Wednesday 9th January, we travelled over to France, arriving in
Cherbourg around 2PM, then driving down to Avranches where we booked a
room for the night. Reached cottage soon after midday.
the 18th, we journeyed southwards: crossing the Loire at Oudon, then
reaching Poitiers, were we stayed the night. Next day via Chauvigny and
Montmorillon, also Chateauponsac, passing to the east of Limoges,
stopping for coffee at Ambazac, and later, a bite to eat at
Egletons. Staying this night at Brive La Gaillarde. The following
morning we thought we should take a look at Sarlet-la-Caneda - a "must
see" in guide books. This is in the area of the River Dordogne. Quite
hilly, so very twisty roads, not an area I would be enamored with,
perhaps not helped with the dark forested trees.
part of France is in the foot hills of the Massif Central, whose snow
covered peaks were visible at a great distance. Many great rivers of
France are sourced from those heights, including of course the Loire,
another is the Lot, which we crossed at Carjac, on the way down to
Albi, were we stopped the night. The Cathedral of this place is to me
amazing; built entirely of brick, the clay for the manufacture of which
is said to be from the bed of the River Tarn. The size and hight of the
building is massive, little wonder it took all of a couple of centuries
The main door gives some idea of the height of this Cathedral; while right, indicates brick size, and amount of morter used.
then travelled down to Carcassonne. This being another 'well
recommended' city to visit. We'd booked here for a couple of nights.
One reason for visiting this area was that I wished to take a
at the Canal
Du Midi. This, yet another remarkable example of civil
engineering, done long before any form of motorized earth moving was
available, in fact it was created in the latter 1600's, so
it must have been one of the first waterways across countryside ever
built. For those not familiar with geography, I should stress that this
links the Atlantic with the Mediterranean. So it makes a 'cut
through' above Spain for any boat small enough to make use of it, and
large numbers of British boats do. Otherwise of course, they'd have to
be carried by lorry, unless they did the long voyage across Biscay and
round Spain, if they wished
to reach the "Med". So following last Octobers trip, I've viewed both
the newest and oldest waterways in Europe.
by far the best method of exploring these routes, is on the water
itself. However I now have a good idea of the terrain involved, being
pleased at viewing this. We did travel eastwards as far as the sea -
both sides of Narbonne actually, and we also took a look round the town
of Pezenas. This being famous for "mince-meat pies". Mostly bought by
tourists I imagine, they are said to contain 'sweet and
spicy minced meat' - I've still to sample them!
again, the next town we stayed at was Agen. This in the area of the
River Garonne. Interesting farming hereabouts, many orchards growing
apples and soft fruits - plums dried as prunes being a local specialty.
Much land is irrigated - amazing the vast amount of French land
enjoying this facility. Niort was the final stop on this trip, which
covered a distance of 1389 miles.
We both thoroughly enjoyed taking our boat
to Ocean Village Marina in Southampton on
the 25th February.
Here we stayed four days. We were lucky with the weather, and apart
from enjoying the excellent range of shops, took a three hour cruise as
far up as the container terminal. Here three very large ship were tied
up. Two massive car carriers were also in port. No cruise liners
though, perhaps not the time of year for them.
Six of the 'photo's taken while on our sojourn at Ocean Village, surely
a place for modern life - as the first two indicate. The following
three show container workings, while the final one was taken on our
journey down Southampton Water.
first of April is reputed to be the day for fools, but we did not feel
so when we drove out of the farm on that day, at twenty to two in the
morning! We were on our way to Scotland, and the obvious purpose of
this early start was to avoid traffic on the motorway which builds in
the day between the conurbations of the West Midlands and the North.
Rather surprisingly to me at any rate, was that this starting time did
not seem to affect me over much later in the day. This could well have
have been due to problems we encountered later - adrenaline getting pumped up!
on the time of year, we have got into the habit of rarely pre-booking
accommodation. We'd arrived at Ardrossen soon after midday, deciding it
was unwise to cross over to Aran that day, but booked the complete
route - three ferries(!) for the next day. So now we had to find
somewhere to stay for that night. The ferry office were helpful
suggesting places, so did the local library. But look as we may,
nowhere in that area could we find. The fact that it was pouring with
rain did not help matters. In the end, we decided a return to the large
town of Kilmarnock might be an idea. Here we spied a Premier Travel Inn
- but they were full! However they passed us onto another one which had
a room. Good job too, what with our long day, and the rain, it was
obviously a relief. Proved to be excellent quality, at a very fair
rate. First time we'd used them, but we would certainly make use of
them in the future.
do say that counting the ferries we've ever used would be better than
counting sheep, if difficult to get to sleep. The first of the three
for the day was from the mainland to the Island of Aran, then a much
smaller ferry boat conveyed us the next leg to the the Mull of Kyntyre
- this couple of 'hops' had saved us the long loop round Lock Fyne.
