Showing posts from July, 2018

Checking in at La Chiappa

There were three possible campsites all in close proximity to Porto Vecchio at which we'd have been happy to spend our second full week in Corsica. All were rated four stars or above but, reading campers' comments, there were drawbacks at each: mosquitos at U Pirellu, noise from the fan at the restaurant at Bella Vista, and pitches that could be a considerable distance from the facilities block at La Chiappa. In the end La Chiappa won out for us due to its beachside location after we saw the considerable hill we'd have to climb to return to the other two after a day at the beach. La Chiappa would also be our first experience of a naturist campsite.
Tony and I are used to being nude on the beach but this would be a week of no clothes at any time. At least I wouldn't have to do any washing.
We arrived at reception at 10am and were relieved to find the lady serving us spoke very good English. She explained we'd need to wait a few minutes before someone would take us …

Camping Amurucciu

We woke to our last full day at Camping Amurucciu as the sun was just rising over the Mediterranean. For the last week we have slept upstairs in the campervan with both crescent-shaped pop-top-roof windows open so that the light breeze blew over us during the night, the light of day awakening us early, at about 6.30 each morning.
Tony was up first, as he was every morning so far, answering nature's call. When he returned from the toilet he put the kettle on to boil for coffee.
I joined him to sit under the awning a couple of minutes later and we ate breakfast of pate spread on the remainder of a baguette that accompanied the previous evening's meal.
An occasional fellow camper passed our pitch, right on the beach, for an early morning dip, but mostly the campsite was still asleep.
After breakfast I filled our collapsible bucket with clean water from the tap next to the site owner's house. He was watering the garden with a hose and I tried not to make a sound so he wouldn…

Baghera beach

Our bikes were unlocked from the tree we attached them to five days beforehand when we decided we would spend the day on the beach to which we had walked for over an hour the previous day.
It's not unheard of for us to take the bikes to France for a holiday and for us never to use them. Considering the Nice to Corsica ferry had charged us €70 for the extra length they added, I was pleased to be using them.
Corsica didn't appear to be cycle friendly and our only option was to ride along the main road. For quite a significant portion there was a generous verge to cycle out of the way of the passing traffic, but at bridges and several places we had to share the road with the cars and lorries hurtling past.
When we left the main road to take the route to the sea, after a time, we were blocked by the grounds of a campsite. Since there was no other road route around the perimeter there was not much choice but to push our bikes past the barriers and cycle through the site.
Our navig…

New neighbours

Though I would have put up with the gazebo our new campsite neighbours had erected far too close to Cleopatra's boot door, Tony wasn't having any of it and was determined to move. We had, through the addition of two hammocks and two washing lines strung between trees, and a five-metre wind break, created for ourselves one massive pitch so there was room to move the van.
I resolved to continue reading my book in my hammock as Tony got exasperated by tent pegs that wouldn't come out of the ground. I had to say something when he started dismantling the wind break in a manner that said he wasn't planning on putting it back up again, to which he commented on the fact he was the one "doing everything." Clearly he was of the impression that an hour moving everything over by a few feet was a mutual decision and I wasn't pulling my weight.
So I ended up helping, just so that everything we'd set up on our arrival four days previously was put back again.
The co…

Endless beach

The beach in front of the Corsican campsite we chose for our first week could not be considered crowded by any means and for the first two days we walked barely five minutes to secure a spot well away from anyone else.
The beach continued as far as the eye could see in both directions and so on days three and four we ventured further.
Walking north along Corsica's eastern shore we passed barely anyone. In common with the section directly in front of the campsite there were no dwellings visible from the beach but, at one point, we stopped when we spied the ruin of a round stone tower peeping just above the trees. A path to one side allowed us to get closer and we found a perfectly-kept orchard on the other side of the sand dune. I'd never seen trees like it and as we approached them I saw the mottled cerise and yellow markings of nectarines. A few over-ripened fruit lay on the ground but odd ones and twos were still firmly fixed to branches. We picked one each to eat as we c…

Just an onion

We've brought our usual camping larder with a few additions on our six-week French road trip. Not knowing how far away a supermarket might be, and carefully watching our spending on such a long holiday, it's reassuring to have a few basics and some ingredients with which you could make a complete meal.
As it has turned out a large Leclerc supermarket is ten minutes walk from our first campsite and so it was no bother visiting to buy just the onion we added to what we'd already got to create last night's pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and chorizo.
The onion was 33 cents, but of course that wasn't all we ended up buying. We decided on all visits to the shop we'd bring back beer just to be sure we don't run out. We keep a few bottles in the coolbox to enjoy after we come back from the beach every afternoon. There's nothing so satisfying as a cold beer on a hot day.
Twelve bottles of beer, the onion and some green tea came to €6.30. Our grocery budget back…

Electricity cuisine no

'Electricity cuisine no'.
The nosey old man running the campsite came along in his golf buggy last night, stopped outside Cleopatra, pointed at our dinner cooking on the stove and tutted before uttering these three words.
So he charges €3.50 per night for electricity but you can't use it to cook your food! Perhaps he believes you should do no more with the power than charge up your phone. Considering it costs about €5 to charge up a phone every day for a year that's really talking the mickey.
So we just moved the electric stove from the table outside into the table inside, hid it from view with a box of wine, and continued cooking our pasta sauce.
We have brought a gas stove with us in case we stay on a campsite without electricity, but I'm not going to use our gas when I've paid for an electric hook-up.

