Monday 20th July 2015

Today finds us still in Blaison-Gohier and this morning we finished the blog for last week and added a few photos to the last two weeks from Allan's old phone since we had to use these photos as Dorothy's phone had developed a problem. What a week to be without our usual phone and internet connections!! We are virtually without phone signal now and Dorothy's phone has packed up completely. The Internet on Allan's old the phone is so very slow and there is no free wifi for the computer of any kind that we can link to.

We followed this with a bit of tidying up, reducing the number of Tourist leaflets and Dorothy doing the washing. It does not sound a great deal but takes all morning and some of the afternoon. We can't be partying all of the time, or can we?

We then we made our way to town to do the next geocache and to visit the Marie to query the wifi internet access. It is explained to us that although we can pick up wifi called "Freebox Blaison" and it may sound public and just need a password it is in fact private. The man in the Marie said that wifi is something that they want to have here in the future so it sounds like a place to come back to sometime. Free parking, free water and free electricity. If there was free Internet as well, why wouldn't we want to come back.

The decision is made to travel back to Saumur tomorrow, the largest town around here that we can get into and park easily, to see if there is a place that can fix Dorothy's phone. In the meantime as we have free electricity it is time to get the aspirator (vacuum cleaner) out!

Tuesday

SILVER WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

Up early, well again earlyish, because Dorothy wanted a Hydrangea for our 25 years of marriage so Allan had to sneak round the streets at seven in the morning to find one. Located and chopped down 4 of the massive blooms and then rushed back to the motorhome hoping not to be seen by the villagers. Hydrangeas are not something that you can hide discretely! I will add they were "wild" and not from someone's garden!

Coffee, the most important part of any day but this time with Silver Wedding Anniversary cards to open. Then showered and set off back to the town of Saumur to see if we an get the phone fixed.

We parked where we did last time at the Military Academy. Our first stop is to the Tourist Information Office to find a place to repair phones. They suggested a small phone shop in town or one in the E Lerclerc shopping mall. The first had closed down some time ago but we noticed branch of Cashconverters who, as in England, buy and sell secondhand electronic equipment. The people there suggested a small shop three streets away "Mon Reparateur" so we went to seek this out. Easily found and the problem was identified as needing a new battery and he can get us one in about ten days.

We then drove out to E Leclerc for some party shopping. There were three phone shops there who all had moved here from the middle of town but all of them are the type that sell you a contract for calls and give you a phone free. None of the shops sold phone parts or repaired them, so we hadn't wasted any time by getting the battery on order earlier.

Party night tonight so the shopping included plenty of wine, baguettes and snacks. Now where should we have the party? As we have already been to Turquant that seemed like the best place if only we can get in there. When we arrived we had the last space, with grass and plenty of sitting out space so everything is perfect.

We had a dinner of Salmon, homemade coleslaw, salad and potatoes, with one of our bottles of Champagne - not a bad celebration meal. After an hour of relaxing, now is the time to find some guests to invite to our party, so we went around the Aire with an invite written in our best French and hoped for the best!

Not knowing how many would accept our invitation and not wanting to prepare food too early in the heat, we had not prepared anything. After doing the circuit of 9 motorhomes to invite the guests, they arrived with their chairs almost immediately so to start with it was quite a task to get some food and wine out. We had 16 adults and 4 children to our Silver Anniversary. There were French, Dutch and German people and not knowing what to sing - they sang us Happy Birthday! Some of our guests brought us flowers (obviously taken from the park) and the children had done pictures. One French lady remarked that in twenty years of motorhoming she had never been invited to another motorhome before. We sat and chatted and must have looked and sounded strange with our different languages but language was no barrier to us and the laughter and camaraderie bore this out.

Our Anniversary guests..............

A "cheers" from Marco! For his photos, please click here....

Suddenly just after 10 pm a few spots of rain, and then a heavy downpour meant our guests hurriedly left for shelter and we packed everything away as soon as possible.

We were overwhelmed that everyone came and shared our evening with us, understanding that we were alone on such a special day. We all had a really enjoyable evening that we don't think will be forgotten.

To make our day even more perfect we had a long chat on the phone to Mum & Tony and then to James & Frankie who had left us a message earlier.

