NEWS FOR NOVEMBER 2011.
Sadly we received the expected news yesterday evening. Henny died yesterday and there is to be a funeral this coming Friday.
Now we have to see abour flights etc to get up there which might be difficult as the summer season flights, direct from Rotterdam, finished yesterday, 31st October.
We had managed to get flights out of Toulouse with Lufhansa which went via Munich so had to set off south early this morning to get there in time. What a journey, but not really something that can be blamed on Lufthansa. The incoming flight was an hour late, so logically an hour late leaving. On arrival at Munich we had missed our connection to Amsterdam but luckily they booked us on the later flight at 4.45 p.m.
Once we got on to this flight we found out the reason for all these delays. Apparantly a Singapore Airlines plane had gone off the runway earlier in the day, so now Munich was trying to clear this aircraft and use only one runway for both in and outgoing flights. At one stage, when we were all seated,with the doors closed, our Captain cheerfully told us that there were 38 flights waiting for take off instructions.
I spent sometime sending text messages to Arie to get him to keep checking with Schipol airport and eventually we got there just three hours later than originally planned, but the important thing was that we made it and also in time to organise a Chinese takeaway for the evening meal, because by this time we were starving.
A very sad day for many. We were very glad that we had made the effort to fly up to Nieuwkoop and help to give Henny the send off she so justly deserved. The crematorium was full of friends and family, we heard later that 140 people attended, a simple indication of the great fondness and respect that many had for her. Joan and I both know that we have many good times to remember and we were only too glad that we had this opportunity to say goodbye to her and to be with Co, Kitty, Arie and the grand children on this day.
Back to France, this time to prepare for our UK trip which atarts on Tuesday, to collect our Motor-Home from Preston.
This time our flights were all on time so we were home by 2115 hours, in time for a light snack and a glass of wine before bed.
Barabra has gone off to UK for a couple of weeks, so we arranged to meet Stewart in Eymet for Sunday lunch at one of the restuarants in the village square..
He has agreed to collect us at home on Tuesday and take us to the airport so that we will not have to leave a car there for 2 weeks.
We had a call from Sue, at the cattery, yesterday to say that Smudge had an absess on her back and she was taking her to the vet, but as she was taking her husband for the same flight as us we could get a report there.
We were at the airport around 11 a.m. and Sue just happened to drive in right behind us so we were able to find our about Smudge. The vet thinks she has been fighting with something and got a small puncture wound on her back, this has now got some dirt in it and has turned septic. So she had her back shaved and an injection but will be OK by the time we get back.
Our flight was uneventful and we collected a one way hire car from Alamo at Stansted. This was a Hyundai I30 and I was suitably impressed. We drove straight to Preston, Lancs, were we had booked in to the Premier Inn in the centre of town. This is the first time we have used a Premier Inn and I have to say that we had a lovely clean spacious room, the staff were extremly helpful and friendly, so for only £19.00 per night that was one hell of a deal.
We went for a walk in to town and found a nice Italian style restaurant which was very enjoyable and after the long drive we were glad of the walk.
Andy, from Marquis Motorhomes, collected us at the car hire office at 9.30 this morning and then took us around to collect our Camper. This had been prepared for us and looked very fine. We spent a couple of hours with one of the technical guys from Marquis, who explained the workings of the gas, water, heating systems etc and I have to say that I am glad there is a hand book as it is a lot to take in and having never had this sort of vehicle before, guess there is a learning curve to climb.
We eventually set off around midday, stopping first in Chorley town centre, to buy a gas BBQ/Cooker which we had seen during our last visit here. Just so that we could use this sort of thing on sites, we have had a refillable gas tank system fitted with a BBQ outlet.
From Chorley we set off down the M6 in the general diection of Southampton, were we are to stay with Margaret and Norman, who live these days in Swanmore village. We eventually found Swanmore, thanks to the lady in our Sat-Nav, parked up at the village pub and called them to say come and fetch us. It seems that they have very sensibly taken a house were the village pub is just 200 yards up the road from them. Good food was served and we only had to drive round the corner afterwards. We did learn, when we said how bad the traffic was around Birmingham, that we should have taken the Toll road, as despite the cost, the saving in time and fuel more than outways this. You learn something every day, but too late in this instance.
We had a nice leisurely day today, but did go along to the offices of Marquis which happen to be only a few miles away, as we had discovered that a plastic cover, which covers the water heater outlet was missing and also that the speedometer was starting to bounce, just as if the cable was damaged. The head of service there was very helpfull and found a new cover for us but was unable to help with the speedo as his engineer was on holiday. We have reported it to the Preston office and will deal with it when we get back home.
After lunch we went for a walk along the seafront, as the weather was so very nice. Whilst walking along we discovered a graveyard for Hovercraft.
