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Trip Log

Europe 2018 Week 5

FRANCE | Wednesday, 10 October 2018 | Views [30]

Tuesday 2nd October
Still windy today and without anything pressing on our schedule, we slept in till about 8:30. After breakfast, bought 2 days of wifi for E10:00 and strolled around the camp, out onto the rocky breakwater and considered playing tennis if the wind stops. Consideration was as far as it got.
After one of Linda's omelettes for lunch, I downloaded some offline maps to use later in our trip. Mid afternoon it was still windy but warm enough for a long walk on the beach without rugging up. Met an English couple walking our way and talked up and down the length of the beach about our travels and theirs. They also described the wind as the well known Mistral that blows from the north west, is usually accompanied by clear fresh weather and is a major influence on the climate of Provence. Back at the cabin about 5:00.
After dinner went for another walk around the camp and the beach in the usual windy conditions.

Wednesday 3rd October
Bounded out of bed before sunrise and photographed the sun rising over the Mediterranean horizon from the beach. The sun rose about 7:30 with lots of jet vapour trails shown pink by the low sun. Otherwise there was hardly a cloud on the sky.
After breakfast, domestic chores were required. The washing was done at the laundry 10 minutes walk away then another slow walk along the length of the beach and back under a blue sky and a warm breeze. At the edge of the water was a long line of mostly broken shells on the otherwise fine white sand which made walking there a bit
precarious. Successfully avoiding cutting our feet, we returned with a collection of shells, first with the intention to bring them back to Australia, but then to photograph them instead of testing the customs officials at home.
Afternoon was spent mostly lazing about the cabin in the shade away from the strong sun, and the wind died away to an eerie calm.

Thursday 4th October
Marseillan-Plage to Monleon Magnoac
Slept in to 7am this morning. Check out was booked for 9:30 when they come and check the cabin before departure.
Passing inspection, handing back our wrist bands and telling them about a broken slat under the mattress, we were off about 9:40.
More blue sky and undulating pleasant countryside with all the winding roads and country villages to slow down through.
We reached Carcassonne in about an hour and managed to find a parking spot next to the river about 10 minutes walk via the bridge to the mediaeval walled city. We walked as many of the streets as we could, most of them, and stopped for a panini (long flat toasted roll with chicken, tomato & stuff) at one of the smaller cafes. I first paid with my Visa debit card but the machine seemed not to work so I paid cash. While waiting for Linda to use the loo (I do a lot of that), the apologetic proprietor offered my 15 euros back and an EFTPOS receipt. The machine had eventually got through to Australia. Smiles all around from the friendly staff, and me. Lots of photographs of the town later, we continued travelling about 2:30. After a Supermarche stop 10 minutes from our camp, we reached the camp just before 6pm, when reception was due to close. Xaviour & Isabelle were expecting us and we're very welcoming. Xaviour was keen to let know of all the best places in the Pyrenees Mountains, even though we had planned to visit the Airbus factory tomorrow. Nevertheless we got all his info and a view of photos on his phone of his recent visits to some mountain lake destinations. Not many other guests here apart from us because normally at this time of the year, it gets cold in northern France and people come here in the south. Because it is still unusually warm in the north, people are holidaying there. After a good chat, Isabelle led us on her bike to our cabin. Waiting for us was a bottle of the local 4 year old Merlot, a personalised welcome certificate and a very pleasant, roomy comfortable cabin overlooking the creek.
We made ourselves at home, fixed some vittles and caught up on blogging.

Friday 5th October
Today's goal .. the tour of the Airbus facility at the Blagnac airport in Toulouse. Left at 9am and after the 1.5 hour drive, arrived at the 'Let's Discover Airbus' centre, outside of which was one of the Concorde and an M400 military transport plane. The tour did not start until 11:45 so we spent the intervening time in the aircraft museum, Aeroscopia, where we could walk through a Concorde, walk into an opened up Super Guppy and a host of other aircraft and exhibits.
The tour started on time spoken in English with a French accent by a Japanese girl who was full of facts and figures.
Parts for the A380 are built in the UK, Spain, Germany and France and shipped, barged and trucked along the French countryside roads and through tiny villages once a month, at night, of course. An A380 is completed every month, but they make 50 A320's a month.
They also assemble A330's and the new (3 years old) A350's at this plant, the one with carbon fibre fuselage and other modern stuff. One in ten flights from the Blagnac airport a test flight of a new aircraft. Airbus exclusively uses one of the two runways.

We were first shown a video of the first flight of the A380 prototype in 2005 with telemetry displayed, then we were bussed to a hanger containing 3 aircraft in assembly, an A350 and two A380's. After an introductory talk about Airbus's aircraft and assembly and test facility, we took lifts to a viewing area over the aircraft being assembled and tested. The plant had no workers there because it was lunch time in their 9 hour shift, one of two shifts a day.
Linda picked up (and paid for) some more gifts in the shop and we left for camp at 2:00. Late lunch at 3:30 on the porch of our cabin, creek below us, blue sky above us, warm breeze all around us and a couple of Linda's toasred omelette sandwiches inside us. Sublime contentment.
After lunch, Linda spent time posting on Facebook in the wifi area at the restaurant and I explored a walking trail through the bush, finding the old farm house that was part of the camp area. It was actually two buildings, one had been converted to two residential units and the other had a sauna, shower and massage room. I went back and had a swim in the pool then after 5pm when the sauna opened, we tried it out. A few cycles of sauna, shower, sauna shower and we headed back to the cabin via the pool for another swim. Life is so complicated.
Friday afternoon now and noticeably more guests are arriving, perhaps for the weekend. Isabelle & Xaviour will be pleased.

