Category Archives: Travels in Hilma

Follow the tales of mishap, disasters, joys, laughs and general shenanigans of Ian & Janette on their travels in Hilma the Hymer

Bonnie Scotland – Day 9

Monday 27th May
We left Altnaharra today looking forward to a wonderful drive to Helmsdale. The road follows the railway route we took from Helmsdale to Forsinard, we visited the RSPB reserve there in 2017 during our North Coast 500 trip. We were not disappointed despite the intermittent rain – to be honest intermittent rain was like being in the Carribean to us after having 36 hours rain non-stop – still, that’s what happens in the Highlands. Loch Naver, which is nearly 10km long and average 0.5km, rose about 200mm (8″ in old money) over that period, we were on a loch side pitch but the scuba gear was not required. Previous trips to Scotland had provided us with days of glorious weather, the spell was sure to break at some point. We are not complaining, my literary ineptitude cannot describe the beauty of this wonderful country, rain or shine the visual impact is stunning.

Loch Naver – early morning after the deluge

Loch Naver – the sight from Hilma

The drive from Altnaharra to Helmsdale is approximately 40 miles along single track roads with passing places which took us about 2hrs (and we only had a short coffee break in the middle). Serious concentration is required on these roads with our wheels being only about 12″ from either side of the road (and the sides are very soft and boggy!).

Our coffee stop on the road to Helmsdale saw thes Greylag and goslings

Dornoch was our lunch stop – our good friend Peter in the village at home had put a request in for a bottle of Glen Goyne highland whisky – we were advised the Old Courthouse was the place to go – sure enough they had enough whisky there to satisfy the taste any whisky buff. Ironically the link to our village did not stop there, we noticed some bottle bags that were supplied by our neighbour (they probably won’t order any more now they’ve seen the quality of the neighbourhood he comes from!).
Our target was to get to Loch Ruthven to try and see the elusive Slavonian Grebe. There are only around 20 pairs breeding in the UK and limited to an area around Loch Ness region. We arrived around 5:00pm and were not disappointed, a little bit of a wait but we managed to see 2 on separate parts of the Loch and eventually saw a pair trying out their Olympic synchronised diving skills.

Slavonian Grebe – NOT MY PHOTO t courtesy of Steve Knell

Our overnight stay was a last minute booking as after a long drive I didn’t fancy spending another hour trying to find a wild camp spot so we opted to stay on a handy CL site about 1 mile down the road – The Trout & Grouse at The Steadings (a Johannsson hotel with 5 caravan / motorhome pitches – Luxury). A trip to the bar was in order after our supper and a most convivial chat with our hosts and a couple of Americans who thought Hilma was ‘cute’ when compared to their 28ft RV back home with pull out sides, automatic levellers and an on board ‘hoovering’ system! Close your ears Hilma, you are not getting one!

Bonnie Scotland – Day 8

Sunday 26th May
Raining sheep and deer today. Imagine that.
Off out to lunch today as there seems to be a huge low (or two I suspect) hanging over Scotland and it is not moving away (I don’t really know as we have no way of finding out apart from the printed day’s weather on the warden’s door – no wi-fi, no radio, no phone data). I did buy a spare 4G data card but it was Three – maybe EE would have worked – I’ll never know unless I come back and try (not necessarily a valid excuse to come back here but we don’t need one, at some point we will be back to Scotland again).
Lunch today was at the Crask Inn – somewhere else in the middle of nowhere (look it up on t’internet and you’ll find out where). This inn doubles up as an Episcopal Church so I thought I would kneel and pray for some better weather but that would surely be seen as rude in the bar. A fire that is kept in all year around, a small dog to greet us, a great chat with the landlady about fishing, life in the highlands, the history of the inn (someone bought it as a hideaway a few years back but were unsuccessful) – although it is in the middle of nowhere it is the only inn on the road for goodness knows how many miles – not a good idea to try and hide when it’s on every road map.

