Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sur le Pont d’Avignon–8th September 2014

I hope that you enjoy reading my blog, I do tend to ramble on about thoughts and stuff as well as our travels, but I must admit that the thing I miss most about being on the road is people to talk to.  We do get on very well, which is  a must when you spend so much time just the two of you, but I do enjoy a good natter and when it’s just us it’s not the same.  I suppose that’s why I like being in one place for a while and meeting up with people.   My blog is my way of chatting, it’s also my diary (I don’t share everything though) and perhaps one day I’ll look back and read it all again.
We’re moving on today, heading south to Spain.  We’ll be arriving in Spain about a month before we had originally planned, but there are several reasons for that.  We had expected the weather in northern Europe in August to be much nicer than it was, August was a wash-out and looking at the weather forecasts there seemed to be no happy medium and we are fed up of feeling wet and cold.  It was either cool and rainy or further south very hot and sunny.  So we have settled for the very hot and sunny.  Also before we get back to Albir sometime in October I really need to get into some sort of fitness and diet regime.  I’m hoping that if I can get into the habit then I’ll keep it going when we get to our winter site, instead of getting full into the social scene and just slobbing around. 
I had a bit of a blood pressure scare before we left England and we spent the last few days running back and forward to the doctors.  It did get back to a reasonable level and I think the problem was mainly caused by the lies I was telling the doctor as to why I needed 6 months supply of HRT (actually I needed more but I wasn’t going to push my luck).  I had run out some 3 months before and had hoped that I could stop taking it, but it was fast becoming apparent that I should not stop!!!! So there I was thinking that if the doctor said no, it would be a whole year before I could get any more and neither of us wanted to face that. Not much wonder that pushed up my blood pressure. So losing weight and getting fitter should help.
I had intended to do that last winter, but we were late arriving in Spain,  not getting there until the new year, it was all new and unusual and still felt like a holiday. The first 2 months were messed up with trips back to England and then we both had flu.  Added to that I started smoking again.  It was all just too easy, sitting outside instead of inside bars with everyone smoking, the temptation was just too great.  I had been struggling to resist for a while and Iain had been particularly obnoxious one night and had gone to bed – well I wasn’t going to say anything to him, we had just come back from his daughter’s funeral and I was feeling pretty low too.  It was just too easy to roll a cigarette (not very successfully)  and smoke it.  And for anyone who has given up smoking that once was all it needed.  I know that I can do it again, I’ve done it loads of times before, however I do think that I’ll never be a non-smoker, just a smoker who doesn’t for long periods of time.  In my early 30’s I gave up for 6 years and then started again for 10.  Then I gave up for 5 years and started again for 1, then the last time I managed 14 months and I’ve been smoking for the last 7 so I really do need to make the effort.  I don’t even like it very much, the thought of a cigarette is much nicer than the smoking of it.  So now I’ve admitted it on my blog then perhaps that will give me the drive I need to try again.  So the fitness regime has to begin, and begin it will next week soon.
So we’ve got a stop over for a few days in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Blanca and then we’re moving onto Peniscola where I’ve chosen a luxury site for my “holiday”. Or is that a boot camp? I said to Iain it has a swimming pool and gym, it’s only a mile from town and the town has a castle for him to enjoy so that’s ok. Now we’re in the heat, a swimming pool is a must and we don’t want to get to Albir too early because the campsite doesn’t have a pool. It’s a fairly basic site but the main attraction is the location, location, location.
Before I move on to tell you about Avignon, which is worth a visit I must say, my darling husband had been perplexed about why he sounds such an ogre in my blog posts. I am a bit unfair on him I suppose.  He is actually the most intelligent, caring, thoughtful and considerate person I know, then of course he is organised, decisive, tidy and oh I forgot – always right.  The problem is that he expects everyone to be the same, except they always have to be wrong.  He must be almost perfect, we’ve been married 10 years this December and neither of my other two husbands got to two years before I’d had enough. I do have to aquiesce a lot so that I don’t wreak the wrath of Iain so I  vent my angst in my blog. 


