Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Second Week

Monday 14-3-16

Last night I had a success with the slow cooker beef bourguignon, that’s going to be a regular on the menu.  We watched The Lady In The Van after dinner, I suggested Lizzie was a bit like Maggie Smith in the film, sleeping in a van and talking tosh.  I was terribly wrong about this it seems.  Anyway, good film, 3 stars.  Monday saw us on a boring, but free motorway, the A75.  Popped off it for a bit of shopping and ended up splashing out on two new hand towels.  Lizzie says that’s my treat for the week.  I’m over the moon.  Back on the A75 and then turned off it just before the peage for the Millau Bridge.  Darth Garmin tried to send us down a goat track and we had to have words, we both settled on a single track road with sheer drops down to the river Tarn.  After a good deal of buttock clenching around blind bends we found the parking we’d been looking for.  A nice one outside a troglodyte village called Peyre that has a stunning view of the bridge.

We lunched, dozed, and then had a hilly walk around the pretty village.  I was impressed with a church built into the rock face.

I prepped the Toulouse Sausage ragout, which meant de-skinning the foreign bangers and frying up the meat and adding an aubergine and parmesan sauce.  Served up over some big pasta shells it was a big hit with the crew of Van Brian. A couple of episodes of Dickensian, some fannying around to get an arty farty photo of the bridge at night (failed) and a few bottles of Leffe Blonde saw out the day.

Free car park at Peyre, France, N44.09236 E002.99677

Tuesday 15-3-16

Up and away after the usual coffee and toast.  We headed east and skirted around Montpelier. I managed to end up going through an underpass with a 2.4m height limit, the height barrier had rubber flaps and they touched our skylight as I went under them.  I closed my eyes and drove into the tunnel after noting all the scraps on the concrete ceiling.  We came out unscathed but shaken.  Lidl for bread and milk then the satnav was asked to find us an aire.  It did and we were parked up for lunch with five other French motorhomes outside a pleasant town called St Mathieu de Treviers.  Liz had the deckchair out and was reading her book in the sun before I’d switched off the engine.  First job was my head, or hair to be precise.  Liz got the clippers out and in five minutes I was sporting a bonce a 70’s skinhead would be proud of.  You can see the remains of my hair in the pic below.

In the afternoon we did a route march around the town, usual French retail scene, all the shops closed while the staff snooze.  Still it keeps our daily budget in check if we can’t spend it.  Then back to the van for dinner, pork steaks in a creamy mustard sauce with fried potatoes, a camping favourite.  I sorted our route out for tomorrow, destination Goudargues, a nice town we’ve stopped at a few times in the past, via an Orange phone shop in the city of Ales (don’t even ask).  We watched Inception after dinner with that awfully nice Leonardo lad in it.  It’s about people living in dreams but not knowing they are.  I’m going to buy one of those little spinning tops tomorrow.

Aire at St Mathieu De Treviers, France, N43.76207 E003.85982

Wednesday 16-3-16

I got collared by one of those old blokes, who likes a chat, while having my early morning coffee and fag outside the van.  I don’t mind a chat but he insisted on using French, Liz rescued me and he twittered on at her for a while.  First stop of the day was the Orange phone shop in Ales.  Dealing with phone personnel and parking in a city centre, all my dreams come true.  It was actually quite painless, parked in the street outside a tabac and when we found it the lady in the phone shop even smiled as she resolved our problem.  Ignoring Darth Garmin, as he tried to send us through the medieval city centre, we skirted around Ales and headed for Goudargues.  It started to spit, then it rained, and rained, and rained.

We parked up next to the river and had a walk around the town in the rain, did I mention the rain?  Bought bread from the market that was so dense it needed toasting before we could eat it. On the way back to the van we met the owner of the campsite that we’ve stopped at in previous years, Renaud.  He offered to open up the closed campsite so we could use the facilities, which was nice of him but we had an empty crapper and grey waste tank and a full water tank.  So we thanked him but declined the offer.  A nice man.

The rain cut short my plans for a game of boule on the town Petanquery, so a snooze, two crosswords, some laptop fannying, prepping a meal for tomorrow in the slow cooker and then cooking that night’s dinner saw the rest of the afternoon out.  Sausages, green beans and noodles did us for dinner, it was better than it sounds.  We had a showing of The Grand Budapest Hotel, one of my favourites, then retired to the sound of torrential rain on the van roof.