Norman and Margaret took us off shopping today as we need to get a few things whilst here and have the ideal means of transport with lots of space. Don't ask us were we have been, somewhere on the outskirts of Southampton we believe but we preceeded this with a lovely breakfast in a village nearby, as Margaret had a Doctors appointment and then we crowned the day at a wonderful Fish & Chip restaurant, where the haddock and chips was to die for.
We did manage a walk around a huge M & S and then found a Currys Store were I was able to buy Joan her last years Xmas present, because she didn't get one. She now has a new didgital camera, which has a viewfinder as well as a big screen. It appears that only Canon still make one with a viewfinder and only one model also, but she is happy with that as her existing Canon is more than 10 years old and very large in comparison.
We called in at a local pub on the way home as Joan and I decided to take them out to dinner tomorrow night. Norman was horrified at the price of their food so we made a basic decision. Norman and I would go off to M&S early in the morning and get two of their dine in for £10.00 deals and then walk round to their local afterwards.
Today we had a day out in Portsmouth, after Norman and I ahd been down to the local M & S store to get tonights dinner.
We started off down on the dock area, which is of course still a Royal Naval base as well as a museum of Maritime things of every sort. Must remember that it would be worth making a visit at a later date because you can buy a ticket which allows greater access to the docks themselves and better views of the many ships which were there.
We saw HMS Warrior, the first of the iron clad ships, that's us standing dockside in front of it. We also got good views of HMS Trafalger, Nelson's flagship. This is undergowing major works so was stripped of it's masts, figure head and with restricted access. We did however manage to get in to the Naval museum and get a picture of a model, showing how Trafalger will look when they have finished working on her and also a pic of the man himself. He was incredibly tiny. You could spend lots of time here and there is much to see.
We wandered a nearby shopping mall for an hour or so and then went home for our dine in for £10.00 meals. These are tremendous value for money and if we lived in UK and were near an M & S I guess we would use them often.
After a liesurely breakfast, Joan and I set off for New Romney to stay with Les and Jill for a few days. The weather has been so glorious since we arrived, that we decided that the coastal route was the favourite one. We left around 11 a.m. and our route took us through many familiar places, such as Eastbourne, St Leonards. Hastings, Rye etc
I have found that this vehicle is easy to drive. Probably because you are sitting up in a chair which is very different to driving a normal car, far less tiring. You need to be aware of the size of the thing as it is 6.5 meters long and much wider than any car. Also you need to constantly momitor your mirrors because as per usual people drive far too close behind. I was always taught that if you can't see both wing mirrors of the vehicle in front then he can't see you. Have to say that the speedo finally stopped bouncing around, it now just sits on the zero. Have to get that fixed a.s.a.p., but in the meantime the sat-nav has a good speed system on it and it may even be more accurate.
We got to Jill around 3.30 p.m., Les was still out on his new Triumph as he has been with the local Motor Bike club, to a Remembrance day event. We had a very pleasant evening playing catch up on all the gossip around New Romney.
Jill took us into Ashford to do some of our shopping and the three of us spent some time in the big MaCarther Glenn centre, where everything is supposed to be cheap !!!! We also went to Halfords and priced up their bikes as we both need ones to put on the back of the camper for when we are parked up on sites.
This evening I managed to book a ferry crossing with Sea France for Friday when we will go to Holland to see how Co and family are getting on, before heading off home to France.
Joan and I decided. after shopping around a bit, that our cheapest deal for bikes was in the local New Romney Cycle shop. We managed to get two multi gear Raleigh bikes which are aluminium and so called hybrid Touring bikes. It is quite amazing that when you got to these multi dtores by the time they have added all the xtras that you need they work out more expensive than a good local store.
We ordered and they will be ready for us to collect tomorrow and fit on to the back of our bike carrier. This of course makes the thing even longer, but now we will start to look like real campers !
Last day with Jill and Les as we are on the 9.40 a.m. ferry tomorrow. After another quick trip into Ashford with Jill we spent the afternoon packing the van up and attaching the bikes to the special rack. That took some working out but as we had also bought a couple of secure locks to go round the lot we felt happy about leaving them there overnight.
The four of us went down to the Curry Lounge in New Romney and had a really superb dinner. Les has always said that this place was really good and now I believe him.
Interesting spot of news came our way. Sea France is in liquidation and the French government has seized all their ships. But a quick phone call and they said don't worry, just turn up and we will re-route you probably with P & O.
In Holland they have a different idea about the arrival of Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas arrives on 19th of December supported by a "Swarte Pete" or more usually by a whole gang of them. Could you imagine the uproar in UK if the same thing happened there?
