SUNDAY 15-09-19

What a difference a day makes. For some strange reason the Deaf Dutch next door were as good as gold - no TV at all until this evening, when the volume was turned down to an acceptable level. I can only assume they overheard comments I had made last night, so they didn't get a knock on their door or a copy of the 'Watchtower'.

Today turned out to be a rest day, so no photographs I'm afraid, besides the blog host is screaming at me not to overload this page any more. And so I shall rename this 'chapter 'Nice Area', I can't put 'Villenueve- Loubet' because I have a limited number of digits available to me for a title.

After scrubbing up we made our way down the road to the supermarket for a few bits. My word it was chaos in there. The supermarkets are only open in the mornings on a Sunday in France, and so every man and his dog was in there spending our money. We now have enough bottles of drinking water for the next part of our trip, and The Chef is confident that we have enough meals of one sort or another to see us through.

We just relaxed today because we know that the next stage is going to be very demanding, but at the same time challenging and rewarding .

By the end of today we have managed to charge up all electrical items and stow away almost all of our kit ready for a reasonably quick getaway tomorrow.

This evening I got chatting to a couple of cyclists who are roughing it in their tiny tent opposite us. I offered them the use of our two small flip-out folding chairs to sit on as they were sat against the wall of the swimming pool preparing and eating their meal. They said they were fine, but I told them that sitting like that I felt the need to give them money, and we had a laugh.

Later I got in to conversation with them. They were probably seniors, and clearly super fit. The chap told me he was from Belgium, and his partner was from Austria. They had cycled all the way from Belgium, and tomorrow they are making for Sardinia, though they are aware they can't ride there and will need to catch a ferry. Once they have reached the end of their journey they will catch a train home.

The three of us had a laugh despite the occasion linguistic misunderstanding, he was telling me that in Belgium, farmers still regularly discover human bones when ploughing their fields, and that there is certainly someone, or maybe more than one person who, blindfolded, can tell which nationality the bones belong to . He was telling me that British bones are lighter, and German bones are heavier, denser. So there you have it - the Germans are thick. And this just goes to demonstrate that we are European despite what the EU's resident drunk says. We always have been, and we always will be. We just don't want to be dragged along with their Federalism ,and which, one day in the future others will decide they don't want to either. They'll want to keep their national identities remaining French, or Belgium, or Polish, or whatever, and not forced to simply be 'EU citizens' under one flag with one set of laws, defence, tax, etc.

So we're almost ready to hit the road tomorrow heading for Pisa in Italy, and hopefully I'll have a video to share with you the following day if all goes to plan. The one thing that could cause us problems is the route around Genoa due to the collapse of that huge bridge on the toll road there about a year or more ago. No doubt due to Italian engineering and Mafia money.

From Cagnes sur Mer towards Villenueve-Loubet

From Cagnes sur Mer towards Villenueve-Loubet

SATURDAY 14-09-19

Well as expected today was a bit of a rest day I suppose, although I did rig up a washing line and we made a start on getting all of the washing done before we leave on Monday.

The nice couple from Essex came to say goodbye before they left to start making their way home. It made us realise how lucky we are to be old and healthy because we can spend so much longer on these sort of trips if we so choose, but they both work and so have been on a bit of a whistle-stop two week tour.

Then it was off to the huge supermarket down the road for some bits and a couple of  large bottles of water. Needless to say, what with it being Saturday it was mayhem as the locals were all in there spending the UK's net contribution to the EU.

With that done we had lunch and then sat about trying to relax, but with Rin Tin Tin three pitches away bark, bark, barking and the Dutch deaf beggers next door playing their TV with the doors and windows open it wasn't easy. I found myself getting wound up about it and so got the MP3 player out and some headphones and shut myself off from it all.

This evenings offering from The Chef was chicken drumsticks cooked with an electric skillet, which works rather like a sandwich maker allowing us to cook food trapped between the two hotplates or open it up doubling the cooking area but only cooking on one side. This was served with salad and crusty bread.

Once we were all cleaned up we went for a walk to Cagnes sur Mer along the promenade in the cool of the evening. It was lovely to see so many families out together, particularly on the beach enjoying themselves after all of the tourists have gone indoors.

Apologies for today's photo contribution, I'm beginning to feel that we're starting to live like bats - only coming out at night.

I told the Chef this evening that I was going next door tomorrow to have a word with the Deaf Dutch. She isn't keen but I'm not prepared to tolerate it any longer, it's so inconsiderate. So tomorrow they'll be getting a knock on their door, but although it will be Sunday, it won't be a man in a smart suit trying to sell them God or a copy of the 'Watchtower'.

