Tuesday, 2 October 2012

123 Through France and into Spain

Saturday 22nd September
What a night ! It was thundering and lightning for what seemed like an hour or so (probably 10 mins !). At one point after a particularly loud bang overhead I said to Karen "Blimey, that was loud". I got no answer. She slept through the whole flipping thing. We did not get a peep out of Leon either.
In the morning the rain was more constant and we huddled under the awning but as noon approached the clouds started to part and the sun shone through.
With the sun, out came Wallace and we rode into Lyon. John had told us of a few places so we parked Wallace up and went for a walk. Initially we were disappointed with the centre, it was very grubby but we ended up at the Place de Terrraux, which is several fire breathing (OK - steam) horses in a fountain.

 We then crossed the river Soane into the old town and the place took a serious upturn. It was very quaint and old (!) with lots of small shops and bars. We ended up supping on a beer in the Irish Bar. We are just so cosmopolitan. 
The old town. A better perspective of Lyon
The Cathederal

"The beer in here is rubbish.

Another anatomical clock. Do these people not have watches ?

Then it was back on Wallace in search of the main city park that John had told us about. He had apparently stayed nearby when he worked in Lyon.
We found the place that John stayed in when he was posted here with Interpol

The search was rapid with the aid of the Sat Nav. The park was fantastic and contained the botanical gardens and a mini zoo. It is called Parc Tete D' Or. It is quite huge and very pretty in the sunshine.
One of the hot houses at the botanical gardens

Some of the plants were weird

Karen found this monster lurking in the undergrowth

Ray had noticed a bar called Wallace, so it was only fitting that we visited it and had a photo opportunity.
Wallace outside Wallace
I was looking at the whiskeys...honest

We had walked around all the old town and along the banks of the river, however we did miss a couple of other places that John had suggested as the weather took another turn for the worse, so we headed back to the campsite via the supermarket and after a light tea, retired for the night.

Sunday 23rd September.
Once packed up we headed to Parc des Oiseaux. It is outside of Lyon at a place called Villars - Les -Dombes. It is like a large bird sanctuary with both wild and captive birds.
I don't get paid enough to do this

Same place, different faces....

We had a long wander about and then watched the live show, which featured many different species including vultures, parrots and large cranes.
Stand clear...no undercarriage

The birds flew pretty close
Wassup....aint you seen a bird eating his dinner before. This cheeky chap kept slamming this snake on the floor to kill it.

 It was brilliantly done and we could feel the air from the birds wings as they flew over our heads. Several people went home with bird poop, for which they weren't charged extra for. There was also a house of parakeets, you could get a little tub of "nectar" and walk through and the birds would come and feed and sit on you. We enjoyed this so much we went and had another go.
Before the nipping and pooing began

The colours were amazing.

If you poop, we are having parrot pie for dinner.

 It all lost it's appeal after we'd both been nipped and I got pooped on. At about 5pm we were both totally birded out so went back to Gromit. We decided that we would drive at least half way to our friends house, so set off with a view that we would just stop at an aires and sleep there and finish the journey in the morning. We pulled into two different aires and it was my fault we didn't stay there. They were in the middle of no where and to be honest I didn't feel all that safe. The third one was better. It had toilets (that should have been a clue really) and some overhead lights. I jumped into the back of Gromit to feed Leon and sort things out there and Ray was out the front. Another car pulled up and parked up next to us. A male got out and started walking around our vehicle and the grassy area next to us. He seemed to be playing pocket billiards and started "a conversation" with another male who appeared from no where. I still hadn't been seen, but the first man kept walking past the front of Gromit, obviously trying to attract Ray's attention. Needless to say that aires was also not suitable and we beat a hasty retreat and luckily for the strange man, he remained in one piece. Having failed so far we went to a campsite and got ourselves behind locked gates and felt heaps safer.

Monday 24th - Thursday 27th September.
Well I didn't sleep through the thunder and lightning last night. It actually felt like someone was letting off canons right beside the tent and the lightning lit up the inside of the tent. It was really quite amazing and the talk of the site in the morning. We are going to Billy and Sue's today and took the mountain route to their place near Marat. They are gradually doing the place up and work was on going whilst we were there. They have a large garden and Leon loved it.
The view from Billy and Sues garden in the morning

We spent the next few days in their company and met several of their friends who have also bought places in the same area. Our replacement tent arrived on Wednesday which was really quick. Sue and I kept each other company whilst Ray worked on the trailer and Billy helped the builder knocking out a doorway between the garage and the house. On Thursday Ray drove Sue me to Amber to the market and we noticed that we could hear a bit of grinding.
A side road in Ambert

Part of the market in Ambert - it was in a time warp.