The campsite we stayed on was on an island in the Rhone and very close to town.  The campsite was very very basic and could do with a massive make-over.  The shower blocks were very tired and dated, but they were clean.  The pitches were a good size but we only just manage to get on in length and had a bit of an overhang.  We were certainly concerned when a coach reversed up the roadway and thought we might lose some of our lovely chrome on the front of our van.  The worst thing about the campsite was the dust.  There was not even an attempt at any flooring to the pitches and the dust got everywhere. 

Lovely old gnarled trees all over the campsite
We only just fitted on

I would stay there again and there’s nothing wrong with the site but for me it’s just a passing through place and I’m glad we didn’t stay there more than 3 nights. As I say it’s location, location, location.
The view of the city from just outside the campsite was pretty amazing.  The city is a World Heritage Site so you would expect it to be good.  Just a short walk across the bridge and you are there in about 10 minutes. We had a walk around, up to the Pope’s Palace and the cathedral, through what must have been the original town square with impressive buildings such as the theatre and then took a walk down to the infamous bridge.

Just a short 10 minute walk into town

The Cathedral which can be seen from afar

19th Century addition of the Madonna on the top of the Cathedral – Iain said “Somewhat gaudy, a show of ostentation and wealth” – but it was still pretty impressive
The gold was stunning, but I rather liked the view with the sun directly behind her

b-pope palace
The Pope’s palace, from the days when there were 2 Popes, one in the Vatican and one in Avignon

You have to look up the alleyways to see some of the splendour at the back of the buildings

The Theatre in the town square

Did we go “sur le pont”? No we didn’t.  We did want to see the dog go “tout arond” as she is inclined to do but 1.  No dogs allowed and 2. it was 5 Euros each.  Iain said there was no way he was going to pay 5 Euros to walk on an old bridge that doesn’t even go all the way across.  So we had to settle for some pictures from below instead.  Of course there was one of those photo moments, there is a fantastic view of the bridge from the other side which would have made a lovely photo but 1. I forgot my camera, 2. I would go back when the light was right and 3.  I forgot, so these were the only ones we got.
Must remember not to go that way when we leave.  It’s only a 3m clearance

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
Avignon was well worth the visit, but not quite “up there” for me compared to Toledo

Unusual outfits

Before I leave Avignon, there were a couple of outfits worth a photo.  If you want to see more from our travels click the tab above “Unusual outfits”.
This one was more “old” than unusual – it had wood panelling inside – I don’t think it goes very far though.
Now this was really cool, the complete tent enclosed in a top box, it just seems to pop out.  Still only a tent though