Wednesday

We woke to another lovely day and whilst having breakfast, noticed one of the guests from last night taking a photo of our motorhome - probably to show her friends back home "these are the wonderful people who invited the whole Aire to a party" or "these are the crazy English people we met"!!

A quiet day today but with many cheery good-byes. Allan uploaded the blog using the free wifi and checked the E-mail. Also as we have set three geocaches in England and would now find it difficult to maintain them we were pleased when " Seadown " aka Alan, asked to take two of them on to add to his new trail. Whilst Allan was playing with the computer in the "Tourist Point" (unmanned office with free wifi) Dorothy moved the motorhome to another parking place with smaller garden area, as we are not planning another party tonight!!

Tonight after we had eaten our dinner and were just about to come in, the people next door, who had been with us at our party last night, invited us to taste their Calvados. They are from Dieppe and must be the only people in France that have heard of Newhaven! When they do visit England though, they go straight to Brighton!

The plan, yes we do have a plan sometimes, is to move up to Semblançy for Saturday evening as Dorothy has booked the Evening Spectacle show as my Birthday treat but as it is 58 miles away we need a stop on the way and so we need to find a suitable Aire in between here and there.

Thursday

Woke up and Allan's phone says it is "Retirement Day" well, we did finish work over 3 months ago but today is when I should have actually retired. This is it, The Big Official Day. At 5 o'clock today I would leave work for the last time. I am feeling extraordinarily excited about this.

Despite this the chores don't stop and I had to organise payment of the Road Fund Licence on the motorhome today! Later we did the two mile walk along the Loire to the next village, Montsoreau. There was a massive caravan site along the way and we spoke to some of the campers. We told them that we were on a site along the road at Turqaunt.

At Montsoreau we found that there was a geocache close by along a little lane. What didn't show up on the map was that this little lane was almost VERTICAL! There must be a reason for taking us up there so we give it a go and the cache was easy to find. At the top we found a nice little park with views up and down the Loire valley. The people at the campsite who do not geocache would probably never come here and this marvellous view is what they are missing.....

When we go back down into the village we have a celebratory drink at the bar, much needed refreshment after the walk here and the climb, and we sit and watch the world go by. Sitting here next to the Loire in the heat of the sun, amongst the vineyards, sunflowers and mushroom growers, who should we meet but a Christmas Tree grower - a French Canadian, whose land is just around the corner!!

We are sure glad that we didn't have to wait until today to retire. At 5 pm (English time) with a big smile on my face I have my photo taken on the banks of the River Loire the sun is shining and the world is a good place.

Allan has retired, the government pension is about to start and work is in the past. A huge emotional and elated feeling.

Then we have a stroll into the old part of the village and look around a curiosity shop before the two mile homeward walk.

Friday

Allan's Birthday i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i (supposed to be candles)

Today we have an income "The Old Age Pension". All those years ago, when leaving school and starting work, pension age seemed to be such a long way off but here it is.

So what are going to do today? Later we must travel on to the Aire we have found at Gizeux, with shopping along the way, where we will stop for tonight on our way to the Show on Saturday. But we spend part of the morning on the computer. I am beginning to think that when we had to give our e-mail details at one of the places we used for wifi, they must have sold them on because we are receiving more and more spam. Whilst doing this Mum in Law Barbara and Tony phone to give me birthday good wishes. Tony explains a problem with his map that our blog links to, in that we are going to such small villages that are not shown on his map and we travel such short distances! Well, we really are getting into the depths of France.

So then we leave Turquant and are on our way again. The Sat Nav takes us over such a narrow low bridge across the river Loire that at each short section we must move to the centre of the road to avoid the curve at both sides of the roof and the oncoming traffic do not seem too pleased about it.

Shopping at Bourgueil in the Hyper U we spot a Jamaican guy selling speciality foods. He encourages us to buy some spiced fishballs to have as a snack with Rum and he assures us that they work equally well with the Gin and Tonic he spots in our trolley!

On arrival at Gizeux we find that there is a (you're right again!) Laverie in the corner of the Aire and we are sure that there must be a geocache there. As there is no phone signal we decided to have a look for it anyway without the position or clue but we cant find it. When we do actually find a phone signal we find that the nearest cache is half a mile away and that there was nothing in the Laverie after all !! Got that one wrong. Well, there should have been one there!!

