Flaming June

We had decided to tear up the vestigial roots that we were forming at our cozy little spot overlooking the cornfield in Huisseau-sur-Cosson before they became too established. We were coming to the end of our packing session ready for a 9:00 AM departure when the campsite owner turned up – he seems to like to help his guests hitch up – and presented us with a net of walnuts from his trees. What a pleasant gesture.

Our plan, such as it was, was to head for another old haunt beneath Domme near Sarlat-la-Canéda on the Dordogne for a few days before, perhaps, checking out pastures new at Figeac. The forecast for the coming couple of days was pants so it made some sort of sense to use at least one of those days travelling.

We headed south on N roads to Châteauroux before picking up the largely blissfully free A20 autoroute south to Brive. The skies were generally grey but with an occasional brighter interlude. This was going to be a journey of about 250 miles so our tank of diesel should be enough. However, just to be sure and to give a little more flexibility, this being a Sunday again with most filling stations closed, we called in to the first non-Total service area on the A20 to fill up. (Explanation: All fuel prices are, of course, utterly outrageous but the Total stations are particularly excruciating. They have the gall – or should that be Gaul πŸ™‚ – to charge about 10 cents more than other oil companies, and their off autoroute prices exceed those on the autoroutes, completely opposite to normal practice. Why they are doing any business at all, I cannot imagine. But I digress …)

The other reason we were interested in the service areas was for good ol’ wi-fi access. We’d seen one advertising wi-fi on a previous trip. Naturally, there was no sign of any such service where we chose to fill up. Onward; at least the bank account was lighter, if not the skies. πŸ™‚ There seemed to be a significantly brighter set of skies over to the west. "That’s La Rochelle", said Carol. It is known to have something of a microclimate and be the second sunniest part of France. "Tempting", I said, "but having made a plan, let’s stick to it."

Carol remembered a relatively new service area, the Port-de-Corrèze, a little way before we’d be climbing off to avoid a péage (toll) section. As it was newish, maybe it would also be modernish. Alas, computer in shoulder bag, we could see no sign proclaiming the existence of any wi-fi. Having lugged the lap top from the car, though, I sat down and fired it up, just out of curiosity, and lo, wireless networks found. There were two so we picked the most likely looking candidate and were in with no fuss at all.

A bustling service area wasn’t the easiest environment in which to work but, not only did we manage to publish our three outstanding posts and clean up the email, but Rosemary spotted us online for a quick instant natter, too. Wonderful stuff, this technology.

‘T was raining a tad as we returned to the car to finish our journey. We got some brighter spells en route but, as we exited the autoroute about 20 miles from our target, there appeared to be a very large, extremely dark cloud directly before us. "That looks to be about where we are heading",  quoth I, downheartedly. "Exactly", replied astronavigatrix Carol, disappointingly.

We drove into what can only be described as a deluge. It had eased as we approached our intended campsite but it had obviously been very heavy here because the ground was completely sodden and very muddy. This particular site has many very low hanging trees which would be hanging even lower under the weight of water and dripping for hours to come, even if it stopped raining. Since most pitches looked inaccessible to big Billy Bailey, and/or unusable due to the mud, we decided to look elsewhere.

Almost literally next door is another site. It was in slightly better condition (more grass) and is better kempt but was equally water-logged. The state of the ground spoke of considerably more rain than just one passing deluge. This site is also right beside the roaring river Dordogne and we didn’t really care for the lack of flood defences here. Keep looking.

The rain had eventually ceased as we finally checked out a site new to us, one with reports of pleasant views, half a kilometre south of the bastide town of Domme. This site is up a significant hill so no flood risk. We received a very warm welcome (probably glad to see anybody at all in this weather) and we were getting brassed off with looking by now, so pitch up we did. On a brighter note, Carol spotted six black kites whirling around over the campsite just behind us as I was manoeuvring the caravan.

Amazingly, we got set up in the dry and even managed a late lunch (about 4:00 PM) outside, en plein air. That pleasant interlude ended and degenerated back into rain, though, and we retreated. The rain eased enough for us to erect our sun canopy a little later, but that was essentially it for the evening; the rain was soon back with its reinforcements. (The term "sun canopy" is clearly something of a joke – it seems much more useful as a rain shelter beneath which to cook.)

Unless the views stop being obscured by rain, they’ll do us little good here. I know this was predicted but why the hell didn’t I hang a right for the brightness over La Rochelle?

Posted in France, 2008

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