Monday 7th March 2016

Without a doubt there is too much of Allan. When we were in France last year there was much less of him than there is now! For the last few months in France it was serious diet time, four meals a day but smaller portions. It's a simple sum, less food equals less Allan. A small breakfast, a small lunch, a small dinner and a small supper and it seemed to work. The other choice is more exercise and that is never going to happen.

While we were back in England for the winter we seemed to be eating out a lot. There was the George in Hailsham, the Green Man in Ringmer, The Toby, Cornfield Dairy and Harvester in Eastbourne, the Moorings in Pevensey and the Tavern in Saltdean. Oh, did I miss the Wetherspoons in Canterbury! These eateries we didn't just visit once either, but some of them many, many times. This has caused a problem to Allan's tummy, there is more of it than ever before. Seriously there needs to be less of Allan.

Allan's belt has many holes for the buckle to go through and that leaves surplus holes. It is only the part that goes around Allan that is useful. The piece of belt that goes beyond the buckle is wasted. That considered, it is obvious that it would be desirous that there would be more surplus holes and that the part that goes round the middle of Allan should lessen. To sum it up less belt around Allan and more surplus belt.

When we left France last year there were 12 holes free, when we left England in February there were only 9. Where has all the surplus belt gone I hear you ask, well it is plain to see, it's going around the expanding Allan.

Each buckle hole is about one inch apart. At the best there were 12 holes free, at worst, before retirement, only 6. So although 9 holes seems good there is great deal of room for improvement and hopefully even further than 12, into new buckle holes. Well that's the plan. Allan will keep you posted.

Other than that, today in the morning we had a few flakes of snow, Allan visited the internet library for one last time and in the afternoon we went shopping for some of Doctor Gordon's medicine and tonic. Oh, and Dorothy also bought some groceries.

And a last look at the surrounding area from the Aire.


We had decided that Allan's Manflu has abated sufficiently to allow us to move on. We thought that another Aire with electricity would be a good idea so the plan was to head for Le Merlerault which is about 20 Mlles away. Along the way we should stop at Aube which has an Aire but without electricity and have a look at that.

Aube turned out to be a very nice lunch time halt but sadly the water is turned off until 31st March.

After lunch we took a stroll around the lake,
leading off to the stream where we were chased by ducks obviously thinking we had come with bread to feed them!

and did some geocaching on the way, which inevitably led us to..............................yes, another lavoir!

We then walked back to the Aire via the village and the Church. None of the shops were open but the French do like to have their two of three hour lunch breaks (paying for it by working later, usually until 7pm)

There were several works of art around the town, one at the post office in the style that we had come across previously in Bretoncelles.
The Postman!

We now feel that "Spring has sprung" and the trees are beginning to show their blossoms.

After a lovely afternoon here we made our way to our next Aire.

When we arrived in Le Merlerault in the late afternoon the Aire was empty but that was a lucky thing for us as there is only one electricity point, so we plugged in and settled down.
After a coffee we decided to take a first look at the town. The village is along a main road with very few streets leading off from it however, what is not good is that the Aire is at the top of the main road, so we will have a trek back up the hill later! Along the way we passed by the boucherie/charcuterie and noted that the shop was displaying many, many cups, trophies and awards for his tripe, sausages and rabbits.
The butcher was happy for us to take a photo but he can keep his tripe, Allan could never eat offal.

The baker also had a lot of trophies for their bread and other items. No photo here because the shop was quite dark inside. Allan likes bread and that is the root of the problem that was explained on Monday! We carried on down to the bottom of the town to the Church, where we came across the memorial and a curious arrangement of houses oddly butting onto each other.


Last night the phone weather forecast gave a yellow warning of strong winds and rain. There was plenty of rain during the night but the wind, although strong, was nothing like that we have endured in Newhaven or Seaford. As it is still raining this morning we have decided to stay here. There is no point in going to another Aire to sit all day in the motorhome when we can do it quite comfortably here. And then the rain stopped and the sun came out. How can you make any sort of plans with this changeable weather?!!

During a moment when the rain did stop, Allan was sent to the bakers for the bread. At 1€20 for a small pain it is the most expensive bread that we have found so far in France. The trophies and awards seem to be going straight to their cash box, or they are trying to recover the taxes that they pay for our electricity. Admittedly the bread was very good but supermarkets sell it for 0€67 and most bakeries sell it for between 1€10 and 1€18.

We are very impressed with the recycling in some parts of France. These neat looking bins are all that is seen above ground of the 6ft x 6ft x 8ft underground containers that the lorry comes regularly to empty. They lift the bins up with a crane using the ring on the top, then positions it over the lorry and releases the floor of the bin. All this without getting out of his lorry. Neat, clean, tidy and easy to empty. Compare that to a smelly area in England with lots of full and overflowing wheely bins for green glass, clear glass, plastic, but not all plastic, paper, cardboard etc.

