Friday 7th June
The forecast was spot on! At three o’clock in the morning Alf climbed on to the bench below our bed so that he could reach up and tap me on the back to tell me it was windy. When I didn’t respond with the enthusiasm he was expecting, he began to pant into my ear and scratch me harder. Then the rain came and hammered so hard on the roof that Alf could no longer hear the rain so calmed down and went back to sleep. I, on the other hand, was now wide awake, and thanks to the rain playing paradiddles and flam strokes on the van remained so until the alarm went off at 0730. It was going to be a long day.
Despite the storm force wind and rain, we had to get up and off as Alf and Rio had an appointment or a rendezvousat the vets for their check up and worming so that their passports are all in order for our return next week. On the threshold of the vets Wendy and I bid Andy and Lesley a fond farewell as they were now heading for Dieppe and a crossing to Newhaven on Sunday. We are bound for the Île de Ré for a couple of days before going to Cherbourg for a Tuesday evening crossing.
Before we set off, we popped into Super U for our last ‘big shop’ and fill the tank with diesel. The drive to Bordeaux was ‘interesting’ to say the least. By now the wind was ‘blowing dogs off chains’ and a Hymer has a lot of windage and we were broadside to the wind. Apart from keeping a firm hold on the wheel I also had to dodge the twigs, branches and in one case a tree that had been blown on to the road. It was no easier once we were on the motorway, with the added challenge of driving rain and spray thrown in to test the mettle of those who were a few hours short of kip last night.
At lunchtime we pulled into the St-Leger motorway services, and over a sandwich and a cup of tea, considered our options. The île de Ré was right in the path of the storm and we had to cross a very long and exposed bridge to reach it. Now we were further inland the weather, while poor, was still drivable so should we make the most of a bad weather day and drive further north to minimise the driving next week? That seemed to make more sense. The map suggested that we should aim to be somewhere near Nantes tonight and just to the left of Nantes, on the Loire, is a village, underlined in green, called Champtoceaux. I have just learned that places on a Michelin map underlined in green denote places mentioned in the Michelin green travel guides, so they are usually places of interest. For example, Santillana, outside Santander, Sartre’s prettiest village in Spain, which we visited six weeks ago is underlined in green. So, we are now heading for Champtoceaux. Why is it underlined in green?
“Houston; we have a problem!” Champtoceaux does not have a campsite. No worries its sister village, Oudon, on the north bank of the Loire has a campsite; we’ll go there instead.
I will tell you what happens it tomorrow. Now I need to catch up on some kip.