Friday, 10 June 2016

We don't know how lucky we are.....

Well we are continuing on our European adventure. 
 
I can't help but think that if we vote for brexit. I wonder how long it will be before the French - give us the usual 'Non' and a shrug. When we go back cap-in-hand to see if we can rejoin.









How bad is it in the EU?

Well this was our 'overnight mooring' just a few days ago. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I can't help but think that CaRT could teach the French a great deal about organising, maintaining and running an inland waterway infrastructure. 









The state of the lock at Graz Neuville on the River Mayenne is a typical example.
















 
The lack of maintenance must be a serious concern on the French inland waterways. 

















The lock cottage is another typical example of buildings that could be sold off to make a profit.










The locks also have a Keb available. It must cost a fortune in replacement Keb's and be a thieves paradise.










The rubbish disposal points are overly provided with recycling bins. To segregate plastic, glass, cans - which could easily be disposed of into the river or canal. Why segregate from the general household rubbish, when one monthly emptied Biffa bin would suffice.







The waterpoint are also provided with hose pipes. It must be a thieves paradise and cost a fortune in replacement pipes.




The removal of overhanging trees and bushes from the canal and riverside must be costing a fortune. The French must be missing out on the joys of fallen trees blocking the canals as well as the lack of seasonal maintenance stoppages.







The locks as you can see are maintained at too high a level and could save a fortune if they are allowed to embrace the CaRT fix on fail mantra.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We don't know how lucky we are.....

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

French Letter (28)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


8th of June 2016

St Georges Sur Loire.

We programmed in a new 'Aires' location into the sat nav. However – it proved to be out of commission. So we headed off up the road and chanced upon the 'Aires' at St Georges Sur Loire.



The 'Aires' in Saint Georges provided water, elsan and the usual rubbish disposal. Being a larger town it has space for about 20 mobile homes. On arrival there were around 10 vehicles there already. Late in the afternoon it was full and ate arrivals were parking in nearby car parks. 

We will be moving on North and West again tomorrow.
 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

French Letter (27)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


7th of June 2016

Grez Neuville.

This is a fantastic and beautiful location on the river Mayenne – Located some 20 miles from its confluence with the River Loire. With a large old water powered mill as well as a flood lock between the river and the canal.



At the lock there is equipment such as a keb available. There are flower beds and boxes everywhere. The general state of the lock equipment is well kept and in good order. The lock side houses are kept in good order. The lock keepers house is one of the larger ones at Grez Neuvillle. The property is being shared as a restaurant as well as a lock keepers abode.

There was a 'fairground' being set up and the 'Aires' is being press ganged into use for storing fairground vehicles for a few days.   Also the weather has closed in a bit and so we have decided to move on again tomorrow.


Monday, 6 June 2016

French Letter (26)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


6th June 2016



Grez Neuville



I must admit that its hard not to draw a comparison of the canals and rivers in France and the UK. A few days ago while walking over the bridge into Grez Neuville to visit the Boulanger (bread shop). We saw some rubbish piled up near a full skip. (the dustbin men are on strike) Its unusual to see dumped rubbish or litter in the towns and villages.

It was then that we realised - there was a distinct lack of litter floating in the canals or scattered on the towpath. But it does not end there, Its the same with the lack of graffiti on bridges and other structures. However, we did notice that noticeboards are conveniently provided for 'Bill Stickers' to use. 



While walking the towpath, we saw a little old lady come out of her house on the waterside. Change the 'dog poo bin liner' for a new one, dump the old one in a nearby skip before returning back indoors. That's another thing - its also very noticeable there is no dog shit on the towpaths either.

We stopped overnight again at Grez Neuville

Sunday, 5 June 2016

A French Letter (25)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


5th June 2016

A much warmer day with broken cloud for the first time for over a week. The sun was quite strong at times. People come and go in the 'Aires' and there is an eclectic mix of English, French and German motor home owners on site today.

Next weekend is the La Mans 24 hour race. So we now plan to go to Graz Neuville 'Aires' for a few days and then moving on after a day or two to one of the Angers 'Aires.' Before making our way north east towards Le Mans for the 24 hour sports car race. 

 

There is a large speed boat being transported on a trailer to the lake at the weekends. Its used to give rides to kids at high speed around the lake. The result of this is that very large waves are created that disturb the enjoyment of the fishermen. It seems a shame because a more 'user friendly' learn to sail type of course is not offered to the kids as an alternative.

Stop Press: 'The tennis final was a 1-3 party pooper after having a good start in the first set by Andy Murray.' It was a very entertaining and enthralling match.


We have decide that tomorrow the time will be right to move on, to our next destination at  Grez Neuville.


French Letter (24)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


Saint Aubin de Pouancè,

5th June 2016

A much warmer day with broken cloud for the first time for a week. The sun was quite strong at times. People come and go in the 'Aires' and there is a mix of English, French and German motor home owners on site today.

Next weekend is the La Mans 24 hour race. So we now plan to go to Graz Neuville 'Aires' for a few days and then moving on after a day or two to one of the Angers 'Aires.' Before making our way north east towards Le Mans for the 24 hour sports car race. 

 

There is a large speed boat being transported on a trailer to the lake at the weekends. Its used to give rides to kids at high speed around the lake. The result of this is that very large waves are created that disturb the enjoyment of the fishermen. It seems a shame because a more 'user friendly' learn to sail type of course is not offered to the kids as an alternative.

Stop Press: 'The tennis final was a 1-3 party pooper after having a good start in the first set by Andy Murray.' It was a very entertaining and enthralling match.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

French Letter (23)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


4th of June 2016

After an overnight shower, the weather has now changed once again, however this time its for the better. Its still overcast but the chilling wind from the north has now changed to a gentle warm Sirocco breeze from the south.

