Heading south…. wonderful scenery!

3 great days meandering south down the west coast of Portugal. Temperatures 28 -30 degrees☺ 

Firstly a visit to Monserrate Palace near Sintra. Wow! Created by an Englishman in the 1750s who employed the Head gardener from Kew, and laid out massive English style gardens on the steep hillside. House was in the arabic style and has recently been restored.

 

We decided to bypass Lisbon and Sintra on this trip, and so headed south before visiting a super bird reserve at  Lago Pequena, then driving through the beautiful scenery of the Parque natural da Arrabida, where we camped in the ecopark near Setubal.   8 euros with full if simple facilities and electric hook up, and facing the sea.

Day 2 we headed for the south-west coast of Portugal. En route we saw the great sight of storks nesting on pylons! 

Remote, undeveloped and with the best scenery… we loved it. Our first objective was a local seafood restaurant… restaurant Azenha do Mar –  getting our priorities right! It was in the middle of nowhere at a tiny port. We arrived at 12.00 and just got a table. It reminded me of our favourite places in France. Great home cooking and packed with locals and artisans. We chose the local speciality… rice with crab and king prawns. The crabs were brought in from the fishing boat while we were there! Beer was 1 euro!  Fantastic meal for the total sum of £12 per person.

Then we explored the stunning coast with great cliff top walks,  before watching the sunset at Cabo Sardao and spending the night at the excellent camping Villa Park Zambiyeira.

Zambijeira was a lovely coastal village with a stunning beach.

Day 3 we continued exploring coastal spots and walking wherever possible. Migrating birds were frequently passing overhead, the highlight of which was great views of a booted eagle.

Our 2 favourite spots were Odeceixe, and Bordeira beach near Carrapateira.

Finally we arrived at the very southwestern tip of Portugal and continental europe. We free camped on the headland at Sagres, and watched the sun set into the sea. Then a chance find of Mums restaurant in Sagres…. a small cosy place catering for vegans, vegetarians and Pescatorians. Best meal of the trip so far. A great sleep then up to watch the sunrise, because this headland faces east towards the Mediterranean as well! Fab!

October 2017 Bimble..  hoping the site will work this time!

Hello!

Last time I tried to write a blog it would not work properly. I am hoping it will work for this trip. Let’s see! (It has taken me a while to sort this out so in the meantime I have been doing facebook posts as a diary. The first few blogs will be a copy of my facebook posts! )

Hooray! Finally we are on a proper Bimble in Boris. We have enjoyed an excellent, smooth 24 hour crossing from Portsmouth to Santander in Northern Spain. We are now encamped in the beautiful Picos de Europa mountains in Galicia. 

It is all the more sweet because we have had a very worrying week. I would like to sing the praises of the NHS! A week ago I found a new lump in the breast where I had cancer. I phoned my Gp who saw me the next day and did a fast track referral to Bournemouth hospital. I was seen 6 days later by 2 doctors. Tests done and results given in 3 hours. And, thankfully, it was just a blocked duct. Needless to say we were extremely happy and grateful.

So after delaying our departure, we were able to rebook our ferry and set sail on Friday evening.

The food on board was lovely, and nice warm weather on arrival.😊 

We ❤ Brittany ferries! 

March Mini-Bimble

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I am trying a new format this month which is hopefully more useful as a reference and information tool! Do let me know your thoughts..
Places visited : Lyme Regis, Dorset;           Beer, Devon.
Car Parking: Lyme Regis- excellent. Both the Charmouth Road and Holmbush carparks have dedicated spaces for motorhomes. £2 per day at this time of year. Both are up hills though.
Beer – motorhomes can use clifftop carpark £1 in winter. Railway shop at Pecorama has its own carpark.
Overnight: A Britstop Farm shop – excellent.
Eating Places: The Penny Black cafe in Lyme Regis – excellent.
Activities: Walking the Undercliff path at Lyme Regis 8/10; visiting the model railway shop at Beer 7/10

Our main purpose for this trip was to visit the Peco model railway shop at Beer. We set off on a glorious March morning and decided to visit Lyme Regis and do the Undercliff walk.

Lyme Regis is a lovely place to explore, and it was sheltered from the Northeasterly wind, so we had a lovely picnic sat in the sun of the promenade! Our lunch was some excellent sandwiches from the Penny Black café which is tucked behind the Post Office in the main Street.

