We have completed our first one thousand miles from our starting point in Rathmell and find ourselves still in France at Camping Galan, Casterets, not to far from Bayonne.
Our choice of STOP24 at junction 11 on the M20 in the UK near to the embarcation point for the Chunnel is something we would not wish on our worst enemy, dont be fooled by the hype, the Caravan/Motorhome pitches were full of small commercial vehicles, the car parks have 2 metre high barriers and no you cannot stop over in the Bus parking area even if it is empty overnight. We eventually got 'permission' to stay over in the service area we appreciated that until 1am when the empty the commercial rubbish bins crew turned up to do their work and then hose out the bins followed by the resupply vehicles, the site is also alongside a mainline which is kept busy with passing Trains, all that for the miserly price of £20.00, definitely well over priced,though to be fair there are toilets and showers kept occupied by the Truckers. 6am did not come quick enough and it was two bleary eyed individuals that found their way to the Chunnel for the trip to France. We have since learned there is a CL at the Drum Public House not to far from the dreaded STOP24, we will probably try that next time.
On arrival in France we were met by rain and thick fog indeed it was so bad that when we pulled onto the first Aire I thought I had made a mistake as there was only some parking spaces and not many vehicles, needless to say after a quick Cuppa we pulled out again and then to our dismay a Fuel station and Cafe appeared out of the mist all brightly lit up but hidden by the thick fog. Onwards ever onwards heading for Neuf Chantel on Bray one of our favourite Campsites which does not close until the end of October, correct that they close on the last weekend in October but fortunately the brand new Aire is open in fact we had 6 nights there at €12.00 a night including free WiFi and close to the Town. By sheer chance I am reading about William Marshall who as a Squire was sent to France and was knighted in Drinton the original name for the Town in the middle of the 12th century and who took part in an assault on the occupants of the Castle, now long gone with practically no trace of it. He went on to become advisor to Richard the Lionheart and brother John (louds boos for John apparently money and women were his passion though he ended up signing the first Magna Carta). Enough of the history and back to reality, the Aire is worth at least a stopover and within easy reach from the Chunnel. The day before we were due to leave the weather report was terrible for the next day so that made the 6th night, torrential rain we were glad to stay over.Delayed in leaving because an elderly Dutchman and his wife (yes they were older than us) decided to spring clean their Campervan which was about half the size of our unit, in the water and dump area , if he cleans his teeth with as much attention they will last forever, then to cap it all the payment machine decided it did not like any form, make or Country of Debit or Credit card so we could not get off the Aire until Madam arrived and having retried all the said cards decided Euros were the only way. (Please feel free to donate)
Next stop was the town of Nonancourt where we stayed overnight on a free Aire across from the Mairie and Fire Station. On arrival a friendly Belgian Camper approached us and said he had been there for a couple of nights and it was very quiet and peaceful. Dream on, about 11pm in the grounds of the Mairie there was a 'Rave' which went on till 3am once more we did not get much sleep but the Belgian chap did apologise the next morning though it really had nothing to do with him. Once settled in it was off for our usuall explore the place which doubles as an excuse to get a bit of exercise having been sitting on our posteriors for the previous 3 or 4hours. A bit like what we call a 'long Village' the main road through is very narrow and anything above 3.5 tons is not allowed, fortunately that restriction is before you arrive at the Aire. As well as a 13th Century Church there a re a number of 15/16th century timber framed houses, still occupied ( no, not by the original occupants) though some had obviously seen some restoration. One of the things we like about France is the multitude of different House styles from the fancy Chateau, the would be Chateau to the humbler everyday lived in home, the variation seems to be more than we see in the UK.
When in Rathmell we go to Poppy’s in Settle for coffee