Category Archives for "European Motorhome Tour"

Durfort to Espéraza: Life in the Slow Lane

At the end of my last blog post I wrote about our latest electrical problem. We appeared to have a loose battery terminal or some faulty wiring. I managed to start the engine by fiddling around with the battery leads for a minute or two and hoped that I wouldn’t have to turn the engine off again before we reached our destination

We left our aire in Durfort for a forty minute drive south through heavy showers to a municipal campsite on the outskirts of Castelnaudary. We stopped briefly at a filling station to replenish our depleted generator petrol supply. We’re using the generator far more now that we are driving less and can’t rely on the alternator charging our battery bank. The generator is far more fuel efficient for battery charging, so €15 to fill our 20 litre jerry can was money well spent. read more


The Practical vs Folly—and some surprises

My dear Paul is BIG on practicality and I can’t agree more that this way of looking at life has its merits.  On the other hand, to balance it out, I adamantly believe one must incorporate a good sense of folly in one’s life on a regular basis.  This is the stuff dreams are made of!

A dear friend of mine once told me a couple of years ago that I am probably the only person he knows that really does make their dreams come true–and I have to agree.  For without my dreams, I would not be where I currently am doing the things I am doing. read more


Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val to Durfort: How NOT to Change a Light Bulb

At the end of my last post, I mentioned the market at Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val and Cynthia’s excitement at the prospect of visiting another authentic, bustling French market. She visited several in Provence during her week long stay earlier in the year. She expected the market in this small mid Pyrenees town to be just as vibrant.

Because I am the embodiment of kindness and consideration, and because I have an all encompassing knowledge of French markets, having seen one once on a 1980’s television travel guide, I warned her not to expect too much. As we walked towards the town square through narrow cobbled streets, I demonstrated my intelligence and perception by pointing out clues that Cynthia probably hadn’t noticed; not a sound marred the early Sunday silence other than the gentle peals of a distant church bell, the streets were empty apart from an occasional dog walker and a solitary lost and perplexed tourist and, tellingly, the town’s main car park, all twenty narrow spaces, was mostly empty. read more


The Kindness of Strangers

Shortly after we tore ourselves away from the tranquil and beautiful paradise of St. Antonin Noble Val, we realised that neither one of us was too excited about the day ahead.  Going to a fairly large city (Toulouse) was not exactly what we wanted to do, but we found it a necessity.  We were in need of LPG gas straight away, as well as making a stop at an organic food store, which we had found online, and a pet food store.

Our first stop was for the LPG.  As soon as we spotted the LPG dispensing station we knew we had some careful manoeuvring to do—there was a van parked by it that we would be blocking.  We proceeded to hook the nozzle up to our connection when the van owner appeared.  My first thought was oh-oh, he’s going to want us to move so he could get out.  But, no, he wasn’t a bit put off, he said to take our time.  Well, a few minutes later we were still having difficulty with the connection.  So the van man went inside and came back escorted by the owner of the Total station himself!  He couldn’t have been nicer, showing Paul how to connect the pistol to the nozzle.  He went back inside and then Paul found he couldn’t get any more gas to come out. read more


The French Way

Markets, outdoor markets.  The French are famous for them and my first introduction to these marvellous places was this past summer when I was in Provence.  I was lucky enough to visit several markets–some quite small, and one, in Bedouin, very extensive.

Paul and I made the decision to stay in St. Antonin Noble Val until Sunday morning so that we could incorporate the market experience for the first time together.

It was a bit of a dreary, cold morning, so we bundled up, grabbed our shopping bag and headed out at 9:00AM.  I knew it was important to get there early, and besides, I knew Paul had a lot of work to accomplish later in the morning.  Not to mention we wanted to miss the rain that was forecast for later in the morning. read more


France: Toll Free Motorhome Touring from North to South

I’m sitting on our Hymer’s fixed double bed with my MacBook resting on my Lavolta folding bed table straddling my legs. Cold autumn rain is drumming on the thin plastic roof three feet above my head. I can see an open meadow through my bedroom window dipping down to the gently flowing water of the L’Aveyron. A granite cliff cloaked in pine towers high above me.

The view from my window this morning

The view from my window this morning

We’re parked at a free aire in the delightful medieval town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val forty miles northeast of Toulouse on day four of a five day rest stop in the south of France. Slowing down to a pace appropriate for leisurely exploration has taken me a while, but I’m slowly getting there. Cynthia tells me that I’m much more relaxed now, and less likely to blow a fuse at a moment’s notice. I certainly feel much calmer than I did ten days ago when I had to make an overnight trip from Calais to Folkestone to sort out yet another of what felt like an endless row of hurdles ahead of us. read more


Refining our life….

I adore systems.  Ever since I was a small child I can remember having systems for doing things in my life.  I had many stuffed animals that I loved and they were all lined up in my bed at night in order of importance.  I think that was probably the beginning of my systemic way of managing my life.

The next big change in my life that necessitated a system was when my first husband and I lived on our three sailboats in San Diego in the early ’70’s.  As they were all small spaces, there had to be a system for managing where to put things, otherwise it would be utter chaos.  It was before the now-popular plastic containers of all sizes showed up, so I used cardboard boxes that I labelled to store things, and then I wrote a list of what was in each box.  I also used soft duffle bags to keep our clothes in, and labelled them as well. read more

You’re Never Safe from Surprise……

…….until you’re Dead”–has been one of my themes of life for a long time, and it is So True!  It often goes along with “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”  And in this most recent case both applied.

On Wednesday 26 October we were on our way from the Netherlands to Calais France where I was booked in to stay at another Airbnb.  Paul had to return briefly to the UK in order to obtain our much-needed travel insurance.  As I couldn’t keep the dogs with me, we had them checked at the vets on Monday 24 October to see that all would be in order for the crossing for both of the girls.  Tasha already had her passport, and Florence was just getting hers for the first time.  We left the vets happy and secure in the knowledge that all was in order–NOT!! read more


Dokkum to Folkestone: Motorhome Insurance Problems

At the end of my last post I mentioned that we had one more immediate hurdle to overcome before we could relax into our new lifestyle. We now have to overcome an additional hurdle as a result of bureaucratic ineptitude, but I’ll come to the second problem shortly.

I knew that we would need some distraction free time to resolve our problem so we booked ourselves into a very comfortable camp site on the outskirts of one of our favourite towns in the Netherlands, Dokkum. Our campsite stay also allowed us to replenish our water supply and empty our grey water and black water tanks. read more


Following the Blue Line

Maps.  I LOVE maps and always have.  I like to know where I am going and also what is along the way to any given destination.  Paul loves the TomTom,  and it certainly does have it’s place, though we have been led astray more than once using it!  I remember one particular time when we were in southern Denmark and it said “you have reached your final destination” and we found ourselves at the entrance to a farm machinery warehouse in the middle of nowhere.  Definitely not the destination we had in mind at the time! read more