Then we walked west, heading into a lost world known as the Undercliff nature reserve, which is one of the most important wilderness areas in Britain. The overgrown landslips form a jungle-like habitat which is fun to explore: a path leads from behind the harbour up a steep flight of steps into the woodlands of the Undercliff, riven with streams and valleys, and sudden open grassy areas affording dramatic sea views. There are rare plants here, lots of birdlife, and the temperature is usually 3 degrees higher than the countryside around.

We walked a total of 6 miles out and back – you cannot continue to Axmouth at the moment due to a landslip, but they are hopeful the full path will reopen by mid 2016.

Lyme Regis is also an excellent place for Fossil hunting, and there are several museums who organise workshops and walks.

After the walk we sat in the sun – inside Boris – enjoying the sun and reading. Then off to a local Farm Shop which is part of the Britstops scheme. We have used this for several years to find free places to spend the night. membership is just £27 per year – we make or money back in 2 nights.

The shop was excellent , containing a vast array of fresh produce, much of it local or home grown. Also much in evidence was genuine French produce, the product of regular trips to France.

After a very peaceful night, we awoke to discover the temperature had dropped to -3.5 degrees. Thank goodness for a thick duvet and a hot water bottle. We were lovely and snug.

The next morning we headed off to the objective of our visit – a visit to the Peco model Railway shop at Beer. Chris is building a layout and he wanted ideas about design, tunnels etc. I however bought 5 teeny boy scouts with a hand cart, some 1950’s schoolboys and some gates – all 00 guauge.

Playtime over, we headed back home on what was now a very grey and cold day indeed.

17. Last legs! Charente Maritime to Christchurch, England!

Another day catching up with Jenny and Tim (I wish they would stop running off!), and visiting the lovely and historic town of Saintes (rhymes with pant!). Roman and gothic relics abound and the newly pedestrianised centre makes it a super place to Bimble away a morning. The formal planting was quite impressive too!20150918_115743The serious business of the trip was to find a good lunch spot. We can wholeheartedly recommend La Terrasse, by the river, whose 18 euro 3 course lunch was exceptionally good quality and value.20150918_13130420150918_140343

Rain was forecast for the rest of the  afternoon so we headed back to the house and had a good session of cards and nattering.

Saturday September 19th

My birthday! A nice breakfast and a lovely gift of a picture frame from Jenny and Tim, before our sad departure 😔. Thank you to Jenny, Tim, Mimi and Monti for a super stay, but Mimi…. you need to improve your hide and seek technique before our next visit!20150918_103452

We headed north via the outskirts of Rochefort and La Rochelle. This is an excellent way to avoid motorway tolls!

We used to own a cottage in the Vendee and as we drove by we resisted the pull to go and see the village …We had a more important mission!

When we had the cottage we also had a favourite vineyard.. Chateau de Rosnay. We wanted to get there before it shut for lunch!

We made it in time, and soon 2 boxes of our favourite white wine – Tendresse – were installed in Boris. Time to head north again, picking up the autoroute just south of Nantes from where it is free all the way to Rennes and Caen.

It was a good drive. We stopped to picnic on the Nantes – Brest canal, but that was our only pause before arriving at Carrefour at Ouistreham to stock up with cheese and other ‘essentials’.

However we were not heading straight for the ferry. By using the ferry at 8.30am next morning we saved £140, and having the camper we could sleep in an aire free of charge so didn’t need to pay for a hotel room. So we crossed the river at the site of Pegasus bridge and went a few miles east to Cabourg, where we enjoyed a bracing walk along the promenade and the dunes before returning to Boris to get changed.20150919_18582220150919_190601

I had booked a restaurant for dinner using their Internet booking site. Au pied des Marais had super reviews and we were very excited. When we arrived  it was a bit of a shock when they said they had not received the booking and were full. My face fell and they took pity on us and found us a table. Wow am I glad they did. The food was exquisite and very unusual. Presentation was excellent and the service was so courteous and helpful. The owner / head chef was charming – he takes all the orders and serves the main courses , and is often clearing tables and serving drinks and chatting to his guests. There was a roaring fire which some of the dishes were cooked upon.

For our foodie fans, here are some photos of our choices. Nibbles were followed by 2 amuse bouche – a veloute of carrot, pleurotte and broccoli and a broccoli, and chorizo mix with tomato cream on top.20150919_205435

Starters – Chris had Oysters while I had a tower of Lisette (tiny fish) with vegetables and asparagus topping in a gazpacho coulis. 20150919_210943Then the Trou normande. . A delicious apple sorbet over which they drizzled Pommeau (16%) or Calvados (42%) – your choice!

