Author Archives: Paul Smith
Author Archives: Paul Smith
Each morning follows the same pattern. I climb out of bed early, make a coffee, try very hard not to wake Cynthia, and try even harder not to wake ever-energetic Abbie. I need to focus on work. I need to find a way of generating more of an income. We rely on Cynthia’s pension too much. Cynthia doesn’t mind. I do. I’m supposed to be the hunter-gatherer, the provider. I’m not.
So I take my MacBook and my coffee, unfold my Lavolta bed table, climb onto the Hymer’s fixed rear double bed. I tether the laptop to my iPhone 7 Plus, sip my coffee and compose my thoughts. I’m focused and ready to work.
After two days watching our aire slowly submerge under a purple sky filled with endless rain, we drove south for half an hour to Leucate. We visited this area several times last year. There’s a well-equipped aire close to the beach, a few decent wild camping spots and, highest on Cynthia’s list of priorities, a decent laverie, a launderette, open daily until 10pm.
Cynthia wasn’t quite so keen on whipping out her dirty smalls when she noticed the laverie’s only other customer. A middle-aged homeless man, stinking of whiskey and urine, slouched at a table normally reserved for folding clean clothes. As laying out our freshly laundered bedding would mean moving his grimy radio, plastic pack of rolling tobacco and two full whiskey bottles, we decided not to bother.
Have you missed us?
Please accept my apologies for not updating the blog in recent weeks. Thank you, if you are one of the many blog subscribers concerned enough about our wellbeing to email me. I am well. Cynthia is well too. We’re both alive and kicking and having a wonderful time.
We’re in Switzerland now, parked by a sunlit harbour in Saint-Aubin-Sages on the northern shore of forty kilometre long lake Neuchâtel. I should be writing, but I can’t help gazing out of my bedroom window five miles across the lake to the snow capped alps towering over the southern shore.
On Monday morning we tackled a long overdue item on our administrative to do list. We needed an address in France where letters and parcels could be sent to us.
We made an attempt at setting one up last week. We popped into a small post office in Bages four miles from Peyriac-de-Mer where we’ve been staying for the last week. We aren’t very good at communicating what we want in a post office, or anywhere else for that matter, but we’ve successfully overcome the post office first hurdle. We now know how to get in.
I lived afloat on my 62’ narrowboat James No 194 for six and a half wonderful years. Many boat owners will tell you with a wry smile that B.O.A.T. is an acronym. It stands for ung In Another Thousand. It’s true that boat ownership can be expensive, but how do the costs compare with a motorhome?
I’ve listed and broken down our costs for a three month period for each. Both are the costs for living on board full time. In both boat and motorhome we spent a fair amount of time cruising or touring rather than sitting in one spot for weeks or months on end. In case you’re unfamiliar with either my boat or our motorhome, here’s a little about each.
After shopping in Narbonne at the beginning of the week we decided to return to our Christmas aire at Gruissan. The aire was pleasant enough, but a little too busy for us. Sixty four motorhomes half filled the large harbour parking area. Many were there for the winter. Most of the owners were French and spent hours standing in groups discussing the activity around them.
We enjoyed the view from the harbour and the clanking of halyards against masts on windy nights over Christmas so we decided to try again. We suspected that the numbers would have reduced after the Christmas festivities. Cynthia guessed at forty. I was confident that there would be no more than thirty five. We were both in for a surprise.
It’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were ringing in the New Year with our chocolate and bio-organic (delicious!) champagne. A good start and a great week was had by us…..
January 1st found us out the door and on the boardwalk of Peyriac de Mer, and from there we made our way along the trails that circle the estuaries here and then up into the surrounding hills that offer the best of views and nice little niches for a quick bite and a hot beverage.
As it can be rather windy in this area, we were particularly happy that this first day of the new year was a sunny, clear and tranquil one. There were many people out enjoying this day, but we never felt that we couldn’t have the peace and tranquility we so covet. There is plenty of room for many people to enjoy the environs without stepping on other people’s toes.
Boxing Day (or for those of you outside the UK not familiar with this term–the day after Christmas) found us pulling up the anchor and heading to new territories. We decided we wanted to remain in the Narbonne area because there are so many places to explore here. Nature is abundant—a true paradise!
So away we went a bit further south and west to Leucate, which consists of a village and expansive beaches on the Med as well as secluded spots on the inlet. We found one Aire that cost €10 a night and decided to explore another Aire closer to the Med and just a few miles away. Alas, this one was closed up for the winter so we made our way back through the mostly deserted village and returned the to first Aire. It is terraced and faces the inlet with fantastic views. This is a popular spot for wind surfers and there is even a school here for this sport. On this particular day, it was still quite windy and there were many enthusiasts out taking advantage of it. When dusk fell, they made their way back to their cars and departed for the evening, leaving just us motorhomes.
I haven’t written much over the last two weeks because, to be frank, I haven’t had much to write about. Santa has been kind enough to give us a trouble free festive break. Everything is working on the Hymer as well as it’s supposed to, so there are no tales of tragic breakdowns or careless accidents to report. I could almost describe our last couple of weeks as relaxing. I’m only joking Cynthia, of course the last fortnight has been relaxing!
At the beginning of last week we spent a relaxing couple of days on our own on Rennes-le-Chateaux’s facility free aire/car park. A complete lack of facilities and a steep downhill slope which is impossible to fully correct with even the tallest of motorhome ramps are two reasons for the aire’s tranquility.