Corsican idyll

It's 7am and I'm alone in a calm ocean. The sun is low over the horizon and still gently pink. I can't see another person or even a residence where people might still be sleeping. There's just me, crystal clear water, a white sandy beach, trees and mountains. It's a truly special way to start the day.
OK, so I know it's the Mediterranean Sea and not the 'ocean,' but 'sea' just didn't feel grand enough of a word to describe the peace and solitude I felt at that moment.
It's morning two of our stay on this beautiful campsite on the eastern coast of Corsica, France's largest island. We have the perfect pitch with just a two-metre-high dune between us and the sandy beach.

It's a large campsite and, though there were about 40 to 50 other camping units here when we arrived, I think ours is the best pitch.
Campers seem divided on where to locate themselves. Half of them have taken pitches away from the beach in the shade of trees whil…

Changing plans

We drove off the ferry at around 2.30pm on day three of our 45-day French island adventure. The itinerary for our 17 nights on Corsica had begun to unravel a week earlier when I received an email from the first campsite we'd booked to stay at to tell me that, due to danger from the nearby dam, they were closed. It was a shame because we'd planned four days of exploring gorges, no doubt being fed by the dam that was in danger of flooding the land below.
With our original plan shelved Tony and I decided that we'd simply go to the second of the three sites we had chosen, which didn't take bookings and therefore didn't require any rearrangement. I'd not been particularly comfortable including this site in our itinerary because of the fact we couldn't book it and I didn't want to chance getting a pitch in the height of summer, but I wanted to visit Porto Vechio and this campsite's website assured that if you arrived early in the morning you'd get a …

Ferry to Corsica

We had a second night to spend on an aire during our drive down to Nice from where we'd catch the ferry to Corsica. Having spent a week camping in Cagnes-sur-Mer a couple of years ago we knew there was an aire in Antibes which would have been ideally located considering the early hour we were to check in for the ferry crossing. Antibes it's lovely, very picturesque and full of character but the aire de camping car was full of caravans and lorries which all looked like they were staying long term with camping paraphernalia scattered around in an untidy mess. I'd not have enjoyed staying there or felt particularly safe. And so after some research I homed in on an aire just north of Nice, next to a lake, that had great reports of its peacefulness. I was reassured too by its ability to accommodate up to 20 motorhomes.
I never learn the lesson that proximity on a map doesn't naturally translate to ease or speed of the drive between two locations. As we wound our way up int…


We arrived at the aire de camping car in Corgirnon at midnight. It was a five-hour drive south of Calais. For the final 30 minutes of the journey there'd been lightening in the sky, which to start with I'd thought was the van setting off speed cameras. We put Cleopatra's rain-cover topper over the roof to keep the fabric dry, but it stopped the breeze coming through the windows. The heat and the sound of thunder and rain didn't help me get off to sleep immediately, though eventually I must have drifted off.
We woke to the alarm, set for 8.30am, which Tony turned off and went back to sleep. It was another hour later that I got up and went to have a wash and brush my teeth at the rather-rustic toilet building. There's a double sink that needs a good clean, a hole-in-the-ground toilet, also needing a good clean, and a urinal below an opening in the wall looking, rather inappropriately, over a children's playground. These aren't facilities you'd accept on …

Six weeker

We made it to the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal by the skin of our teeth for our scheduled departure time of 5.36pm. We never would have booked such an early crossing but we discovered a mix up with our original booking for 8.36pm - we’d booked it the wrong way around and they would have been expecting us to be departing our outbound journey from Calais. The error was identified a month before but, being the last day of school for the summer holidays, later slots had sold out and we were stuck with an unrealistic departure time or nothing.
Fortunately Tony’s school was closing at lunch time with a short staff gathering for leaving speeches, including Tony who is starting a new job at another school in September. I sat patiently in Cleopatra in the school car park from 1pm, hoping the speeches wouldn’t take too long and we could get our journey to Folkestone underway before the roads started getting busy. Tony appeared an hour later, weighed down with leaving gifts including a fully-…

Field Barn Park Boughton on the Water

Field Barn Park in the Cotswolds is a little gem of a campsite discovered when looking for somewhere halfway between Tony and I and our good friends Heidi and Damon.
The site is adults only and, in fact, only for the over 30s. It comprises 53 spacious pitches spread over a large field planted with trees, shrubs, grasses and tall elephant grass. Pitches feel private and wild.
The elephant grass is a lovely touch, offering solitude but not feeling so forced as the privacy hedges many sites favour. The grass is so tall and dense you'd probably not be surprised to find a small Amazonian tribe leap out with spears.
We arrived half an hour after Heidi and Damon and they were putting the finishing touches to their tent and camping equipment as we were readying Cleopatra for two nights accommodation.
Molkky, or Finnish skittles, was our game of choice for the weekend. We were introduced to it by Heidi and Damon when we camped with them a month ago and immediately bought our own set. It&…

Mid-life crisis

I think I've touched on the fact I was made redundant last year but avoided many details because I've struggled with it until very recently.I turn 45 this summer. Up until last October I'd been working for John Lewis for 22.5 years, half of my life. I expected to work there for the same number of years again until I retired.For those who might not know, John Lewis is a British department store chain owned by its staff. It's probably the most well-respected and successful retailer in the country. I joined on 4 April 1995 as a selling assistant in the lighting department. One year later, I was accepted onto the Section Manager training scheme and did six-month secondments in the kitchenware and book departments. Another year later I became section manager of gift food. I remained a section manager for 13 years before my dream job became vacant, that of assistant editor of the staff magazine in my branch. I didn't have any formal journalistic training and went all out…