Villeneuve-Loubet to Manosque
We were up in good time today as it was chores day. We wanted to get all the cleaning and washing done before we leave here tomorrow heading north.
The Chef worked really well today doing all of the housework on her own whilst I wasted my time down at Reception uploading and chatting.
We both did our hand washing, there being no washing machines here anyway.
Then it was a relaxation session in the sun, very nice but cloudier than it has been.
Lunch was toasted baguette to get rid of the excess bread we had from yesterday with peanut butter and marmalade (that's me) and strawberry jam (that's her).
This afternoon we went down to the swimming pool area, again we had it all to ourselves. The young kids we saw enjoying themselves down there yesterday seem to have gone home. Soaking up a bit of lovely hot sunshine on our old bones was a delight. We had to make the most of it as the weather is due to change. For me that is the beauty of this lifestyle. On the way to Villenueve-Loubet we were supposed to have visited St Tropez just before arriving there, but because of the weather we amended the plan. After leaving Villeneuve-Loubet we were to have travelled on toll roads non-stop to Lalley for four days of hiking, but because The Chef wasn't too good, and the weather forecast for that area even worse, we amended the plan again and came here to Camping Provence Vallée in Manosque, and because of the weather forecast for Lalley we have extended our stay from two to four days. But tomorrow we must leave.
We shall miss this campsite and the area, we are in the centre of the Provence National Parks of Luberon and Verdon. The region of Provence is much larger than that, but the National Parks are the real thing, containing all those locations where pictures of lavender, rolling hills etc are taken. We have agreed that we shall return here, next time for about two weeks and hiring a car for a week of it. That way we can tour the spectacular scenery in a small car rather than the motorhome, which I know would be The Chef's preference. We will of course need to hire one with nice grippy armrests for her.
This has been a nice relaxing four days, the weather has been delightful which makes all the difference in the world. Tomorrow we are heading north to Lalley, south of Grenoble, in the area where the photograph on our blog Home Page was taken last year. Originally planned as a four day stay for some hiking it will now be just one whole day in pouring rain, having first driven there in pouring rain, but at least we'll get a chance to look at the area for future visits.
This afternoon having returned from the swimming pool we finally got to drink the bottle of champagne I had been dragging around with us for the whole trip. Originally I planned to drink it at home to celebrate the gardens and driveway finally being finished, but aren't quite yet. Then I imagined we'd drink it on the beach at Villeneuve-Loubet, but the weather let us down, then it was to be at St Tropez, but St Tropez let us down, so finally rather than drag it any further we sat and drank it outside our wonderful mobile home.
Tonight The Chef is producing a traditional Sunday roast with the rotisseried chicken we bought yesterday, some roast potatoes, roast carrots and French green beans (got the foreign cuisine bit in). I had not planned to attach any photographs today. There are only so many pictures you can take of a campsite. But I will pop out and take a picture of the Chef's alfresco kitchen at which she toils as I type.
We are hoping to leave here at about 09:00 tomorrow morning, down to the supermarket for a big shop, then out of town, under the north/south toll road to Valensole, which we passed through earlier in the trip and is the heart of lavender growing, just to see if the lavender is in bloom (it's supposed to be mid June to mid July) for a few photographs, then backtrack to the toll road, then north to Lalley where we plan to stay at a campsite which I believe has Wi-Fi. I will need to change the titles of the sub pages, squeezing another one in before we reach Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. The problem is I am only allowed something like 12-14 characters in the title which makes it a bit challenging to come up with one that fits, hence 'France + 2016' rather than 'France, Switzerland & Germany'.
I must now go outside and take a photograph of The Chef's sweatshop.
A peaceful night. The Chef didn't snore as much, she clearly had a good night's sleep and was just about recovered from her cold. The added bonus was that I didn't hear anything from the rowdy rugby-playing firemen when they came back, which certainly surprised me.
When I looked down the access road to the pitches on the way to the shower block I could see no sign of the fireman's minibuses, most odd, they must have dossed out somewhere.
After scrubbing up and a healthy breakfast of just a banana due to us being low on fresh milk, I wandered down to the Reception Office for internet access, picked up the two baguettes I ordered yesterday, and ask the manager to mark on a tourist map where the supermarket was which we were supposed to have found in town yesterday.
He is very kindly letting me use his internet access as the free thirty minute a day service is very slow, and when it's that slow it can take up to thirty minutes just to upload text and three photographs. He didn't rip us off for the baguettes, just normal shop prices, so I guess he's making nothing out of it, but looks upon it as a service to his guests. The blow came when he told us where the supermarket was. We'd been past it, looked in the window but discounted it because it had clothes in the window at the front of the store, and so we assumed that it was a clothes shop, but as it turned out it was the same layout used by Marks & Spencer's stores which incorporate a food hall. At least then I knew we'd be able to get some fresh milk today.
