Manosque to Lauterbrunnen
Oh dear, it rained heavily and continually all night long. As a consequence we didn't get a terribly good night's sleep. At the back of my mind whilst lying in bed was the problem of getting the motorhome off the grass. Fortunately I had not backed on to the pitch very far quite deliberately, however, just as you can drown in just a few inches of water so you can become stuck in a quagmire of wet grass and mud of just a few feet.
We arose about 07:00 and made our way to the shower block. Needless to say we had it all to ourselves, bliss, no nasal snorting ringing in my ears.
Scrubbed up and fed it was time to face the moment of truth. I calculated that I would come to grief before reaching the tarmac surface of the roadway, therefore I drained off most of my fresh water (in that weather nobody was going to notice a bit more water) and moved two of the four food boxes from the rear garage, or locker, and placed them at the front just behind our cab seats. This had the effect of reducing the overall weight as well as moving more of it forward.
I keep a piece of plywood, cut to size to use under the twin gas cooker and grill when in use outside on a table, or under the electric oven when it's used indoors. This piece of wood was to be my extension of wooden rafts to get me the short distance to the tarmac road.
Engine warmed up to avoid stalling at the worst possible moment, I placed the wood down and went for it. I was attempting it early enough to avoid having all those caravan sicko's chortling at our plight. First attempt and we were on Tera Firma, what a relief. I went back to retrieve my pieces of wood and then washed them down in a nearby sink. It would only have taken somebody to have told me I shouldn't have used the sink for that purpose and I would have had a Victor Meldrew moment.
Up to Reception to hand back our access key and we were away around the corner to the supermarket just after it opened at 09:00. Shopping list in hand The Chef commanded the operation to top us up with as much food as possible for our stay at Lauterbrunnen (tight old sods you may say - more of that later).
Loaded up we had a quick chat with a motorhoming UK couple who were making their way down south (oh how we envied them) before punching in the co-ordinates of our campsite in Lauterbrunnen - Camping Jungfrau. Off we went, a mixture of lots of rain and sunshine, with one eye kept on the Satnav which I have lost confidence in now. It was quite a long journey, made longer by the requirement for us to stop at the French/Swiss border to buy a vignette giving us the right to use Swiss motorways for a mere £30. What a bargain eh? What a shame we don't pounce on the Swiss for the same mount of money when they land at Dover.
Onwards and upwards until we finally arrived at our campsite here in Lauterbrunnen. I wanted a pitch down by the very fast flowing river (we're not talking Danube here, this one is only about forty feet wide, but you sure as hell wouldn't want to go paddling in it), but the guy said that because of the very heavy rainfall they are expecting here over the next three days they are looking to move those near the river uphill and away from it -just in case of flooding. I never anticipated packing a lifejacket for a visit to Switzerland. We elected for our own private pitch, uphill away from the river, and just by walking through a short tunnel were very close to washing and showering facilities.
Cheap it ain't. A couple of weeks here including electricity will set us back about £600. Though I have to say this is the most superb campsite you could ever hope to find anywhere, it really is five-star regarding the standards of facilities provided and their cleanliness. After setting up shop we wandered down to the campsite supermarket. They had quite a lot to choose from with many foreign brands. But as a guide you could take any familiar product and multiply the cost by three or four to get the selling price here. Self catering here would not be a cheap option, that's why we bought so much food with us. The two products which cause us the most grief in obtaining are fresh milk and crusty fresh bread. Well we think we've cracked it. Behind my swivel driver's seat is 'The Bakery', containing two shopping bags which between them are holding SIXTEEN packs of part-baked baguettes and four BIG bags of crisps which we like a few of to munch with our filled crusty baguettes for lunch. In the fridge is sufficient milk to keep us going for most of the visit here.
We are pitched looking down along a line of small tents, some of them Brits. It's pouring with rain and life for them stuck in such a cool small, damp confined area, will be a bit grim. I feel sorry for them, and yet years ago, when I spent many years on low income, the only holiday I could afford to give my kids was a camping holiday. When it peed with rain, I don't suppose anybody in a caravan or motorhome feeling sorry for us.
This evening's meal was an easy one for The Chef. Due to the rain she delved in to our Armageddon stores and grabbed two tins, one very nice tin of beef (that's Waitrose for you) and another of potatoes and vegetables. Quick and easy, but very nice.
Tomorrow we will venture in to Lauterbrunnen village, and over the next couple of wet days look at what trips we want to make up in to the mountains, as, since we were last here the prices have skyrocketed. Rest assured, when the weather clears we will be up there with the best of them, armed with cameras and video.