Entrée –  we both had Skate in a tower with vegetables, spinach puree and a sensational apple cream sauce. 20150919_214600Then cheese – a bon bon Normande  which was a parcel of melting camembert.20150919_221015

Finally, the dessert and to my astonishment mine arrived with a candle and Birthday greetings piped around the edge, and served by the owner..who offered to sing but said he didn’t recommend it!20150919_22301420150919_223023

Finally coffee with home made bonbons!

Sublime. And the price of that whole menu was 36 euros..  about £27.50.

What a treat. Thank you again Chris as this was the second half of my birthday present!

Finally, we left at 11pm, and went from the sublime to the ridiculous. We drove back to the port at Ouistreham and Boris crept in to the aire next to the docks, where about 40 other campers were already hunkered down for the night. We found a spot and snuggled down for our last night in Boris for this holiday. We set the alarm for 6.45 and both slept like logs!

Sunday September 20th

The alarm worked and we were soon queueing at the ferry terminal. It was a foggy start but it soon lifted and we had a flat calm crossing, arriving into Portsmouth by lunchtime. Best of all, we spotted a gannet and an arctic tern which took our bird total from a frustrating 149 to a brilliant 151 for the holiday!20150920_124925

Then home, and after some unpacking etc. Jen arrived home and cooked us a delightful birthday dinner. 20150920_19275320150920_195739Delicious. 💗 A fabulous end to a great trip.

16. A roof over our heads!! St. Emilion to Pons, Charente Maritime

Wednesday September 16th

The Yelloh campsite at St Emilion was excellent and we got all our chores done before leaving and driving West,  through Libourne and out along the Dordogne estuary to Bourg. From there we followed the Gironde corniche road to Villeneuve and on to Blaye. It was narrow in places but very quiet, and it was interesting to see the houses built here, with their gardens down to the water.

At Blaye the Dordogne river has merged with the Garonne river to form the huge Gironde estuary. Blaye was first defended by the Romans. Subsequently a significant 12th century castle was built when the area was under English rule, but today what can be seen is a huge citadel built in 1685.

Boris at the citadel at Blaye.
Boris at the citadel at Blaye.

King Louis XIV wanted to defend the estuary and he commissioned Sebastian Le Prestre Vaubon to devise a plan. The estuary was wider than the range of cannon fire, so Vaubon devised a plan to bolt the estuary shut. He built the citadel at Blaye, Fort Medoc on the opposite bank and a small fort on a reclaimed sandbank in the middle. These were not subjected to attack until 1814!

We explored the citadel, dodging a few spots of rain. There is ample free parking  for campers just outside the gates, and it is a nice overnight stop as well. There is also a municipal campsite inside the citadel!!

It was then time to head for a supermarket to stock up on some essentials… wine, Normandy cider, confit de canard…. before taking the excellent D137 north to Pons to avoid the motorway tolls. Every other vehicle seemed to be a campervan heading south. British, German,  French and Netherlands. It made us sad to be heading home, but first we were heading to our friends in Villars-en-Pons for a few days.

We had a lovely afternoon and evening catching up on news and enjoying a scrumptious Fruits de mer supper. I’ve never seen so many Oysters and Prawns, and the Crab was wonderful.20150916_181815

Now to sleep in a bed for the first time in a long while.

Thursday September 17th

We heard on the news about terrible rainstorms to the south of us which had resulted in 2 deaths, and then saw that there had also been torrential rain in the UK with flooding in Bournemouth and Boscombe at home. We were obviously very lucky to have missed most of it!

Today we headed out to Talmont, a lovely village on a promontory founded by King Edward I. The old church is lovely – very simple, and looking out over the estuary as it has done for nearly 1000 years. The town is quite a tourist trap but still very pleasant. The streets are lined with flowers and there are some excellent artisan shops and eateries.

Fishing was a major industry here, and the adjoining cliffs have traditional carrelets or fishing huts.20150917_150131

We had excellent and very reasonable  galettes for lunch at La Talmontaise, and then drove to Palmyre  for a blustery walk along the cliffs, again looking out to the estuary, but much nearer the open Atlantic now. There is a beautiful sandy beach here which is dotted with the remains of Nazi blockhouses from their Atlantic Wall defences in WW2.20150917_142922

Following the walk we headed back to Jenny and Tim ‘ s via a garden centre where we spotted the latest must have accessory to enable you to take your dog or cat for a walk…20150917_165742..the doggy pushchair!

Then back to Jenny and Tim’s for another excellent supper and then a very giggly evening of cards!