I also enquired about the firemen and he told me they booked out late yesterday evening, presumably on their way to get completely bladdered somewhere.
On the way back up the hill to our pitch I passed the luxury tents which the firemen stayed in and was reminded of the internal layout. When it came to bedrooms there were two, one double bed, and in the other a bunk bed design with a double at the bottom with a single above. Dividing the number of firemen in the group in to the number of beds available in the tents they hired, I concluded it must have been a very cosy arrangement. Maybe there is such a thing as the Gay Rugby Union Federation of France, or GRUFF for short. That could give them the advantage when it came to ball play.
Chores done we were off in to town for a few bits of shopping, a look at the market, and to take a few video shots. I had forgotten to take the camera yesterday which was annoying. We also decided we'd treat ourselves to lunch out today.
First we found the supermarket, it ticked all the boxes, it was so frustrating as we spent a lot of time yesterday looking for it, with The Chef not feeling too good having walked all the way in to and around town in very hot conditions.
Then it was a wander around town and a look at the stalls. We came across one of a number selling fresh rotisseried chickens. What caught our eye was that he was selling what looked like hot cooked new potatoes as well. After umming and aarring, we decided to have an early lunch and asked for two chicken portion plus potatoes. He told us that all the portions had gone but he was prepared to cut a chicken in half for us and add a portion of potatoes. All that for €5 which we thought was very good value given the fancy prices you can pay in restaurants in any tourist area here.
We remembered seeing a small town square in front of church not far away which had a fountain in the middle of it (a picture of it was posted yesterday), although there was no seating we thought we could eat our lunch sat on the edge of the fountain. After cleaning our hands with the liquid alcohol soap we carry around with us, in to the two bags we dived, pulling chicken flesh off the bone and hot potatoes to accompany it. The spuds felt as if they'd been cooked in olive oil with some herbs sprinkled over them, hot, tasty, but a trife slippery. Having eaten all we could manage, we each found ourselves with a greasy, oily hand, and today of all days I only had two clean paper hankies left in my pocket. They didn't go far, but then I realised we had an adequate supply of water behind us. So there we were in full view of everybody washing our hands in the fountain, leaving an oily film on the water where we'd been. After shaking them dry we found a chemists where we bought another pack of hankies. We both had a chuckle about it - now we felt French!
After wandering around a bit longer the video camera packed up on me. Every time I take it out I also take along a spare SD memory card, but not today, and today was the day I filled up my first card, so the camera was no longer of any use to me. I don't know if I'll have enough on the card to put together something about Manosque.
Before leaving town we went back to the man selling the rotisserie chicken and bought a whole, hot one. That will come in handy for dinner tomorrow. Sunday roast with a French influence. Next it was to a pavement bar for a small beer each - €5, the same price as our lunch. Finally in to the supermarket for some fresh milk and orange juice. Then it was the long hike back to the campsite.
On our return there were still lots of young kids enjoying themselves in the pool, I couldn't see any marked increase in tents etc on the campsite, then realised that there are quite a few small static caravans on site, which are either hired out or privately owned. That seemed like a great way to get away from it all for a nice family weekend.
Whilst The Chef sunned herself I popped down to Reception for a chat with the manager. He was thinking of having a one week holiday in the UK during the winter months and wanted a bit of advice. Having run a highlight pen over a map of the UK, which I then ripped out of our European Road Atlas and gave him, plus a few notes written in a notebook and likewise ripped out with the advice to Google those places before deciding where to go, I then made my way back to our pitch.
A bit of sunbathing combined with a bit of reading - 'Broken Vows, Tony Blair The Tragedy Of Power' by Tom Bowyer. Depressing and scary or what. I think everybody who voted for that government should read it. I'm finding it both interesting and exceedingly frustrating. My copy was newly released in hardback. Note to self - don't buy any more hardback books to bring away, they don't fit in to the cupboards very easily. Wait until the paperback comes out, they will be smaller and cheaper.
This evenings meal was just a cheese and cucumber baguette with crisps, washed down with several lashings of lovely red wine as we didn't have much of an appetite after our lunch.
This evening has been spent watching a bit of 'Only Fools & Horse', enjoyable as DVD watching is, it would be good to sort out some satellite television before we come away on a long trip like this again, it would be helpful to get the weather forecast and a bit of news, but right now with the EU Referendum going on we're best off without it.