The French news channels were full of the death of Mohammed Ali. He was an amazing fighter not only in the ring but for human rights and against the prejudice over the colour of someone's skin. The 'greatest' was elected by the British public as the sports personality of the century. 

 

The lack of moving on from 'Aires' to 'Aires' every few days has given me chance to watch the coverage of the Isle of Man TT on Channel 4. The various practice races have been very exciting with higher than usual speeds being achieved in practice, mainly due to the good weather. The racing starts on Monday.

Today was the ladies day of the French open championship at Roland Garros. It was a very good match. The reigning champion and world number one, Serena Williams was beaten in straight sets by Garabina Muguruza. Whilst our own Andy Murray has made his way through for the first time into the final of the men's French open championship. Its the men's final tomorrow at Roland Garros. His opponent is the world number one Novak Djokovic but Andy did win at their last meeting.


Friday, 3 June 2016

French Letter (22)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


Saint Aubin de Pouancè

3rd of June 2016.

A Clochemerle Day.

Today I thought I might share with you, one of the French 'delights' - the street toilet, or thunderbox! I can remember as a kid it was common for the local councils in Britain to provide public toilets in the street. Many of which have now vanished due to 'cost savings'. In France however, there are many street toilets around and the small towns and villages take a pride in keeping them in good order. However, I want to stress that what I am about to describe – is not me taking the piss, so to speak.

One French custom I remember, was that while you would sometimes see the British holiday maker standing at the side of the road taking a piss into the hedgerow - the French always stood by the side of the hedgerow and pissed into the road. Many years ago when we used to drive down to Carcassonne in the south of France on holiday. We used to use generic names for any unknown French men and women (Claude Balls and Fifi la Belle). So we would say, look away now Claude is taking a pee!

I was reminded of this quaint custom when a passer by came into the 'Aires' to use the public toilette. However as both stalls and the urinal were taken at the time, we saw the Frog had returned outside and took a pee direct into the elsan! It should be remembered that the French 'village toilets' are often unisex. The public toilette at the 'Aires' has a wash basin and a small wall mounted urinal in the entrance. I still find it amusing to see Fifi come out of a stall to wash her hands while Claude is taking a leak in the urinal at the same time.

Then there was also something almost unique to French toilets. What we always called the French 'thunder box'. In a roadside toilet there would often be a tiled floor which would surround a much larger ceramic square section with a hole in it. The ceramic square usually came complete with a pair of what could best be described as footrests. I think the footrests were provided to help the French when aiming for the hole.



The kids were not keen on using them – however on this particular day. One of the kids was 'taken short' and we pulled into a lay by. It was announced very loudly 'Oh no its a thunderbox and there is never any paper'. To which I light heartedly said – 'Look don't worry, the hand will come out of the hole and wipe your arse.' They never used a French thunderbox ever again!

Meanwhile back at Saint Aubin de Pouancè.....
The water levels on the river Seine are at an all time record high level. We know that we will have to cross the river at some point on our way back to Calais. Already the ferry service is closed down and many of the road crossings are also closed as a precaution. We have decided to delay our departure until after the weekend. We hope that the water levels will have fallen and the various road crossings are re-opened to traffic.

We have been enjoying the highlights of the Isle of Man TT races on satellite television. Also we have been watching Andy Murray in the French Open Championship at Roland Garos tennis centre. Which is only about 100 soggy miles from our location.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

French Letter (21)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


Saint Aubin de Pouancè

2nd of June 2016

The weather is much improved today and we have an ever growing laundry basket. The French seem to go the extra mile when providing local services. Outside the Super U supermarket - is what could be described as a street laundrette. Located inside what looks like a open fronted 'glass' bus stop which contained two washing machines and a hot air dryer. One machine is intended for a 8kg load the other is for a 18kg load. The hot air dryer holds a 8kg load. So its possible to wash and dry an 18kg load for just €5 (4) However, you supply your own powder and softener. So today, we did the usual personal laundry plus the whole of the motorhome bedding . Which was washed and dried and we were on our way again in about an hour.




There are reports on the news of flooding in central France. The river Seine has exceeded its previous 1910 flood water level. The river is still carrying a lot of additional water upstream in the watershed. The weather has started to improve, and there are blue patches beginning to show through.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

French Letter (20)

A Road Less Travelled
'A French Letter'


Saint Aubin de Pouancè

1st of June 2016

The sun was out this morning and it was already quite warm. So we had another relaxing morning walk around the lake. We appeared to have timed our walk to perfection. As soon as we got back to the 'Aires' a short heavy shower of rain started. Several other motor homes have also arrived on site which are mainly from Holland and Belgium.

The local Supermarket is still out of fuel – but the 'Total' station next door has just taken a delivery. The long lines of cars are much shorter now and so we are making plans to return back home to blighty. We have decided to try and avoid any of the larger towns and cities as we make our way back towards Calais. We will be keeping a weather eye open for any available fuel to top up the tank along the way.



The news reports on television say that the protesters are now popping up at random on the national routes and building barricades across the roads. The blockages lasting for a couple of hours with the protestors only dispersing when the police arrive on scene. There have also been reports of fuel thefts from parked vehicles on the streets.

We continue to get to know the Pouancè area quite well. With regular visits to the local shops and supermarkets. A few of the locals are now beginning to recognise us and engage us in conversation. Today a van turned up and an old couple got out – the old boy had a zimmer frame on wheels which was also became a seat whenever he needed it. They both spoke some English and when bolstered with my consummate command of 'Fronglaise' we had a good approximation of a chat. It seems they have a couple of grown up children living and working in Epsom and Hackney.