 It turned out our rear brake pads needed changed. He and Billy went into town to see if we could get some whilst Sue and I entertained Mr Smirnoff. Mission was accomplished but we couldn't pick them up till the following morning.
Friday 28th September
A quick trip to Ambert to collect the brake pads at 10am with success. 60 Euros about treble the UK price. Anyway, once back it was an hours work to fit the new ones and whist I was out Karen did the rest of the packing. At about 1 pm we set off south towards Spain. After an hour of twisty mountain roads we hit the free motorway south and over the Millau Bridge.
Millau bridge...again

A typical French mountain village

After about 250 miles, we eventually got to Perpignan and turned off at a small campsite at 9pm. A quick 16 euros and we were in bed knackered.

Saturday 29th Sept
An early start (unusual for us) and we were off again heading for a small campsite in the middle of nowhere but near the Motorland Aragon racing circuit. Another 250 miles.
We had set off under a cloudy sky and it immediately started raining heavilly and did not stop till about 3am the next morning. We saw nothing of the beautiful Pyrenees.
Once at the campsite it was up with the tent in the poring rain - not much fun and I got soaked - we then hit the bar of Lake Caspe Camp site.We bumped into a couple of bikers. Not surprising considering we were near a racing circuit on the eve of the Motorcycle Grand Prix. The guys were Brits from Norwich who had ridden down from Calais. The pair, Andy and Pete, were a double act and the stories they had to tell kept us laughing all night. Pete was one of those people that everthing bad happened to and whilst he was chatting to us, he was still dripping wet from the ride they had just been out on. He had had a puncture on the way down and as it was on a motorway, his own breakdown service were not allowed to tow him. A specialist French firm had to be used just to get him off the motorway. It was not so much the extra 170 euros he had to pay that irked him but the 300m (yes 300m) they towed him to get off the motorway. He then had to call his own recovery service again for the privelage of taking him to a tyre place when charged him a further 170 euros for a new tyre. He only had a slow puncture which they refused to rapair and probably could have ridden all the way to Spain with the puncture ! Having said that, he was still laughing. It was a great night.

Sunday 30th Sept
Up bright and early and a quick blast on Wallace to the race track. The sky was clear and the sun was warm. We went into the grand stand and watched the British riders do fairly well but only with one podium (a third). 
Cal Crutchlow in the middle. He eventually came 4th.

We were the only Brits in the stand and we were waving our Union Jack and cheering the British riders very loudly. The Spanish around us were very tolerant, probably because we were older that most British hooligans and their riders won all three races. 
The view from the side of the race track

It was another great day and we ended up in the bar with Andy and Pete. We were soon joined by a dutch guy called Vim and another Brit who we just called "lightweight" as, although he had traveled by bike, he had booked a small cabin whilst we were all camping.
Jon Elvidge had sent us a text a couple of days previously that there was a strike by French ferry workers that had virtually stopped all the boats to Spain and France from the UK. We were worried that this could spill over and stop John getting over to Spain for the Motos Picos bike rally next week. The strike was also of concern toAndy and Pete who were looking to sit the strike out beside the lake we were at with a fishing rod in one hand and beer in the other.

Monday 1st Oct
Another gloriously sunny day. We had a slow start today and whilst packing up for our slow trip to Santander (for the bike rally) Karen received a text. The next thing I knew was, I as being pinched and punched for the first day of the month. This is not a fair war when Karen's brother John was pitching in too. He will pay for that.
 We said our goodbyes to Andy, Pete, Vim and Lightweight and Andy informed us that the ferry strike had been cancelled and it was just a matter of getting the boats back into their correct places. I think he was a bit disapointed.
We then set off again and selected a campsite about halfway to Santader. This one has washing machines and internet - Yipee. Another 200 mile drive to Logrono. 
Guess where we are now ?

On arrival we dropped the trailer off and went shopping and into town for a Spanish meal in a Spanish restaurant. There was lots of it but it was not that good. It did however redeem itself somewhat and came with wine at no extra cost. Then it was back to the ranch for vodka and gin prior to an early night. We were both knackered. It's hard work being retired.


  1. little bit jealous about all the thunder storms you guys are having lol.

  2. No surprises there you young warped individual.