We’re on the road to nowhere………. actually it is the road to The Crask Inn

They are completely off-grid, we started chatting about the wind farm that is being put there (but not overlooked by anyone) the right or wrongs of clearing some of the forestry land and other environmental issues around the ‘flow country’ (see write up on Forsinard – North Coast 500 trip) which is where the inn is located. A great couple of hours talking to all and sundry that came in from all over the country, warm and toasty by the log burner I could have stayed a while longer. Considering it’s location, during those 2 hours we spent in the cosiness about 10 people came and ate, so whilst not jammed to the gunnels it is a welcome stop for many a traveller.

Bonnie Scotland – Day 7

Saturday 25th May
Raining cats & dogs. Wouldn’t that be a thing – imagine walking down the street and a St.Bernard fell on your head! You might just come round after a few minutes then down comes a Persian Blue to whack you on the ear. You’d quickly take cover – which is precisely what we did today. Both of us hate being cooped up for too long and getting a little stir crazy we decided to up sticks and go for a drive to the North Coast. ‘Upping sticks’ – where does that come from? – must be a northern thing. Talk to a caravanner and they’ll swear that the flexibility of having a car overrides the ease of which to ‘u p sticks’ – talk to a motorhomer and they’ll swear how much easier it is to go from place to place without a lot of palaver. I digress (again) – I do have a habit of that when a thought pops into the head.
We decided to drive up to Skerray on a small promontory a few miles off the main North Coast 500 road.
Winding our way down the narrowest of lanes wasn’t too bad as the view was open and had plenty of time to move over for any oncoming traffic. Traffic what traffic? This road goes down to a small harbour, a post office and a telephone box – a few houses and not much else.

Skerray Harbour

Skerray seaweed – me trying to be ‘arty’ with the camera

We did find an interesting open air art gallery – we thought maybe it would be an interesting project for us if we ever stopped traveling!

Our next move?

Ironically we found a CL (Certified Location 5 van site) overlooking the harbour with a single caravan on it. Maybe we’ll visit again and stay for a day or two. The next thing we had to do was find some fuel – we could easily make it back to Altnaharra but needed enough to get out of their (it is a long way from anywhere if your low on fuel).
Putting ‘fuel’ into the satnav it told us there was fuel at Bettyhill – about 8 miles away. Driving along the road we came to a beautiful estuary (Torrisdale Bay) – a little bit of sunshine so we stopped for lunch and were amazed to see about 50 Ringed Plovers and 20+ Golden Plovers (also having their lunch) – got the scope out to see them close up – Beautiful.

View across Torrisdale Bay – lunch with the Plovers

The fuel station at Bettyhill turned out to be 2 pumps outside the local shop – a queue of motorbikes and the postmen were in front of us waiting to be served. The lady serving was also serving in the shop so a little wait was in order – no worries we were not in any hurry. After filling up the fuel and a few groceries (ice cream & beer) we headed into the local car park to catch up with some 4G wi-fi to upload a few days of blogging that wasn’t blogged. That done we headed back to Altnaharra via a different route (I told you all roads lead to Altnaharra), our stir craziness cured for a day or two.

Bonnie Scotland – Days 5 & 6

Thursday 23rd May – European Elections Day (who’d have thought we would even be participating?)
A bit of a washout today – weather was due to close in around midday so a quick game of scrabble to get the brain going and then an hours walk up to a nearby cairn and back in time to stay dry before another session of scrabble in the afternoon. We know how to live it up!
A real treat in the evening as we watched a Black Throated Diver on Loch Naver – only about 30 yards from Hilma moving slowly past – oblivious of our binoculars. A beauty (look it up) and bit of a rarity with only breeding 200 pairs in Northern Scotland.

