Our night in the Cherry Orchard

Tonight’s camp was a free camp that we found in our France Passion book.

It has over 2000 places to stay in France, all on private land that could be a farm, winery, artisanor even a venision farm.

You can stay for free and all they ask is that you look at their produce, or product and if it interestd you to purchase something. Our host had a winery, well this is the Loire, so we tasted and then purchased 2 bottles, one a Rose and the other a white Bourgogne, and both delicious! Canola is grown in this region as well, and the fragrant golden fields are just beautiful.

The Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is know for it’s beautiful Chateaux’s, and it’s also the heart of France’s major wine region.

Over 49,000 acres of vineyards that produce white, rose’, red’s and of course a great sparking wine.

The Loire River flows through this picturesque valley and is also the backdrop for our next few nights of camping.

VOUVRAY.  April 18th, 2018

We met Joss and Jeanette from the Netherlands who were parked near our camp site.

They joined us for my birthday aperitif of fabulous Vouvray Sparking wine, accompanied by an array of fine cheese, pate and fresh figs supplied by Jeanette.

We then headed out to a lovely Italian restaurant to continue my birthday celebration.

A couple of first’s

Monday April, 16th, 2018

This is our first real day of sleeping in our Hymervan,  who is now named HERMIONE, after a French Frigate, and not the actress from Harry Potter.

The Hermione was a French battle ship that ferried General Lafayette to the United States to battle against the British, and we thought a perfectly good name to call this boat sized vehicle that will ferry us around Europe.

Anjou

Fonterraud L’Abbaye was founded in 1099as both a nunnery and a monastery with an Abess in charge, that must have been quite a job for her!

The Plantagenet’s, King Henry 11 and his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was undoubtedly the most powerful woman of her time, and was twice Queen, first of France and then of England, as well as their son, Richard the Lionheart (who rebelled against his father in the crusades are all buried there.

There is also a beautiful cloister with a central garden.

Simone Veil College visit

Before we arrived in France Georges had spoken to Brian about visiting the newly opened school in Elven.

George knew Brian would be interested in the architecture, but also thought it would be great opportunity for the students learning English to speak with us.

We were welcomed by the English teacher Olivier Le Trocquer and a group of his students and given a tour of their school.  Opened in 2017 the architecture is modern exposed concrete with loads of natural light, spacious classrooms fully Apple equipped.

This is middle school/college for students aged 11-15 years, they then progress to Lycee or high school to complete their schooling and prepare them for University.

We sat with the first group of around 25 students and Olivier for one hour and they asked questions about our political system ( I referred that one to Brian), the food we eat, our favourite National Monuments (these are French children with wonderful monuments like the Eiffel Tower). our weather, animals and most importantly to them, if we thought that Australia would beat France in the upcoming World Cup Soccer match.

After a quick visit with the Principal and a short break for coffee we headed back to the classroom to meet our second group of 25 students.  This group were a little quieter than the first, but also had very well thought out questions about our culture, aboriginals, lifestyle and fashion.  All answers were written down by the students to be used in an upcoming  English assignment.

Olivier would love to set up some type of contact between his students and students in Australia, either by email, Skype or even a visit.  So Sandra, Linda, Julie or anyone else following our blog that may be able to help make this happen, please contact me privately for Olivier’s contact details.

As I mentioned in a previous post a journalist and photographer were present and took a number of photo’s.  Not sure why they choose this one for their article though, it looks like Brian is thinking ‘what on earth is Julie saying now’!

 


A little about Simone Veil, and why the college was named after her.

 

Simone was born in Nice to a Jewish family. Shortly after finishing high school she and her family were transported to Auschwitz, where all but Simone perished.

After the liberation she studied law and political science at the University of Paris.  She became Minister of Justice and was very active in women’s rights, improving prision conditions, legal and adoption rights for women in France.

Later she became Minister of Health making contraception legal.  But her hardest won flight was to help legalize abortion.

Until her death in June 2017 she held important political positions, and won many prestigious awards.

She was honoured with a National Ceremony with Military honours at Les Invalides in Paris, attended by President Macron, and will be buried in the Pantheon.

Musee de la Resistance Bretonne

Today George had arranged for us to visit the Museum of Breton Resistance, specifically for this area which includes Vannes, Redon, Saint-Nazaire and  Elven where our good friends live.  The museum is built on the site of a very significant battle of the maquis (resistance) with the German army at Saint-Marcel.

The head historian Peter, was there to meet us and walk us through some of the exhibits (no photographers this time).   

You start by watching a short film that explained what it was like to live in an occupied country, and the work of the 2000 Breton men and women resistance fighters, and 200 parachutists and the sacrifices made by all. 

I was surprised by all the items small and large, from tanks, guns and propaganda material to a small embriodered placement with the initials AH, that the museum has in it’s collection. And soon in the newly built museum opening in 2020, there will be a display featuring the flight jacket that belonged to George’s father worn when he was a pilot in both the French and American Air Force in WW II.

France, beautiful France

It’s day 3 in France for us today and it’s finally starting to feel real for me, either that or the jet-lag has finally lifted.

Manuela and George are wonderful hosts, and expert guides to the Breton area.  We have walked in the forest, and along the shores of the Gulf of Morbihan,  a beautiful natural harbour in Brittany and the name Morbihan translates to ‘the little sea’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited a castle, and today shopped for items we need for our Hymer ( I have been told by friends that own a Hymer), never, ever to call it a ‘campervan’  ooops sorry Hymer Owners Club.

 

The weather has been a little damp, rain being common in this area at this time of the year, but as they say April showers bring May flowers.  Below is a mother duck with her 11 duckings that we saw while on our walk.

 

Tomorrow George has arranged for Brian and I to visit the local school to speak with the students about Australia. They have prepared a talk about their new recently constructed school to speak to Brian about, and I have a few photos of Australia, specifically the Caloundra area to show them.

More to follow on that adventure after the event.

 

 

It’s the Final Countdown

In 11 days we will be on our way to Europe to start our Hijinks in a Hymer grand tour.

The boxes are packed, the storage sorted and we have found the best tennants to rent our home while we are away, so now we can just breathe a great big sigh of relief.

Hymie is ready and waiting in Elven for us to arrive, and we are so thankful for all the help from our lovely friends in Brittany, Georges and Manuela to help make that happen.

 

So look out Europe here we come!

 

 

Eight months to go and counting

It seems so long ago that Brian asked if I would be interested in going back to Europe for another extended holiday in a campervan.

Of course there was only one answer to his question, YES !!!!!

That was way back in 2016, so it has been a long time coming and now with little more than six months to go I have started to do some planning.  Not alot, as our family and friends know we’re not too much into set plans, but I’m interviewing real estate agents regarding the rental of our home while we travel and moving and storage companies for our furniture and possessions, which all have to be packed and stored.   And of course a little on-line research on finding our new ‘Fatima’.

Below are a couple of Fatima pics from Our Big Adventure in 2008-2010. Our next campervan will be a little larger, and come equipped with a shower and toilet.  Woohoo!

Stay tuned for more to come ……………but until then below are a couple of pics from ‘Our Big Adventure’

spain

camping at Olympia, Greece