Monday 24th August 2015

It rained for a few hours last night but everything is completely dry this morning. Although quite warm the wind is very, very blustery with really strong gusts and we didn't want to cycle in these conditions. They even closed the route to town through the Chateau grounds because of the danger of falling branches. This is disappointing because we were looking forward to going to the market in town. However, we set to and spent the day making a few phone calls. It was lovely to be able to speak with all of Allan's brothers & sisters in England today. Things are starting to be planned for our short visit to England but if the weather over there doesn't improve we are not looking forward to going there!

Tuesday

Today we decided to go to town in the afternoon. A short cycle ride brought us into the centre ville. In most towns in France the shops close Sunday and Monday but here in Sully sur Loire it is different. As market day is Monday the shops here close Sunday and Tuesday. So we find most of the shops are closed and some are even closed for their annual holidays, so that was a waste of time. Even after visiting the Tourist Information we decided that as there is nothing here that we haven't seen, so it's time to move on.

We cycle back to the motorhome aire and get busy with filling water and emptying toilet and putting things away ready to move on.

First stop is SuperU as we need groceries. It is another vast shopping experience. This time we notice the security guard standing just inside the store, legs astride and with a menacing look, don't mess with me! He was dressed in big boots, combat trousers and an army style jumper. Sitting beside him was a massive Alsatian DOG. Allan wanted a photo of this but Dorothy advised against it as it was probably a good idea not to upset the guy. This is the first time we have come across anything like this here. In these stores there is only one way in past the Customer Services. There is only one way out past the checkout and there is nothing beyond the checkout. At the checkout you are scrutenised if you have empty boxes or if you have unsealed bags. There are workers in the Electronics, Publications, Fish, Cheese, Bread and Fruit and Veg areas, but stocking up the rest of the shelves is done when the store is closed. There are sometimes products to sample and Allan likes these a lot.

Through all of this we were waiting for a very important call from James which came just after 3.30 and then he and Frankie went off for a week's holiday.

The end of the day brought us to Dampierre en Burly. It is a small village that is only mentioned in one of our books and even then it says it is difficult for motorhomes longer than 7 metres to maneuver, over 3.5 tons is forbidden. So that is us out on both counts. On passing we see no weight restriction and the entrance is fine so as said, here we are, on our own, looking over the lake towards the village.

Wednesday

Today we have been living full-time in our Motorhome for two years.

We woke this morning to the sunshine again. The sun is sparkling across the lake and although there is a constant background rumble of traffic on the busy road, it is not too obtrusive as it is largely blocked by the trees alongside the road. There is no fresh drinking water here but as we filled up before we left Sully we have plenty and so Dorothy is anticipating doing some washing. Allan is anticipating the three Geocaches around the lake and village!

The laundry could wait and so we left for some geocache hunting. Here are some photos taken on our walk.....

Nearly back and you can just see the motorhome in the trees

Whilst we were out doing the geocaches we were joined by other motorhomers. In one was an 89 year old lady and her son from Belgium. They had family in England and the elderly lady was very pleased to tell us all about it in her French and broken English. On the other side of us was an Autotrail the same manufacturer as ours. We met John and Chris and had a good chat with them. They have been coming to France for many years but have not quite made it to full-timing yet. We discovered that they are also members of the same owners group as we are and a few motorhome related forums.

We all spent the evening sitting and eating outside and later were joined by the free range chickens on their daily walkabout!

These two came close enough for a photo

Thursday

The other Autotrail left this morning and John and Chris said they were going to a medieval castle that was being rebuilt using authentic methods and materials. The Belgians also left and it was then time for us to move on.

We wanted to visit a pottery in Gien just a few miles along the River Loire. It was a good visit but the pottery was very heavy, expensive and not to Dorothy's taste. Allan breathed a sigh of relief when Dorothy said it was time to go! We left the Pottery and Dorothy recognised a French lady returning to her motorhome whom we last saw in Laily en Val. We said this to her but she thought we wanted to go there and started giving us directions. We kept telling her "no, we had seen you there" but she didn't listen and in fact told us that her husband was searching for a pizza and would be back shortly to give us directions - and then she got a couple of passers-by involved in trying to make us understand! Eventually we had to use the translator on our 'phone and "hey presto" she understood and remembered!!! Next time we will keep our mouths shut, ha ha.

We left quickly and followed the river to the other side of town to find the Aire. Imagine our surprise when we found John and Chris (in the Autotrail at Dampiere en Burly) there! They had not planned to stop at Gien and did not know this was our next stop. Then along came another Autotrail and the couple in it said they had also recently retired and had arrived in France today.

Lovely sunset from the Aire at Gien

Friday

A cycle ride to town was the plan for today but when putting the folding bikes together, Allan found a stripped thread on one of the bolts on his one. A shorter bolt was found as a temporary replacement and so we were OK.

Parking the bikes, this is what we saw and made us smile!

We went to the Tourist Office to try and upload last week's Blog but unfortunately the website was not working. Another website that Allan has, did work but not the one for the Blog. 175 spam and advertising emails shows that one of the tourist offices has sold our email address and updating other software took forever. Dorothy managed to have our Ferry tickets printed so that is a problem solved. After all this we cycled off to the bike shop in another part of town to see about a replacement bolt for Allan's bike and great - they had one. We returned to the motorhome feeling lazy for the rest of the evening.