Saturday 6th October
Monleon Magnoac to Devillac
Left about 9:40, expected driving time about 3.5 hours. Could not find anyone to check us out but we had already paid a deposit
at booking and subsequent full payment on line, so I left the key on the desk. More blue sky & sunshine and more very pleasant country driving. The town of Condom was on the way so we made sure we had a photo of the town sign. Stopped in Monflanquin at a Supermarche for provisions. Tried three automatic fuel stations on the way and they all refused my Visa debit card. What the .. ? Still have quarter of a tank, though.
We reached the camp just before 2pm. We interrupted Francois's lunch but he obligingly check us in to cabin 8. We explained our travels and he said he knows the proprietors of all the camps we have been to. He has recently taken ownership of this camp after the previous owner, a Dutch man, 76, passed it on for age related reasons.
Our cabin looks like a log cabin, built entirely of solid wood with the usual semi round terra cotta tiles on the roof. The fridge also had a bottle of red complementary wine complete with the camp's name on the label. Linda is not going to be able to walk this evening. The view from the porch was a long sloping grass area to the forest 150 m away, blue sky above. Francois gave us a heads up on the growls of deer that may be heard coming from the forest. Apparently it is mating season, and deer have seen at the edge of the forest and in the grounds. I think I will keep out of the way of 300kg bucks.
After a late lunch, as usual, we walked around the grounds. The water slide was not open but the indoor swimming pool was.
Walking back near the edge of the forest we saw a doe, a deer, a female deer, in a ray of golden sun not far away, so me & Linda followed the so and so but it ran into the forest. Instead of tea, (doh!) we fetched our towels and went for a swim. The water depth in the main pool, however, was 1.5m everywhere, which is about up to my shoulders and up to the top of Linda's head! I supported her for a while until she decided the 0.3m wading pool was more her depth. She then used the free wifi in the bar area to post some Facebook stuff while l lazed by the pool. Back to the cabin at 5:30 for some wine & Swiss cheese.
After Linda's fish & veges, the wind started to blow and it rained! Don't think the former caused the latter, just telling it like it was. Some more rain is predicted tomorrow but it should ease off the following day.

Sunday 7th October
Overcast this morning so before getting up Linda massaged the gear changing muscles on my right shoulder. I am not used to using a manual gearbox. She found some very tender spots and showed way too much pleasure in making them hurt more. I felt better after though.
It rained lightly until mid afternoon but we did get an hour of internet in before lunch. The bar was only a 1 minute brisk walk so we did not really get wet. Linda posted Facebook stuff and we had a video call to Linda's sister and Bel. Bel gets very excited when she sees us live on her iPad.
We had a brief walk around the edge of the forest back to the cabin but no sightings of deer this time. We spent a quiet afternoon in the cabin, me catching up on my blogs and organising HTML files of our trip while Linda played her favourite word game on her phone.
About 4:30 there was a bit sun shining through the thinning clouds so we took a stealthy walk around the grounds hoping to see another deer. Sure enough, Linda spotted a group of about 5 through the thin forest and videoed them before they disappeared. The highlight of the day.
Back at the cabin, Linda polished of the last of our first bottle of wine. The second we will leave until the next camp where we (she mostly) will have three days to drink it.

Monday 8th October
Devillac to Boussac
After picking up the bread and croissants from Francois about 8:40 and depositing the appropriate rubbish in the appropriate bin, we headed for our next camp near Boussac. After early light rain and overcast skies, the overcast sky persisted but the rain fortunately, did not. Very good. There was about an hour on expressway but the rest was the usual winding roads over undulating French countryside, a couple of large towns but mostly small ones. I only had a quarter tank of gazole and I had not had much success finding a petrol station that would accept my card. Today, however, the first petrol station we found, in Fangauffier, not only did it have an attendant to take my funds, the young lady insisted filling my tank for me! Problem solved .. very pleased. I chose to pay in cash because I had more than I thought I would need for the rest of our stay in France. The trick is to have none left just before we leave. We will see how that goes.
Arrived at the new camp just before 2pm to a closed reception office. I rang the big cow bell a few times and eventually Reinier (Dutch accent, cos he was Dutch) come to greet us. We were put in cabin 32, right next to all the facilities including the two swimming pools (one indoor & one outdoor), sauna, hot tub, bar, restaurant and laundry. In the cabin Linda is happy with a good kitchen to cook in. After settling in to the cabin and having our usual late lunch, we tried the indoor pool, the sauna and the table tennis table in the indoor pool area. While Linda did the smart thing and stayed in the sauna, I tried the outdoor pool. I really should not have .. it was icy. The shop sold ice creams so I stocked up for the coming couple of days, but which will probably be all eaten tonight.
Connected to the free, no hassles wifi and caught up with emails and stuff.
Elizabeth delivered our sheets, blankets and towels to us in our cabin, and showed us how the heater worked. Linda likes to be warm.
Pasta tonight, with the wine from the last camp. Fortunately this cabin has a cork screw to open the bottle, otherwise we would have been (not?) screwed.

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