Friday 24th May
A better start to the day so we decided to go for a longer walk in the morning. I’d spotted a couple of lochans and the larger Loch Gruama Mor on the map a couple of miles away and wanted to suss them out to see if I could throw a line on them to catch a trout on another day. Walking across the moors was like walking on a big sponge – a few deep bogs here and there to be aware of but really easy walking. Upon arriving at Loch Gruama Mor sheepfold we were treated to a view of a few red deer in the distance. The more we looked the more we found and probably saw about 30-40 in two separate herds – a real treat. Birds for the day – lots of Meadow Pipits and a Snipe.

First bit of blue sky we have seen for a while!

During the afternoon the site was like Piccadilly Circus with caravans and motorhomes queuing up to get on the site – our quiet little loch side pitch was now surrounded by another 6 motorhomes – hey ho, that’s the price you pay for booking onto a site. I feel a spot of wild camping coming on when we leave here.

Heading back to Hilma – note the lack of blue sky this time

Bonnie Scotland – Days 3 & 4

Tuesday 21st May
We left Blairgowrie and headed north to Culloden Moor – seeing an RSPB reserve en-route we called in at Insh Marshes and spent a wonderful hour and a half looking through the scope and binoculars. Nothing spectacular – just good old fashioned nature. The highlight was a flock of Curlew (about 20+) put up by an RAF low level training aircraft (prop driven). Provisions at Inverness and off to Culloden Moor to be told there was only 1 pitch left. How different from our previous visit on the North Coast 500 trip which two years and two weeks earlier at the same site their was plenty of elbow room.

Wednesday 22nd May
We left Culloden Moor CC&MH site – before leaving we asked about filling up water in an emergency – definitely not came the reply – apparently brought up at committee (I’ll have you know). Then we went on to talk about wild camping in Scotland – illegal we were told (no it isn’t if you behave yourself) and this person had lived in Scotland for 14 years. Whatever happened to help the neighbour in times of need or distress. Admittedly it was a hypothetical conversation but it goes to show how precious people can be.
Taking my usual Stoic position I put myself in their shoes – what would it be like running a site with 80+ vans and (members only mind you) were turning up to empty their loos or take water on board? It could be a little hectic, especially if the service point was within the bounds of the site. Would you be able to keep track of it all along with all the other normal daytime activity of running a site? Probably not – which is why I assume ‘at committee’ it was deemed not appropriate.
So thinking again about it stoically – is this something that is in my control? No it is not so I should not worry about it, and I do not worry about it – but how nice it would be if someone ‘at committee’ were to propose an idea that the CC& MH club might offer assistance to those in need by having service points outside the boundaries of the pitch areas but within the confines of the club site boundary. How nice and forward thinking that might be – helpful and a thoughtful thing to do.

We’re on the road to nowhere……….

Enough philosophising for now. We are on our way to Altnaharra right in the middle of the North part of Scotland (only 26 miles from the north coast) in the middle of the Flow Country. As usual we took a circumventive route – some of which was on single track roads with passing places. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a very civilised way of driving as you (or someone coming in the opposite direction) HAS to give way to be able to pass each other – no stalemate stand-off’s here. Arriving at Altnaharra we were greeted by a beautiful site right by Loch Naver, we opted for an off-grid pitch (£10.50) at the quiet end of the site on the Loch shore. Within an hour of being there we were blessed with seeing an Osprey over the other side of the Loch, later on a female Red-Breasted Merganser – this is such a pretty and peaceful site – we are looking forward to the next five days.