We had a bit more rain again during the night, not enough to dampen our spirits as we were leaving, but all those miserable, cheerless Caravanner's were staying for longer, no wonder they were having a lie-in, which meant we had the shower block to ourselves again.
Before setting off for Annecy I warmed the vehicles engine thoroughly as we had some steep climbing to do as soon as we left Lalley village. As it was warming, I swept all of the dead flies up off the floor and wondered if it was Ghandi who invented the fly swat, or maybe it was a Frenchman. The Chef went in to Reception to pay for our two night stay and request another Wi-Fi ticket as I'd only used one of my allocated two days. It appears this wasn't well received but she did manage to secure a ticket which I used to upload yesterday's blog rubbish before leaving.
The scenery for the first part of today's hundred miles was quite dramatic, though there was lots of low cloud about. Fortunately when we passed through here last year the weather was so much better and we managed to get a few decent photographs. Nonetheless The Chef snapped numerous pictures using not one, but two different cameras. I have yet to view today's offerings, some things shouldn't be rushed, but savoured. Maybe there'll be a rare telegraph pole or blurred tree captured for posterity, who knows.
The second part of the journey was busier and spent mainly on toll roads, before eventually arriving at Annecy. We had camped here for a few days about 15 years ago. I can only assume last time we were on the other side of the lake as the side we have finished up on is very commercialised, there's no way I'd want a holiday here now. The co-ordinates I had punched in to the Sat-nav bought us to the free Aire near the town centre. 'A very busy Aire, get there early for a space' the entry read in the book. Well all of the motorhomer's who had arrived there did so a damned site earlier than this morning. There's space for about 10 vehicles, but they all looked as if they'd been there a while, which is against both the rules and the spirit of Aires. This one has a maximum stay of just 24 hours. Clearly the local authority, whilst being generous enough to provide an Aire, don't monitor its use, to the detriment of people like us who are just passing through. This then forced us on to a campsite. My 'Plan B' site didn't seem to exist any longer when we arrived at the co-ordinates, and so we just cruised slowly along the busy road running just 'inland' from the lake until we saw a sign for a campsite, which very fortunately as it turned out, is just around the corner from the supermarket we are to visit tomorrow morning as we leave for Switzerland, fully stocked with food.
They have clearly had a lot of rain here. When we tried to get on our allocated grass pitch we got wheel spin and so I moved along a few pitches to one nearer the roadway and I put down our wooden boards and drove on to them. Hopefully they will stop us from sinking in to the very boggy ground. It's good thing we're only here for one night.
We can tell who the campers are who have been here a while as they've got coughs and colds. The sounds of nasal de-scaling in the showers tomorrow morning should be something quite spiritual, what a disgusting habit.
We went for a walk to find the lake, and by following the map displayed at the campsite we ended up on a piece of land twelve feet by twelve feet with no possibility of walking left or right along the lakes shoreline. Back we came to the cycleway which encircles the entire lake.
It may have been there the last time we were here, and we just hadn't noticed it. But these days things are different, now we have Lycra-Man, and his racing or mountain bike. Are these people riding round the lake at speed enjoying the views? No they are not, it's heads down and ride like fury. They probably ride around the lake every day in an attempt to beat their previous time. I know it's each-to-their-own but I struggle to find the pleasure in what they do. As for Brits who do it, they could just as easily stay at home and ride around Rutland Water Reservoir, in the rain, just to make it an authentic summer pursuit, for a fraction of the price. Annecy, we loved you 15 years ago, but you won't be seeing us again.
Tonight The Chef has created Penn with a Cheese sauce and salad, washed down with a drop of liquid red grape (I try and get my Five-A-Day).
We have elected not to pay for electricity this evening as we don't really need it for just one night, however there is a flaw in such a plan. We were going to watch a film this evening to break the monotony of an evening onsite, until The Chef asked the very pertinent question (and I wished she hadn't) "Can we watch a film with the DVD player?", and sadly the answer was "Non". How's that for a bit of French then? Our Television with the built in DVD player can work on mains or 12v. However, since its DVD packed up we've had to replace it with a cheapie DVD player which is powered by mains electricity, and since we have elected not to have mains electricity tonight, we ain't gonna be watching no film. So I suppose we'll have to talk to each other instead.
Tomorrow we hit the road for about another 170 miles, heading for Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, a place we love, and if all goes to plan regarding photos and video uploads at a later date, you'll love as well.