We had returned from France for Gerry to have a series of medical appointments including his second session of rituximab which took 6 hours. Annie and Gerry both decided they wanted to get away again before everywhere got crowded in the school holidays. We both agreed to return to France and to the exact same mobile home we had left a few days previously. Bookings were made and we were just about to set off when P&O Ferries sent a text to say Dover was closed because of industrial action in Calais. Annie managed to re book the ferry for the following day and Gerry managed to transfer the hotel booking for a day later. Our journey to Dover the following day involved detours for road works and road closures to accommodate parked trucks that had not been able to get on a ferry. We managed OK and were then horrified when we started to drive out of Calais and saw all of the immigrants trying to get into the backs of parked trucks and then a blocked motorway in front of us. Gerry saw the traffic jam in time to take an exit and we travelled across country to our overnight hotel in Montreuil.
Our journey to Moulin La Geneste the next day went smoothly. The next week was spent walking every day in glorious weather (perhaps a little hot on occasions (high 30s Celsius)). We were both pleased with what we managed to achieve. The walks were very peaceful and often required us to manoeuvre ourselves through overgrown footpaths and across quite rickety bridges. One walk was described as a nature walk but we only saw dead animals; badger, mole, snake and hedgehog. However, the walk itself was very pleasant.
On other walks we also came across the Rapunzel tower, various statues dotted around the countryside including a laughing cow (vache qui rit), frogs and a couple of calves that had just been born. In fact, as we were watching the calves, the farmer arrived to make sure that they could stand up and that their mothers were happy to accept them!
During our stay we also picked up the news that Calais was once again hit by industrial action and that this time it was lasting for at least three days. The chaos at Calais was apparently far worse than when we travelled from England.
We decided that for peace of mind and the avoidance of delays and traffic jams etc we would try and book another ferry crossing. We managed to get an overnight sailing from Le Havre to Portsmouth on the Friday and so were able to return to Fairford without hassle and a few hours earlier than the much longer drive via Calais and Dover. Not worrying about the return journey meant that we were able to really enjoy the last few days of our holiday and also a bonus of a few hours in Honfleur before getting the ferry.
We began our holiday in France with a meander to Canterbury via Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. We had visited both National Trust places last year but returning was well worth it. The gardens at Scotney were absolutely full of colour.
After a delightful stay at the Canterbury Holiday Inn Express we set off for Dover knowing that there was bad weather in the English Channel. Our fears were confirmed on arrival at the port when we were told we could travel on an earlier ferry but that, because of delays, we would leave around noon (nearly an hour later than we should have any way!) At least we were luckier than those who had been waiting since before 6am. Despite warnings from the Captain that the crossing would be quite rough, it was in fact very smooth. Exiting the port of Calais we had a pleasant and uneventful journey to our overnight stop at a delightfully modern Best Western hotel in Evreux. The journey to Moulin La Geneste the next day went smoothly and we were greeted by site owners Sharon and Steve who made us very welcome. Our home for the stay was the same static caravan that we had in September 2013.
We had brilliant weather for all but one of our eight days and, despite temperatures of 30 degrees C and above we managed to walk at least 8km on most days. Although we re-did some walks from our two previous stays, we also found some new ones. What was really noticeable was the absence of people and the fact that the French footpaths were mostly well maintained although a few were very overgrown and required some detective work to determine the correct direction and then a bit of hacking at the brambles to clear a path – all great fun.
Our first walk was from the town of Segur Le Chateau, one of the most beautiful medieval villages in the Limousin. We had been to the very sleepy town several times before and it felt a bit like going home as we sat on the bank of the river enjoying a coffee. The walk was our first of the holiday and a bit of a test as neither of us had walked in the 32Cplus heat for a long time. However, we both thoroughly enjoyed it and paced ourselves such that the heat was not really an issue.
We also travelled to Turrene a pretty village, dating largely from the 13th – 16th centuries and sitting on the edges of a hill. It was quite a steep walk but we made it to the top of the hill and were treated to some lovely views from the top of the village across the countryside and forests to the mountains beyond. Another day we drove down to the Dordogne area and the town of Cahors. However, Cahors was busy, noisy and full of people and although the river looked very pleasant, we very quickly decided to head home.
