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Photo of me at Land's End, Cornwall

Here, there, everywhere and some other places too …


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today is Wednesday, March 27, 2013 and that means it is market day in Pontorson.
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We have been looking forward to this for a while and it is Ji Hye's first experience of a French market. Interestingly though they are quite similar to markets in Seoul in S. Korea with a range of goodies from clothes to all sorts of local delicacies.

The campsite is just on the edge of the town and less than 10 minutes walk gets you into the swing of things.

Let the pictures tell their own story
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 and a big decision.

A great attraction of the motor-homing way of life is that you can decide to change your mind at the last minute if the mood takes you. A few years ago we were heading down the East side of France intending to cut across to the Dordogne. As we sped down the motor way I saw an intersection approach which told me that Geneva in Switzerland was jut some 60 kilometres away. On the spot I turned left instead of right and as a result had an entirely different holiday. Well, I feel a bit like that today. We love this site, Camp Haliotis near Mont-Saint-Michel. It has its own
Image bathroom on the pitch as I described
a few days ago and everything is very convenient.

As we transport Ji Hye to Bordeaux we have been interested to show her a lot of rural France and sample local specialities as we go,

While we are being spared the rigours of the weather in the UK and Ireland nonetheless it is quite cold in the evening and the Vinny Van is very snug and there are no shortage of good TV and movies to watch.

One feature of French life we are looking out for is the French Market. We love wandering through streets looking at all the stalls and sampling the goodies on display. Dougal loves it too as, invariably, he becomes the centre of attention and he knows how to perform for the masses!

So, today is Tuesday and it was our intention to move south but as there is a market in Pontorson tomorrow we decided to wait over in case we don't get to see another before we drop Ji Hye off in Bordeaux on Sunday. Then on Thursday we will have 3 full days to get to Bordeaux and possibly even stop off at La Rochelle on the way.

Yesterday was dry and very very cold. We made our way over to Mont-Saint-Michele which has altered considerably from prior visits. The whole approach is closed and road works are all over the place…Parking is about a mile away and overall it detracts from the experience. Still Ji Hye got these photos. One outside and one inside Mont-Saint-Michele

Mont-Saint-Michel, Sunday, March 24, 2013

Once extracted from our muddy pitch the route was westwards to the town of Pontorson, just about 4 miles from Mont-Saint-Michel. If you have never been to this part of the world then take a note and don't miss it. I am drawn to this place over and over again. It is absolutely laden with memories. My first visit was about 60 years ago when my late parents took us as part of one of our many summertime trips to this part of France. Quite simply, I just keep coming back. It has beautiful memories and it is a truly, bewitching place. Its funny the way some things stand out in the memory bank but I recalled a story dating back to 1980 when, like my parents before me, I felt the need to take my own children here to get the same sort of experience that I cherished. My son, Martin was about 8 years old and we had sailed into Saint Malo on the ferry to start our holiday. Rightly or wrongly I decided that this was to be the time that I would start to teach Martin about fiscal wisdom and allocated him some pocket money which I told him was to last for 1 week. He nodded his acceptance as we drove towards Mont-Saint-Michel.

Inside the Mont is a maze of little streets with shops, restaurants and something to catch the eye at every turn. Gift shops abound and within minutes we were in one looking at all the goodies which, unsurprisingly, were about 50% more expensive than in nearby towns and villages. I cannot say for certain if it was the first thing that Martin set eyes on in the shop but in no time at all he had decided that a small packet of soldiers was something that he could not live without. I reminded him again about how his pocket money had to last a week and pointed out that this particular treat would eat up the entirety of the money. No! He HAD to have it. It was the one thing he had wanted his entire life. So he got his soldiers.
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Now you may well ask how that all fits in with this trip. Whenever we got settled onto our pitch at Camping Haliotis in Pontorson I turned on the television to catch up with the news back home. It was startling to see the images of snow drifts and hear the experiences of everyone throughout the UK and Ireland. One of the worst spots was Belfast with not just snow but power cuts galore as well. So being the sort of worrier that I am I called my daughter Susie to make sure all was ok. Transpires they have had their problems but all is now well. I then thought I would tell her that I had returned to Mont-Saint-Michel with all the memories it held. Without pausing for thought she said, "I know, Dad, Martin's soldiers."

Memories. They are hard to beat.
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We will have more thoughts about Mont-Saint-Michel tomorrow with some pictures as we go inside once again but times have changed things just a little. You can no longer drive up close to the Mont as, it would appear, the tide has created some problems for the roadworks and now you have to park about a mile away and travel by shuttle bus to get onto the site.

Finally, just a few thoughts about this campsite, Camping Haliotis. It is in a simple rural setting on the outskirts of a small town and is memorable because it is one of the very few campsites which has pitches with their own private bathrooms. See the pictures to get an idea. It really takes camping to a new sort of level. Add to that the fact that the staff, Alicia and Gerald, are delightful. A lovely experience. Who cares about a bit of mud?

Mud glorious mud! Sunday, March 23, 2013

Didn’t the old song say, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood…? Maybe that was “Food glorious food” but who cares? Well if its not too late let me amend that to “boiling the blood”! We have spent the last two days in two great sites but affected by the same malaise we talked about a couple of days ago at Sorel. I suppose its hardly surprising bearing in mind the sort of weather that has been inflicted on us. Still we are grateful for small mercies as the news from the UK and Ireland is pretty horrendous with snow, gales, power cuts and misery galore. Add to that the Isle of Man was inaccessible for a while with all shipping and flights suspended…So whats a bit of mud to complain about?

After we collected Ji Hye in Paris and moved to the Les Trios Rois site on the banks of the Seine we settled for what turned out to be an interesting fun night. All the pitches on the site were grassy and although they looked pretty secure it transpired that several among us needed the assistance of the site tractor to move off the following day. Once installed on the pitch the satellite returned to its former glory and we were able to access all channels. I am still baffled as to why we had a problem in Sorel. So, dinner time and a severe attack of laziness took over and we decided to amble off to the little restaurant at the roundabout just outside the gate. Then we had a very funny “good news, bad news” moment. The good news? Well, the restaurant is open! The bad news? Not to the public tonight! A special party has booked it and its a private “do” so a no go for us.

Now, I am not too sure what happened next. Was it the look of starvation on my face? Perhaps it was Nancy’s smiling acceptance but more than likely it was Ji Hye and Dougal casting their special charm. Anyway what happened was pretty special. The hostess looked at us quizzically and out of the blue said, “Do you like dancing? Salsa dancing?”

Transpires there is a salsa dancing class tonight and if we don’t mind classes in between courses then we are welcome to come! The night’s highlight was the look on Dougal’s face as some less than dignified “Strictly” wannabes meandered between the tables voicing, “1,2,3,4…1,2,3,4”. Verdict? We will talk about this night for some time to come.


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