It’s been a tough decision to make but a few weeks ago we decided to end “chapter 1” of our trip earlier than planned and head back to the UK. Our original intention was to be away from the UK for a year, however several things have transpired in the meantime that have led us to go earlier.
- We still need to get a master key for our Moho and although we have tried to do this twice whilst in Spain it never materialised, so we ordered one through a local Peugeot dealer (Research garage in Hinckley), within 6 days it was with the garage so at least we know when we get back all we have to do is get it programmed to our vehicle.
- Back in March we experienced a leak in our shower and although we got it seen to by Clive at Eurocaravans (An NCC approved mobile engineer), he told us that it would need to be inspected again in 6 months time. Over time we have also found some other small niggles that need looking at under warranty along with the fitting of a new control panel for our solar which currently is not compatible with the Bailey system meaning that if we plug into mains we have to remove the fuse.
- One of my passions has always been property and so even whilst out of the country I have kept a close eye on the local market. Having sold our own house just after leaving on our trip the money we had made/put into it has been just sat in the bank (not doing much for us), so we had already decided that we would like to buy another property. Having seen a house on line which had been converted into two flats we though it suited our needs perfectly and so after a viewing on our behalf by my aunt and uncle we decided to make an offer and press ahead with getting a survey done which would allow us to make a firm decision whether to proceed. With this in mind we really needed to be in a position to view the house in person so that we could estimate the level of work required.
So with a little list of “things to do” we booked our ferry for 1st September. This left us with 4 days after leaving Paul’s brother & Co to make our way to Calais. Its a strange feeling to think that in just a few days we will be back in the UK. Of course we are very excited at being able to catch up with family and friends but have got so used to this fabulous travelling lifestyle it will be an adjustment.
We wanted to make our last few days in France memorable so our 1st stop was the stunning Le Mont St Michel, a place that sticks in my mind from a school trip there when I was 12 years old. We managed to park Boris on the side of the road and cycle the 3 km’s to the mount. Although once inside it has somewhat sold its soul to tourism as the tiny cobbled streets are now lined with souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants. Instead of walking straight through the middle though we climbed the stairs and walked around the outside walls. The architecture is magnificent and its a definite must see if visiting the area.
With neither of us having visited the area of Normandy previously our next planned stop was at the D- Day landing beaches, so we made our way firstly to Utah the most southerly of the beaches which also had an overnight aire (49.417834 – 1.186685 cost 10 euros per night inc elec). Having arrived in the evening we decided to watch the film Saving Private Ryan which was based in the 2nd world war and portrays the D Day landings. The following day we visited both the beach and museum at Utah – an eye opening and sobering place. We made our way along the coast stopping off firstly at Grandcamp Maisy an outdoor museum which was very poorly kept and seemed to be more about making money than the history and meaning. A further journey along the coast took us to the memorial at Point Du Hoc the highest point between Utah and Omaha beaches. Here you can still see the craters where bombs were dropped on the area, along with German ammunition stores, pil boxes and bunkers, I think every child should visit this area as part of the school curriculum as it really does put the sacrifices the soldiers made into perspective. After a stop off at the cemetery of American soldiers we made our was to Honfleur for our last but one night of our trip (49.408928 – 0.268059 free).
On this occasion we didn’t even make it into to see the sites of Honfleur as we wanted to stock up with provisions (OK mainly wine) and needed to use the wifi in MacDonalds to catch up by which time it was after lunch and we wanted to head further along the coast towards Calais. Our overnight was at Hourdel a free aire with no services (50.214408 – 1.55316). The aire was in a quite spot tucked away at the end of a lane with a walk thorugh the sand dunes onto the beach. Scars of the war were here too with an old German bunker still sat on the beach.
Our last day in France we headed to Wissant a free aire around 20 mins drive from Calais. We were lucky as we took the last available spot. The village is about a 15 min walk away and has a beautiful beach with soft pale sand. We did manage to spend around an hour down there reading but after being used to the temperatures further south it was a little chilly for us in the breeze so we made our way back for our final night in Europe. 😦
Au revoir France – we will be back
Andi & Paul