Our food was generally very simple but Annie made a wonderful fish soup one evening and special salads most other evenings. In fact we ate very well and thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the fresh air to eat – we only ate one dinner and one breakfast inside the caravan during our entire stay.
One other walk of note started in the town of Uzerche and followed the line of an old railway for some kilometres before we crossed over the river and walked back along the river bank to the centre of the town. We were treated to some lovely views looking up from the river bank at the old town itself.
Reluctantly, we left our temporary home after 8 nights and headed to Montreuil sur mer the town we stayed in a couple of months ago. We again stayed at l’Hermitage Hotel and enjoyed a wonderful supper at Le Darnetal Restaurant which was just as good as previous visits. The next morning we took an early morning stroll around the ramparts before visiting the Wine Society shop and filling what space we had in the car. Our journey to Calais and the ferry crossing went smoothly but the drive from Dover to home was a bit of a Friday evening nightmare. We were therefore very pleased to be invited for supper by our neighbours Glenda and Keith.
Our longest holiday for 18 months and one that we had both been looking forward to for some time we were not disappointed. Hopefully, buoyed by our success we can put the health issues of the last 18 months behind us and do some more overseas travel in the intervals between Gerry’s 8 weekly hospital appointments.
We spent 4 days based in Bala North Wales last week. We travelled with our neighbours Glenda and Keith and enjoyed good weather and some great train journeys as well as visits to Chirk and Powis Castles. Our first visit was to Chirk and its beautiful gardens.
We then moved on to Llangollen where we travelled on the Heritage Railway to Corwen and back by diesel multiple unit. The views of the Dee Valley were outstanding and the train uncrowded and very relaxing!
We then arrived at our hotel – The White Lion Royal Hotel in Bala. This was where Annie and Gerry had spent a few days last September. The hotel is really quite quaint but deserves the refurbishment that has just started!
We had a short time in Porthmadog and visited the terminus of both the FFestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.
Our last full day was spent visiting Snowdon and ascending to the summit on the train.The weather was brilliant and the views absolutely fantastic.
We meandered back to Bala via Caernarvon and Beddgelert where two of the sheep near Gellert’s tomb seemed to pose for us.
It was a shame that the weather had broken and the rain was quite heavy such that we could not fully explore the gardens. Another visit will be required!
It was a relaxing and enjoyable few days.
What a wonderful week we have just had. It started with Bethany, Callum and Elsie coming to stay at The Nook. We had a lovely time with lots of activities including a very enjoyable shopping trip to the 99p store. On Saturday Jenny and Mark came for lunch and to collect the children. Bethany enjoyed showing her mum and siblings a doll dressing programme she had found on the internet.
On Sunday, Martin flew in from Singapore and went to Jenny and Mark’s home at Caversham. Annie and Gerry went across to Caversham and the 5 adults and 3 children went out for a buffet lunch at an Indian Restaurant. We had a lovely meal I was impressed with the children who were prepared to try most of the dishes and all cleared their plates!!!
The next day after lunch Martin came to The Nook to stay for 4 nights. On the Tuesday (after Martin had been for a 22 mile run!) we went to Bristol to visit Jess, Jon and baby Oscar as well as popping in to see Lucy and James before heading back to Cricklade where we had a lovely pub supper.
Martin had chartered a fishing boat for 6 hours on the Solent for Wednesday but the weather forecast the night before was so bad that the boat company
decided that they were not prepared to go to sea. Instead, we went carp fishing with our friend Barry Kilgariff. Barry very kindly took Gerry to buy a rod and reel etc before fishing and lent Martin some tackle so that we could all fish.
We had a great time with all of us catching some lovely fish.
The following day, after Martin had been for a long cycle ride, we went to the National Trust property at Tyntesfield a few miles the other side of Bristol. It was a pleasant day out and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
All too soon it was Friday morning and Martin left us to go and visit Jenny before spending the night with friends and returning to Singapore on Saturday.
It had been a lovely week all the more special because we were able to celebrate Jenny’s birthday with Martin.