Roll on Monday.

FRIDAY 13-09-19

Now I'm not in the least bit superstitious, but there's no doubt about it, today, Friday the 13th, didn't go too well.

My darling Chef didn't sleep too well last night, taking her ages to drop off, consequently she was slow to get going this morning. The result being we joined the mad dogs and other Englishmen out in the midday sun - in Antibes.

The bus fare as always is very reasonable. It appears to be a fixed price along this route from Cannes to Nice - €1.50 single each. On arrival we went for a wander through part of the marina complex before reaching the towns ramparts, and the gateway through it in to the streets. We bustled and jostled with tourists, though I have to say we heard far fewer Brit voices than in the past, and I have to say less Yanks, though that can be a blessing. Interestingly as tourists swarm around the streets most are unaware that in one of those buildings Phillipe Phillope, the inventor of the beachwear shoe was born.

Gosh it was hot, I don't know just how hot, but back 'home' the electronic thermometer was showing 27.8˚C at 18:00 this evening, so it must have been in the lower 30's I would guess. We wandered around the streets before walking towards Juan-des-Pins, the resort just round the headland, but to avoid walking all the way around due to the heat we looked at cutting the corner off using the roads heading in the right direction. Clearly The Chef wasn't up to it and so we turned round, following the very nice 'promenade' and parks back to the town, which is where we lost each other and ended up with us both having separate afternoons, and I was the last to arrive 'home'.

Next door continue to spend much of their day watching daytime television loudly with their door open allowing us to share in their pleasure. Why the hell people travel all this way just to sit and watch television is beyond me.

When I'm flicking through my favourite websites in the morning I'll check the BBC News, and sometimes the Daily Mail website where they'll feature news stories, and allow visitors to leave comments. This morning was a story about that drunk, Jean Claude Juncker saying that we Brits were only ever part-time Europeans, so I left a comment which went something like this - 'Yes it is true we are part-time Europeans. We find it necessary to enter Europe occasionally to liberate European nations from their German masters, and with the continued creep of Federalism I expect us to have to return in about another 20 years time to do it all again'. Getting old isn't so bad as long as you can still be mischievious onced in a while.

Tomorrow we plan to walk to Cagnes sur Mer down the road, though after today's efforts I'm not so sure.

THURSDAY 12-09-19

After our escapade to Nice yesterday we decided to have a bit of a rest day today. Our pitch is in quite a nice spot in that we have good shading. The trees around us let through quite a lot of light, yet keep out the harshness of the sun. This afternoon though we decided to deploy the wind-out awning which we seldom use. That ensured we had a truly shaded area for the rest of the day.

For the first two or three days we were the only Brits on the campsite but were then joined by a very nice couple from Essex to whom we've been having some nice long chats. Since then we've been joined by one or two other Brit couples though we've yet to engage with them and they seem the sort that wouldn't be bothered if we did or didn't. It's also been getting  busier here as dog owners have continued to arrive, When we first got here there wasn't one. The worst one is what turned  out to be an Alsatian when we got a look at it when its Neanderthal owner was being dragged along by it for a walk. I think it must be a guard dog back home because it does nothing but bark, bark, bark. I do hope their neighbours have been and complained about it. Honestly fancy bringing a dog like that on to a campsite. As always I blame the owners not the dogs.

This afternoon we discussed the next leg of our trip and have decided to leave here Monday afternoon when we'll head for Pisa in Italy where I expect to arrive by early evening. The Essex couple came that way and said that fuel in Italy is very expensive - about €1.90 (£1.70) a litre, about 45 cents more expensive than France, and France is expensive enough. The second leg will be very different from this one in that we'll be living more on our wits and without a safety net and almost no campsites, but that's the kind of touring we enjoy. This campsite stuff can get a bit tedious when you're paying good money to listen to noisy traffic, next door's TV and barking dogs.

This evening we went for a nice long walk in the cool of the evening, firstly in the direction of Cagnes sur Mer, and then back through the marina complex.

During this morning's chill time I finished reading Ian Darler's book 'Life's a Pitch'. I did text to tell him I felt honoured that he'd mentioned me on one of the pages. It was in the chapter dealing with the training of his stewards. Ian took their training to a whole new level putting them through to gain an NVQ qualification. At that time there were only four clubs in the whole country which were doing so.