Hima – at peace next to Loch Naver – Altnaharra

Hilma – almost alone on the Altnaharra CC&MH site

Bonnie Scotland – Day 2

Monday 20th May
I can’t believe it’s not a ‘work’ day, HURRAH!
Went for a very gentle jog this morning through the woods – nothing too strenuous mind, it’s been a year since I did any serious running so i’m being careful. Today we are off to Blairgowrie – why so many ‘Blairs’ in Scotland? (and I don’t mean an ex labour party leader / prime minister) – well I’ll tell you (save you looking it up like I did – it means plain. So tony Blair was just a ‘plain‘ man. What has that got to do with this trip – absolutely nothing, I just wondered why there were so many Blairs.
Anyway, we wandered off and took the low road and before we knew it we were in Bonnie Scotland – bluebells galore and yes, the rain (but not too much mind you). We went a little astray before lunch but sometimes going astray is good, you find good places to stop, great views and above all a sense that it didn’t matter if we went ‘off-piste’ we will get to where we are going anyway.
A beautiful spot for lunch next to the River Almond (no I’ve never heard of it either) on the A822 between Crieff and Dunkeld. Plenty of birdsong – Cuckoos calling along the valley, Wood Warblers and lo and behold right next to Hilma a pair of Great Tits nesting in a tree hole!

Great Tit nesting

A nice view of the Great Tit’s bottom as it enters the nest hole

Great Tit nesting

Ha – who’s that nosy git looking into my home – away with you – damn sassenach!

And all this for going in a different direction – be different, it can work for you.

Our third trip to Bonnie Scotland

Sunday May 19th, 2019 – Day 1
Today we set off on our third trip to Scotland in Hilma. This time we are taking 4 days to get there. Many people have asked why 4 days, believe me when you are driving a 4 ton 8ft wide and 18ft long vehicle you have to concentrate that little bit more. Motorway lanes suddenly become narrower, you can’t just park where you want (unless your’e in France), ‘B’ roads suddenly take on that country lane feel and everything slows down, which is the way it should be when you are motor-homing. Don’t hurry, you’ll miss things, don’t stress, you’ll get there eventually.
Since our trip to France last year with minimal planning regarding where we were going to stop we have learnt that around 150 – 180 miles in a day is our max, much less when on smaller roads and only that far if we NEED to be somewhere by a certain time. In the UK of course it is different, you can’t just pull in to an ‘aire’ and stop for the night so you do need to plan a little more – so that’s why were taking 4 days to get to Altnaharra – right in the middle of the upper section in Scotland – 26 miles from the North Coast. Whilst on our North Coast 500 trip we kept passing signs to Altnaharra – we thought all roads lead to Altnaharra so we must go and see why they do. There is a Caravan & Motorhome Club site which takes about 24 vans right on the side of Loch Naver – so that is where we are headed, via Englethwaite in Cumbria, Blairgowrie in Perthshire and Culloden Moor near Inverness.
No hurry.

And we are off again….

March – in like a lion and out like a lamb – is that the saying? Anyway this time last year we were at the same site we are at now – Aberbran and we caught in the Beast from the East (part II). It’s a short hop of about 1.5hrs from home so easy to get a weekend away – and boy do we need it! Hectic work and lots of other social gatherings getting in the way – but we are now out in Hilma and enjoying the relaxation. Collapsing on arrival we soon found we needed to ‘take the Welsh air’ (despite them beating us at rugby) and found a delightful little 2 miler close to the River Usk. Hell, it does the soul good to walk in the countryside (makes mental note to do more of it this year).

Sweet little bridge near the site

Tomorrow we will do a longer walk but keep in mind we are here to relax – it’s great to be out in Hilma again 🙂

March 24th, 2019 – today we are going to finish a walk we tried here last time and we unfortunately ran out of time to complete it. A 7 miler along high open moorland. The morning dawned with the sun blazing into Hilma at 6:15am – I was tempted to get up, but that didn’t last long as I drifted off to a well deserved sleep for the next 2 hrs!
Breakfast done and off we set – the site here is an old railway station – long and narrow, probably takes about 20 vans at the most and at this time of the year there are only 4 of us on the site – bliss (the weather helps).
Climbing up the gentle slopes on our way to the heathland we look back and are rewarded with a fantastic view of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du in the distance – somewhat hazy but with the binoculars trained on the tops we could see people already there.

Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du in a haze

As we climbed higher we were rewarded with views of Buzzards and Red Kite’s galore, a Yellowhammer, Skylarks, Meadow Pippits and a recent arrival – the beautiful Wheatear (female). The heathland is a perfect habitat for all these birds – it makes the heart sing! As we had lunch we were greeted by some of the more inquisitive sheep that perhaps had not had their lambs yet or are barren.

What? – never seen a human take a pee before?

We went a little off piste after lunch and decided to head down into the valley towards a hamlet called Soar – and we are glad we did. Picking our way through an old farm full of the usual muck we were rewarded by entering a fantastic old oak wood – these were very tall and thin so must be a particular species (need to find out) – Nuthatch territory and we son found one.
Moving out of our enchanted wood full of thin ‘Ents’ we crossed an old ford, up to a lane to take us back to the road through Soar. A pretty little hamlet with about 6 or 7 houses (not all occupied) – one could easily see the appeal of a holiday home or somewhere to retire.

Unusual fungi – yet to be identified

Beautiful oak wood on our way down into the valley (approaching the hamlet of Soar)

And so our 7 mile walk ended the same way it started – in sunshine – feet up with a coffee and whisky me thinks! (maybe a snooze as well).

And so it ends (day 18)

27th September (Day 18)
Spoonbills and Avocets

This will be our final full day in France for 2018 – I’m sure we will be back next year (I feel Brittany calling – out of season).
Janette has identified a nature reserve on the North Coast – Le Parc du Marquentierre – from what we could gather the land belonged to a tulip grower who turned it into a nature reserve in the 70’s and 80’s. We have brought along a spotting scope I recently purchased second hand, so we are hoping to see some decent ‘oisans’ close up (25x maginification).
We turn up before midday and learn the long route (6kms) with 13 hides will take about 2hrs (I usually add half on again) so we decide to take some supplies with us. The first section was a little uninspiring but later on we were treated to some pretty good birdwatching. Spoonbills galore – throughout the day we counted about 120 in 2 different flocks (a first for Janette) – I had some pretty decent binoculars that I’ve had a couple of years but the scope is just fantastic – 3 times the magnification of the binoculars and with a large front lens not much loss of light. We then went on to see Avocets (another first for Janette) and later on some Moufflon and wild horses grazing near the scrapes. We were told by one of the wardens of a rare vagrant bird which had arrived from N.America – a Pectoral Sandpiper – just the one (and we managed to spot it!). To top it all as we were leaving a wild boar mother and 5 piglets crossed Hilma’s path. Not quite a black cat but we thought it was lucky 😊 A great way to spend our last full day – now we are off to top Hilma up with some wine to take back.
All good things must come to an end (or do they) – well maybe temporarily, “we’ll be back”.

Highlights and lowlights
There are so many memories of this holiday we will both take away with us. Passion France was an eye opener for us – you still have to be a bit choosy in terms of where you would like to stay, vineyards, market gardens, working farms or Chateaus. My favourite was meeting the old boy at Chateau Sury – I’ll never forget helping him fix his curtain and his wonderful smile when we said goodbye.
Aubusson was the next highlight for me with it’s inspiring art and tapestries – somewhere I’m sure we will go back to (hopefully to see the rest of the JRR Tolkein tapestries).
Noirlac Abbey was a peaceful interlude where the ‘light’ will forever stick in my memory. In between we have passed through many villages and towns which we have noted we would like to visit some other time – France is so large we will never see it all.
Cycling to Troo and seeing the Troglodyte caves was another little adventure which was fun – such an unusual place situated on the Loir.
Then the most amazing ‘visual indigestion’ trip to Giverny to see Monet’s house and gardens, what can I say? It was beautiful day and a beautiful place.
The ‘pièce de resistance’ was our last full day in France at Le Parc du Marquentierre mentioned above – 200 hectares set aside for nature and nature lovers.
Some obvious lowlights if you have been reading the blog was the failure of the water pump and the loss of the lockable Gazole cover – but you know what – that’s all part of motor-homing, it goes with the territory and with a little luck, asking for some help and a little ingenuity you can always get by and motor on.
This was the first holiday where we had planned with a ‘broad brush stroke’ identifying regions we wanted to visit and then ‘homing’ in on places we wanted to see using a French guide book. The only thing is we didn’t want to see every cathedral or church it had to offer so we sought out alternatives – even missing a few we might come back too.
Total accommodation cost for 18 days: £127. If we include the France Passion purchases for our hosts products that rises to a whopping £208 (£11.55 a day) not bad.
A fantastic treat – we are so privileged to be able to do this. Stop work for 3 weeks and really enjoy ourselves. We wouldn’t have done anything different, each day was an adventure, something to embrace and build upon for the future.
Bye for now – until next time.
Ian and Janette xx