Free camping at Goudargues, France N44.21463 E004.46958

Thursday 17-3-16

Van Brian is at the seaside! We’d woke up, much like when we’d gone to sleep, to the sound of torrential rain on the van roof.  Looking on the map we’d decided to head for the coast.  Which meant dealing with Marseille and its traffic.  At least when we hit the city the sun had come out.  It took us half an hour to get through, all the while smelling our dinner cooking in the slow cooker. And then on the way out, at the top of a winding road, we passed the Paul Ricard Circuit.  We did a big shop in a tatty Lidl getting meat, wine and beer for three days.  By half one we’d made it to the coast at St Mandrier Sur Mer and secured the last place in the towns free motorhome aire.

We had a good walk around and saw lots of “no motorhome parking” signs, although a lot of people seemed to be ignoring this, perhaps they’re tolerated out of season?  There’s a big harbour here with some seriously big yachts and a beach that you could imagine being packed in the summer.

   The evening consisted of slow cooked pork crepinettes with new potatoes and a good helping of Lidl’s one euro a litre Merlot in a box.

The evenings viewing was The People Vs Larry Flint, isn't Courtney Love an awful actress?

Free Aire at St Mandrier sur Mer, France N43.07774 E005.90443

Friday 18-3-16

We woke to sunshine and all in the world of Van Brian was right.  A quick download at the aires free services, poo and grey water and an upload of fresh water, then we were off, following the coastline with some great views of the sea on our right.

After sixty miles the satnav found us an aire by a beach near Ramatuelle.  This one charged 8.50 euros a night but was worth it, lots of room, free Wi-Fi and 30m from the beach.  In fact we decided to have two nights here.  There’s a rugby game tomorrow I don’t want to miss and the Wi-Fi is a way we can watch it.  We sat outside soaking up the sun then had a walk down the beach.

Small beach bar cafes were full of people having lunch, we settled on scrambled egg and the last of our British bacon in wraps back at Van Brian.  The slow cooker had been on all the while we were driving with a chicken and Potato gratin creation bubbling away for our dinner.  After eating this culinary delight we walked down the beach in very bright moonlight.  The little bar restaurant on the beach had a couple of tables occupied and the waiter was stood outside having a fag.  He asked us not to drown in the sea as he’d had far too many catastrophes that night already, kind of put us off popping in for a bite to eat but good advice none the less.  Back at Van Brian we finished the night off watching The Campaign, funny film, especially liked the kids confessions around the dinner table.

Aire at Ramatuelle, France N43.21204 E006.66174

Saturday 19-3-16

Van Brian’s still at the same aire, after deciding to have a day off driving.  We walked to the town and bought some food from the local Spar, a 4 mile round trip including taking the wrong road and having to walk back along the beach.

It was a van maintenance afternoon, we needed to get some laundry done and the Spar had a laundrette next door.  We drove back to town, dumped our load in its shiny machines, a first for both of us, I’d never been in a laundrette in my life.

I took a siesta and then it was done, nice clean pants again.  Back at the aire we mucked the van out, sealed a leaky joint, installed an outside sensor for a thermometer and gave the bathroom a good going over.  This aimless touring is hard work. As its free Wi-Fi we decided to upload this week’s blog post.  So here it is, hope you enjoy reading about our idle life.

Aire at Ramatuelle, France N43.21204 E006.66174

Below are the updated facts and figures, got to get that daily cost down or I’ll have to get a job.


  1. An enjoyable read whilst having my cup of tea. Thanks Kev & Liz ��

  2. Well, you are having a fab time, another great week. I didn't realise a sat nav directed you to an aire, that's great. Loving your meals, you're going to have to write a recipe book for campers. Saw you with the French stick in your back pack, oh the memories, but you hadn't bitten the top off! Are you still within your budget? Looking forward to next week's blog, take care both of you x

    1. Thanks Julie, bit over budget but not a big issue. Cheers :)

  3. Film reviews as well..what a bonus..:)

  4. It's all part of the service ��

  5. Cracking stuff. Enjoying this - fine therapy for those of us still daft enough to be working.


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