It’s now day three and I thought it was time to let you know what has been happening.
Sunday morning was a very emotional time having to say goodbye to Darcy, Emma and David. Frankie has been renamed “The Blubberbus” because of all the tears but they seemed to have subsided a bit now, we’re just not allowed to use some words like Darcy, Emma, grand children, baby, etc.
We left at 9am right on schedule, the schedule I gave to Lucy that is which left us plenty of time to stop in Tescos in Lakeside to fill up with diesel and then Tescos in Dover (once they’d opened) because someone can’t find her Kindle and we couldn’t possibly go around Europe sharing a Kindle (non paper white).
Dover ferry port is just as we left it last time but slightly windier and wetter than usual.
Despite being one of the last to board we managed to wheedle our way right up to the front of the car deck with just the ferry doors between us and the outside world, it was looking good for a speedy getaway. We headed straight for the restaurant and the ferry was almost deserted, there were very few people on board so we sat right up the front and had cod and chips for lunch.
We were tempted to buy some duty free but one of the things we had to clear out was the drinks cabinet at home. When I said drinks cabinet what I really meant was three supermarket shelves full of every alcoholic drink Lucy could lay her hands on (she was teetotal when we met, I think her friends in EEDA have had a very bad influence on her). We have over 30 bottles of alcohol on board.
Here we are right up the front and as you can see the upper decks are being let off before us, we were nearly the last off in the end but we didn’t have to stop at any of the booths and we were swiftly on our way. our target was Le Cap Gris Nez south west of Calais where we were hoping to see some WW2 fortifications. It looked promising, all the car parks were full and there were hundreds of people walking about but it was just a viewing area, lovely views of England and the English Channel but no guns.
It was very bracing, the wind was blowing very strongly and unbeknown to us a taster of what was to come.
France seems to have a very different view of signs to the UK. In the UK everything is signposted from every direction, well in advance and to be honest slightly overdone. In France the opposite is true, one little sign on the junction so there is no time to make a change of direction which is why we missed the Todt Battery on our way out of Le Cap Gris Nez, it was a bit like my mother giving directions:- “Turn left at the last junction!!”.
We did manage to find the aire in Bolougne though.. Stella has all the aires filed away in her brain and we have a couple of books and apps to add to the choices we can make of where to stop.
The view from our side window in the evening as the sun was setting.
And then in the morning. The parking official came round about 8pm and charged us €5.25 to stay the night which was very reasonable considering the view across to the White Cliffs of Dover. It was however a bit exposed and the wind was rocking the van all night until about 8 in the morning.
We could also see Bolougne if you stood on the fence and peered over the bushes.
Out of the other window we could see “Le Column de la Grande Armee”. Can you see Napolean standing on the top of the 50m high marble column? He has his back to England because he was going to invade England from Bolougne and assemble his army on a hill outside the town. Unfortunately for him a combination of the English fleet and the English weather thwarted his efforts.
We were going to visit Bolougne itself but the weather wasn’t too great and we decided that we’d give it a miss and head on to our next port of call, Berck Sur Mer 20 miles South of Bolougne. We’ve been to Berck a couple of times for the Kite Festival in April and knew that the beaches were big and flat and clean and at this time of year very windy.
The chip wagon was very popular with the local seagulls.
Just our luck, we arrived in Berck the day ofter the “Beach Cross” competition which as far as we can make out was lots of quad bikes roaring round the beach and having a great time. We did manage to find a bar (surprise, surprise) and had a couple of pints whilst finding out that we could log onto the local wifi and grab some emails and make some silly Facebook comments. The aire in Berck can take 75 units and should have cost €6.25 but when I tried to put money in the machine it was spat out straight away so I chanced it and ended up paying nothing. We filled up with water, emptied the toilet, waste water and rubbish and settled in for an even windier night than at Bolougne.
Tuesday morning we had plans, we had lots of plans and they kept changing by the minute. Plan A was to head South and try and get better weather, plan B was to head for Abbeville and check out the shops, plan C was to head for Le Fort Mahon Plage followed by Le Crotoy and stay in the aire there. By this time it was 10.30 and the heavens had opened, the wind was blowing strongly so we headed for Le Crotoy which was described as a pleasant fishing port on the North side of La Baie du Somme, a birdwatchers paradise, but then we’re not birdwatchers!!
The aire here was enormous, the book says 70 units but you could double that easily. Hopefully you can see the motorhomes in the photo above just behind the harbour. We decided to walk into the town just as the heavens opened and got soaked to the skin, still it was fairly warm and we’re British don’t you know! Le Crotoy has dozens of fishmongers all competing with each other. If you’re reading this Colin or Steve, mussels are €2 per kilo.
The other side of the bay to Le Crotoy is St Valerie Sur Somme which our guidebook recommended. Part of the town is medieval and whilst it took us a while to find it, it was worth it in the end.
The sun was out when we arrived (and all the shops were closed – result) so we had a good look around the area. There were lots of very picturesque houses, a lovely harbour and promenade and lot so of tourist signs giving information about the area.
William the Conqueror left from St Valerie Sur Somme when he invaded England and Jeanne D’Arc was imprisoned here before being sent to Rouen for her trail.
Artists such as Degas and Boudin were frequent visitors to the town as was Victor Hugo. It became very popular in the 1800’s when it became fashionable to bathe in the sea.
Todays final destination was Le Hourdel, a viewpoint on the south side of La Baie du Somme. It can take 20 motorhomes, is shielded from the sea by sand dunes and high hedges and is totally free. There aren’t any services other than rubbish disposal but then we filled everything up in Berck.
We’ve tucked our selves behind a little Burstner to try and get out of the wind, just wish he was a bit bigger.
We took a little walk to the beach, there is a 6km walk along the front and going to the right was great but we soon realised that making a return journey was not going to be fun. The wind was far stronger than any wind I have ever felt, you can see what it has done to this German gun emplacement.
It’s now 6pm on Tuesday and I’m hoping to upload all of this when we get to Abbeville in the morning although we may stop in the local McDonalds and use there free wifi, not making any firm plans until we need to. The aire is filling up, the van next door has just pulled up and he’s sorted out the TV aerial already, “Strictement Venir Danser” must be about to start!
Question for Mummy – what’s this? When we were in St Valerie we saw a shop selling jus de whatever this is and it didn’t look very appetising, it was a bit scummy if you know what I mean. Reversing into our spot in the aire tonight we found lots of it.