Since I can’t think of witty introduction we’ll get straight on with the diary, however those who our exploits on Facebook - www.facebook.com/getyourlegsdown or Twitter - www.twitter.com/legsdown will know that we’ve moved on and started our journey north. Anyway, here goes.
We had a lovely hour and a half with Georges & Margaret - the site owners at Manzac Ferme. They were very generous with both the wine and the nibbles and the chat flowed easily. It was interesting listening to their experiences of the French way of life - some good, some not so. We all still found it astonishing that some tourist attractions in tourist areas close for lunch in the busiest months of the year. And we’re not talking for just an hour either. Lunch for the French is a serious business and while larger stores - particularly the chains and supermarkets now stay open it is not unusual to see a business close it’s doors between Midday and three pm. It was no wonder Hitler found it so easy to invade France. All he had to do was arrive at lunchtime and no one would have noticed for a couple of hours at least!
Seriously though, if it works for them - and France IS the worlds most popular tourist destination - then good luck to them. But we’ve seen enough empty shop units, abandoned warehouses and boarded up bars and restaurants to suggest that all is not well. Mind you, that’s hardly unique at the moment.
Right, where were we? Ah yes, dinner was next on the agenda and I quickly cremated something on the BBQ as we wanted to get some of our clearing up done. A storm was promised and judging by the gathering gloom it was about to be delivered too. We got everything away and the canopy rolled up just as the first spots of rain came, then adjourned to our neighbours awning for farewell drinks.
The storm rumbled on most of the night. If it wasn't raining it was thundering and lightening and quite often all three making it a very sticky night. The temperature in Patsy didn’t drop below thirty degrees until the early hours. The decision not to change the duvet covers until the following day was a wise one.
By eleven a.m. we’d said our goodbyes and were on the road again, starting our journey back north. It was straightforward, staying mostly on one road with only a few small towns to negotiate. As we trundled on, the landscape started to flatten out and, much more importantly, the skies were clearing too. With a brief coffee stop and change of drivers, just after two p.m we were at the site entrance. And a split-second later we were past it. I’d miss-read the directions given by the site and wasn’t expecting it to appear so quickly. It was a mile further down the road before an opportunity to turn around presented itself. Being rural France, there was no other traffic around but a dozen or so cows had gathered at the corner of the field and had a good moo at my reversing skills - or lack of them.
With about turn (slowly) completed we soon presented ourselves at the entrance to Le Cormier and were warmly greeted by Cath and then Mike as we were shown to our pitch. And what a pitch it is too as you will see:
Some trees for a bit of shade and borders too - and LOADS of room. We positioned her ladyship at an angle in the hope of providing equal degrees of shade and nosiness, then had a tour of the site. Le Cormier is nestled in the Loire Valley and sits at the northern tip of the Brenne Regional Nature Park.
There are twelve grass pitches for camping and four Gites/studios. Cath gave us the tour around and the splash pool looked particularly inviting. There is a TV in the barn along with table tennis and darts and for those that can’t manage without their daily soap fix, a hook up to a satellite dish is available on some pitches - you’ll need a box though.
For non-caravanners I should explain that this does not include the contents of your loo, but the outflow from the sink, basin and shower. Like some of the other sites we’ve been on, Le Cormier relies on a septic tank too and loo chemicals must be bio-degradable and, by definition, formaldehyde free. Oh, and there’s WiFi too and again it’s free.
Wednesday, and with the promise of a cracking days weather we planned appropriately - and done little other than enjoy the day - and catch up on the laundry too. Cath does the washing for you - it used to be self service but she got fed up of having machines broken by people that couldn’t work ‘em. A washing machine. And these same people probably have a driving licence. Worrying.
Anyway, the temperature was fantastic, warm, dry and with clear blue skies, we made the most of it.
One of the best things about this trip - apart from exploring a new (to us!) country - has been the warm nights. It’s so great to be able to sit outside long after dark in nothing more than a pair of shorts and listen to the night chorus of owls, crickets and so on. The neighbours are probably glad it’s dark too as they’re saved from the site of my burgeoning paunch.
Of course, all this sitting around is thirsty work and as many of you already know my grog of choice is real ale, something the French - and most of the rest of the world - don’t do. So we’ve been keeping up our fruit intake with a glass or three of wine most evenings. Trev has been on the white while I’ve been ‘researching’ the red. I don’t drink much wine at home but when I do it’s usually Spanish or something from South America, but many of the wines we have had have been superb. The supermarkets are full of wines for less than five Euros and given the current exchange rate to sterling, we’ve found some real bargains. For a completely subjective and uneducated view, head over to the Wine Wall to see what we think of them.
Right, that’s it for now. Check back soon when we hit the sightseeing trail again. In the meantime, some more pictures of this lovely site: