I don't have any. I am a recent convert to wine and have the palate of a 16 year old. I love fizzy wine, sweet fizzy wine to be exact. Happily (OK esctacially!) Lidl had just the wine that I love at the princely sum of 1.09e That is less than 2USD. So we bought a few bottles to bring home..48 bottles to be exact, they are all wrapped up and distributed in every little hidey hole and corner of the van. Plus a few bottles of odd liquers that I bought along the way, a bottle of lychee and a bottle of pink grapefruit liquer..

anyone else feel a cocktail night coming on?

So ferry at sparrows fart this morning and we are now in Bethnal Green, I went back to my little indian ladies to get my fabulous eyebrows touched up and I am off out with a good friend tonight for a bethnal green pubcrawl and soem e
 
 
We made better time that I expected and so took a quick side trip into belguim. I never knew that they have gorgeous beaches in Belguim!...miles of sand. It was about 20 degrees and typical of us northern europeans, the beach was full, there were people swimming, if it had been italy, they would all have been huddled over a hot coffee as it would have been far to cold to be on the beach..

of course we had frites and mayonaise and then back to France. It is an interesting thing, I was tired, not just of driving, but this kind of holiday, while great, is a lot more tiring overall than the same time in one location. You always have to figure out where you are going to stay, what you are going to eat (and since we are on a strict budget, we mostly cooked..so food has to be bought daily..no fridge!) and get the timing right. All of that is good as there is the novelty factor, but it takes it out of you. So when you go into a new country, it takes work to figure out the system, little things like where can you park, do you have to pay, interpreting the parking meters (V complicated in belguim!) etc etc...so being a little travel weary, it was easier to scuttle back to france where we had it all figured out, than start again with a new country at the tail end of our holiday. In any c
 
 
Most of the rest of the trip was driving, we stopped into Lourdes..as a card carrying 'nothing to do with organised religion' person, it was an interesting trip, the faith and hope of the hundreds of invalids and volunteers would move anyone. But it was still a heavy footed patriarchial stamp all over what was and is a locus of the divine feminine...

but this blog isn't for me to bore you with my religious prejudices, rather to witter on about lovely showers..

lovely showers have been in short supply since lourdes..we mostly stayed in nice rest spots and picnic areas, washing yourself in the basin of a public toilet..is a challenge..and can be done!...

we drove north, stopped in some pretty spots, the most memorable being close to Amiens cathedral yesterday. We were there fairly early and since it is august all of the cities of france empty, so it was very quiet. I didn't know that like chartres, Amiens also has a labryinth in the floor of the church, unlike Chartres, the chairs were all pulled back and it was unbusy enough so that I could walk it. It is a beait
 
 
So I finally dragged our asses from the hammocks and we set off to see the Dali exhibition (and I am having deja vu..was sure I blogged about this!)

Spain was a bit of a disappointment, I am aware that I am generalising the whole country based on a tiny corner, We entered into spain on the road from perpignan, it was shopping centre after shopping center, trucks everywhere and prostitutes standing on all of the side roads, in the middle of the day in the baking sun. My heart went out to them, poor women, they were lucky if they had a chair to sit on, mostly they were just standing, waiting for some random stranger to happen past.

The area we drove through was also very ugly, bad buildings, and dusty and just not nice.

We went first to the teatro dali in figures ( I am sure that I am spelling that wrongly) It was a big museum, with plaster casts of turds stuck all over the outside. They were strange three cornered turds, which made us worry about Dalis anatomy. There were some interesting pieces in the museum, but I was a little disappointed that most of the big pieces, the iconic ones, are in other galleries around the world. I only recognised about 4 pictures from reproductions of his work. Personally the art philistine that I am, I think he became "Dali" in the end, he seemed to just be surrealist, to be Dali..but like I said, what do I know...from there we went to a little fishing village on the coast (duh!)...because we had booked into see Dali's house the next morning.

cadaques, was pretty, sorta reconciled me to Spain as it was pretty, but overrun with tourists..I know I can't complain about that since i am one. But after such a long trip you do get tired of the worldwide attitude to tourists..'leave your wallet at the door, and we will give you shit food and worse service'..we tried a couple of tapas bars...walked around the harbour and back to the most expensive campsite of the trip..can you tell I was not loving Spain!

Next morning a short drive to Dali's house, this was a tiny tiny village, and since the numbers to the house are very limited, there were no coach parties and less tourists. The house was lovely, of course lots of oddities inside, but it was interesting and very pretty..and less consciously surrealist. Once we had that done, we hightailed it back to france as fast as we could go!...

i did wonder though what the locals made of him, while he was busy acquiring the few fishermans cottages that were eventally linked together to be his house. Did they rub their hands with glee, knowing he could afford to pay over the odds for the next house, or feel resentful that this wierdo was buying
 
 
So we came to this campsite for one night and this will be our third night here..but when I tell you that the first thing I see in the morning is my hammock gently swaying, silhouetted against the morning sky..you might understand.

We are definitely upping stakes and moving tomorrow, want to dip into spain before I have to start driving home, only a week left..but hopefully there will be some decent weather by the time I get home...God loves an optimist!!  



 
 
Hello folks..finally I am able to update. For some reason all of the previous internet access areas wouldn't allow me to update this.

so where were we, well we moved campsites to a little village in the Camargue, I saw all of the things that I hadto see, white camargue ponies, rice growing and flamingos. The town we went to is the capital of the camargue, Saintes Maries de la Mer, population of about 2400 in winter and 40,000 in summer,. It is gorgeous, totally overrun by tourists of course, but I loved it, huge huge campsites, right on the beach, the town is all resturants and souvenier shops. And the church...it is a place of pilgrimage for romany gypsies as it has a statue of St Sara, a black saint, in the crypt. But it was the strangest thing, ..

avoid the next couple of lines if you are allergic to new agey woo woo type of stuff...I'll let you know when it is safe to come back to this post..

as soon as I went into the church I was overwhelmed, with a complete sense of familiarity, I was actually dizzy and became very emotional. I had to sit down because the place had such a huge impact on me, my whole body was buzzing with it. I have definitely defintely been there before. I loved the town on sight and would happily have stayed there for a long time, but when I went into the church I was blown away. The church is quite pretty, pretty fortress like as it has been assaulted a lot of times, and the crypt strangest of all. A little low domed area under the altar. about 15mx15m with hundreds of candles..it was so hot in the crypt that you could have boiled an egg. For you cynics out there..I was lightheaded before I went into the crypt (I know what's new..lol!) but I was emotionally overwhelmed when I saw the, pretty nondescript, statue of the black Sara...why? no idea.


OK Woo Woo stuff over...so we spent a lovely three nights in the town, the weather was variable, rain....cloud but always warm, we got sunbathing in and plenty of seafood, even a swim in the med (bloody freezing, but great).

and then yesterday Thursday 28 we headed on further south. We stayed last night in a little campsite not too far from Perpignan. It is the most tranquil place that I have been in so far. Not too busy, plenty of trees so that we could string up a couple of hammocks. Beautiful swimming pool and a great rock/weddingly type band who played in the bar last night, with cocktails only 3e a pop, it is not to be wondered that we are staying another night,

I woke up this morning, my birthday (thanks for all the birthday wishes folks..they really do mean a lot)..with the bluest sky ever, not a cloud to be seen, it is really really hot, so the day has been pool, sunbathing, hammock and pool..to be followed tonight by pizza and another band..there may even be a cocktail or two thrown in...

sorry this blog is a litany of just sunshine and beaches....ROTFLMAO...not!

Spain tomorrow, I want to see the Dali museum and his house. Akin to many teenagers I used to be a Dali nut many years ago, not so keen anymore, but I did read his book and know a lot of his work, so I have to see the museum. Then by about tuesday we will have to start working our way north again.

I foresee a repeat of the holy family trials as it is the first of august on Monday, when all of france goes on holidays..

have to go, the pool is calling


 
 
We have had three nights here, it has been so nice to just rest, the most driving I have had to do, was into the local town to visit the market and buy food for the day. The tan is coming along nicely and finally the wind has dropped. It was the mistral that has been blowing a gale for days, I started to understand why the chinese believe strong winds to be disharmonious. They must have been camping and trying to peg things down when they decided that.