The dodgy duo signing off until our next trip

To the Auvergne (now on our way back) – Day 17

26th September (Day 17)
A restful(ish) day

Woke up this morning to see the moon setting and the sun rising – the photographs don’t do it justice. The reason my uploads have been few and far between has been the lack of t’internet. I did manage to load some more £’s onto the SIM card as it had run out – but straight after doing that and getting on line Microsoft decided it would be a good idea to update my computer – goodness only knows how many GigaBytes that took and so within 48hrs I was back to square one, having to wait until I got some WiFi access to put more data allowance onto the SIM card. Microsoft – YOU DARE!
These are our last couple of days before the ferry back to the UK and we are taking it easy. We deserve it – so far, in less than 3 weeks, we have covered 1,904 kms (1,190 miles). It does not feel like it was a strain, although I am glad for these last couple of days. Janette is happy to drive Hilma but I have to admit to being a nervous passenger (especially on the continent) so I have done the driving. We have been sensible though, roughly the maximum we have done in any one day is about 150 miles if we wanted to push on, mostly less (usually between 40 – 60 miles) and with our planning each morning on the route to take, then feeding key villages or towns into Mrs Garmin, meant for (in the most part) stress free motoring.

Cayeux-sur-Mer beach huts

Off come the bikes this morning and we cycle along a track into Cayeux sur Mer, along the seafront and on into a small bird reserve where strangely they are proud of the fact that it is a nature reserve yet it is also clear there is shooting alongside. Back into town, find the obligatory boulangerie, Pain et Patisserie and back to Hilma for coffee. I decided to put my Boy Scout whittling badge to good use and hacked away at the cork to eventually bung up Hilma’s water inlet orifice (as for the ferry crossing I will use the lockable water cap for Hilma’s Gazole orifice). I was impressed – it worked and seals the said hole very tightly.

I knew my boy scout ‘whittling’ badge would come in handy at some point in my life

Cayeux-sur-Mer cycle ride – La Manche

The cycling here is wonderful – we continued in the afternoon in the opposite direction and ended up at a pretty inlet called Le Hourdal before turning around.
A walk in the evening down to the pebble beach and we saw the most wonderful sunset, captured on the phone which struggled to get good definition.

Cayeux-sur-Mer sunset

To the Auvergne (now on our way back) – Day 16

25th September (Day 16)
A dash to the coast

With only three days left now until our ferry back to blighty we thought we would head for the coast and put our feet up for a couple of days. We are going to stay near Cayeux-sur-Mer below Bolgne and get the bikes out, a bit of bird spotting, basically chilling before the inevitable horrors of driving on the M25.
Before we set off we look at the route and decide to have a look at les Andelys on the Seine as it looks like it has some fantastic views from a chateau on high. At the back of my mind though is the gaping Gazole hole that needs sorting out. The drive down into the valley is spectacular and we arrive in les Andelys looking for a garage – I pull into one but it really just a tyre outlet but they direct me to a motor spares place in town. This is a very busy place being on a main route to Rouen. Having negotiated heavy traffic we found ACE motor spares and I enquired about a ‘Bouchon Essence’ for Hilma – some strange looks but we get there in the end pointing to a picture of a temporary cap in the book he presented to me. “Aprés-midi monsieur” as they did not have one in stock. I declined, I did not want to wait for a couple of hours (probably more) as we wanted to crack on.

