Sunday, 13 March 2016

The First Week

Wednesday 9-3-16

After a Bon Voyage take away curry on Tuesday night I was up at half five on the toilet reducing the fully laden weight of the van. By seven we were heading South in the rain with the commuters and lorry drivers feeling smug. After the usual traffic tossary on the A14 at Huntingdon the rest of the drive to the tunnel was trouble free. Coffee and a heart breakingly expensive croissant for brunch at a random motorway services and then onto the channel tunnel train. About ten cars, us and a bus full of Romanians took the 12:20 to France.

We have a few places on the list for this week, the first being a big supermarket in Luxembourg for cheap ciggies. So I set the satnav for there and when it got to beer o’clock we found an aire to stop the night at, Luxembourg could wait till tomorrow. We found the local bar, which wasn’t hard as we’d stopped at the same place last year.

 Lidl meatballs, a spicy tom sauce and rice did us for dinner. We cuddled, sang each other love songs then retired to bed. I made two of the last three things up.

Free Aire in Bavey, France N50.30002 E003.79588

Thursday 10-3-16

We breakfasted on homemade bread we’d brought with us, toasted on the magic stove top toaster.

 Showered then hit la Rue. By lunch we were sat having lunch in The Cactus supermarket carpark in Luxembourg. 2,000 ciggies were purchased and a plastic bowel and a bathmat. All were items needed to continue our trip in the style we’ve become accustomed to. The sun came out and we idled down the non-motorway roads of Northern France. We’re heading for Genoa in Italy to get a ferry for Sardinia but I like the Millau Bridge and although it’s nowhere near our route we decided to head that way. There’s an aire in the valley that gives you great views of the bridge. That’s a long way away so we did the usual, where we set the satnav to take us there but when we want to stop driving, find an aire for the night. This we did in a small town with an aire next to the canal.

For dinner Liz had, for the first time in her life, a fried egg and bacon sandwich. She’s quite upset now at the thought of what she’s missed all these years. I had take away curry from Little India in Elton, Nottinghamshire. I’d planned ahead and bought two of everything I ate on Tuesday and stashed the spare curry, rice and naan in the fridge. The toilet would need emptying tomorrow. After dinner we got out the wine and the hard drive and turned the lights off for a showing of Mad Max Fury Road on our state of the art, on-board entertainment system, or as Liz likes to call it, her laptop.

Free Aire in Dieue-Sur-Meuse, France N49.07053 E005.42644

Friday 11-3-16

Had a lay in with a Merlot induced fuzzy head. Breakfasted on the last of my homemade bread then carried on South West at about 10:00am. A quick stop at Lidl for bread and potatoes then onwards to visit four aires. We needed water and to dump the crapper. All four were on the route so not a chore to visit them, but all had the water taps locked off to stop them freezing up. There’s snow on the ground in some places.

 We did dump the crapper at one, so not all lost. By lunch we decided to stop and found the fifth aire of the day. A nice one by a river.

 Lunch, snooze, walk around town then a bit of messing on the laptop, getting photos off cameras and track logs off the satnav, then writing up these ramblings. Hope you all appreciate the hours of toil I put into this tosh? We dined on the last of the meatballs, I cracked open far too may bottles of Lidl Grey Goose IPA and then watched Bridge Of Spies. Isn’t Tom Hanks a lovely man?

Free Aire in Goncourt, France N48.23677 E005.60911

Saturday 12-3-16

Frost on the windows but snug under the duvet with the heating on. Up and away for 9am with water on our mind, my shower this morning had taken us to dangerously low levels. Stopped at a small garage as it had a tap on the wall, the lady said they’d had such a bad winter all the outside taps were turned off. But 20km up the road we followed a Motorhome service point sign and found a privately owned aire where the water was on. 3 euro in the machine got us 120 litres.

 Now one of my most hated retail outlets is the phone shop, so to make my day we visited one, on a Saturday, in a massive retail park in Dijon. After half an hour and some very indifferent service we walked out with a 3 gig Orange data sim. We made a hasty retreat back to the rural Route Nationals and D roads. Looked at two grotty town centre Aires on the route, but neither had that feeling you get when you know you’ll be comfortable stopping at them, then found a very quiet town square in a town in the hills.

 The sun was out and we had chicken Basquaise planned for dinner. We wandered around the town heard a dog bark and saw a curtain twitch, apart from that it was lifeless. The chicken was tasty and I put all the ingredients for a beef bourguignon in the slow cooker ready for it to cook while we drive South tomorrow. Nothing like planning ahead. Tonight’s entertainment was following the England Wales game on the BBC website, great win by us, watching Iron Sky (Mini Review: Absolute pants, 1 Star) and drinking the left over Merlot from the bourguignon.

Free camping in town square, Larochemillay, France N46.87782 E004.00095

Sunday 13-6-16

The bells, the bells! Not that bad but better than any alarm clock. During the night one of the two
refillable 11kg gas bottles ran out, the one being used for the heating and hot water. So chilly van and what was left of the hot water ran out half way through hair conditioner rinsing time for Lizzie. She uncaringly woke me to tell me this. So I was up like a flash and outside twiddling the knobs to turn on the full bottle. LPG fill up on the list for today’s jobs. I sat eating my breakfast with the door open, Lizzie was outside having a fag, a Sparrow Hawk flew by her head chasing a Sparrow, the Sparrow flew in the open door and sat above me, I screamed like a girl and the Sparrow flew back out the door. Too much excitement for Sunday morning. Drove for a couple of hours to the smell of our dinner cooking in the sink.

We bought bread at a boulangerie, unsuccessfully tried to buy LPG from a closed petrol station then found an aire just North of Vichy. And that’s where we are now, smelling the beef bourguignon cooking, drinking tea and dunking Hob-Nobs. We’re living life in the fast lane as usual.

Free Aire at Le Cheix Sur Morge in France, N45.95133 E003.17806

I'm keeping track of the costs so we don't have to sell the house when we get back.  Some big costs this week, the Orange data SIM and Lizzie treated herself to a pair of Crocs in Lidl.  This is us so far....


  1. Fabulous, what a great read, what a lovely trip and one day I will be doing the same. Keep on with your great diary and I am looking forward to next week.

    1. Thanks Julie. Next Sunday I'll stick another page of irelavent mumblings and accompanying photos.

  2. Hi escapees! Glad you are on the way! Hope the weather warms up soon,Toni on her second sherry and preparing to crash on settee we had slow cooked lamb shoulder garlic and rosemary for dinner,meat fell off the bone Trust you meant plastic Trowel (not Bowel 😊) bottoms up ttxx 🍷

    1. Two sherries is far too many. Bowel should have been bowl. But I quite like the thought of a plastic bowel. One can only dream eh?

    2. Good work ,Kev...we're keeping tabs here from Aus..

  3. Amazing how costs settle down over a period of time. We keep an almost identical spreadsheet to yours on our various trips down to Portugal, Germany, Croatia etc and the costs are not dis-similiar. We don't smoke and probably drink less vino but we eat out more. Interesting blog which we will follow.


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