Then we had a quick drive over not such good roads to reach the
terminal at Kennagraig. From here the quite large boats - two ply this
route - cross the the Island of Islay. This voyage takes two hours.
was an island that we have visited before, but that was very short,
just one day. Memories had stayed however, it was felt a few days
longer would be nice. Indeed so it proved. We've toured the majority of
the larger islands off the West Coast of Scotland, and Islay is the
best in our view. Large - about thirty miles across, and sustaining a
population of three and a half thousand, it is very much a 'community'
in its own right. Particurly in Ireland, I have formed the idea that
offshore islands are kept populated partly as a tourist attraction. I
do not have this feeling in the case of Islay. There are a number of
whisky distilleries to provide base economic activity. The farmland
could also be quite good - certainly as compared with much of the rest
of the western side of Scotland. There was up until the year 2000 a
number of dairy herds run on the island, but then the creamery was
forced to close, these were dispersed, and only one remains.
mentioned, we had no accommodation booked. Being that our intention was
for a stay of several days, self catering was what we would be looking
for - finding it could be the problem! So it proved, but luck came our
way. From Port Askaig where we landed, we drove around fifteen miles to
Bowmore, this being near the centre, also the 'capital'. It does
possess a tourist office, and this was open. However locating
availability proved difficult, partly due to some owners not being
local residents. Just after we left the office, and discussing what to
do, a lady came up to us and said she had a flat that was empty, this
proved to be just up the road and in the main street. This was
absolutely first class. We had a base in the centre, proving perfect
for our stay. Our memories of Islay have been enhanced.
wall Bowmore, looking up main street, famous round church just in view
at the top. Next: Looking down, our car is parked outside the flat we
obtained. Bowmore's distillery proved an interesting visit. We likewise
thoroughly enjoyed a days visit to the island of Jura. Above the only
village, and right, the islands distillery is grouped among the houses.
spent a total of five nights on Islay, this plus a night in a Premier
Travel Inn before and after, meant we were away for a week. A couple or
so days later, we took the ferry from Poole to Cherbourg - a night at
Avranches, then on to our cottage. No trips away, and returned on the
Thursday 1st May, we took Sylvania to Yarmouth on
the Isle of Wight. Here we made really good uses of our bus passes!
That afternoon an 'open top' to The Needles, and from here we walked
over Tennyson Down to Freshwater, then another bus back. Next day after
a slow 'pootle' round this superb little town, we left at 13.25 to
cross the water to Lymington. Here we met up with a very large number
of fellow Nimbus owners for the annual rally held here. Three days of
activities, then a return to Yarmouth. First afternoon a bus trips to
Newport, and another one onto Ryde. Next day to Shorwell, from where we
walked over the high downs westward as far as Freshwater, calling in at
the National Trust property at Mottistone for a 'ploughmans' on the
way. The following morning, before returning to Poole, we found time for a
ride to Alum Bay, here we spent some time watching the craftsmen at work
in the glass works.
|We do love the Isle of Wight. Left: A view towards the mainland. Above: Alum Bay|
had been our intention to take 'Sylvania' down to the West Country,
this trip to commence in the middle of May. We'd only left our berth
when I felt the engine did not sound 'right', so we turned back.
First suggestions were it might be something round the propeller. This
was checked - not that. Looking in the bilge however, revealed a fair
amount of water sloshing about. Clearing this, plus finding just how
this got in there, also why it had not been pumped out, took some time.
I felt also that we should try and utilise tides for this long journey.
