France 2018 – to the Auvergne (maybe)

10th September (Day 1)
Off to the Ferry

And so we depart for France once again mes amis. Pardon my schoolboy French, I’m probably not even at schoolboy level having departed that beloved institution more than 40+ years ago.
Why the Auvergne? Well this is an area we have never been to before and we liked what we saw when we did some research – having said that we like what we see in France, full stop. Why maybe? This is the first time we have not really done any planning apart from thinking of the area – I did start to plan and realised that we could end up rushing down there and rushing back – ‘rushing’ is not what we want so we are being flexible with our journey. For our Dutch trip we borrowed an ‘Eyewitness’ book which we found so informative we thought we would buy one for France, this could be one reason we don’t get to the Auvergne. The second reason is we have joined ‘France Passion’ – places like vineyards (why not), farms, cheese makers, market gardeners, etc. where you can stop overnight, sample their wares with no obligation to buy. So, there is plenty ‘getting in the way’ of us getting to the Auvergne. We’ll see – follow us and you’ll find out.

11th September (Day 2)
Off to the Ferry (again)

An overnight stop just inside the M25 about 60 miles from Dover and a lunch time ferry meant we were not like chewed cardboard making a 6 hour dash (which we have done once before). A tad windy (no schoolboy jokes please) but the crossing was not too bad. A quick sprint through the Pays de Calais brought us to our favourite Calais ferry stop (in and outbound) – Embry (see here). I had e-mailed in advance to reserve a ‘spot’ – when we arrived there it was – our spot ‘Reserved for Ian’ – but I didn’t see the sign until the next morning – what a wally. A small beer in the sunshine before a quick walk down into the sleepy village (lots of property for sale) and back for supper and then a quick look at what to do tomorrow and off to bed.
Pre-ordered croissants and pain arrived at 8:00am – fantastic service from the owners. This little (posh) Aire is more like a mini campsite. Today we are going to try our first France passion stop at Cappy which is a market garden. Before that a lunch in a layby with a short walk to a view above a magnificent lake – as soon a I saw it with lots of birds on I decided to go back for the scope. A large group of dark ducks were on the lake – so scope on tripod I slowly focused on them – I thought these were a rarity – they were, what a find – a whole group of plastic ducks! A first for me. We did however spot at least 6 grebes dipping, diving and preening themselves – a glorious site in the scope.

This is the site of the very rare Plastic Duck – every twitchers dream

All who read the ‘It’s all about the hair’ blog will be pleased to know Janette’s hair has survived the lack of hairdryer / styler so far – she has gone for the Carol Klein (gardening guru) look.
We motored on to Cappy having fed the co-ords in to Mrs Garmin. She got us there easily (although once she did try to take us down a very small lane which is why we always have the map as a back-up). A warm welcome (remember these are working people not tourist guides) – some broken French from me and some broken English from Mme Degrendel and we were settled in. We bought some veg, got the cycles off Hilma and went down the Valle Somme along a canal – very pleasant.
Tomorrow off to Chateau Pierrefonds. Something else delaying us getting to the Auvergne!

Cappy locks looking back to the town

English couple (boat at rear) travelling France by boat. Like us their home is on their back! They are on the way to their winter moorings in Bruge – they also have a car so they are sorted!

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