Mar 19 – Return to UK

We returned to the UK on 15 Mar as the problem with the floor in the van needed attention. We now have a considerable dip in our floor with a spongy area. This is almost certainly due to damp. As the van is under warranty, we had to cut short our travels in order to make yet another visit to SMC at Newark!

We gave ourselves a week to get through France as the weather was not especially wonderful.

After our lovely relaxing stay on the campsite near San Sebastian, we wanted to stock up on wine before we crossed the border into France. I had a look online and identified a Lidl that seemed to be more or less en route. Well, it was but, it involved squeezing the van down some narrow streets lined with cars to discover that it was a very small store and it was closed for lunch! Rather a disappointing waste of time that delayed our journey to Bordeaux.

We had a long and damp journey to Bordeaux and the icing on the cake was the terrible holdups on the ring road around the city. After making an anxious call to the campsite to explain in my best French, that we were were still on our way, we arrived in the gathering gloom at 1800. The reception was still open thank goodness, and we joined the two other campervans on site. I had booked us in for 2 nights so we could get the bus into Bordeaux on the Saturday. Unfortunately it was such a miserable day, we did not venture off the site and wished we had moved on sooner.

Sunday was still damp and gloomy but we headed off towards Poitiers. I had identified a Camping Car Park at a place called St Cyr just north of Poitiers. It was a bit hard to find but when we did, it was in a lovely location near a lake and nature reserve. I had to register for a Pass Etap card in order to access the camping car park. I was a bit stressed by this time but, it was quite simple in the end and I now have an account and a card which is really easy to use. This is a new organisation for camping cars and the sites are apparently, all at beautiful locations. It was 9 euros for the night with electric, which we were very happy with. The weather had let up a bit and I had a very pleasant evening stroll by the lake. I was entertained by an otter which I viewed from a hide and it lifted my spirits.

Lake at St Cyr
Nature reserve at St Cyr

The next day we moved on northwards and after a 4 hour drive through the countryside, and some lovely typically French villages, we ended up on a peaceful aire at Courville Sur Eure. It was a bright sunny day, a bit windy, but very pleasant. The aire is alongside a municipal campsite that opens in May. The river runs alongside the park behind the aire and there is a small village with a square and some shops. It was closed of course, as it was monday, so no vin for Clyde!

Waterwheel at the mill near Courville sur Eure.

On the Tuesday we went for it and headed for Dieppe. We had a few deviations due to roadworks and therefore we spent much of the day travelling. We finally arrived in Dieppe and found a nice spot on the seafront aire. By now it was very windy and the waves were really impressive. We had decided to spend a day in Dieppe before catching the early ferry on 15th Mar. It was a bit of a dismal day on the Wednesday but, we did a bit of shopping and enjoyed walking along the beach with the locals marvelling at the rough seas. The evening was spent in the van with the wind howling around and rain lashing down. It was not so exciting next day when the ferry ran an hour and a half late and took an hour longer to make it across the Channel! It was so rough we could not stand up and the shop was closed. So boring!!

Stormy seafront at Dieppe
A few brave souls on the beach!

And so ended our Winter tour for 2018/19. Little did we know what trouble we were due to encounter trying to get the van fixed!! More of that later.