Saturday, 17 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday - the End

So yesterday morning we set the alarm for 07:00 and got up as soon as the water was hot; a quick breakfast and then it was time to go and check in for our crossing, the 09:50, which was very slightly late, but  not late enough to matter.  We had an easy run home, and then a busy hour or so emptying the van and getting everything unpacked and the first few loads of washing done.

Today we drove it down to Sussex and put it away for the next few weeks.  Watch this space.....

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday, 15 November

France is making itself awfully easy to say goodbye to - today was thoroughly Novemberish, misty and foggy and cold and generally nasty!

We didn't hurry out of bed this morning, as it was dark and dreich. With no artificial lights in the area, it had been very dark overnight, to the point where, when I got up to use the loo, I had to keep my not-Fitbit on so I could see, if not what I was doing, then at least where I was doing it! 

When we eventually got away, we drove along the canal for about a kilometer to where it ran alongside a sausage-shaped lake, and we could turn round. We saw lots of Mallard and a heron, and there had been owls in the night. No dawn chorus this morning, though - at this time of year the songbirds are more interested in survival than they are in sex and turf wars!

We were always going to have a long drive today, but it wasn't so long that we wanted to pay French motorway tolls. We stopped at Landrecies for the SW to have his coffee (I was asleep!) and then went well off our route to try to find somewhere nice to stop for lunch.  It wasn't that nice, but better than a motorway service station, but by then the Sat-nav decided that we would have to go on Belgian motorways as far as Lille.

It didn't take long to get back to the Cité Europe and the aire here, and after a cup of tea I went over and had a lovely long, slow shop, mostly in Carrefour. Then back to the motor home and got supper (kidneys in Madeira sauce with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and very good it was, too), and am shortly going to get under the covers with my knitting. And up early, sadly, and home tomorrow!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday, 14 November

Last night, after I had written up yesterday's blog post, we were invited to a wine tasting by the owner of the camp site - I think he also owns a local vineyard. We didn't get to taste any champagne, alas, but there was a not-very-nice Chardonnay (I only really like the New World ones), a pinot noir that didn't taste nearly as good as it  smelled, and a Bordeaux wine that was nice. My I don't like red wine nearly as much as I used - I hint know if it's my age, or my medication, or what. We did think of buying 3 bottles of the claret, because it was nice, but the Ditch could who were there bought 6 of everything so we didn't feel we really needed to!  And so back to the van, not wanting any beer with our supper, but we had bacon hash with, just to make a change, a local concoillotte cheese on it, and very good it was, too. 

The Swan Whisperer went for a run this morning, and even I went for a blow by the lake after breakfast.

We were not sure where we were going to spend the night tonight, but "What's halfway" said a place called Remies was, and Park4Night found us this lovely aire, a few miles south of Laon, by the canal joining the Aisne and the Oise. Beautiful, and really quiet. There were some anglers here when we arrived, but they have gone now and we are on our own except for ducks!

We decided that, as we were not in any hurry, we wouldn't pay motorway tolls, but the Sat-nav took us along rather busy N-roads with lots of lorries. However, the last few miles were across country on a very narrow little road, we thought the Sat-nav had quite lost the plot. But it hadn't. This place would have been prettier last week when the autumn colours were so lovely - now the leaves are nearly all down and the trees beginning to stand winter-stark against the sky.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday, 13 November

It rained most of the night and into this morning. From all I gather, it's badly needed - I saw a municipal notice board in one of the towns we passed through yesterday saying that in view of the drought, water restrictions would continue until (and a date I didn't see). The Swan Whisperer did not go for a run, I noticed!

However, we did go for a walk through the town, which was rather lovely. If I'd had my act together in time, I'd have treated myself to a spa day, but we think we might come back to Plombières-les-Bains next month, so maybe then.

We set off across country towards the Lac de l'Orient, doing first at a supermarket for the day's bits and pieces, including gas (we have plenty to do us until the end of our next trip, but always good to have a spare bottle, just in case), managing to do that just before they closed for lunch, and again in some random lay by to have lunch and a nap - the SW woke me from a sound sleep, I was not impressed! Then we drove on, stopping once for petrol, and finally arrived at this site which turned out to be a campsite - only €16.20 for the night and all included, not bad. The SW has been for a walk along the lake and there is to be a wine tasting in Reception at 18:30! Sounds good to me!

