Monday 5th September 2016
During the morning, as arranged, we went to visit James, Frankie and Scarlett as it was the last we would see of them for quite a few weeks and so this day was extra special for us. We were looking forward to having some time with Scarlett before we had to leave that evening for the ferry. When we arrived we were delighted to meet Frankie's mum, Sarah, there. We followed them up to the town centre where they wanted to do some shopping, although it was raining and Allan was not best pleased to be hanging about for them in this weather having been so poorly. James, Frankie and Sarah were doing their shopping with Scarlett and so we left them to it and sorted our own shopping list, which we would pick up when we returned later with the motorhome. We then spent the afternoon with James and Frankie, waiting for their shopping to be delivered. Later Allan, remembering his tummy, suggested we take them to dinner at The George which is a Wetherspoons pub. Not only so that we could have dinner there but so that Allan could enjoy his last pint of Abbot Ale for a long time. He followed it with some of a new brew from the Longman Brewery and that was also delightful.
Not only do we miss our family and friends whilst we are away but there are other things like Abbot Ale that we (Allan) miss so much whilst we are in France, such as Melton Mowbray pork pies, Oaty biscuits, Water biscuits, Cornish pasties and Branston Pickle. Well, Dorothy does take several jars of Branston with us as some things Allan can't be without!!
After our dinner we returned to James and Frankie's home and after saying our goodbyes we had to leave them. Dorothy was a bit teary having to walk away when Scarlett was waving to us from the kitchen window.
We drove to the supermarket in Hailsham and did our own shopping as we now had the motorhome with us. Then, it was off to Dover and onto the ferry tomorrow.
BUT, Dorothy received a phone call to say that our new E111 Health Cards had arrived and so to avoid having them sent to us in France at a Post Office and paying for a poste restante collection there, we decided to go back to Seaford to collect them tonight.
As it was in the evening and there would be no lorries or tourists in Alfriston village Allan decide to take the short cut, saving nine miles. The first part through the village was easy, more easy than expected. Then we saw why! The road ahead was blocked by three large tanker lorries. After waiting what seemed to be ages for two of the lorries to back up and the other one to move onto the kerb, we were able to be on our way again. The cards were quickly picked up and then we were finally on our way to Dover.
During the drive to Dover we were hoping to cover most of the way that night and leave a short journey tomorrow. However, it was a dark night and it was difficult to see any parking places so we ended up in Dover and spent the night on Marine Parade with several other motorhomes.
We had a good nights sleep on the
side of Dover harbour but when we woke we found everywhere covered in very thick
mist. We were certainly glad not to have to drive any distance this morning.
By now Dorothy was starting to feel unwell and had lost her voice. Hope she
doesn't feel as rough as Allan did recently. As we had three hours before making
our way to the port, we went up the hill above Dover's White Cliffs overlooking
the Castle, where Allan found our last Geocache in England and took a photo
of the ferries in the clearing mist.
Our booked ferry was at 12.05 but we decided that we couldn't wait any longer and if we were too early at the port then it was just too bad. When we got back to the docks there was no passport control and we went straight to the ticket kiosk where the lady gave us an earlier ferry at no extra cost.
After an hour and a half we were through Calais port, without customs or passport checks and on our way south.
After motoring for what seemed like a long time we decided to stop for the first night in the town of Gernay. We were greeted by a man who claimed to be the Janitor (probably the park attendant or some other official) who told us of the free water tokens in the local shops and apologised that the electricity and wifi had not been connected yet but it soon would be.
Dorothy was still not feeling too
good and so a quiet day was in order. However, workmen and a lady were installing
the town's new skateboard park and relaying the surface to the tennis court.
The Janitor apologised for the noise but we were happy to watch everything that
was going on.
Strange to see a skateboard park before being decorated with graffiti. How lucky the youngsters of Gernay are and they were waiting patiently at the end of the day, each hoping to be the first to try it out on their skates and bikes!!
This new Aire has a time limit of 48 hours so we packed up and were ready to move on when a secretary from the Mayor's office came and told us that the Mayor has said that were welcome to stay for another night, probably as we had had to endure the noise of the works yesterday. As we had already packed up we declined her kind offer but explained that it says 48 hours on the notice board and 48 hours does not give us enough time to explore their beautiful town. Although we have already bought 2 loaves and a portion of chips here, we would have spent more money if we had stayed longer. It's their loss, sadly.
We wonder if they will change their sign and allow campingcarists to stay longer when the Aire is empty?
So, here we are again on the way south. Allan realised that we are getting low on diesel so we went to the Cora Hypermarket south of Cambrai for a fill up and Dorothy says that we need a loaf of bread and some milk. This can only mean one thing, this is going to be a big expensive shopping trip.
After several hours shopping and indeed a lot of money spent, it was getting late in the afternoon and so we made our way to Marcoing which was close by and has an aire overlooking the canal, which we had visited before. We arrived and found ourselves next to a Dutch couple. The woman appeared to be distressed and it turned out that their dog had gone missing and her husband has been out for some time searching for it. To cut a very long story short, the dog was found and all was well. We had a very pleasant evening chatting with them.
Another day at Marcoing.
Not the most descriptive we know but what can you say when you're just sitting there watching the world go by and the postman delivering letters without parking his van. We had a look at the redundant railway line and station without any trains. Saw the canal locks without any boats. Camping Cars coming and going. Most of all we watched the sun move round, waiting for it to break through the trees and on to our solar panels.
Not a hustle and bustle day but a good day. Where does the time go?
No plans of where to go next so today, we just put a destination in the satnav a long way south and decided to stop when we had had enough driving.
Not far out of Marcoing we came across
this huge American War Memorial at Bellicourt. We just had to stop here to take
it all in.
We climbed the steps to pay our respects to the American Soldiers who lost their lives and are remembered here.
Looking back down the steps gives you an idea of the enormity of this Memorial. Our motorhome looks minute and is parked half-way to the gate!
Turning to look out behind the Memorial, the soft landscape hides the terrible scars of the battlefields.
One final look back and we were on our way again, filled with awe and respect for these brave souls. A very unexpected and emotional visit.
After some time we found ourselves on the Motorway without any chance of stopping for some time yet. After driving further on and then finding that we had gone south of Paris, we knew that the motorway was soon coming to an end so we decided that we should find an Aire somewhere around here. Dorothy looked at the map and saw that we were heading towards Milly-la-Forêt and as we had stopped there a few months ago we knew that it would be good. We found that the roads there would take us past E. Leclerc so we stopped off for enough shopping to last us for a few days.
We arrived at Milly-la-Forêt and settled ourselves in. Everything was just as it was the last time we were here.
A day at leisure doing nothing in Milly-la-Forêt. It's just lazy. Just talking with other motorhomers and enjoying our time relaxing in the sunshine after our long drive yesterday.
The end of our first week back in France. We both need to get our boost our energy and get back to normal.