It’s been a while since my last blog post – a busy year! – and having just got back from a 17 day Motorhome trip to France, thought I’d share a few memories of our stay there.

This time we travelled from Folkestone via Eurotunnel and I used my new Irish passport for the first time – so no stamp needed at the check-in!

Stylish passport holder!

Now that we are no longer in the EU, we had to purchase a detailed animal health care travel document for Bonnie dog before setting off – an expensive exercise (it cost just under £170 at our local vets) and only lasts 4 months!. This has to be shown at separate Eurotunnel animal reception centres on both sides of the channel, whereas under the previous pet passport system everything was sorted at the same time and place as our own check-ins/outs.

The Eurotunnel journey was great – smoother than we expected and in just over 30 minutes you pop out in Calais. Enough time for a quick coffee and Bonnie dog was unfazed by the ride. Just in front of us were a group of high end sports cars being driven by a BBC film crew for a shoot in France. Cue a chat about what cars we would have if we won the lottery – mine is a Lexus Convertible by the way.

Then it was an easy exit from the terminal onto the road for our first stop-over, the lovely Saint Valery Sur Somme. We stayed two nights at the Le Walric site which is on the edge of the main town but well worth the half hour walk to the river promenade area with its shops, market stalls and restaurants.

Saint Valery Sur Somme – river promenade

Next up was a three night stay at Fresnay Sur Sarthe near Le Mans, before heading to our main destination – Ile de Re just across from La Rochelle on the west coast. It was a hot journey as the temperatures had started to climb over 30 degrees – unheard of in that region for mid June. This was followed by another three days of scorching weather when the temperature inside the Motor Home hit a jaw-dropping 40 degrees one afternoon.

Ile De Re harbour

Thankfully we have an awning and we even clipped Bonnie dog’s coat (we took some battery clippers along just in case they might be needed!), to help keep her cool. Walking anywhere during the daytime was out of the question – just moving brought us out in a sweat – so we were restricted in what we could do for the first few days there.

By day 5 things were starting to cool back down, so we were able to explore the backstreets and the stunning church. Ile de Re harbour area is beautiful and just a 10 minute walk from the site where we were staying.

Then the unexpected happened – what do they say about animals and children?

Paul and Bonnie dog chilling outside the MoHo

I was stepping out of the motor home with Bonnie dog on her lead, when she lurched forwards and landed awkwardly on the ground below. It was our last evening in Ile de Re so a planned stroll by the harbour was abandoned and we realised we’d have to get her checked over by a vet.

That was done on our return trip to Saint Valery Sur Somme and hats off to Helena, the manager of Le Walric site, who dropped us off to the local vet in her car. We then made our own way to a bigger practice 10 miles up the road for the more detailed examination involving an Xray, pain relief injection and some anti inflammatory tablets.

On the plus side we were rewarded by some stunning rural scenery which we didn’t fully appreciate until the journey back from the vets, relieved that it was nothing more than a leg sprain. Phew.

Tequila sunrise cocktail at the Celtic Bar Tabac in Fresnay Sur Sarthe

Overall , despite the unseasonable heatwave and Bonnie’s mishap, it was a great road trip and we’ll certainly be heading back there. On the way home to Cornwall we stopped for one night at the South Lytchett Manor site near Poole in Dorset – a perfect spot to break up the long journey back. It has been voted the 2021 UK AA site of the year and you can see why, though we didn’t get to try out the quaintly named St Peter’s Finger pub down the road – Bonnie dog was still only allowed short walks. Again we’ll be heading back to put that right!

My reading for this trip included Jude Lennon’s debut novel ‘Kintsugi’ which is a family story involving secrets and lies across the generations. It is a strong first novel – the author has already written a number children’s books and a collection of short stories. The story shifts deftly from the present day to the past after the main character, Eve, receives an unexpected bundle of letters uncovering disturbing details about her family history. Using a television analogy, think ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ with a smattering of ‘The Repair Shop’! If you like family sagas (with a twist) this is one to read.

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