Saturday

"Soirée Mousse" it said on the posters. We have been to many strange things over the years but never a "Soirée Mousse". We have no idea what it is but tonight we will find out!

In the morning there is a Market on the other side of town but this is no trouble as the bikes are already out. The market was quite large but highly orientated to the Muslim community prevalent in that part of town.

After the market we crossed to the other side of the river for a WW2 military gathering, celebrating the liberation of Gien.

On our way we had this lovely view of the town and Chateau

The town of Gien had a terrible time in the War. When Germany invaded France and swept through Paris, the retreating French army needed to cross the river Loire here. The German bombers dropped bombs to destroy the bridge to cut them off and also the town was destroyed. There are many photo displays around the town to show how bad this destruction was. The town was turned to rubble and almost flattened.

This military gathering is the 71st Anniversary of the liberation of Gien and there are many American flags and uniforms and girls in 1940's dresses. American Jeeps are everywhere. There will be vehicle convoys around local villages with an aperitif along the way. And music and dancing on Sunday to the group Swivel and a food and beer tent. Why did we ever come to France?

We met a couple, Janet & Ted, from Arundel, West Sussex who are staying in a nearby hotel. We had a pleasant time chatting with them and learned they owned the butchers shop in Arundel.

After this we cycled to do a geocache then returned to the motorhome for a bit of relaxation and dinner before the nights entertainment.

About nine o'clock we walked back to town and to the square Place du Chateau. There was music and dancing in what looked like a big walled arena and there was"resturation sur place" or catering going on in the far side of the square, so that is where we headed for.

We got a big dish of Chips and Mayo and sat at a table.

There was a French lady there and after Allan had given her the old flannel of how we have visited many towns in France but her town was the best, she told us what to expect of tonight. A laser show and dancing with water and bubbles ??!!

The laser show was very good and the accompanying music was excellent. Very difficult to capture any photos on our mobile phone!

None of the images came out good enough to use but this gives you an idea of what we saw..............

Dorothy thinks it's a spider, Allan says its a plane. You decide!!

Then the dancing in the compound started again and the countdown to "Mousse" started. Dorothy didn't want to dance in the arena as she had the passports and other things in her bag that didn't need to get wet. At about 1130, as nothing was happening yet and this goes on until 2am we decided to leave. Just as we were leaving the countdown started again. 10,9,8,7... at zero the bubbles started on the far side of the compound. Made with water but not wet and like soap bubbles but not slippery. We went in and the party started!!

With wet feet, clothes and hair it didn't matter as after a week of partly cloudy and even a morning of rain the temperature steadily rose today to 30 degrees tonight!

So the "bad" weather is now over? During the night the temperature fell back to a chilly 25 degrees! We here England has had torrential rain and we are not looking forward to our visit unless the rain stops.

Sunday

Breakfast and then off to the military day. We arrived at the military gathering about lunchtime and had to wait until after lunch to see what was going to happen.

We found the Bar and by about three o'clock it seemed as if the day was much along the lines of what we saw yesterday, so we decided to return to the motorhome and perhaps leave for our next stop. When we got back to the motorhome it was so hot that we decided to stay until tomorrow. However...................!

During the afternoon when Allan took the phone inside to charge up the battery, Dorothy was sitting outside on her own reading her book. Suddenly a youth caught my eye, walking across the grass towards the Aire. Bearing in mind it was so very hot here, he was dressed in thick dark clothing from head to toe! Strange I thought and was a little unnerved when I looked again. He was wearing a "hoodie" which was tied very tightly with white thread leaving just his eyes visible and was walking slowly with his shoulders hunched and I thought golly, is he coming my way! I didn't want to call out to Allan because that would have drawn attention to myself and I did not know what this lad was about to do (if anything). I just had the feeling I was a sitting duck because there was no-one else around. I sat still, pretending to read my book when suddenly he bent down, picked something up and threw it at the car beside him, breaking the side window. He immediately grabbed something and walked behind the car and through the bushes. I stood up to see him then, running down the street. He hadn't looked in the car before his actions, nor had he looked around any of the other vehicles. This was all very strange. I couldn't have done anything to prevent him from his actions and if I had shouted at him, well, who knows. Then two or three French people from the other motorhomes came running as they had seen this happen from their windows. Someone was on the phone to the Gendarmes and I knew the owner of the vehicle was in the piscine as he had arrived shortly before with his family. One of the ladies went to the piscine to find him.

So, there I found myself being questioned by four Gendarmes who spoke very little English! There were other things I told the Gendarmes of but may or may not have had any bearing on the actual event I saw, so will keep to the basic story. Then another two Gendarmes arrived and one of these spoke better English. Could I attend an identity parade if required and would I be able to recognise the guy! What ethnicity was he (I could only see his eyes!) etc.etc. How long will you be here for? Six Gendarmes all looking at me.... I said Oh, we leave today or possibly tomorrow!!

So they have my details; we decided not to wait there in case this guy returned and so we quickly packed up and got out of town!

Unexpectedly we then found ourselves in Saint Brisson sur Loire!

 

Note to self, either learn better French or stop trying to speak to elderly French women..................

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