Plans have changed for a number of reasons

We left Oleron island three days early. Our good friends Jules and Pete were staying in their VW camper four hours away in the Loire Valley when Pete suffered a heart attack and then a stroke. We couldn't leave Jules on her own while Pete was in hospital even though everyone on her campsite was rallying around to support her. After waking to her latest update via text I told her we were on our way and we packed up and headed east. Huttopia were kind enough not to charge us the final three nights.

The small campsite she was staying on was full but the owner said we could share their spacious pitch and there was more than enough room. We immediately became a 'bubble' - hugs were needed if nothing else.

On Thursday, the sixth day of our stay with Jules, we were able to accompany her to collect Pete from hospital and we enjoying a nice evening together when Jules read the news that the UK was adding France to its quarantine list from 4am on Saturday. We were expecting it to h…

Camping in France in a pandemic

Half way between leaving the aire and arriving at our campsite we stopped at an Intermarche Hyper for fuel and groceries. I was pleased to see pay at pump was an option and I used a glove to use both the fuel nozzle and chip and pin pad. The supermarket wasn't so easy.

There was a short queue for the sanitising station for hands and trolley handles but after entering the shop it was heaving with customers. On the plus side everyone was wearing face coverings but on the other they do not appear to be limiting numbers in the shops and it's incredibly difficult to socially distance.

Tony and I both looked at each other with raised eyebrows, discussed an action plan and determined to get out again as soon as possible. Tony went to find ambient good while I headed to the fresh vegetables.

With food accounted for it was annoying to discover the wine and beer was back the other side of the shop and we had to navigate through the central aisle busy with customers.

At the till we got …

Finally a holiday

We're in France. It's been six months since we were this side of the channel after Coronavirus had us in varying degrees of lockdown. We've missed three campervan holidays and I was only sure this one would happen when the Eurotunnel train departed from Folkestone yesterday evening.
We crossed beneath the channel at 4.50pm and arrived at Saint-Langis-lès-Mortagne, France at 10pm. It was our third or fourth stopover on this quiet aire. It was still light, and we shared a bottle of white wine sitting on the step of the leisure door looking down the hill towards the lake. Cleopatra was parked on the grassy edge of the hill with four other vans, the main parking spaces of the aire already taken. It mattered not - we had the better view.
We were asleep by 11.30pm and awake by 6.15am to get back on the road. As I write this first blog post in months we're half way through this morning's final stretch to Île d'Oléron. I've lost count of the number of times we've…

Ideal stopover at Camping la Pinéde en Provence

We decided to break up our journey back from Spain with an overnight stop at a campsite so we could connect up to electricity and have a hot shower in the morning. Consulting the ACSI website I found Camping la Pinéde en Provence near Mondragon, just north of Avignon. We didn't book it, but turned up at 3.30pm on Thursday 2 January.

Reception was manned by a gentleman and Tony practised the French he's been studiously learning by asking for a camping pitch for one night for a small camping car. The man replied with a flood of French, the gist of which we came to understand by his waving of arms at the office printer. We were welcome to stay but wouldn't be getting a printed receipt. The price was €18.60.

I'm unsure how the price was €18.60 when that's not one of the ACSI prices; maybe they have added on tourist tax. Anyhow, that represented good value for great facilities and unlimited electricity.

We picked a pitch on a terrace leaving once space between us and u…

Days out from Camping Didota

On our first full day at Camping Didota on the east coast of Spain we decided to cycle to Peñíscola. Google Maps said it would be a ride of two hours and twenty minutes. We forgot that Google's cycling times are based upon people faster than us and it turned out to be a six-hour-plus round trip.

It was a pleasant ride on quiet rural roads through farmland and orange groves and later on stony paths through a nature reserve. We hadn't used our bikes since our last holiday and so we did find it hard going, particularly on the uphill sections. The additional time we'd taken just getting to Peñíscola didn't leave us long to explore, particularly not if we wanted to be back at camp before dark.

We locked our bikes between the new town and the old. Walking towards the13th-century castle we were pleased to find a medieval market selling crafts and hot food. We bought a slice of pizza each, heated while we waited in a wood fired oven. We spent an hour exploring the cobbled str…

Camping Didota - Oropesa del Mar - Spain

As we turned off the motorway towards the coast, the sat nav indicated seven minutes to our campsite, the first chosen from our new ACSI book. Ugly hotel blocks came into view and I hoped our seven minutes left of driving would take us past them and back into countryside. Instead we just creeped closer and closer to them until, at the last roundabout, we turned off towards what was possibly the most run down of them all.

Tony pulled up in front of the perimeter wall of the campsite, Camping and Bungalows Didota. It did not look promising at all. Used to the spacious and nature-adjacent campsites of France, rows of tightly-packed caravans and motorhomes inside an enclosed wall was unappealing. However, we'd been on the road for about 22 hours and I didn't want to be the one to say I didn't want to stay. I was half hoping Tony was going to announce that he didn't like the look of it but he didn't.

We were looking at a plan of the site on a noticeboard when the lady …

Winter sun at Camping Didota

What a difference being in the warmth of the sun under clear blue skies makes. Shorts and flip flops, a walk along the beach, cerveza sitting in the sun.

We left home at 4.30am yesterday. Drove all the way through France, arriving in Spain at 9pm. By 9.30pm we were parked for the night and up at 7am for 4½ hours more driving.

The campsite we settled on is right on the beach. It's almost full, mainly of pensioners who are here for several months. We've already saved the £13.95 it cost for the ACSI card as 16 euros a night for two people with electricity is half the normal price.

We nearly dismissed the site upon seeing it for the first time. It lacks character. However, being full of pensioners it's nice and quiet and the facilities are superb.

The area is not somewhere we'd choose to come in high season but it's pleasant out of season with the hotels deserted and only a very few souls in the beach.

You can tell who are locals as they have as many layers of clothes…

Valencia for new year

We're an hour away from Spain, having travelled the entire length of France since early this morning. We left home in the dark at 4.30am and have been driving for over 14 hours. We've chosen a camping spot just across the border where we are scheduled to arrive at 9.30pm.

Our destination this year is Valencia in a complete change to what we usually do at this time of year! Much as we'll miss Les Deux Alpes this winter we decided on sun and not snow. We settled on Spain, and Valencia in particular, less than a week ago after closely following the weather forecast.

Tonight we're going to stay on a private aire which appears to be a huge field that, unusually, also accepts caravans as well as motorhomes. It's 10 euros per night which we may or may not get to pay. Reviews seem to suggest someone comes around to collect it in the evening and there's no facility to pay if you're not there at that time. I should start a notebook of how much we owe and to whom. It…

Strasbourg - camping, shopping, cycling and beer

I've wanted to return to Strasbourg since last visiting four years ago. We had a whole week there in October 2015 and we returned for three nights in October 2019. We booked a pitch at CityKamp Strasbourg for the last nights of our half-term road trip that had also seen us visit Paris and Troyes for a real city-break holiday. This is the same campsite we were on last time, having been rebranded from Camping Indigo but still a part of the Huttopia chain. The site sits surrounded by trees on the outskirts of the town centre just to the south west. There's a little noise on this site but it's more a distant hum of city life and nothing that would spoil your stay. A train passes occasionally and church bells strike the hour. It's a trade off for being so close to such a beautiful city.

Strasbourg will have your phone in hand snapping photos at every corner with its cobbled streets and colourful mix of Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic and Art Nouveau architecture. It became…