I and a couple of my lads, one of whom was Paramedic Bob Brotchie, who I believe took on my role at the stadium after I left at the beginning of 2008, would train and assess each steward in First Aid including, most importantly CPR. We also had them practice the extrication of a patient from out of the grandstands in order to render them aid. In this chapter Ian mentions that the Club has had a 100% success rate, three out of three for successful cardiac arrest survival during matches at the stadium.

Given that the Medical Centre had five trolley beds, a cupboard full of kit and a defibrillator, my marked car with a boot full of kit including another defibrillator, two doctors on site, one for the players and one for the team, one Paramedic who would support the doctors, and a band of St Johns Ambulance Brigade volunteers, also with a defibrillator, plus trained stewards. Cambridge United may not have always been on top of their game but I tell you what, between us all we created a fantastic place to have a cardiac arrest.

Getting the title right for any book is very important of course. I got talking to somebody once who told me a friend of his father's was writing a book set around America's Great Depression, featuring a Mid-Western farmer, Ralph Mitchell, who suffered terribly with multiple large haemorrhoids, which made life bouncing around on a tractor just plain hell. But apparently John Steinbeck's best-selling book beat him with a very similar title. I asked what his father's friend's book title was to have been, he replied "The Grapes of Ralph".

Hopefully we're off to Antibes tomorrow to see how the other half live. I just hope they haven't introduced a tram system since we were last there.

WEDNESDAY 11-09-19

My word what a difference a day makes. From heavy rain all day yesterday, we woke this morning to clear blue skies and eventually a temperature of around 27˚C.

We had decided to make our way to Nice on the bus for a look around. I don't know what happened but we didn't wake up until nearly nine o'clock and so we had to get our skates on a bit.

In the past the journey has been quite straightforward - walk up the road and catch a 200 Service bus which runs backwards and forwards between Cannes and Nice, and jump off at the end of the line very close to the centre of the promenade area, as opposed to the 'City Centre' as that would be inland a bit because Nice goes back quite a way with shops and accommodation.

Today it was different. We caught the bus as usual which came to the end of its service in an area we didn't recognise, but guessed it couldn't be far from the previous turn-around point. After walking a short distance I spotted over to my right the tall fence behind which were the tailfins of the numerous executive jets which park at Nice airport. Amazingly we had been dropped well short of Nice itself. Nearby was a new tram system which we had never seen before. We decided to walk a way down the road and see if there was some kind of connection. By now the sun was getting pretty hot and after a while we realised that we should have jumped on the tram, even though we didn't have a clue at the time of where it went. Onward we walked before decided that we really did need to catch that tram for what remained of the journey in to town. Needless to say at the next tram stop we noticed that the tram rails dived down in to a tunnel. That's ok I thought, it will reappear just up the road having gone under a busy road junction - but it didn't. We never saw it again, despite looking for it.

By then we had decided that we would restrict our visit to the market area and not the port. To keep expenses down, lunch was a pack of sandwiches and a bottle of water each, eaten in a nearby kids play area, and all for four pounds. Who says you can't dine in style on a budget in the south of France.

After yet more wandering around we decided to make our way back. It was just so hot and we'd seen enough. After all we've been here about three times before, so there isn't much left here for us to see really, not unless we do cultural stuff.

It goes without saying that we couldn't find the beginning of the tram line for the return trip to the bus pick up point, so we had to walk a fair bit before coming across the tunnel we had seen on the way in to town. So two tickets at €1.50 each and we were ready to travel. A tram eventually turned up and we reached the bus stop close to the rush hour. So having had to stand all the way to Nice we then had to stand nearly all the way back. Two years ago we could make the journey all the way by bus for €1.50 each single, it now would cost €3 each. Never mind, we feel we don't need to visit there again anytime soon. In fact we had agreed some months ago that Villenueve-Loubet would in future just be a stopping off point for a few days on the way to somewhere else.

When we got back all we wanted to do was have a nice sit down and a drink before doing a few chores.

Tomorrow will be a bit of a rest day, though who knows what buggerations lay ahead for us.

Camping Parc des Maurettes

Camping Parc des Maurettes

TUESDAY 10-09-19

Last night we had real problems with internet connection, to the point where I was concerned I wouldn't be able to upload anything on to this site. I do hope it was just a glitch and things will now return to normal.

The weather forecast for today was quite correct and heavy rain began at 08:30 and is due to finish at 22:00 tonight. We've spent most of the day indoors only venturing out this afternoon for a walk to the possible alternative campsite to this one - Camping Parc des Maurettes. It's up by the railway station and a good walk from here. We wouldn't entertain it for a lengthy stay as it's too far from the beach area and marina which we like, although there are alternative shopping facilities close by.

