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Into France

I've not updated for a few days so thought I'd catch-up now

13/09/2018 128 miles, 25.2mpg

We didn't have a lot of driving to do today as we were only going as far as the outskirts of London, so a leisurely start was in order. After emptying the waste tanks and filling the water tank we headed south onto the A1.Half an hours drive or so south of Newark we took a detour to visit the birthplace of Isaac Newton, a National Trust property called Woolsthorpe Manor. As well as being his family home it's also the location of the famous apple tree related to his discovery of gravity - and that is still there. The shop there even sells apples from the tree, so Fiona bought some and is planning to create a "Newton's Apple Crumble" at some point soon.

After our visit there we continued our way down the A14 & M11 towards London with, for once, no hold ups in the extensive roadworks. Our site for the night was a Caravan and Camping Club certified site (CS) at a pub called the Merry Fiddlers, just outside Epping. These CS sites are small locations which allow up to 5 units to stay per night, with varying degrees of services available. This one was in a sizable field next to the pub and while it had some electric hookups it wasn't possible to stretch those to any of the locations we could pitch so we did without. The pub itself looks very nice (and I sampled a couple of their beers) but while the campsite is adequate it has the potential to be a lot better with a bit of upgrading.

14/09/2018 no mileage today

Our reason for being in the London area was that we had tickets to see the comedian Kevin Bridges and were planning to meet up with our daughter and her boyfriend to go to that. While it's only a mile or so to the Epping tube station we decided to get a taxi rather than walk as there was a fair amount of traffic and the road didn't have a footpath much of the way. We met up with Allie and Graeme at a pub beside Portobello market and had a wanted round there for a little while before heading to Hammersmith to get some food near to the Apollo, where the gig was being held. Kevin Bridges was exceptionally funny, despite being harassed by a couple of idiots at the front who were eventually thrown out.

15/09/2018 139 miles, 25.2mpg

We had a Dover to Calais ferry booked for 12:55 but decided to leave early as the main motorway to Dover, the M20, was closed for the weekend. As it turned out traffic wasn't bad on the A2/M2 alternative route so we arrived in Dover with loads of time to spare so did a final Tesco shop before hitting the continent. At the ferry terminal was were put onto the earlier 12:05 boat which was very quiet.

From Calais we weren't planning to go far as we'd decided to overnight a bit further down the coast in Le Touquet, one of our favourite French towns. It has two Aires and on previous visits we'd always used the one at the yachting marina, however this time we decided to give the other one a try. It's near the airport, on a car-park belong to the horse riding stadium and is quite a lot larger than the other Le Touquet Aire as well as being cheaper - although not as nice. We decided to get our folding bikes out and did a little ride round the town, which was quite busy with it being sunny and also the weekend.

16/09/2018 168 miles, 24.5mpg

We had a bit of a long lie but eventually got up and took a walk into Le Touquet to pick up a few groceries. We then decided to walk back along the beach only to find, with a bit of very fortunate timing, that the French equivalent of the Red Arrows were just starting a display over the Le Touquet beachfront. They put on a quite a show although sadly I had only one lens with me for my camera and it was the worst one for that, being an ultra-wide zoom. The display was very impressive though, with lots of red, white and blue smoke and plenty of close passes overhead.

We'd decided to just do the one night at Le Touquet so heading off in the general direction of Le Mans with a view to finding an Aire to overnight in. The first one we tried, at Berancourt, was full as well as being bizarrely familiar as we hadn't immediate realised we'd tried to stay their last year -only to find it full then as well. Digging out the Aires book we located another one not far away at a little town called Brezolles and that one did have space. It's a very nice little location near the church and a fishing pond. It's free and has grey and black waste disposal points as well as fresh water. It's close to the road so there is a fair bit of traffic noise but is a very decent overnight spot.

17/09/2018 143 miles, 23.9 mpg

We woke early partly due to traffic noise and partly due to the church bells ringing out at frequent intervals. We took our time leaving however, filling our fresh water and dropping the waste tanks by which time there was only one remaining motorhome in the Aire.

Setting off we'd originally planned to spend a couple of nights at a site in La Fleche (south of Le Mans) on a recommendation from folks on a facebook group. On checking the website it looked like the pool had closed the day before so instead we decided to head south in the direction of Bordeaux with a view to using either an Aire or a France Passion site half way there. Fiona did some checking of the books and we decided on a France Passion site on a farm that makes goats cheese near the village of Sainte Maure de Touraine.

France Passion is a scheme similar to Britstops (in fact it was what originally inspired the Britstops folks) where you can stay for free at a wide number of places in return for purchasing a book containing all the locations and directions. Most of the sites are on farms and vineyards etc. and while in theory you don't have to purchase anything there it seems like the done think to do so we purchased of their cheese as it'd be an interesting topping option when we next make pizzas. The overnight location had space for 5 motorhomes (but could easily take a few more) and was in a little grass field bordering a stream close to the farm and farm-shop. We mostly had it to ourselves, although another camper did turn up for a while - a solitary lady with her little dog - before leaving at about 8pm or so.

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