Janettes sweety face – cheering me up after the lost Gazole cap

Next stop was an agricultural supply shop in a town nearby (I had decided it would be better to try and sort this out before doing any more touristic stuff). A very helpful mademoiselle said they didn’t have any but came out and had a look at the size of Hilma’s orifice (most rude I thought) and went returned to the shop with me in tow. A couple of shelf visits later and we came to – the corks! Well, not parfait, but I bought a pack of two and intend to ‘whittle’ one into shape later with a spare in case I make a cock up of the first. All exciting stuff this motor-homing malarkey you know, what with pumps breaking down, lost gazole covers and smaller mishaps like breaking glasses it all adds up to an adventure itself, let alone the touristy bits.
We drive through Normandy content that we have corks to block up Hilma ( will swap the water cover to the gazole cover and use the cork on the water – ingenious I thought and when we get back to blighty order another – unless we see a camping-car outlet en route).
I didn’t realise just how rolling the countryside could be in Normandy with some spectacular views. Eventually we arrive at la Mollière d’Aval opposite a campsite and settle down into the Aire exclusively for motorhomes for €7 a night and €3 for a water jeton. For that we get to use the campsite toilets and showers with a view of the dunes.

La Manche – on our way back to blighty now

To the Auvergne (made it – and now returning) – day 15

24th September (Day 15)
Lily pads and impressionism abounds

What a treat we think we are in for today – we are off to Giverny where Monet painted his famous series of the lily ponds. We’ll get to look at the house where he stayed and the famous garden where he painted those famous images countless times.
Before that we wake to lovely sunshine in contrast to yesterday’s awful weather – only to find when we stop for lunch Hilma’s Gazole cap is missing. Yet another thing to sort out on our travels. That’s the one thing about motor-homing, if you haven’t yet got one you do have to think that sometimes things will go wrong and be prepared to mend and make do for a little while. After all it’s like carrying your home on your back and things go wrong at home as well. Gaffa tape is always a must have item when travelling – it can patch something quickly until you are able to fix it properly – so Hilma’s Gazole hole is now gaffa taped over. I need to sort something before the ferry back as it might be frowned upon if some official spots it before embarking.
Janette has been yearning to go to Giverny for a few years now and as we are now only a few km’s away we will get over there and take a peep. Well what a peep it turned out to be, I’m not sure I can turn such a spectacle into a literary picture for you.
I can say however that we were spellbound by the variety of colours in the garden and the house full of paintings (mostly copies) from some of the the most prolific and famous artists of the impressionist period. The gardens were a riot of colour and when we arrived at the lily ponds – well, breathtaking with the weeping willows trailing over the ponds just like in his paintings. A very peaceful place at this time of year (I can’t imagine how crowded it might be in July & August).

Monet’s House at Giverny

A wonderful walk through Monet’s garden – you get the feeling that not much has changed

The lily ponds at Giverny

Soaking up the atmosphere we continued to the Museum of Impressionism, a few minutes walk, where there was an exhibition of the neo-impressionist artist Henri-Edmund Cross who settled on the shores of the Mediterranean and used the light in the region to good effect in his work. Not an artist I had heard of before but well worth a ‘Google’ if you get the time.

My digital Monet

We left Giverny contented and once again feeling like we did at Aubusson, there is more enrichment in life when there is an appreciation of the arts. Onward to our overnight stop which was another ‘France Passion’ one night stay at Surcy (close to Giverny) in a farmyard. A warm welcome from the old lady whose son ran the farm and he was still out in the fields.
The nights are getting colder now and Hilma’s windows are steamy in the morning sun.

Hilma at Giverny, not quite a Monet – but in my eyes just as pretty (sticks fingers in throat).