Thursday, 15 December 2016
We picked up Boy Two from Senate House shortly after 10:00 am and got a bus down to Waterloo Bridge, and then walked down the steps to the South Bank - but not a Christmas Market hut in sight. Frantic Googling not only ate most of my phone's battery but also discovered that there were markets on the Queen's Walk (near the Eye) and at Bankside. As we were near the Queen's Walk, we went there first - but despite the fact that it was 11:00 nothing was open, and there were only about five stalls anyway. Huge disappointment.
So we decided we'd try Bankside. Since it was the Swan Whisperer's birthday, we thought we'd be extravagant and get a river bus down there, but of course we just missed one! Still, we had the tickets, so we wandered about the Eye. Boy Two asked if we could go on it, but we explained that it was very expensive and the kind of thing we reserved for a birthday treat - we did actually wonder about treating the SW, but he thought not. We said we might take him next birthday.... Anyway, we wandered round the souvenir shop, with the caveat that "We're not buying anything today" (the boys have been brought up to respect that, and don't nag, which is wonderful); both Boy Two and I fell in love with stuffed Corgis with Union flag coats on, but resisted temptation!
After which, it was time to go back to the pier, and we duly caught our riverbus to Bankside. We nipped into Tate Modern to use the loos there, and then explored its Christmas market. Also disappointing, although the stalls were open. We had the obligatory mulled wine - a non-alcoholic punch for Boy Two - and the SW and I both had a Bratwurst in a roll. Boy Two said he would prefer a hamburger, so we got him one - the biggest you ever did see, but he ate almost all of it, most of the onions and half the bun before admitting to being "a bit full up now"! So we mopped up and then walked to London Bridge for a bus back to Walthamstow so that he could have a nap if he needed to, which he did. So, I may say, did the Swan Whisperer!
All in all I was very unimpressed with the Christmas markets this year. Time was, they would stretch down between Waterloo and Westminster bridges, practically, and were splendid with gingerbread and other stalls, but not this year.. I believe there is a third around More London, but we didn't go there, and I don't intend to.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
However, we got up at 7:00, as planned (in fact, I got up a little earlier and turned the hot water on, but then went back to bed again), and were away by 08:30. Before sunrise, although not before dawn..... we drove across country to Tréport/Eu enjoying the sunrise over the "big sky", and then up to Abbeville and so to the motorway. We reached Cité Europe about 11 and did an enormous, mostly Christmas, shop, and then were lucky enough to get a berth on the Shuttle going an hour earlier than the one we'd booked. We spent the crossing eating lunch, and only realised afterwards that by UK time it was actually only 12:15.... oh well.
A swift and easy drive home, where we arrived by 2:00, and then an hour's hard work and we got everything put away. Although as we are using the van as an extension of No 6 over Christmas, we have just put a bedspread on the bed and left the towels in the bathroom. Now just the laundry to do, and to take the motor home down to Sussex on Friday, and that is it for this year. Next trip early in the New Year..... Barcelona, perhaps?
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Monday, 5 December 2016
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Saturday, 3 December 2016
I had sat the alarm for 08:00 this morning, but by the time we got away it was 09:30 and we had wasted at least an hour's daylight. Tomorrow, even though it is Sunday, we will be up at 07:00 and, I hope, away earlier. Or out for a walk, but the days are so short it is a pity to waste daylight.
We set the Satnav to take us to Saint-Brieuc, but decided not to go into the town itself. The first part of the trip we went across country, and then along a nearly motorway-standard N road, stopping for lunch at a service area. Our own lunch, I hasten to add, not what was provided by a café. Then we drove on, catching a glimpse of Mont Saint Michel in the distance, and up the coast to this town, Paimpol. We are in a very nice aire, nobody else around, with services. It cost €4, and there is free parking in the town, but we need services.
The Swan Whisperer went out for a walk and then we had a cup of tea before we walked into town and had dinner at a random, but very good, creperie. And then back, and more or less straight to bed, although we did put the heating on for ten minutes, and boiled the kettle for bottles and tea. He is now charging his phone and checking the sports results... Which I am so not interested in, but he persists in taking me anyway.
Friday, 2 December 2016
We couldn't really let the year end without another short trip in the motor home; after all, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a booze cruise!
We couldn't leave on our usual 10:30 pm crossing as the Swan Whisperer had a rehearsal for the Christmas Show, so we were never going to be able to leave London much before 9:30 pm. In fact, the next crossing was not until 1:30 am, arriving in France at 03:00 local time. Eek! However, we managed it, but by the time we had made our way to the car park (and they have changed the exit from the Eurotunnel yet again), turned on the gas, sorted out windows and blinds, etc, it was at least 3:30 am. I had travelled in pyjamas, on the grounds that I wouldn't need to get out of the van once I was in it, and had spent the crossing curled up in bed, so it didn't take too long to snuggle down.
Needless to say, we didn't surface until after 10:00 am this morning! And there was a late breakfast and some shopping before we got away. The Carrefour looks amazing, and French supermarkets do Christmas so much better than ours do! Lots of foie gras, smoked salmon, champagne, etc....
Anyway, we got away at last and headed to the Aire du Baie de la Somme for lunch, and then on as far as Falaise, where we are parked up for the night. And drinking wine....