Rain greeted us after a nice smooth crossing on the Stena ferry to Holyhead from Dublin where we returned to the lovely campsite of Riverside near the picturesque town of Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia, Wales. It continued to pour all night and the next morning until around lunchtime when we were well in to England. From then on for the following twelve days the weather was wonderful – blue skies mostly and warm. We had a relaxing week with our friends Michael and Ruth in the Chilterns. I had a lovely belated birthday lunch at ‘The Grove’ golf hotel before driving up to Hichin for a few days to catch up with another friend Barry and get the MOT and a couple of minor adjustments to the van done. The crowd at Hitchin caravans are so nice and they let us stay there van plugged in for a few days every year.
My good and faithful Toshiba notebook died and we were able to get a new Lenovo computer in the little time we had so that was a godsend. The keyboard was closer to my Chromebook so the transition went smoothly thank goodness.
We had a few good walks to the market town which boasts a few good cafes and restaurants. We spent most of our time in the Hermitage cafe/restaurant/gift shop where good coffee and good food was served and we could do vital things like book flights to India and fill in our Indian visa forms online – a lengthy process and not a successful one as far as the flight from India with Malaysian airlines to Kuala Lumpur. Their website was experiencing difficulties and we had no luck trying to book it after many attempts so we left that for another day. We had to book this so far in advance as the Indian consulate want to sight our tickets out of India.

The weather changed with a blanket of clouds on the 2nd September when we took the Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. After a lengthy wait at the port the staff were very welcoming and the three and a half hour trip got us into Cherbourg an hour late. Luckily we had decided to have our main meal in the van while we waited as we didn’t get in until 7.30pm French time. We phoned ahead to the caravan park in the lovely village of Carentan 50minutes away and I had to hurriedly resurrect my French to make sure that they would accept us after 8pm. It had the unusual name of ‘Flower Camping le Haut Dick’. It was still light and we had a nice quiet evening
with the sound of owls in the distance. It was an excellent site with very few campers. The season was officially over on the 1st September so our ACSI camping card came in handy where we only paid now between 12-18euros a night instead of the high season prices of up to 50euros. The proprietor of the campsite asked where we were from and he said he knew that we were not from England as we had no dog with us!

Leaving the village the next morning we had to turn around at the first bridge we came to as it was only 2metres wide – not enough for us. That is one drawback of the sat.nav.not knowing our size. The day got up to 32degrees with a beautiful blue sky all day as we made our way down through lower Normandy and down to the very fertile Loire valley going through the villages of Alencon, Mamers, Vendome and Blois. We decided on a break in Blois, an amazing large town on the Loire which happened to have an enormous fair all through the city with lots of activities for adults and children. There was a party air to it all and the town itself with it’s amazing chateau and associated buildings were wonderful to see. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the festivities before driving along the Loire river and then across the Cher river to our campsite at Faverolles Sur Cher not far from the beautiful Chateau of Chaumont by the river.

We stocked up on supplies at an enormous Carrefour shop where while Maurice was backing into a parking spot an impatient van driver shouted at him ‘you Anglais’ so Maurice shouted back not Anglais – Australian, to which the driver said ‘sorry, sorry, sorry!’and gave him the thumbs up.

On the 4th September we continued along the Cher river and via Mennetou sur Cher – a medieval town to Bourges where we looked for an amazing cathedral which we could see for miles before we got to the town but ended up nearly getting stuck with the van in the Sunday We luckily extricated ourselves,this time without me having to get out of the van and hold the traffic. We found the cathedral of St Etienne and departed for Nevers and to Chalon Sur Saone always taking the almost deserted country roads through many quaint small villages and agricultural land planted thickly with corn, grapevines and now wilting sunflowers. Many field had herds of the large white Limousine cows.
Many of the roundabouts had beautiful floral displays and one even told a story – a small house with farmer ploughing the field with a horse and a small vineyard. Very innovative. From the Cher we climbed into the densely forested hills and down to the Saone river where we stayed in a large but very orderly campsite next to the river. The sunset was a colourful one so we hoped for another sunny day after a cloudy but warm one.

We took all of the next day to drive across Burgundy up into the mountains and to our campsite at Neytens in France, just across the border from Switzerland.
The day was cool and cloudy with patchy rain. Although we were still in France it was only a 15minute bus ride to Geneva. If anyone asked us where we had had the best weather this year the answer was England!

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