Rather than have our main meal this evening we opted to swap round and have pizza and chips baked in the electric oven resting on top of the kitchen work surface, for lunch, that way it was done with, and we'd have more of a snacky meal this evening.

To prove you don't necessarily get wiser as you get older, having vowed to drink less wine, but of a better quality, I found myself submitting to temptation and buying a box of wine, knowing that it's not the best of quality. To make matters worse I've bought the same sort in the past. You know how wine buffs find fancy adjectives to describe a wine, well I have just three to describe the rosé I bought - pink lighter fuel, and I had a glass of it with my lunch.

By the time we arrived back our shoes were soaking wet, though luckily our waterproof jackets and over-trousers kept the rest of us dry. We now have the fan heater on a low seating in the bathroom trying to dry things out, but I don't think my shoes will be dry enough to wear tomorrow.

I've spent a chunk of my time indoors making a start on a book 'Life's a Pitch' by Ian Darler. Ian is the Head Groundsman at Cambridge United Football Club. He also wore the hats of Stadium Manager and Safety Officer. He and I worked together for about ten years when I was an operational Ambulance Service manager. The stadium was on my patch and it fell to me to be at all team home games throughout that period managing the medical resources on site. I was also a member of the Club's Safety Advisory Committee.

When the Club built a new grandstand for away supporters and Control Room building, with my contacts I fixed them up with five hospital beds from the local hospital and bedside cabinets, tracking and curtains from a hospital in the region which had just closed, and with Ian and his staff's efforts, we equipped a five-bed Medical Centre beneath the Control Room which was the envy of visiting clubs, and we did it at very little cost. 

Those were the days. Considering I covered those games for ten years you wouldn't believe I didn't like football, and it sometimes took me the first twenty minutes of a game to work out which way the team were playing. Never mind, I got paid for it that was the main thing, and Ian was a great bloke to work with, and his book is proving to be an entertaining read.

I took a look at the BBC News website this morning to see the disgusting scenes in the House of Commons. The sooner we have a General Election the better. It really is time for a damned good spring clean.

Tomorrow the weather should be back to normal and we'll look to do something constructive with the day. Maybe a bus ride to Antibes or Nice.

See you then.

MONDAY 9-09-19

We slept well last night having had a long tiring day's travelling yesterday. So this was our first of about ten days' here at Camping Hippodrome at Villeneuve-Loubet on The French Riviera GPS: N43.641891 E7.137962.

Our first task this morning having scrubbed up was to bag a bigger, better pitch than the only vacant one we had to take last night. We were soon in luck when a Dutch couple moved off a pitch almost across from us, and having checked with them that they were actually leaving, as opposed to going out touring for the day, I was in to the Reception Office to grab it before the Dutch had even had time to book out.

Once we'd moved pitches it was out with the levellers, something we don't use much but as we're staying for a number of day's it's worth making the effort to get them under the front wheels to get us level. Then it was exterior mat down, chairs and tables out and creating a 'home from home'.

Then it was off down the road to one of our favourite supermarkets, a 'Casino' brand hypermarket. There's everything we could want in there but of course with the current exchange rate we had to keep a careful eye on the prices. France isn't a cheap place to visit at the best of times, but now made worse but the Brexit fiasco. When we first came down this way about five years ago it was about €1.40 to the pound, but now it hovers at around €1.10, so that's a 30% loss in pending power over that time.

Once we returned it was lunchtime followed by a bit of relaxation sat at our pitch. I find it difficult to just sit around doing nothing, but I persevere for the greater good. The Chef had observed that if we had arrived here today as we had expected, there just wouldn't have been a pitch available to us. Even the small pitch we vacated has been taken by a young German lad with a cleverly designed tent which unfolds from a glorified roof rack. This is the frustrating thing for us. This campsite isn't that fancy, but it is in a very good location, it's just that we cannot book a pitch in advance, it's always first-come-first-served, which is a huge risk to take when travelling so far to get here. Thanks to Google Maps I've discovered another campsite down the road nearly opposite the railway station, but it's quite a walk down the road and away from the shops etc, we'd need to have our folding bikes with us ideally if we were to end up there. We are going to make a point of checking it out while we're here.

After our evening meal eaten al fresco as it was such a lovely warm evening, we went for a stroll around the marina complex and along the promenade. It was nice to be back. To us it's one of those places which feels very comfortable to be in, and I suppose we all have such places that we know and like.

Tomorrow is forecast to be wet all day and so it's going to be a bit of a challenge as to how we fill it. Luckily after tomorrow it looks to be lovely hot sunshine all the way.