An Unexpectedly Busy Spring 2018

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Saturday 30 June 2018

An Unexpectedly Busy Spring 2018

Well, this Spring has been a real mixed bag of activities. Not really what we expected at all when we crossed the Pyrenees in mid-April anticipating fun and cycles and meandering around. Instead we’ve found ourselves taking on quite a lot of practical jobs, fulfilling a few favours we had promised to friends, making some trips to visit family in the UK and Holland and, just occasionally, squeezing in a new experience. Like I said, not what we expected at all, however, still a great opportunity for us to learn patience and the importance of not planning in too much detail in case so many unexpected things start cropping up. Like the quote says.. "We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us" (Joseph Campbell). Still, now that we are back on the road the time seems ripe to say a few words about what we’ve been up to.

When we left Spain in mid-April and travelled into France via the Pyrenees, we didn’t really have much of a plan. We stopped and did a few cycles en route, as I wrote about at the time, but after that we were provisionally returning to the gite in southern France that we spent some time housesitting last year. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found that there was a pine processionary caterpillar nest in the garden. In case you don’t know, these are nasty pests which are covered in toxic hairs which can potentially kill small children and dogs, as well as being painful to adults as well. So that was that plan knocked on the head before we started.

A few days of pottering around the Gers department of France later and I flew back to the UK for a week. I’d agreed to give a talk for the company that make the equipment I use to manage my bowel incontinence and was adding on an extended visit to family afterwards, meeting both my new niece and nephew into the bargain. It was a wonderful (and very busy/tiring) visit. While I was away Esther spent a week parked in a wonderful little town called l’Isle Jourdain which has a great motorhome aire with a nearby swimming pool and some lovely lakes for walking the dogs around. She was a real star and I couldn’t have seen my family without her support, including for the few days I spent sleeping after I got back!

We tried to head down to the Pyrenees again after that, but the weather was rubbish so we spent quite a lot of time sat inside while it rained outside with temperatures close to zero. We would have left the area, but we had promised to do a couple of favours for a friend back in the Gers at the end of May, so we couldn’t go too far.

Esther then decided to take the opportunity while we were so close to Toulouse airport to fly to Holland visit her 101 year old grandma, so it was my turn to look after the gang solo. Again, a very tiring trip for Esther. I honestly thought it would be harder to be the one in the camper alone looking after 5 dogs, but it turned out that flights, hustle and bustle took much more out of both of us.

When Esther returned it was time to go and do the first of our promised favours, which we did, and then had another week until we were needed again so we drove down to Lourdes where we found a Groupon deal so that Esther could take a few days away from the van to recover from her Holland visit. We don’t write about it much, but Esther was diagnosed with ME several years ago and some days can hardly get out bed, especially when we’ve been out of our normal routine as we had been ever since leaving Spain. She also didn’t recover from the flight home at all, which she has found several times in the past. We’re not sure why but her body just doesn’t respond well to the flying. It was still raining unfortunately, but Lourdes was a lovely place to spend some time.

We then did our final favour back in the Gers, by which point we were feeling a little dazed and confused at all of the dashing about, so we just stayed put for a week, eating wild cherries and mulberries and trying to work out what to do next. We got to spend a little time with our good friends who run the Biocoop store in Condom, which was lovely, but we also both felt it was time to move on and do something new, especially as it was approaching mid-June and the longest day of the year.

We then remembered that our van needed and MOT urgently, so we booked Esther into a chalet on a campsite for 3 nights, moved in half the contents of our motorhome (i.e. the dog stuff) and I tore back to Dieppe, sailed to Newhaven, had the MOT and drove back again the next day.

By now we really did feel it was time to do some outdoor fun stuff, so with the temperature in Southern France turning the inside of our motorhome into an oven with 5 hot dogs (and 2 hot humans), we charged across to Switzerland…..which is where we are now. Back in the mountains where we love to be.

It was definitely a much busier April, May and June than we anticipated. The ‘adventures’ we had were not the kind we expected at all, but they still were ‘adventures’ all the same and taught us many lessons, especially how to make the best of things.

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