Archive | May, 2018

Chateau de Serrant

31 May

Another bakingly hot day saw us this time at the Chateau de Serrant. We parked close to an old , outer stable which was full of nesting birds, possibly house martins. They were expertly flying through the narrow gaps in the wall, back and forth, feeding chicks by the sound of it. This was were the four of us had our picnic with the pop top up and plenty of ventilation.

Massive carp were swimming in the moat and lizards were zipping about on the hot stone of the walls.

You need to click on the photo to zoom in and see the little lizard. They were very nervous.

  This photo shows the owners (?) of the Chateau walking their delightful and friendly, short legged , Jack Russel terrier along the shaded promenade in the extensive grounds. We had a lovely visit, including the well preserved interior.

Eventually we returned to Lac de Maine for another evening’s BBQ and a lap of the Lake on our bikes.

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Interrupting the French trip report. A 40s Revival at Tutbury Castle Yesterday

29 May

Yesterday my wife and I drove over in our Kampa to Tutbury Castle, just off the A50 near Derby. There was a Bank Holiday weekend event which we wanted to experience. A 1940s revival with a Military edge to it. We were not disappointed. We met some delightful people including this smartly turned out MP with his Lady on his arm !

This group also kept up the authentic appearance. With music from the era in the background, we could have been transported way back in time. 

After this gent had kindly demonstrated his firearms collection and we had  discussed hand grenades ( don’t ask….) I made him blush by requesting a photo with my wife. I said that she had a “thing for men in uniform” , which is not actually true but he took the fun in good spirit!

This chap was particularly convincing and expensively kitted out. He had a genuine presence and like the other participants readily agreed to be photographed.

Although I had not dressed appropriately , the chap above stood his ground even when I flourished an Enfield rifle, modified for Burma Jungle use. He changed his tune once he had heard my views on Brexit…………………….. (Only joking! if you are inclined to being a snowflake!no offence intended)

A cream tea in the heat of a well decorated Pavillion, which had chandeliers and voile roof lining kept my wife smiling.The W.I. Style service was especially pleasant. Don’t be mislead by that smile though:-

  Despite her heels, she had leapt a fence into a neighbouring field of crops , run down that Leopard she is seen holding here, dispatching it before I could stop her. She is, after all a prolific hunter /provider. LOL

(All made up , of course. It’s a child’s bag bought from one of the stalls.) Next event is probably the August revival at Lytham St Annes. We will almost certainly be taking the Kampa/caravan combo for a long weekend, hopefully with friends who should be living there by then.

        As we made our way back to the Kampa, a Piper stirred the spirits from the ancient walls of the ruined castle. Marvellous.

More about the recent French trip tomorrow or later today.

A scenic trip along the Loire to Saumur.

29 May

We wanted to take our friends on a trip which we had done years before, so the four of us headed down the “green” scenic route shown on our French map from Angers to Saumur and the Chateau there. The little villages built along the Levee for safety are all characterful and delightful. The River Loire just adds a whole knew atmosphere. The air con was in full swing and the factor thirty came in handy when we were in the sun !

Perched high above the town, with extensive views all around, the Chateau is still under massive renovation following a collapse to part of the walls in the early 2000s. We arrived in time for a tasty lunch at the Chateau restaurant. The omelottes were custom made for three of us but I had a hand made gourmet burger. I was even asked how I wanted the steak burger cooked. It was delicious, especially after my spell of healthy eating !

Whilst standing on the edge of one of the viewpoints, the three of us were joined by Trish. She almost failed to stop at the very edge of the huge drop, almost taking Pam with her! I managed to lift the rear of the chair , spinning the wheels and stopping the runaway just in time. Slight bruising to Pam’s feet and a lot of adrenaline amid equal amounts of relieved laughter ! This was the start of the Evel Knievel jokes ! (Sorry Trish, just had to post this!)

Back to more leisurely activity, we enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of this ancient Castle. The views were epic.

We made our way back along the same, Northern side of the Loire, to Lac de Maine. Each village had traffic calming schemes, individually matched to the geography. One way systems allowed us to experience the side of town , not seen on the way down. Stunningly beautiful. A minor detour down onto the ancient flood plain showed the fertile soil deposited by the River and the abundant crops being grown. Both commercially and in allotments and gardens.

Another day in paradise. We cooled off in the evening over another BBQ., back at the campsite overlooking the swimming pool. We did a last minute lap of the lake on our bikes to burn a few calories. Just under 4 miles. Not too bad for old ‘uns !

A dull start to day four but not for long.

28 May

Forgot the key to our friend’s electric wheelchair so we took a “train”journey around the streets of the beautiful City of Angers. Also picked up a submersible 12v pump from a caravan dealer and plumbed it into our failed Whale external tank pickup. Perfect ! back in business ready for the sunny and warm evening’s BBQ back at Lac de Maine

We had completed a fun filled mega-shop at the local Carrefour Hypermarket and my Mango/Mint/Red onion and Lemon sauce went down so well with the duck that we had another three times whilst away ! French plonk at 3 euros for 1.5 litres helped wash it down. Cycling helped to burn off those intrusive calories. Pam sabotaged the whole plan by secretly buying and then supplying French chocolate in huge chunks of badness…………………… delish though !

Day three. Drive down from Normandy to Anjou.

28 May

Another beautiful, sunny day. We avoided the Autoroute and Peage and made our way down the rural “D” roads. That way we could pass through and experience the lovely little towns and villages of Calvados, Normandy and Loire. The first thing our friends noticed was the smooth and abundant tarmac. Unlike the UK at present which seems riddled with pot holes.

