Where's Frankie?

Treves to Girondelle (141 miles)

I find this very difficult to believe but we were off site by 8.30am. It’s always been difficult to get Lucy out of bed in the morning (I’ve grown out of the teenager thing now) but she was getting in the shower at 7am followed closely by me, then coffee was on, breakfast was made and as Lucy tidied up I tightened the bolts in the table to stop it rocking so much and fixed one of the drawer catches. I practised a bit more of my German on the baker by pointing at what I wanted and then we went to fill up with water and empty the waste tank and toilet. We shouldn’t need anymore service facilities now until we get home.

We’re at that stage where we are thinking of going home now (BOO!) so we need to start making our way west. We were going to stop in Leuven for Friday evening but the only place to stop was little more than a car park so we changed plans (more than once). You may be wondering why on earth we would want to go to Leuven and if you are it is because you don’t read the tins of Belgian beer that you drink. Leuven is where Stella Artois, amongst other beers is brewed and totally coincidentally they are having a beer festival there this weekend. Who says I can’t make plans? The only thing putting us off was the parking so instead we aimed for Namur, a regional town in Belgian that I had stayed in as a kid with my parents. What I didn’t realise was that Namur is the name of the whole area so when I put Namur in to the sat nav and it said only 60 miles away, whereas Leuven was 120 miles away it seems like a great idea. Getting close to our destination we managed to work out that the road sign distances beared no resemblance to the sat nav distance so we pulled over in one of the frequent stopping places for a juice break and planning meeting. Yesterday I had changed the settings on the sat nav to allow for motorway driving since I knew we were quite a way from Calais and could do with covering a bit more ground and motorways going in fairly straight lines on smooth surfaces fitted the bill nicely. Anyway, these stopping places are well off the main dual carriageway, some have play areas and toilets and most have picnic benches so you can take a break.

We had our meeting and the consensus was that we return into France where we can try another one or two French Passion sites and get our moneys worth from the book. One of the nicest things about this break has been that our plans have been so flexible, three destinations in one day is pretty flexible. One site in Girondelle grabbed our attention since they sell cheese, pates, rhubarb wine and something called Confiture du lait. Our little pocket translator, which we’ve worked out is rubbish, hasn’t got a clue and the best that we can work out is that it is milk jam, the notice board to the site says you can have it with honey as well.

Obviously I’m going a bit soft because this place is attached to a guest house and they do evening meals so we are booked in for 7.30pm this evening where we will try and work out what confiture du lait is because I can tell you’re really curious. The site itself is a little bit iffy. It’s a bit muddy, on a big slope although he piles of rubble make it look like they are about to do it up a bit. We are next to a couple of Belgians, he hasn’t stopped shouting at his wife since they came back from their bike ride three hours ago, I think she must have been doing the map reading and got themselves both lost, he was really throwing his toys out of his pram when they first got back. I’ll have to lend them our sat nav and they can see if the accents are as bad as we think they are. It’s been a little too chilly to sit outside so I’ve pulled out my watercolour set and started on a masterpiece. Picasso had to start somewhere and I’m sure his first effort looked like something even his mum wouldn’t want on the wall and I know my mum won’t want this one so I’ll have to do some more practicing. Lucy said it wasn’t bad but then she was holding it upside down.

Word of the Day – Confiture du Lait. We found out what it was in the end. Heat some milk up with sugar and cook for two hours. It looks very much like runny caramel and it is meant to be good for spreading on bread or having with fromage – we’ll let you know what it’s like if we pluck up courage to open the jar.

Mistake of the Day – Taking Lucy out for dinner. The dinner was nice enough and the company was very charming. They were a young couple with three words of English between them so I had to struggle but luckily I sneaked our little interpreter gadget in which managed to completely lose the plot and not be able to suggest any words worth suggesting, Lucy made me throw it in the bin when we got back. The meal consisted of an aperitif of rhubarb wine, pizza made on a puff pastry base, pork casserole with creamy boiled potatoes, fromage and then chocolate eclairs and coffee.  There was more than enough red wine to wash it all down. The mistake was not checking the cost first – €50 for the two of us when we could have eaten for free in the van and then another €3 for the dodgy looking caramel spread. That will put our average site fees cost up a bit but then it is all a learning curve, c’est la vie as they say somewhere foreign.

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