Today we head finally to the sea, where they grow rice and have pink flamingos..I have always wanted a pink flamingo for my lawn, I wonder if they will miss one or two? The village that we are heading for is an important site to the Roma, they go on pilgrimages to a church that has a statue of a Black Madonna...Since I painted one for a play a few years ago, I figure it might be time to see one in the flesh..or at least plaster.

Onwards to the med and seafood!........
 
 
And then as the evening was approaching, we came into a town and saw some campsite signs. There wasn't a star overhead, but it was a close run thing.
They had room!!..and they are so friendly. I fell on their necks and wept with gratitude and we unpacked. We set up our awning, we even have the flag and bunting out. We have made a HOME!...or at least a home for then next few days. I am not budging until Monday. I will drive for some food tomorrow,...bugger just realised tomorrow is sunday, maybe I will have to drive today for food, we are scratching the bottom of the barrel for food today as I refuse to drive anywhere!..

which reminds me of the glorious lunch we had yesterday, on the way to the abbey, we drove up into a tiny hilltop walled village, We had a proper french lunch on the terrace, overlooking hundreds of miles of hills. It was gorgeous and the food was wonderfull..I had octopus cottage pie. Well wouldn't you order something like that if you saw it on a menu? It was really good.

Lunch today was a baguette and one packet of taytos...between the two of us. Can I emphasise how much I don't want to drive today!

So the campsite, is great, there is a pool, there are trees everywhere, it is very windy, but the wind is warm, there is sunshine, we are slightly burnt, not enough to be sore, just enough to start our tan. We have laundry done..there are showers...we are clean...

you see it's all about the shower!

Thank you for comments btw..I love them..........




 
 
hI have no idea what lunacy was in my head when I booked a ferry to Dunkirk, but it turned out well, it is a pretty little town and we splashed out for a hotel that night..more showers and clean sheets, what indulgence..It was just as well given how long it took us to find somewhere decent to stay after that.

We arrived in Dunquerke as (i think) it is supposed to be spelled on Tuesday night, The next morning we started to drive south. The skies were grey, the rain torrential. Yup the rain followed us..and it was cold.

Remember what I said about the holiday being hard work. I was really starting to question myself at this stage. The first night we spent near Troyes. Troyes is a gorgeous city, it is all medieval with half timbered houses, we stayed in a little village close by bar sur seine, a smaller equally beautiful medieval village, we parked in an aires de camping, ie a car park and treated ourselves to some proper french crepes in a beautiful old building. The next day we woke to more rain drumming on the roof of the van.

So we just drove and drove, including motorways (and aren't the tolls madly expensive!!) south and more south, just reaching provence that day. I was shattered. I had driven about 500 miles that day. The plan was to find a nice campsite and spend a few days just not driving and seeing lavender fields and enjoying the sunshine as we finally found it!

However it was then that we started to really get stressed. There was a naturiste campsite advertised in one of the books and I rather fancied the idea of an all over tan and of course purient interest in comparing my wobby bits with everyone elses, but sadly it was full..(I am sure that there is a pun or a joke there somewhere, but I can't find it) So onto the next campsite..full..we spent that night in a deserted picnic area, cooking up mexican food at 10pm by moonlight.

We were near carpentras, which is quite mountainous and regularly features in the tour the france. The roads were mobbed by heart-attack-imminent cyclists. Mad! Steep hills that went on for miles and miles. I wanted to tuck them all into the van and take them to the top, but for their expressions of grim determination (Eimear..I did think of you!)... they were all wearing yellow jerseys. I don't blame them, if I were to even attempt to cycle in that kind of terrain I feel I should have rosettes and ribbons and yellow jerseys galore, before I had gone 10 metres.

Anyway, feeling much like the holy family, we headed off the next day to Apt, because there are lots of lavender fields around there. We went to a gorgeous abby hidden in a tiny valley with high mountains all around, Picture postcard stuff. the monks grow lavender and keep bees. I was surprised that the air wasn't heavy with the smell of lavender, but it was full of the constant drone of the bees..and the clicking of camera shutters.

We tried another 6 campsites after that..and still no room at the inn, seriously I was competely channeling the virgin mary, after all Rosita is named after Don Quiotes Rosinante...all that was missing was Joseph..and of course the wise men...but they are always late to the party I am told.

So I gave up provence as a bad job and we decided to head for the coast.