Well, it’s lovely to be back in France again, where we at least have some skills to be able to talk to the locals. While French was the language we both learned at school, it’s clear to us travelling around Europe that German would have been much more useful. It’s funny travelling in so many countries, it’s so easy to get your Buenos Dias mixed up with your Bonjour, or your Guten Tag swapped with your Grüss Gott! We’ve said DankeSchon to at least three French shopkeepers in the last couple of days. It’s funny on campsites, everybody looks at numberplates to see the nationality on the number plate to see what language to say hello in!
Once we arrived back in France, we started thinking about the homeward journey. Our ferry is booked for the middle of October, and we’re really looking forward to seeing all of the family and friends who we miss so much. An extra special reason for going home is a new grandchild on the way for Phil, with D-Day supposedly the day we arrive back in England.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been away almost four months, and even harder to believe that it’s now the start of October, summer has gone and autumn is well and truly here. While we’re still getting some beautifully sunny days, once the sun disappears the temperature plummets and it’s time for woolly drawers and some heating!
Apart from the chilly nights, autumn’s a lovely time to travel. The countryside is a mass of colour as the leaves turn so many shades of reds, yellows and oranges. We came back into France and headed south of Strasbourg into the Ballons des Vosges, one of France’s fabulous Park Naturels. We headed for a campsite high in the hills where we found ourselves a pitch on a deserted campsite right next to a beautiful little lake, where we basked in the daily sun, caught (tiny) trout in the lake, and did a couple of fabulous hikes through the woods. It would’ve been so easy to stay a few more days but our ferry, 400 miles away is calling, and we have no desire to have any long drives.
(click on images to see full size versions)
After a disastrous stop where we were kept awake half the night by a drunken French rugby team, we headed across to Charmes which nestles on the banks of the Moselle river. Oh my goodness, how lovely is the countryside in the Moselle Valley. We had an amazing 10 mile bike ride along the banks of the river, canal paths, around lakes and lovely marshland, and it’s always a treat to see an Osprey flying overhead. A definite must for a return visit in the future when we have more time.
As we’re back in northern France, and it’s too cold in the evenings to sit outside now, we put the satellite dish up for the first time for a couple of months. With a grinding crunch, the motor stopped with the dish hanging halfway over the side of the van. We spent a couple of hours trying to find the fuse -which was discreetly situated behind a panel in the van – and when the second fuse blew there was nothing for it but for Phil to get onto the roof through the tiny roof window – lucky he’s lost some weight – and see if he could manually move the dish. The motor was locked solid, which was obviously the reason for the fuse blowing. The only option we had was to unscrew the dish, and pack it away in the garage for sorting out when we get home. I guess things going wrong are a a fact of life, our inverter failed six weeks ago and that will also have to be changed when we get home.
Our biggest decision now is our route back up to Calais for our ferry. Do we go north or south of Paris, or maybe head towards Paris and stop at Disneyland! As usual that will probably be a decision made tomorrow morning as we have our 1st cup of tea in bed. It’s a tough life!