Important update: Allan's Manflu is now a tickly cough that will hopefully be cured with some more of Doctor Gordon's cure-all potion.


Today we moved on to Chandai as it is on the way to Verneuil sur Avre, where we hope to be for the weekend as we know that a very good market takes place there every Saturday morning.

When we arrived in Chandai, we found an insignificant little village spread along the D926 main road. First thing that happened was the satnav indicated a non existent left turn and so we took the very next left and seemed to be in the right area. Then we spotted the Campingcar signs and, as we explained before, these are the welcome signs that say you are welcome to be here in our village. The man from the Marie was cutting back the hedge that surrounds the Aire to make it all nice for us. We have our own private picnic tables, Boules area, table tennis, wastebins and fresh water.

This is a little French village of 518 people and they want us in their community. It makes you feel wanted, liked and humble to be here and to be part of their community.
During the afternoon we took a walk up to the edge of town passing a bar and a restaurant along the way and then down to the other edge of town.

Well tell a lie, as that was the direction we drove into the village and as we passed nothing of note, we didn't bother going all the way down to the river and so we returned to the motorhome.
Just outside the Aire we met a couple of locals who said the usual bonjour monsieur-dam (good day sir and madam) we love the way the French people are so polite and friendly.

Thank you to the Mayor and citizens of Chandai.


The man from the Marie was back to finish cutting back the hedge, although he left this lovely tree alone
and that just about sums up up all the life that there was in this little village, except from some very noisy dogs.
We had already decided that we need to be in Verneuil sur Avre for the Saturday market so left and made the long journey of about 10 miles further along the road!

When we arrived in Verneuil sur Avre at about midday we were going first, to the Lidl for a bit of shopping. Along the way Dorothy spied an Intermarche Hypermarket. Allan asked, do we need anything there. NO Dorothy replied. So after visiting the Lidl we went to find our parking space on the Aire just outside the main square.

After lunch, during the afternoon we went into the lovely town of Verneuil sur Avre
and everything was as nice as it was when we were here last spring.
This lovely old building is up for sale but what could we do with it?!! (Perhaps a Wetherspoons!!!!)

Along the way we popped into the Carrefour market and when we saw their town centre prices Dorothy had second thoughts about not going to the Intermarche. We had to go back to the motorhome and drive back along the road out of town again, Allan loves Dorothy so much that he doesn't mind this extra travelling, or is it just the cheaper prices that he loves?!


We awoke to a thick mist but it cleared during the early morning, the temperature rose steadily during the day and spring is definitely here.

Last spring when we were here, because it was the Muguet festival celebrating Labour day 1st May in the main square, the market was in the main roads outside the town wall. This year, as we are a little earlier in the year, we found the market was where it should be - in the main town square.
Most of the traders had long queues of customers. Either the produce is of exceptional quality or the French people know that if they want their market to survive, to give them a wider choice of supplier above the supermarket chains, then they must use it or lose it.

We returned with our market purchases to the campingcar, sorry that's French I mean motorhome, for lunch and then later in the afternoon we had a stroll through the park which is behind the Marie.
The Marie with the park behind.

Outside the park we saw the town war memorial.

Then we came across yet another of these metal works of art. We need to find out if they are all by the same artist.

We carried on our way out of town, past the Gare and back through the town again. There in the main square named Place de Madeleine, we sat on a bench in the late afternoon sunshine and people watched. Just to show how relaxed we are becoming we counted the people going into the Church for a choral concert, all 48 of them. Then we had to return home for our dinner.


There was a lot of noise outside this morning - something was happening in the Salle des Fêtes. After getting up and having our breakfast and all the other usual things, we crossed over the car-park to the main entrance to the hall, wondering what we would find. Would we find something interesting or would we be back in the motorhome in five minutes?

As we walked in the doors Dorothy exclaimed its a jumble sale. Yes said Allan but a special kind of jumble. It's all baby stuff, baby clothes, baby equipment, baby toys, the only thing that they were not selling was actual babies. (That was meant as a joke). Very shortly we returned to the motorhome for coffee!!

Then the Church bells rang - for the rest of the morning. DING DONG!!!

It turned out to be a lovely afternoon and so we took a stroll across town, passing narrow streets and this pretty stream side cottage,

before wandering through the beautiful park André Faugère where little streams flowed through the park and the spring flowers and trees were stunning.

We left the park and crossed over the bridge where Dorothy took a photo of a speedy duck - well almost - it was too quick for the camera!

Can you spot the lavoir? Come on, you've had lots of practise! Sadly there was no geocache here though.

During the evening we had a long family chat with James which was nice.


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