With them, but not against them, could save an hours running time.
it was not 'till 30th May that we eventually started out. Rougher off
Portland Bill, but apart from this, a really pleasent first leg down to
Brixham. A couple of days later we set out, heading for Plymouth. Off
Berry Head just as I was easing the throttle forward to set our usual
cruising speed, at this point, an alarm sounded, the engine shut down -
but thankfully kept running! We were in 'limp' mode, so back to our
berth. The local Volvo engineers checks revealed a degree of muck in
the fuel filters. This appeared the obvious cause. Not so! Setting out
from Plymouth some days later, the same occurance, this time after
hitting quite a large wave. So back we went, and the same engineer came
back. Making some modifications, we felt safe to continue. This time we
We really enjoyed Falmouth, staying at the
towns visitors berths. One day we explored the Truro River almost up as
far as Malpas. Another day was spent in the Helford River, up in fact
virtually to Gweek, as well we did not linger here, or the tide could
have held us for the next twelve hours. Back down, and we managed to
anchor just off the National Trust quay. Here we stayed peacefully for
the next five hours. Never felt so quiet before - I shall not forget
that spot! Funnily enough, this was the day that Dolphins were found
stranded in a creek just near St Mawes, but we ignored this, Helford
1st July we travelled over to France. For a change, we thought we'd try
a different route - Plymouth to Roscoff. This port was reached soon
after six in the evening, and we managed to reach our cottage in time
for bed. This year, the Tour-de-France started in Brest, with racing to
the finish on the first day just down the road from us in Plumeluc.
Here we spent most of the day, a large mobile television screen showing
the cyclists as they sped towards us. We also viewed the stage from St
Malo to Nantes from the road side a couple of days later.
|The lovely cottage above Old Harry Ferry, where we moored||for tea. 'Sylvania' is behind, and to the left of Muriel.|
|Above: A closer view||The north side of Old Harry Ferry|
|Below: Serene in the Helford||At Gweek.|
trip of this visit was to spend a couple of nights in the City of
Nantes. We had stayed here before, and remembered the trams. The Ibis
we chose to stay at claimed to be just a hundred metres from one of the
termini - though I think it was a little bit further away than that! In
the centre, parking in the city would have been chargable, but free
were we stayed. Really well worthwhile once we found out just how low
the cost of tram rides where - three pounds was all it cost the two of
us for the whole weekend!
returned into Plymouth late in the evening of the 16th - to be told
that the room we had thought had been ordered was not on the hotel
system! They did have one spare, but not nice when that does happen. We
did locate the human error which was the cause. The next morning we
travelled down to Penryn - to check what was happening to our boat
since we'd left it there.
explain furthur regarding "Sylvania". in the meantime we ended July
with a trip into mid and North Wales. Travelling via Gloucester and
Ross, directly to Hay for lunch. Then Painscastle and Glascym to
Kington and Knighton, ending for the night in Clun. Next day, a meander
across Mid-Wales and a stay of two nights at Dolgellau, while here we did a
trip to the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula. North to Conwy,
looking at the Castle here, also the marina. The last night was spent in
Looking through the page of the year 2000
I see that the August of this month, is almost a repeat of then. We
visited both the country shows we did then - though this year only a
day separated these. We also as then took a trip down to Bicton, though
I'd forgotten till I was there we'd been there only eight years
previously, though must say I'd only remembered that I might have
mentioned the previous trip here. Nothing there reminded me of it.
Weather this August is much worse even than then however! Glad I'm not harvesting.
to report on the problem which has been troubling us this summer - our
boat. As we were returning from Falmouth in June, we spotted dolphins.
We stopped the boat, but not the engine, to try and take some 'photo's.
No luck, but as we moved forward again, an alarm sounded, and the boat
shut down into 'limp' mode. So back to berth. We called out an
engineer, the upshot being that it was decided the boat should be left
at their base in Penryn. We returning by rail. The work took longer
than I had thought - over three months. in fact. It was not until 8th
September that we managed to leave Challenger Marines base |
for the voyage to Brixham, then another wait till the 12th before we could at last return to
our home berth at Poole. Right: We passed close to the Eddystone Lighthouse, on our Falmouth to Brixham voyage
trip on 26th September - to Exeter. Took the train from Sherborne, had
a good look round, then lunch in a 'buffet Chinese - we do like these!
Walking back towards the city centre, we found a bus heading out
towards Totnes, so to there we went. We had visited several times
previously, the large three story warehouse usually has something of
interest to purchase.
across to France in the afternoon of 16th October, staying that night
at Cherbourg, then to Bleno the next day. Some days later we commenced
another of our long drives through Europe. Across France to the German
border just north of Basel, halting on the way at Blois and Digon. Our
first night in Germany was at the small town of Laufenburg, just over
the River Rhine from its identically named neighbour in Switzerland.
