We fully intended to stay three nights in Cahors. In fact I was a little bit in love with the place and would have liked to stay a lot longer. We definitely wanted to see more of the city and the unusually generous three nights on a free aire seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Late in the afternoon on the second day there was a knock on the door and a tall dark stranger was standing there.
“Bonsoir!” he declared with that uniquely French flourish, then jumped about a foot in the air as Boo shot out the door and barked ferociously at him. He laughed a little self consciously when he realised that Boo was all mouth and no action. It turned out he was a local farmer selling his eggs so we bought a dozen and had a wee chat with him. He spoke a little English and we can manage a little French so it wasn’t very rich in vocabulary but it was great fun. He was excited that we were from Scotland, telling us that Scotland is making a fresh start and he wishes the country well. He was a delight. Humorous, intelligent and obviously politically aware yet happy to be knocking on motorhome doors selling eggs to foreigners with defensive poodles. Another reason to like the place – the people.
But our plans were scuppered. First of all we realised that three nights without recharging our leisure batteries was causing the levels on them to fall and we didn’t want a repeat of the dead battery problem of earlier in the trip. They are expensive bits of kit and I’ve been watching over ours and clucking like a mother hen. Solar panels are great but in November, even in sunny weather, the input is limited compared to the output of long evenings with the lights on.
Next came the chain saw. Late in the evening of our second night some numptie started up a chain saw nearby. It was loud enough to waken the dead drunk and made worse by the fact that they were creating an echo from over the river so we were getting a double helping of teeth gritting racket. Sitting in semi darkness with only one light on and flinching every thirty seconds wasn’t much fun but it got worse. We got all tucked up in bed thinking that a good night’s sleep would fix everything. We needn’t have bothered. The chainsaw sleep massacre went on until the early hours of the morning. When we woke up bleary eyed the next morning we decided that Cahors would have to be on the list for a second visit. Driving Miss Holly was the order of the day to charge up her batteries and move us closer to our next destination.
Before we left I got out our Wonder Bag.
A Wonder Bag is a fantastic piece of kit that works like a slow cooker but requires no energy of any kind once you’ve prepared your food.
The bag is made of fabric and filled with polystyrene beads. It has a lid and a tie that holds everything in tight. After everything is in place you leave it somewhere safe for several hours then as if by magic you get your hotpot or soup out and munch it up. You might need to give it a quick blast of heat to get it up to full temperature but that’s a matter of choice.
Sorry if I sound like a sales person at the Ideal Homes Exhibition but I love ours so much. It was a gift from the family and it ranks up there with one of the best… and even better, when you buy one, the company gives another one free of charge to a family in a third world country.
We drove a long way that day, all the way from Cahors in the South of France to Ebreuil just north of Clermont Ferrand. We don’t usually do this but the batteries and our itinerary both needed a boost. We chose Ebreuil for no better a reason than we’ve been there before when on holiday with our friends Derek and Mary and we liked the quaint little town with its cobbled streets, riverside setting and a strange little café called Isabel’s. It was only when we pulled up beside the river for yet another free night’s stay that we remembered that we had our chicken casserole, so Isabel wouldn’t be getting our custom that night. Not to worry, it too is on the ‘we’ll be back’ list.
Poor Shirl has got the most horrific cold, complete with hacking cough and gasping for breath. We were tired after the chain saw sleep massacre and the long drive but Shirl’s cold wasn’t going to lie down quietly. We ended up drinking hot drinks at 3.30 in the morning after she woke up feeling ill. There’s something companionable about sitting up together in the deep silence of the night in the motorhome knowing that there’s no need to rush off anywhere in the morning. Sleep? Who needs it?
So we’d been on Aires for the last 11 nights with electricity only available at the first one and for just four hours at one other one. Charging the laptop, the electric toothbrush and ipads has been a challenge and we really wanted to watch a movie. It was time to find a place with an electric hook up. I had already identified an aire in Melay, Burgundy that is advertised as being on a canal basin with electric hook ups provided. It looked lovely in the book but I knew that some of the towns turn off the power and water to their aires in the winter and I couldn’t bear the idea of driving all the way there and finding the electric switched off, so – oh me of little faith – I suggested to Shirley that we went to a campsite.
The chosen campsite was beside a chateau and, according to the book, would be open until the coming weekend.Getting to it involved an 85-mile drive followed by 15 miles on tiny country lanes. You can probably guess what’s coming. When we got there it was closed. ‘Camping fermée’ it said at the gate. I said something much ruder.
There was only one thing to do. We got back on the road and drove to the original choice of Melay where we not only found the electric in full working order but also another motorhomer who helped us plug in.