On the road again……..

Off we set again on 19thOctober, via a night in Warwick to see Richard and Aoife. Richard treated us to a lovely meal at a country pub and then took us back to our usual Warwick overnight spot…….St. Nicholas Park. We were travelling “light” having just put back in the motorhome the essentials for a two week trip, the intention being to remove all surplus possessions on Liberté and bring them home.

We arrived at Folkestone in plenty of time to catch the previous train to the one we were booked on and we were pleased that it meant we could travel further the other side before getting too tired. We made it by the skin of our teeth as once we got to passport control, suddenly we couldn’t find them! Our spirits sank…..one of us (me) would have to catch the train home and collect them but all the time there was this niggling feeling at the back of my mind that I had checked and they were in here somewhere. A kind and understanding official suggested if we went over to the gendarmes’ booth with our photo driving licences we might be allowed to go across. After some Gallic shrugging and pondering we were told we could proceed. We decided we would phone Andrew as soon as we could and ask him to go round to our house and find them and post them over to us at the marina. We hadn’t time to do it then as we had 2 minutes to drive onto the train or we’d have had to wait another hour.

So over (or under) we went, my stomach and mind doing somersaults about what had just happened and wondering where the passports could possibly be. For a number of reasons that I won’t go into, to say it had been a stressful few days before we left would be an understatement, clear thinking is not easy at times like this but we are usually organised with travel documents, we have to be!

It seemed no time at all before we were disembarking and having had a sandwich en route we got on the motorway towards Belgium intending to get as far as we could before dark. After an hour or so we stopped to phone Andrew to arrange for him to go and see if he could find our passports, we said not to rush getting them in the post that day but just to text us if he found them or not and he said he’d go round after work. I then got up to make a brew and as I stood up from my seat I noticed both our passports sticking out from underneath it. See, told you I knew we had them when we left home! Neither of us has any memory of taking them out of the folder we keep them in, stress does funny things to you….BUT what a relief!

We stopped overnight in Namur and then the next day we drove through Luxembourg and filled up with “cheap” diesel. We use this route in the camper (depending on where we’re going in France of course) to avoid using the toll roads which can work out expensive as for some of them we are charged at Class 3. We had intended arriving in St. Jean de Losne the same day but we stopped in Toul as we were tired and it didn’t really make much difference.

On Wednesday 22nd we arrived in St. Jean and it being Wednesday we frequented the Bar de la Brasserie for “Strictly come Drinking” for a couple of hours in the evening. It was good to meet up and have a natter with old friends. We had numerous invites out for lunch and evening meals which was lovely but bearing in mind we had really gone to work, we decided to arrange a lunchtime meal with a big group as we wouldn’t have had enough time to get everything done otherwise. We also had a lovely meal out on our Ruby Wedding anniversary with good friends Pete and Alison.

Cheers…here’s to the next 40 years!
Thanks for the photo, Alison x
26th October 1974

The evening before we were invited to Sandy’s apartment for supper and a catch up which was very pleasant. On the Tuesday we booked a table for 9 for our lunchtime meal, it was initially going to be 13 of us but 4 couldn’t make it in the end. It was a very pleasant occasion, good company and good food.

Lunch at L’Ecu

Tuesday was actually the only day we had off! The rest of the time we were emptying the boat, filling the camper and cleaning, on hands and knees until Liberte was as clean as a new pin (inside anyway). Hard work but satisfying. Now very much ready to be marketed and have every nook and cranny inspected by prospective new owners. Between times, the dogs and I have enjoyed our usual walks in different locations, some short and some long and most of the time we had lovely autumn weather….never needed a waterproof at all although most mornings were misty and moisty!

Obligatory dessert at L’Ecu, Iles Flottante,
the very best in France!

Laure who works at the marina office and lives on a boat on our pontoon has adopted a local cat who she feels needs some TLC. Every day she comes to feed it near where we are parked, much to Belle’s delight who discovered the dish with the food in before the cat did! Laure makes all sorts of things to raise money for animal charities, she’s just started making collars and leads for dogs and cats and this cat has become the model for her website…..it has extraordinary long whiskers and fetching white ear tufts.

Laure and her adopted cat
See her  Facebook page to see some of
the lovely things this talented young lady makes

Eventually we had achieved all we set out to do so we said our goodbyes and set off again but this time straight through France, taking our time and staying in aires off the beaten track. David Ross, one of our fellow boaters who, like Mr.Kipling makes exceedingly good pies, made us a pork pie and one for Jo and Janna who we are visiting in Belgium on Monday before catching the ferry from Zeebrugge to Hull. We’ve just reached an aire at Catillon sur Sambre which is also a Halte Nautique. We cracked open our pie today for lunch and very nice it is too. The pastry in particular is delicious, very crumbly and light.

David Ross Pork pie, delicious!

This aire is meant to be payant, 5€ but no-one has been to collect it, maybe they come round in the morning. It’s a very fair price as the water and electricity is included. BUT we have just 8€ between us so we rather hope that it isn’t collected in the winter as we had a cycle round the village but couldn’t find a cashpoint and that 8€ should get us some croissants and bread in the morning………..

Oh….we had a lovely catch up with Jo and Janna on Monday in Diksmuide before heading to Zeebrugge for the overnight ferry to Hull. delivered David’s precious pie and had a lovely lunch. Also said hello to Alison and Roger Brown, on Iron Lady, fellow DBA members moored next to Vrouwe Johanna which is looking very smart in her fresh paint. Janna has made some lovely painted signs to go on which will really complement her smart looks. Tache was pleased to see us but it’s not been cold enough for him to wear the coat I knitted for him yet.

Tache in his technicolour dreamcoat

Continued in Bolton…..we’re home now, arrived yesterday (Tuesday)  and have emptied and cleaned the motorhome which has just been put back into storage. I doubt at the moment my house will ever be tidy again…….how we ever accumulate so much “stuff” is a mystery and now it all has to find a home! Nigel’s seen his surgeon and the next step is to wait a couple more weeks for a CT Scan before a decision will be made about appropriate surgery. At least he’s now in the system!

Pretty church at Mutigny in Champagne
en route home

Still plenty of grapes on the vine
after harvest

Tastefully restyled by Dash,
Nigel’s sunhat bought during our first year cruising!
Very special moment, the “Pie Handover”
On reflection, we should have taken it out of the
packaging to prove it was still a pie!