van and informed the Hubster that it was closed until April! I was having none of it, I noticed a telephone number on the door and in sheer desperation I called. A man answered and I explained we were at the gates. No problem he said, he would be there in an hour, if we wanted to have a walk around the site and choose a pitch! Phew! Thank goodness we didn’t just drive off!

An hour and a half later we were installed, the sun came out, the sky turned blue and Charlie was delighted to be back out in his little trailer home!

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1, 2, 3, and relax

The site is lovely although as it is out of season there are so few facilities apart from a very luxurious spa and swimming pools, which most people would really love, we, however, are not into swimming. We’re surprised to find that even the water is switched off apart from one tap!!! There are only two toilet cubicles open and the shower facilities are those of the spa, which are beautifully, luxurious but quite a walk away.  We’ve resorted to filling the van from the tap and using our shower which is lovely. The site is largely kitted out with little white static holiday homes and after peering through the window of a couple of them, have given them the thumbs up.

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The white houses

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Harry fitting right in

– so we set off this morning to find a little something special for ‘the boy’. We noticed a gateway at the back of the campsite that led to a roaring noise … sea side?????

Lovely sandy paths through the dunes and out the other side to …

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Path to the beach

… yep, the seaside, complete with beach!!

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Tide’s out

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View over the dunes

 

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Where the sea once was!

Charlie was in his element … sniffing every single grain of sand, we thought we’d never be able to get him back again!

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Happy Chappy

I just love this next photo, he looks positively manic!!!

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“Sand under my paws, Yeah Baby!!!”

One thing that did concern us, was the presence of Processionary Caterpillars, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of these. Their nests are found in Pine trees and we noticed one on the side of the dune walk.

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Processionary Caterpillars, Beware

While in Spain, we actually got used to seeing men all togged up, in all-in-one white suits and masks, they looked like forensic examiners, but they were in the campsites to spray pesticides to rid the camp of these little blighters. The first time we saw them we thought there had been a Camper to Camper murder!!

How dangerous can a caterpillar be? Surely they are harmless enough after all they are just caterpillars, believe me they are far from harmless, they can be absolutely lethal to dogs! The caterpillar has poisonous hairs and just one hair coming into contact with the dog or  falling into a dog’s water bowl can be fatal! The dogs become apathetic, and have white foam frothing at the mouth. It’s a horrible and painful death for the dog, in some cases the tongue can fall off! It causes kidney failure and it just makes me shudder to think about it. We’d never heard of these before and yet they are very prevalent in Spain and France. They can also cause allergic reactions in humans too. So please, if you’re out and about do be extra vigilant. You can Google “Processionary Caterpillars” and you will find lots of information about them.

In the meantime, we’re keeping a sharp eye out and protecting the ‘Boy’. We have no plans as to where we’re going next, today has been a relaxing (nay LAZY) day, so tomorrow we must get our backsides into gear and ‘do’ something. I will post a blog as soon as I have something that I think you’ll enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Motorhoming in France … Sand beneath his paws

  1. The flowers are beautiful. Those caterpillars sure do sound nasty. *shiver* Good for you for calling. It’s wonderful to see Charlie so happy.

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