Sunday 26 April 2009

Thank you France

Well the week we had away touring France in our camper was one of the best weeks for a long time.

It was a pleasure to be on the road and the standard of driving in France is far better than driving in the UK. We found the French to be friendly; courteous; patient and very welcoming and we would do it again as soon as we could.

We probably covered about 1200 miles and mainly concentrated on the Centre and West Coast this time - as our flying visit through France en route to Spain each year never really gave us much time to look around.

Being our first time camping it was an absolute pleasure and we 'wild camped' for the whole week. That is we stayed at the Aires and never once went on a campsite. The facilities offered for people travelling is second to none and hence our desire to now get a better motor to travel around in.

It was a week of total relaxation - no TV, no computers and just watching the sun rise and set, listening to the birds singing and enjoying the fresh air. Something I've been in desperate need of since my job has become so stressful (being made to do 2 peoples jobs in the time allowed for 1. Very technical and not being taught how to do it properly).

Although I have been learning French I am still very much a beginner but my feeble attempts at speaking the language were understood and it gave me quite a boost and a desire to learn more. (I was nearly put off last year when going on a day trip to Paris because the one person I spoke to looked at me as if I was mad!).

So merci beaucoup (I think that's how you spell it) and a bientot France.

Fifth Wheeler

Well Mick has fallen in love - with a fifth wheeler - here's a picture to give you an idea of what they are like.

To start at the beginning - and not jump in halfway through a story - I should start with our trip to France in our motorhome (I will do a proper blog entry on that journey). We enjoyed it so much that when we got home we had to have a proper look at some larger vehicles and so yesterday we went off to the motorhome show at Peterborough.

Well it was a great day and it was interesting to see so many different types of motorhomes on show - old and new - and now having had the experience of living in one for a week we knew what we really needed in our own.

Then we came across the fifth wheelers - well they are outstanding and no photos can actually do them justice, you have to see them for yourself. The photo on here is of the first one we came across but further on around the show we stumbled across our favourite. It was a used 5er (as they call them) but it was only a year old and had only been used for a week. The make of it is Ameri-lite 21FMS and we fell in love with it. Not only did it have a fully fitted kitchen area but it also had a proper bedroom; a toilet & shower/bathroom and plenty of space all packed into a neat 24' van. These vans have a slider which is a 2-3 foot area that slides out to produce a bigger room.

Well I can only dream I guess but already we are trying to work out if we can afford a used one if we sell our old motorhome & car. You have to pull these with a pickup type truck with an articulated connection so Mick's Kia would have to be sold and he would use the pickup for day to day use.

Well nothing can be done until after our holiday in Spain in June and in reality we will have to wait until about November time when the prices generally drop because it is off season for camping.

Meanwhile I'll carry on dreaming about the freedom of the road :-)

Monday 20 April 2009

The Christening

Well I didn't get chance to write any words about the Christening as we left straight afterwards on our adventure through France - more about that later.

It was a lovely day. The church service (although I'm not a church-goer) was nice and the female vicar reminded me of my aunt.

After the service it was back to the village pub where they had put a room aside specifically for the Christening guests and a buffet was laid out.

I managed to tolerate talking to my ex-husband but as usual he and his wife monopolised little Stefan - hey he's my grandchild too!!! But then I'm used to being the one in the background - I shouldn't get rattled by it after all these years although some times I just feel that if I just disappeared off the face of this world no-one would even notice I'd gone!

When my side of the family left we decided to call it a day too and get on our way to France as by that time my ex was getting decidedly louder - the more drink he had; the louder he got!

One good part was that when my daughter went home to get changed I went with her - just the two of us - and we actually managed to have a one on one chat, something we never seem to do these days. We have, I hope, the type of relationship where we can chat about just anything - more like friends - and as she will find with her daughter Katie, it is something that is special even if you don't always realise it.
Mums and daughters have a special bond even though as a mum you also know that you have to give your daughter the freedom to find her own way through life - it's a hard fact of life that you give birth to your children but you have to let them go - but not completely ;-)

Thursday 9 April 2009

So much to do, so little time

Well Easter is nearly upon us and there is the Christening on Sunday and then we are off to France in the van.

So much to get organised and so little time to do it in...

Tonight was a hellish journey home with all the roads blocked by excess traffic - already on their way for their first long weekend break - and the usual hold-ups with accidents (minor ones, I hope).

In hindsight we are grateful that there is the Christening on Sunday because it means that we can't start our holiday until Sunday evening and by that time most of the holidaymakers will already be well on their way. I'm glad that we won't be caught up in the first rush as I can't think of anything worse than spending the first few hours sitting in queues of traffic!

I'm taking my lappie with me so if I manage to hook up to a wi-fi somewhere I should be able to give an update of our first trip away in the van. It is quite exciting and scary at the same time. More than anything I am looking forward to peace and tranquility. France is so motorhome friendly that at least I don't have to worry about not finding somewhere to stop overnight and it is so big that we should be able to find some peace and quiet :-)

Wish us well on our travels - I've been practising my French but I'm still useless at it - but at least I've been trying....

Saturday 4 April 2009

A Slightly Tipsy Thomas the tank engine

Well a slightly tipsy Thomas the tank engine cake which took me 5 hours to do; created havoc in my kitchen; turned my hands a delightful shade of blue; black & red but was most satisfying to do for Stefan's first birthday.

Don't look too closely or you'll see all his imperfections - but that's what makes him 'made by nanny'.

An early happy first birthday to number 7 of our 8 grandchildren :-)xx

Wednesday 1 April 2009

I guess it was scaremongering!

Well all went more or less well today with the City protests.

There were, according to the press, 4,000 protesters at the Bank of England, 6,000 at Trafalgar Square and 2,000 or so attending other marches. All told today 24 people were arrested; the Royal Bank of Scotland had its windows smashed and a few statues or walls had graffiti on them. But all in all it was a peaceful protest. In fact the protest in Bishopsgate where protesters were sitting inside tents in the road was reminiscent of the hippies of the 60's and they appeared to be enjoying themselves and chatting to onlookers and press.

On the numerous occasions that I ventured outside I could see hardly any sign of it and the live news feed showed mainly controlled protests with just a few outbursts.

It was certainly a strange day and quite surreal. A lot of the city workers had been told not to wear their office clothes and therefore there were all these workers dressed in jeans and t-shirts - quite a weird sight!

Tomorrow where I believe the focus is on the Excel Centre and the G20 meeting will be another one and I just hope all goes as well there. Protest but be peaceful - please...