|Lunch - scouse of course.|
|Three Liverpool institutions, within spitting distance of each other -|
|The RC cathedral - whereas Coventry's is mysterious and spiritual - Liverpool's seems communal and joyous...|
|Having a bevvy is a serious business hereabouts.|
|The Port Authotity and Liver buildings|
|'All you need is love'|
|A 'thirties' classic - The Cunard building.|
|Viewed from the waterfront, the more modern buildings work well with the earlier ones.|
Since the weekend it has rained and blown a gale. Occasionally the outside thermometer struggled into double figures. I do wonder if we had ended up living in a sunnier part of England, rather than 1000 feet up a Pennine, whether we would have developed such an appetite for travel. So now, after only a few days back I am dreaming of sunny France. In my head it looks like this:
Actually, dashing slowly northwards with a ferry booked for a few days hence, France does not look like that at all. Mainly it looks like this:
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne to Salbris, 207 miles - Saturday 27th May
|l'autoroutes - efficient, but tedious - we like the A20 - it's toll free.|
Sometime in the late afternoon we reached Camping Sologne at Salbris. Neither the town nor the site were much to speak of, but more than adaquate for an overnight stop. The campsite looked like a former municipal, situated next to the town's sports facilities and a fishing pond - nice view, mosquito heaven. Though nowhere in particular, the place was crowded due to being the weekend after the Ascension holiday. It was filled with families from the static caravans parked at the site for the season. On the face of it, it seems strange to park your caravan permanently somewhere so mundane. However, I suppose, given the numbers of French people living in apartment block without a garden, then having a space 'plein air' at a nearby site where you can relax at the weekend is an attractive option. I quick glance at car number plates revealed this to be the case, most were from local Departments in the Pays-de-Loire, escapees from the banlieus of Orleans, Vierzon and Tours I supposed. We needed milk and a few groceries. The local SuperU was a five minute walk across the footbridge over the river, we noticed the diesel was cheap and made a note to fill-up the next morning before heading to Normandy .
|OK for an overnight stop|
|Pitch with a view - noisy geese and maurauding mossies.|
Today was tight spot Sunday. As planned we headed straight for the SuperU petrol station.. Like in the UK, independent rural petrol stations are an endangered species in France. Mostly you are forced to fill-up at autoroute service areas which are expensive or use supermarket stations which are cheap. This looks at first sight an obvious choice, but for the fact that some supermarket stations seem designed around the needs of Renault Twingo owners, not 7m motorhomes, Forecourts specialise in e tight exits beyond the pumps or worryingly low canopies which rarelyhave a notice displaying the height clearance. The worst offender is Intermarche but this particular SuperU proved tricky too.
The space between the pumps was narrow forcing us to fold-in the driver-side wing mirror so the man with the Citroen Cactus next to us had enough room to fill-up. This meant we were very close to our pump and had to employ contortionist skills to squeeze open the passenger side door to gain access to our filler point. The true extent or our predicament only became apparent as we prepared to leave. The 'caisse' (closed on Sundays!) had been so positioned as to make it necessary to wriggle through a bit of a chicane as you exited. This proved very tight. To manoeuvre the cab into a position to squeeze past the 'caisse' risked wacking the petrol pump with the rear overhang. I jumped out the cab to survey the rear; Gill positioned herself at the front to keep an eye on the how close the over- cab bed bulge was to the protruding roof of the caisse. The weekly fill-up appears to be as much a part of French Sunday morning social rituals as pedalling furiously around the countryside in spray-on lycra or buying a zillion calories of creamy concoctions at the local patisserie. Consequently the petrol station was packed. I hopped back into the cab, glanced in the passenger wing mirror carefully noting the gap between our rear corner and the shiny pump. Beyond, I also noticed a small gaggle of fellow customers had gathered, hoping I guess, for a minor accident to brighten-up an otherwise tedious Sunday morning (oh no, not gateaux again). They were destined to be further disappointed, With Gill waving furiously at the front and me edging slowly forwards, somehow we managed to miss the caisse roof by an inch or two and Maisy's rear cleared the pump by a smidgeon. As Gill hopped-in I remarked, "That was trickier than it should have been."
A fatuous observation maybe, but it turned out to be the theme for the day. The N roads between Chartres and Rouen are a kind of dead zone for motorhome friendly stop-offs. This is a bit awkward because either going north or heading south we always seem to end up here around lunchtime. At Nonancourt we ground to a halt. The traffic jam here is so persistent that despite in theory being a temporary phenomenon, it has assumed pretensions towards the mythic and everlasting, like the Gulf Stream, Jupiter's great red spot or Bruce Forsyth. We joined the queue at 12:30pm. a little peckish, emerging somewhat later ravenous and 'much in want' of a layby. There were none, nor were there any handy empty Supermarket car parks off the Dreux rocade. Half way to Evereux we spotted a likely looking small industrial estate - somewhat unprepossessing, but somewhere to pull over to have lunch. Sadly its barriers were down so we trundled onwards. The road beyond the factories turned into a narrow track and we soon became entangled in a maze of minor roads that crisscrossed the vast, prairie-like wheatfields. None of them were marked on our road atlas.
|We seemed to spend a very long time driving about on tracks like these - thank you Google maps for the reminder.|
After moaning about the mundane yesterday, I was pleased that the rest of the day proved utterly uneventful. We stopped at Neufchatel-en-Bray. It was late evening by the time we sorted ourselves out. Some bits of France are dull others delightful - and the aire at Neufchatel has many small delights. We took a twilight stroll up the nearby via verde. It was empty. We shared twilight with a herd of cows, the odd flitting swift and occasional owl hoot. A tranquil end to a fraught day.
|Why am I holding my head as if lying down while standing up?|
|Beauty is a very random, arbitiary thing, why did I find the fading teilight anf telegraph wire's hauntingly lovely?|