Where's Frankie?

The Italian Job

Saturday 1st November

After last nights ghosts and ghouls had gone to bed peace resumed in Montressor until 7am when the church decide that we have to get up. We could hear three sets of bells, all on slightly different time zones and once they’d let you know it was 7am it was time for a bit of free form bell ringing, or Church Jazz as we call it now.

Up dressed and still with bells ringing in our ears we left the aire with a full tank of water and an empty waste tank and hit the road. We were aiming for a French Passion goat farm, I had made a potato and goats cheese frittata last week and it was time for another try but by 10am we were just a couple of miles from the site and thought it might be a good idea to stop and have a walk around, maybe have lunch or whatever, it was just a bit too early to turn up at a French Passion.

We stopped in a town called Azay le Ferron and went in to the Tourist Office to see if there were any bike rides that we could take. There was one very nice bike ride, only 34 km but that was very quickly rejected by Lucy, the alternative was a bike ride around the chateau. We were all chateau’d out and it was going to be €3.50 each as well. She also mentioned that we could go and watch some men fish. I’ve seen men fish and it is not the most exciting of things to do, almost as exciting as fishing itself except you don’t end up smelling of fish.

On the notice board outside the Tourist Office there was mention of fishing days and today they were at Bellebouche. One of the pamphlets we had been given mentioned that the area was famous for the fishing and from the end of October the local fishermen would half drain a lake and take out all the fish, and then move on to the next lake upstream.


We weren’t too far away so we headed for Bellebouche and found this huge lake drained almost completely.


The fishermen had put out a large net and were in the final stages of rounding up the fish.


Here you can see them starting to thrash about in the water as they got penned in.


The fish were scooped into baskets and then sorted by hand. The carp were being taken out and thrown into water.


The rest were being put into baskets and it wasn’t clear what was going to happen to these fish, were they going to be put back?


There were some mighty fine carp being removed from the lake and put into water tanks on the backs of large lorries.


One of the lorries is to the left. Smaller fish were being put into tanks and were being sold. We could see that Carp, Perch and Pike were being sold for eating, there was a fourth species but we couldn’t decipher what it was.


After a lovely stroll around the lake we went back to Frankie and went looking for somewhere to have a picnic. We had parked on a very narrow road and had to follow it through the forest but luckily Lucy had spotted a little turnoff that I could back into and we could turn around. There was a keep right sign in my rear camera as I reversed and I knew that I didn’t want to knock it over, the problem was that I went to the wrong side of it and managed to drive over the edge of a ravine.



Sorry Mummy, I may have used some choice words because we were stuck fast, the front wheels were spinning and we weren’t getting out. Luckily a French couple had stopped almost straight after our mistake and he said that not to worry, the fishing guys had a tractor and they could pull me out. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind asking the fishing people for help on my behalf since my French isn’t as good as I would like and he was more that happy to help. I managed all this without him speaking a word of English so my French is getting better.

Monsieur Pierre came back with a 4×4 and long strap but that didn’t move Frankie at all so he went off to get the tractor he was asked to bring first time. 

I thought it might be a good idea to drain the fresh water tank since 120 litres would be weighing us down a bit. Very cautiously I edged my way towards the back of the van so that I could ilift the floor opening, open the water tank and release the drain plug, it was just like the Italian Job scene in the coach.

Monsieur Pierre came back with a tractor and eventually he managed to pull us out of the ditch to safety. He wouldn’t accept any money for his help which was very nice of him. Just in case you are wondering, the ravine that we reversed into has been christened “Frankia Valley”.

We decided to continue along the track to see of there was somewhere to turn round and lo and behold there was the perfect picnic spot for a bit of French lunch.


We were well out of the way for the goat farm so found an aire in Oulches (Number 64, Centre) which was on the way to Spain, ie south of where we were. It takes 7 units, right next to the village hall and has a Euro Relais service point that only takes tokens. All the shops are closed, not that there are any in Oulches, there is no one about and I’ve tested the fresh water tap, there is no water and remember what I had to do to get us out of Frankia Valley, yes, drain all our lovely free water.

I asked a local lady if I could buy a token from somewhere and she suggested the Mairie who has got his feet up celebrating 1st November and won’t be getting up to sell me a token.

We go for a walk down by the side of the river and when we get back a French couple have just arrived so I ask them if they have a token I can buy off them ( I really am getting fluent today because they don’t speak a word of English either). They give me the right token (won’t accept payment) so I connect up, push the buttons and nothing. The electric works but not the water.

Not long after the French couple leave the site, after showing me some lovely aires north of here (we’re going south), another motorhome turns up and makes a three point turn and drives off, what could be wrong with this place?

6.50pm it sounds like JoJo has started her disco up for a sound test. All the lights are flashing in the hall, is it another party? It’s now 7.30pm, all the lights are off, all we can hear is church bells ringing the half hour, we await with baited breath. One thing is for sure, they’re not getting any sweets off of us.



6 thoughts on “The Italian Job

  1. Chris Freeman

    HI Guys, malheureusement!!! So glad you got a tow out. Enjoying the blog immensely. You seem pretty expert at the Aires. We will get the All the Aires book for our trip next year.Thanks.

    1. Mark Post author

      It’s worth it’s weight in Euros. We’ve found a couple of aires that have been shut down but no one seems to care if you stay or not. The biggest problem we have had is getting water but we’ve not been empty for very long.

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