We enjoyed four nights in Yorkshire last week. We spent the first night, Sunday, with friends David and Bridget Lindley. Their son Chris (Annie’s Godson) and his baby son, Henry, were at the house when we arrived. Henry is nearly one year old and a really happy child. He seemed to smile all the time and take an interest in everything going on. There was not a murmur or tear during our visit nor subsequently at Raja’s curry house where we enjoyed a lovely meal having been joined by Chris’s wife Lindsey.
The next morning we set off to visit Kirkham Priory. The riverside ruins of the priory are set in the beautiful Derwent valley between York and Malton. Unfortunately, the priory was closed but we were able to look through the magnificent entrance. Undaunted, we set off for Lastingham where we visited the Norman church and its magnificent crypt before having a cup of coffee in adjacent pub. Suitably fortified, we set then out on a lovely circular walk to the lovely village of Hutton Le Hole. The walk was just over 4 miles and included some steep ascents and descents but we thoroughly enjoyed it – the good weather also helped.
We then drove to Pickering and the Eden House Bed and Breakfast. Eden house was absolutely perfect, the room was recently refurbished and the public rooms were immaculate. The next morning, fortified by an excellent breakfast, we set out for Whitby on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. En route to Whitby we came across the iconic blue LNER A4 Class locomotive Sir Nigel Gresley number 60007. By the time I had got my camera out we had nearly passed it!
Arriving at Whitby we strolled along the front to The Magpie restaurant. We ate there last autumn and, once again, we were not disappointed. The food, wine, and service were brilliant. Despite a big lunch we set off to visit Whitby Abbey climbing the 199 steps on the way. Gerry was fascinated that there was a little disc on every 10th step giving the number of the step in Roman Numerals – to see CXCIX 0n the last step was much more interesting than seeing 199.
Our final day in Yorkshire was again blessed by good walking weather and we enjoyed a walk from Goatland (Heartbeat country for TV fans). Part of the walk took us along one and a half miles of bridleway over the moor. Unfortunately, the bridleway lacked any definition and we had to follow the general direction over the moor until we hit a defined path that was on our map. Cutting our losses we simply followed that path emerging exactly where we wanted to be.
We arrived home on Thursday afternoon refreshed and then on Friday set off for lunch with Jess, Jon and Oscar in Bristol.
A great week.
James and Hannah’s son, Ptolemy Wolf James Henderson arrived safely on 16 April 2015. Weighing in at 6lb 15oz, Ptolemy and his mum are doing fine and are now back home.
Congratulations to Hannah, James and big sister Rosie on the addition to their family.
We have just returned from our first trip abroad since Malta early last year. It was quite big step for us given Gerry’s health concerns over the last 8 months.
We visited one of our favourite towns in France – Montreuil sur Mer. We stayed at L’Hermitage a lovely, spacious and very pleasant hotel in the centre of the walled town. We enjoyed several walks in the area around the town as well as walking the ramparts twice. On both of those occasions it was a prelude to a delightful hour or so spent sitting in easy chairs in front of a log fire at another hotel (Les Hauts de Montreuil). There we enjoyed a glass or two of wine or, in Annie’s case, Kir.
Our walks were not particularly arduous but very pleasant and repeats of walks we have we done on previous visits. We did come across a lot of mistletoe in one small copse – quite a sight really, as was the avenue of trees we came across on a little lane.
We enjoyed some wonderful meals although one was somewhat spoiled by a group of middle aged British men (golfers) who were unable to converse quietly. They succeeded in destroying the atmosphere in what was really a lovely restaurant. However, the other meals, in different restaurants, were absolutely brilliant evenings with good food and wine.
We were away for three nights and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Montreuil and the surrounding area. Travel to and from Montreuil went without a hitch and our ferry crossings were made so much better by P&O putting us on earlier ferries both times!