Monday, 12 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday, 12 November

We were both tired today, and haven't done much. We had a bit of a lie-in and a leisurely breakfast. I enjoyed playing some of the games on my tablet that really need WiFi to get the most out of them.
We used the services as they were there and free, and then headed on. First port of call was a supermarket - a Cora, this time. I wish I'd known we'd be going past a Super U, as they are my favourite of the French chains, but I didn't. Anyway the Cora shocked me by having its Christmas displays up - Carrefour in Cité Europe is always early, because of the British visitors, but most places in France don't start thinking about it until December. No sign of it in Germany, except that mulled wine in both alcoholic and children's varieties has replaced the federwein!  I was tempted to buy a thing of 3 French chutneys for my parents, but we are planning a Christmas trip next month. Did, however, buy a new stool to replace mine, which had broken, as well as some choucroute for supper.

Then we drove on to Xonrupt-Longemer where we parked up near the eponymous lake and had lunch, and the Swan Whisperer walked round it.
Then a very pretty drive to here, which is Plombières-les-Bains, where we have parked up for the night. The SW went exploring (like a dog, he needs two walks a day!), and now we are both flopped on the bed reading until it will be time for supper.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday, 11 November

It rained in the night. A lot. All night, it felt like. But when morning came, the clouds cleared away and the sun came out.

Today was the pivot of our holiday, the day around which it was built. Our daughter's choir, the London Forest Choir, was joining with Les Petits Chanteurs d'Alsace for a Remembrance Day concert in Strasbourg. So we got up at a reasonable hour, for once, and just as we were finishing breakfast the Daughter contacted us to say there was nowhere to get coffee on a Sunday morning at the concert venue and could she beg some off us?  We said of course, but we would be at least half an hour, as we had to use services, etc, but eventually we arrived and gave the poor woman some breakfast in good time to go into the theatre and enjoy the concert.

It kicked off at 11:00 with 2 minutes silence, and then the LFC sang an arrangement of Lawrence Binyon's "For the Fallen", the poem that "They shall grow not old" is taken from. Then the Petits Chanteurs sang a Howard Goodall arrangement of two war poems, one English and one German, and an arrangement of Paul McCartney's "Pipes of peace". 

Both choirs joined together for the main event, a performance of Rathbone's "Christmas Truce", which I love and which always makes me cry, even this version in French!  There was an encore, Fauré's "Cantique de Jean Racine". A lovely concert. 

When it was over, we said goodbye to the Daughter and headed off into the Vosges. We had thought of stopping at Ste-Marie-Les-Mines, but it wasn't very nice so we drive on to St-Dié, ugh we like, and there is a very nice aire, all found for €6, except that the advertised WiFi isn't working* and for some reason the SW can't get any data on his phone. Or couldn't - it has just this second come back!
He has been for his usual walk, and now we are settled for the evening. I'm amused - having brought our good coats specially for the concert, it was too warm to wear them today!  Long may it last! 

* It did start working a bit later, and we were both able to log on.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Remembrance Holiday, 10 November

The Swan Whisperer went for a run this morning, so we were not particularly early setting off, but after breakfast we drove up to the Park'n'Ride by the station and took a tram into Strasbourg, where we had arranged to meet the Daughter who is enjoying a child-free weekend with her choir. We walked past the Cathedral and the rows of tourist tat, and found a very nice place to have a cup of coffee. Only it was raining - nearly  the first rain we have had all holiday apart from six spots at Freudenstadt.

The Daughter had left her music in her hotel room, and didn't particularly want to walk back there, but we had bought an up-to-three-person ticket so she could go on the bus with us. We did that, and then got a tram to the Opéra area, where she was to have a rehearsal. There was a very nice restaurant where we treated ourselves to flammekueche and a beer, and then the Daughter left for her rehearsal and we went back into Germany and did a Last Shop (in Germany) as we'll be in France from tomorrow onwards. 

After that I have spent the afternoon listening to the radio, reading and knitting while the SW decided he wanted to go back into Strasbourg to see if it was illuminated, which I don't think it was much. He has just returned, rather wet!