The LPG saga continues

When we arrived in Avignon we were desperate for LPG, the red reserve light had gone out and all the green lights were now flashing, so yet again we needed to get LPG as our first priority.  We had two choices fairly nearby in Avignon, but both took us out of our way in opposite directions.  We settled on Carrefour as we also needed to get “stocking up” shopping and it was only about 3 miles away and didn’t take us through Avignon.  So off we go, down some narrow lanes and following the signs we found that Carrefour was on the top of a hill.  But never mind we got there ok having actually run out of LPG on the way, only to find a notice on the LPG pump that they no longer do LPG and will not do so in the future.  Mmmmm my stress levels were starting to rise, I was fed up of this stupid van that’s too big for small lanes and runs on LPG, why couldn’t we have got a smaller, diesel one?  Our van is definitely one for living in not for touring in.  We needed shopping so we moved out of the gas station towards the supermarket.  I asked Iain if this was the right way to go as I, as usual, was concentrating on the narrow, bumpy, roadway I was on and not the way that I need to go.  As you can imagine, the clever response of “I don’t know darling, I’ve never been here before.” did not go down well.  “I’ve never bloody well been here before either and that wasn’t being very helpful” was my response.    I was not a happy bunny, I was cross at this clever-dick statement.  I do love living in the van but I just hate the travelling bit.  Even as a kid I used to hate “going out for the day” as it meant an hour or more drive to somewhere, 20 minutes running around and then the drive back.  I used to think that I could have gone to my local park or beach and had all afternoon running around.  Flying, I’ve been as far as the States, South Africa and China and to me the travelling is always just a means of getting somewhere and something to be endured.  Of course this lifestyle has a lot of “endurance” for me, which is why I like staying put so much. But at least it gives me something to write about.
So having re-vittled we then headed off to the motorway to see if we could get fuel.  There it was, only about 10 miles from Carrefour and on the motorway – an Esso garage, with LPG and NO height barrier.  I finally cheered up and we laughed at our good providence, until, of course we could not connect.  For those of you who don’t know about LPG, you have to get an air-tight connection to be able to get gas.  Any gap and the gas just wooshes out and more is wasted than goes into the tank.  That of course, apart from a waste of money, LPG being a combustible gas is not very safe.  Anyway I went in to seek assistance.  This time with a little better French – “Bonjour madam, aides moi pour l’Autogas s’il vous plait?”  When she looked at me blankly I said “Autogas, woosh, woosh, woosh” and she seemed to get the message this time.  A very nice young girl came out to aides moi and she tried both nozzles and neither would connect so there we were off again in search.
The next fuel station was about 15 miles away and we pulled in to find yet another height barrier.  I had posted on motorhome365 about the height barriers and one kind person had replied that their experience was the same and as long as the barrier check system doesn’t look too solid they just drive through, very slowly and all they had ever experienced was the tinkling of the hanging poles on the roof and no damage was ever caused.  So I thought I’d give it a go.  I drove very slowly through the barrier and we didn’t hear anything – great I thought.  Then I discovered that in my eagerness to try out this new found confidence, I’d actually gone through the wrong height barrier and we were now in the service station, not the fuel station.  So I had to go out again and come back in through the RIGHT height barrier.  Again no tinkling so we knew there was no damage.  Lesson learned – the height barrier checkers seem to be higher than stated on the signs.
Ok we were now at the fuel pump and lo and behold we failed yet again to get a tight connection.  This time Iain just told me to reverse up and we filled up with Petrol.  Iain had had enough of this game and we were to run the 200 miles or so into Spain on petrol.  A vast expense I know but we were both pretty fed up with the problem by then and we weren’t about to stop at every fuel station to try again and end up moving on.
The sat nag told me that there was LPG to be found only about 10 miles over the Spanish border although it did mean coming off the motorway.  It’s also 20 euro cents a litre cheaper in Spain so that would save us about £30 on a fill up anyway. Sorry to all you diesel people we know as diesel is actually more expensive in Spain than it is in France right now.
Hooray, finally across the border into Spain we headed off to find the LPG filling station and guess what – yep you guessed it – a height barrier.  This time it looked pretty solid, a thick steel bar hanging horizontally from a gantry.  I think the comment started with a B and ended with an S and had 6 letters in between.  We drove around a bit looking for another way in and Iain said, ok let’s go, but I was being a bit more determined and wasn’t going to give in that easily.  I finally saw a little gap with some bollards that had been lowered and I wriggled (not easy when you are over 8m long) my way through and there I was safely in the fuel station.  I remarked that Iain was a defeatist and he then went into an immediate sulk.  But yes, the Spanish connector fitted perfectly.  Refuelled we were on our way south. 
Just before I go, I thought I’d mention that at the filling station there was a big lorry park.  We supposed that this is because there is a ban on lorry movements in France on a Sunday and as this is the last turn-off of the motorway before the border for those going into France, the lorry drivers park up on a Saturday night and wait until they can move off on a Monday morning.  Well nearby there was a sex shop and wandering around was the most blatant prostitute I have ever seen.  She was literally wandering around in the road plying her trade in shoes that must have had 6 inch high clear plastic platform soles and heels.  Although she was having trouble walking in them she actually looked like she was floating (very disgracefully in both senses) above the road.  Funny, I was looking at her shoes, but there were a lot of other people looking at more than that.
Onward and southwards – next stop Lloret de Mar …………………………………………….

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