A spring week on Dartmoor and in Cornwall is hard to beat when the weather is good. We have just returned from 6 days in a holiday home on our favourite campsite at Harford Bridge just outside Tavistock. It was the same caravan that we rented last June so held no surprises. Our holiday started off with a trip into Cornwall to Mevagissey where we enjoyed a bracing walk out along the sea wall. The next day saw us climb to the church on Brentor. The church stands 1,110 feet above sea level on an ancient, extinct, volcanic cone. We arrived in a shower of hailstones and bitter wind. However, the weather improved dramatically as we left the church to continue our walk. We were so pleased with our progress that we decided to tackle one of our favourite walks the next day. The walk starts with a section of Dr Blackall’s Drive and is not particularly long (5.6 miles) but includes 3 long and very steep ascents. The descents are much more gradual and not a problem apart from boggy ground in paces. We took a little longer than we have in the past but we both felt good at the end. We had really pleasant weather for the rest of the week and enjoyed a walk around Lanhydrock House near Bodmin (Cornwall) and then undertook a walk from Fernworthy Reservoir. It was the first time we had been to the area and was slightly disconcerting when we drove 5 miles down a no through road to the reservoir car park. The walk took us along the edge of the reservoir up a long climb through Fernworthy Forest to emerge on the High Moor. Our instructions said walk to the gate in the dry stone wall running along the sky line (quite a way away). It was a good job that the weather was fine and clear as the gate was quite difficult to see. We made it and then started to return via a different route that took us across the Moor and through the lower forest back to the reservoir. A great walk, which added to our sense of achievement. The picture of the gate shows the sort of gradient I was talking about earlier but was actually on the Lanhydrock walk.
Once again we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Harford Bridge.
So far February has been a good month. We enjoyed a long weekend on the Isle of Wight and managed to see most of the Island as well as the English Heritage sites of Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle. We managed a couple of walks including one to the battery at the Needles which was closed (we did know that before we set out on the walk). The walk was bracing and with some lovely views particularly of Alum Bay. Unfortunately, the camera (or more likely the photographer) could not capture the variations in colour well enough. We made two visits to Osborne house; the first was a delightful walk and then a mini bus ride to the beach where Queen Victoria and her family used to bathe. We had a lovely cup of coffee sitting on the veranda of the cafe looking out onto the Solent. Wrapped up warm we found it idyllic. Returning to the house we booked a guided tour for the following morning rather than wait around for an hour or so.
We also learned about how donkeys operate a ‘hamster wheel’ to draw water – impressive.
The following day we enjoyed a brilliant guided tour of Osborne House seeing some rooms that were not generally open to the public and then wandered through the gardens. It seemed odd looking at Queen Victoria’s private rooms but at least one could appreciate what life was like for Royalty in the Victorian era. We were both amazed at Prince Albert’s talents for design and detail – he must have been some special person.
After the visit we headed to the other side of the Island to Freshwater and the (well recommended) Red Lion Pub where we hoped to get lunch. Unfortunately, we could not get into the car park and there was absolutely no parking anywhere near the pub. Cutting our losses we walked along a bridleway beside the Yar Estuary all the way to Yarmouth. The walk there and back was about 6km and we managed it quite easily although Gerry was tired at the end.
On our return from the island we diverted to visit Jenny and Mark’s home where we met Mark’s parents for the first time in about three years. A long and busy but very enjoyable weekend.
HEALTH UPDATE On Tuesday Gerry saw his consultant and heard the results of his latest scan. They were much better than our wildest expectations. The chemo had zapped the lymphoma such that there was nothing to see. As a result Gerry did not have to have chemos 7 and 8 and moves on to a maintenance regime. This involves ‘nicer’ chemotherapy every eight weeks for the next 2 years. The consultant was perfectly happy for us to start travelling again and so Gerry has begun the process of trying to get travel insurance. Fingers crossed it looks like he has found something suitable.
We have just spent a couple of nights at The Royal Hotel in Bideford Devon with our good friends and neighbours Glenda and Keith. The weather was very kind to us and we managed some nice walks. Gerry suffered greatly from fatigue (a function of the chemotherapy) and was limited as to how much he could do before he needed to rest (sleep!). However, the other three managed very well without him for one walk.
The first photo is a view from Fremington Quay and was quite beautiful in the winter sunshine The second photo is a view from the Tarka Trail near Torrington where we also found the wooden man sitting beside a decapitated wooden woman!
We were surprised that a murmuration of starlings appeared and eventually went to roost below the bridge.
It was quite a sight as the birds flew over the river wheeling, turning and swooping in unison constantly growing in numbers over at least a quarter of an hour.
The hotel’s winter break was great value and the food tasty with very generous portions! I think the four of us really enjoyed the food but may have eaten too much!