Our route took us through towns including Ernee, Percy and Laval. (Where we had a big diversion) then Chateau=Guilloume, Le Lion d’Angers before arriving in leisurely time at Camping Lac de Maine, in Angers. Every Village we passed through had traffic calming modifications which did appear to police the 31 mph and sometimes 20 mph speed limit.I assume (?) that all this may have been paid for from EU funding or from French Government , forward thinking, people focussed investment.

We arrived at Camping Lac de Maine about an hour before our friends. We lost them when they dropped behind a little too much and they mistakingly joined the Peage. They managed to return to “our” “D” roads but by then we had widened the gap. I could only see their motor home in my extended towing mirrors as we curved around the sinuous roads. I had no direct view to our rear, so it was difficult to focus on my own progress, let alone, watching out for a pair of travelling vehicles. The campsite had weathered well over the last 3 decades and since we were last there in 2013, for Le Tour de France bike race, it just had new staff in the well run office and was clean and well maintained. Recommend this municipal site very highly. It is adjacent to the Lac de Maine , named after the River Maine which joins the River Loir (not to be confused with the also nearby LOIRE) , the lake is man made and makes for perfect walking, cycling and jogging around it’s almost 4 mile circuit path. We averaged 9 miles a day with one 12 mile effortless cycle which saw us right into the City Centre , opposite the Chateau Angers and down river to the Pont Liberation and the moving tribute to the 108 American Dead who gave their lives when the US Forces and others  Liberated Angers.

As I translated the plaque to my English ( Aussie !) chum, we were shown incredible respect from a passing French family. Quite moving to experience this. More to report tomorrow.

Our Trip to France , May 2018.

27 May

The first day, we drove down, in convoy. Ourselves, in our campervan/caravan “combo”  and good friends in their IXEO motorhome. We pitched at the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Rookesbury Park near Fareham. Ten out of ten. I discovered that my submersible water pump was u/s but that could wait until our destination was reached. That night we headed for Villas Brasil Steakhouse and Sushi Bar nearby.

This Brazilian BBQ , located in a former public house, offered genuine Brazilian food of too many types to list. We feasted on mixed salads, bean stews and cheese bread and were served a huge choice of cooked meats from the BBQ skewers at the table. Not to mention the fish dishes and other side dishes. Unusual for us but very welcome after a long drive.

Next day saw us on the Brittany Ferry, Normandie from Portsmouth to Caen (Ouistreham actually) but that was never to be reached……………….. !

We settled down for a sunbathe on the rear deck, after exploring our cabin which had lovely sea views. About half way across to Caen we noticed that the pattern in the wake had changed dramatically and we quickly lost speed. A fishing net had snagged on one propellor and eventually we diverted to Cherbourg where a diving team awaited to remove it. We lost about 3 hours but enjoyed a long lunch in the self serve restaurant. Our next stop was an overnight at Le Puit campsite in the middle of Normandy.

We arrived late and annoyed the Irish owner who was enjoying his early evening meal. I had been kept busy sorting the new route, communicating it to our friends and watching out for him trailing in our wake. With a 50 mph imposed speed limit he struggled at times keeping up on the winding roads. I never had chance to phone the site to warn of our delay. Recommend this site, though. Very convenient stopover prior to Ferry at Caen and Cherbourg or for a longer break if visiting Normandy. Will update day by day , tomorrow.

Three round trips to Portsmouth and a blatant Advert.

2 May

This is very similar to a friend’s Burstner Viseo. I went with him to transport it to a dealer near Portsmouth.

Just three weeks later and this is my friend’s new Burstner Ixeo which I again went down to the Solent to help him collect it. In the meantime, I also drove down to Southsea for a fantastic long weekend , visiting the Marie Rose, The Victory, the Warrior and all the attractions of the Historic Dockyard and Portsmouth city centre. We went down on that occasion in the NV200 and in some ways I preferred it to the Mercedes C220 Kompressor which I twice used for the other trips ! Perhaps it’s just what I am used to ? I will try to find space in these very busy times to review this magnificent “Gin Palace”. Its like a very well equipped luxury yacht inside with a bed which drops electrically from the ceiling for starters ! Leather seats, heated cab seats, heated floor and fully winterised, this is an all year round habitation.

Our Kampa almost seems as if it could fit in the garage of the Ixeo, currently being fitted with Air Ride suspension.

NOW, THE BLATANT ADVERT AND A PLEA FOR YOUR HELP IN SHARING.

Currently, we have been busy preparing for our retirement sale of our hairdressing and beauty salon with it’s “Bijou” one bedroom flat above. We know that it could continue as a Hairdressers or Barbers but I think that it is a very easy and cheap conversion for a newly qualified Dentist, Veterinary  or Sports Physio. It could definitely make it into a Natural Therapy business too. Perfect if you want to cut costs to the minimum by living above “the shop” or use the flat, rented out to pay around half of your first time buyer mortgage, because that is the level for which this property will be sold for. It’s in a historic little section of the Potteries and part of a broader conservation area of Dresden. It is NOT the usual, low quality, condensation ridden excuse for a business premises. 

Please view on-line at     http://www.premisesforsale.blog  

and if you know of anyone who may be interested in a rare, business opportunity, then please share this and help us out. It would be much appreciated. I hope to get back to posting much more very soon. Thank you !