Travel the next day was to the south of Lake Bodansee, and then trying
to avoid Bregenz, before climbing up the Alpine foothills, to spend
that night at the town of Fussen. On again the next day, the first
hundred miles or so were on the usual 'local' roads. As we reached
Salzburg however we realized it would be difficult to get through
without the use of the Autobahn. We then considered wise to continue on
with this route to Vienna.
had driven a thousand miles across Europe in an easterly direction -
and to be honest felt pleased and satisfied we had done so. From
looking at the town plans we had obtained, we thought we could walk
into the centre - not so! It is a very large city. It has though an
excellent transport system, in fact the Underground could equal Paris
or London. So we made use of this with the purchase of travel passes.
We found the 'museum
quarter' which appears to have the most interesting buildings. Here we
met an individual dressed in period costume who was persuading visitors
to purchase tickets to a concert to be held that evening in the "Golden
Hall". This is the very same concert hall from which every New Years
day, a concert of Vienniese music is beamed round the world - we've
often watched this. So we bought tickets. I had assumed that cameras
would not have been allowed, so did not take mine - wrong! Virtually
all the others in the audience were flashing away. Pity! Well worth
going though, we shall watch next new year with renewed interest.
Vienna is full of fabulous buildings, above pictures just two.
day we enjoyed a hydrofoil trip down the Danube, this as far as
Bratislava. Must confess I had thought this city was in Hungary, thus
was surprised to note almost all vehicles had "sk" on their plates.
Later I found this to be the capital of Slovakia. Like many other
Mid-European towns, attractive buildings; examples below - also smart guards! These we enjoyed as we walked
up to the railway station from which we found a train to return us to
A drive south out of the city towards Hungary seemed a
good idea for the next day. Though in practice, actually finding a
route in the general direction one wishes to exit a very large city, is
often not easy, and made worse this day due to it being overcast, so
the sun could not give us a lead. Eventually we did get out though -
and on the right road too! The Hungarian border crossing is like so
many other borders nowadays, unmanned. Country borders have always
interested me, and I realise that in this part of Europe, they are
relatively recent in historical terms, and it's good that they seem to
be dying out again. Always interesting to cross however, there is
certainly perceived differences in countries. As is quite often found
in former "eastern bloc" countries, side roads in rural areas can be
unsurfaced. Even main routes often having rather weaker surfaces than
we are used to, this not helped by the heavy lorries these often carry.
We drove into the town of Sopron, with the intention of trying to find
the centre, I had thought this would be worth a look at. But somehow we
missed it. A look later in guidbooks confirmed it to be
worth a visit. Our stop that night was In Graz, Austria's second largest
|We stopped for a coffee at this Hungarian village.|
Graz was another town we found difficulty in locating our
desired exit route. Once out though, and heading roughly westwards, I
confess to difficulty in the recall of much of our journey. Event
overload is partly the reason. Doing a long trip, with something fresh
every day, one can usually recall the highlights. But understandably
perhaps, there are gaps regarding views and scenery failing to imprint
in our minds. We most certainly will not forget the small town we
stayed in that night however. It was Mittersill. We had stopped and
parked our car,then walked round looking for a suitable place to stay.
Entering likely looking hostelry, the owner said he could not give us a
room, but indicated he did good food. Obviously he wished us to return,
so he told us of another house offering rooms. Excellent these were
too, very large, and good rates. So we eat that evening in the
restaurant we'd already visited - a meal I shall not forget. in fact
the best cooking of all the many hundreds of places we've eat at in all
the years of travel, both in the UK, as well as the rest of Europe.
Shame its so far away!
Davos in Switzerland was the next town we
stayed at. We had been climbing through the Alps. and the last 'climb'
was the trickiest of all. Over the Fluela Pass in fact. Constant zigzag
bends, and two degrees below freezing at the top. Really glad to come
down and reach Davos! Switzerland being as it is, more mountains to
negotiate the next day, we passed through Liechtenstein, we turned
westward and eventually found the town of Appenzell. This was already
well known to us, previously viewed during our Swiss Railway tour of
2003. Muriel found the restaurant we had previously visited, and here
we enjoyed a most excellent milky coffee. We turned to another
previously used haunt for that evenings stop - Zug Barr. The
receptionist to our surprise could give us the dates of our earlier
stay. Three following stops were in France, Pontarlier, Moulins, and
Mezieres - in the area of Brenne. Thus completed a total mileage of