This morning Sant Nicholas arrived in Nieuwkoop, by boat, landing at a waterside restaurant called Tysterman. We thought about going to see this event but found the whole village absolutely packed with parents and children, all of whom have been very good all year, trying to tell the guy what they wished to have as Xmas presents.
Instead we went to see Co for coffee and to see how he was getting on by himself. He seems to be getting himself organised and slowly, with the help of Kitty, getting most of Henny's stuff cleared out. He does say though that he is finding the evenings very long and very lonely. Not surprising really as they had been together for over 50 years and they did everything together.
Arie has been very busy today. This morning he was taking photos on the football field, on behalf of the Jumbo supermarket who are going to produce a book, for kids to collect and put stickers in, based around the local football teams. He gets a free half page advert in the book and with a link to his website were all the dozens of pics are shown, allowing parents to order and pay for their specific kids photos.
This afternoon, after Sint Nicholas has had his lunch, Arie is taking photos in the local hall of children sitting with the saint and some of his helpers.
Now this is were we got an early look in. These pics are taken with one "Swarte Pete" just so you can see how they all look. It also just so happens that this black guy is Arie's son, Michael. doing his duty for the community.
Joan and I went shopping in the aforsaid Jumbo shop and got things in for dinner. Samantha, Arie's daughter, joined us when she had finished giving dance lessons. These days she owns and runs gher own dance school.
We first made the full English breakfast, as we had brought bacon from UK with us, then Arie came round to his fathers with us and left us there to chat to Co. From there we walked to Kitty and Theo's house, which is sort of on the way back to Arie's. There we had a chat with them both drank some of Theo's beer, to wash down the snacks that Kitty had prepared. It looks very much as if we will get a visit this spring from Kitty and maybe the two kids, that will be nice.
Back to Arie late afternoon and this time it was his turn to cook dinner and Samantha was also there to help us enjoy it, Sunday is the one day when she gets time off for herself.
We had originally planned on staying here in Nieuwkoop until Tuesday but the weather has gone a bit horrible with thick mist and it is getting colder by the day, so with that in mind we decided to leave today. Firstly we agreed with Co that after we had cycled to the Industrial Park, collected our camper and loaded it up at Arie's, we would go to Co, have coffee and some lunch with him, then set off.
Above is a picture of our first night stop in the camper. Slightly noisy because there were many lorries around the site but we both got a good nights sleep once we got used to the coming and going of big diesels.
During the journey further south Joan got her first drive of the new aquisition and seemed OK with it but said that she was for the moment happy on motorways but needed more practice before taking to the ordinary roads.
So eventually we arrived home here in Loubes Bernac at around 2.30 in the afternoon and after offloading everything we settled down to a home cooked dinner and slept like logs for the night.
We went over to St Foy late in the morning, after Joan had the washing machine going like mad, did some shopping for ourselves and then collected Smudge from the cattery. She seemed to be happy to be home but not tooo sure about the big outside world, but then she has been confined for three weeks.
Her back has a bald patch where the vet shaved it, but it is now all cleared up and the hair is growing back.
One thing we have definitely noticed since getting back to our home in France, the temperature. We have been able to sit outside for morning coffee and in the early evening for a small tipple, because the daytime temerature here is still around 25 degrees.
We had arranged to meet up with Stewart and Barbara at Le Cabri restaurant in Duras this evening. We had an e-mail from the resaurant to say they were having a jazz evening tonight. Food was good, music if a bit load in the small winter room,was also good and of course so was the company. Good day to arrange this at it was also Barbara's birthday.
Rapidly approaching the last month of 2011 now. We have spent our time since getting back home trying to sort out the garden, make lists of all we need for the motor-home, so that we are prepared for our first excursions in the new year. We are still thinking that Portugal and Spain look favorites fro Feb/March as the weather there promises to be much warmer than here. We must somehow get Smudge used to living in the Van with us and walking on a harness and lead before we go that far, that could be fun.
Managed to buy some pans that stack one in side the other with a separate clip on handle and the electric connection that will allow us to plug in to mains supplies on campsites so we are getting there. Our gas BBQ is now up and running so that will be a boon when we can cook outdoors. Have ordered connectors for our new gas system to allow its use in Spain and in France, so at least I wont have to lug big gas cylinders around when empty, just fill up at the same place as we tank diesel.
Joan and I went in to Eymet today in Joan's little Peugeot with the roof down. Lets take advantage whilst the weather is nice. We went in to Kismet for some lunch and Paul told us that he was doing Haddock and Chips in Lauzun on Saturday evening. Got to be a good bet and for sure Stewart and Barbara will enjoy as well.
We heard to day that our old neighbours from Cyprus want to visit in June, that will be nice and we guess that they will be the first of many once the news goes back.
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