Birthday night meal is a starter of peppered sliced tomato and (of course) échalotes. Followed by a main of Charolais Beef. Allan likes birthdays!

During the evening Dorothy heats up the special spiced fish balls but unfortunately they did not live up to our expectations - Allan says they were bloody horrible, even when washed down with extra gin!!

Saturday

Gizeux is a very small village of 450 people but for this small population there is a Marie, Church, Village Hall, Butcher, Baker, Delicatessen and Village shop, Hairdresser, Library, Post Office and Bar/Tabac/Newsagents, Garage, Doctors Surgery, Pharmacy and schools. Also you will find the Chateau, Football Stade, Tennis Courts, Boule de Forte, fishing and nature walks through the parkland and forests. What would you get in a village of 450 people back home? Answers on a postcard - and you can send it to the post office!!!!

The Aire is exceptional with 5 hedge marked bays and picnic tables in a huge secluded area.

It is almost a pity that we have to leave it to go to Semblançy tonight for the Son et Lumiere show.

We drove to Chateau la Valliere, to the petrol station where we have been before, so that we could top up our LPG tanks although we have not even used the first tank yet but we think as we are passing through we may as well buy the gas today. We then made our way to Neuille-Pont-Pierre to the new Super U as Dorothy says that we need bread. What an excuse... about 3 hours later she walks out with an armful of Xmas presents - in JULY??? Never been heard of before, she usually doesn't get into Xmas mode until after her birthday!!!

The gates for the Spectacle that we are going to see tonight open at 7pm and so we spend the rest of the afternoon at a "site de repose" which is formed from an old road where a new bridge crosses the railway line. It is all very new and will be lovely when the grass and shrubs take over and the picnic tables go on their bases. Whilst here we have a telephone call to say that the phone battery is in now and we can pick it up on Tuesday when the shop re-opens after the weekend. Dorothy is really looking forward to that!

The show (La Scénoféerie Grand Spectacle of Touraine) is called La Légende de la Source and starts around 10.45 PM There are to be 2 carriages, 14 horses, 60 cavaliers, 450 actors, 28 stuntmen for the live fighting, 2710 costumes, 600 spotlights, 12 flame torches, 4 flame cannons that send flames 8m high, water fountains, a water screen and a powerful video projector to cover the castle with stunning pictures. There will also be 300 extras and 24kg of fireworks. BOY! am I Iooking forward to it!!

We arrived at about 7.30 and were shown where we could park and stay overnight. After our meal we walked up to the park of Jacques de Beaunes Castle to take in the atmosphere prior to the show.

The show was first performed in 1989 - the idea being to help disabled people of the Medical and Educational Institute with their relationship with the other inhabitants of the town. Soon, it generated talents and enthusiasm from neighbouring towns and then from all the regions of Tours. More and more people became involved and we are told it gets better and better each year. The scenes were set in a large arena with a bank on two sides, a Church and Chateau on the left bank and many wide pathways along the far bank. The Source, in front of a rocky outcrop, flowed down past a watermill to the village. Grandfather Honoré Pottier tells his grandson Benjamin of the history of Semblançy and brings the village history to life in 8 separate scenes.

We tried to see if any disabled people were still in the show but saw none, just Actors. It was only after the show when we were allowed into the arena that yes, there were some disabled people. Their acting was beyond their personal difficulties. A truly amazing show. Well performed, beautifully set with excellent lighting, perfect sound and music. Quite breathtaking effects with fountains flames and fireworks. We were certainly not disappointed and returned to the motorhome, quite elated after this stunning experience and ready for a G&T to wind down!

Sunday

In the morning we left Semblançy to start heading back to Saumur. We stopped off again at the Super U on the edge of Neuille-Pont-Pierre for diesel and as there are washing machines there we decided to try them out, so that Dorothy could go and do some more shopping!! She returned to find Allan had taken all the clean laundry from the machine back to the motorhome and was busy folding everything for her. After such a busy and emotional week for us we decided to head back to the Aire at Gizeux for a couple of relaxing days but unfortunately it has been showery for most of the afternoon and we had to dry off the washing under the awning.

 

Catch up with you all again next week!

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