22. May, 2016

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FRIDAY 20-05-16

We both slept very well due to the silence of a very empty, lonely car park perched on top of a hill, fortunately the wind had dropped overnight. As we'd dragged 100 litres of fresh water all the way up the hill with us yesterday we felt it only right to have nice hot showers to use some of it up.

After buying a fresh crusty stick from the village boulangerie we were on our way downhill just as soon as the local school run had finished.

Today we were heading for Riez for no particular reason other than it is heading east through the National Park, on the way towards the road leading south to the coast. Our route today was Gordes/Apt/Manosque/Valensol/Riez. What a lovely journey it was with some stunning scenery around the Manosque/Valensol area. We had hilltop villages with the snow-capped French Alps in the distance, fields of yet-to-bloom lavender and views across open countryside from high vantage points. The big disappointment was that there were very few suitable places for us to pull over to take pictures. Had we been in a small French car we would have fitted on to the very small rough-surfaced lay-bys, but for us it just wasn't possible. A lot of my time was taken up watching my wing mirrors so that I could let other motorists pass me at the earliest opportunity, I'd rather be rid of them thus reducing the risk of them overtaking at a dangerous moment.

The scenery we saw today was the Provence region we had imagined and seen pictures of, what a shame we didn't have more time to spend in the area, perhaps one day we'll return - in a small French car!

We ended today's journey on an Aire here at Riez (GPS: N43.821698º E6.091865º). First impression of the village was that it was nothing special at all, quite scruffy. The sort of place where they'd refuse to install Shanks Squatters to protect the towns rural authenticity, relying instead on the traditional galvanised bucket in the corner of the lounge.

Here they charge €5 for a 24-hour stay on their large Aire. We also have the mandatory large continually-barking dog close by, but things are looking up -  we've yet to hear a train.

Having parked up, it being a hot sunny day, we put our silver reflective tyre covers on for the first time this trip, strong UV light being an enemy of tyres. A new set of special camping tyres for this vehicle would cost a lot of money so they're worth looking after.

We had a wander in to the village, our first impressions were about right. There didn't seem to be any maintenance or painting of the outside of the properties at all, it all looked quite tired and scruffy, and yet there were several restaurants setting up their tables and chairs outside. I don't know where their customers were going to come from, we've seen no hikers in the area, there are no busy car parks, or coach loads of day-trippers. I had to conclude that their customers must be the locals who come out to dine when the number of flies in the their lounge becomes intolerable.

Tomorrow we are going to head for a campsite just south of Castellane, perhaps for just one night. I'm trying to get us ideally positioned to arrive at Camping Hippodrome in Villenueve-Loubet Monday Morning. We both look forward to returning to this campsite which we first visited last year on our way back from Istanbul, and we've numerous activities planned while we're there.

I said to The Chef this evening that if this had been our very first motorhome trip I would seriously have thought I'd made a bad decision. The biggest problem has been the weather, if it hasn't been the rain then it's been the wind, further complicated by the two National Holidays. On reflection we probably came over here two weeks too early, but since the weather changes year on year, who's to know what to do. We've been over here coming up three weeks and have yet to have a BBQ, if we've been on a campsite we haven't had the weather, and if we've had the weather we've been on an Aire, which strictly speaking is just overnight parking, you're not suppose to get the table, chairs and barbecue out because that then becomes camping.

This evening has been spent outside eating The Chef's creation - bacon, egg, baked beans and tomato, with fresh crusty bread. You can't get more Continental than that now can you?