November 2017

November was a busy month including a little tourism and preparing for a brief trip home to Adelaide and the excitement of seeing all our friends and family.

During autumn in France we were so fortunate with the weather! We were expecting to be chilled but were wearing shorts and t-shirts until the first week of November. However, it has gradually got colder in the evenings and mornings and the rains started on November 3rd in southern France.  There were heavy snows on the Pyrenees and in the Alps in the first few days of November.

The tricky factor in travelling now, is trying to find quality camping grounds open at this time of year. Between Toulon and Nice we found only one camping ground open and it was awful – dirty toilets and cold showers! We decide to bolt for Villeneueve-Loubet, between Nice and Antibes, where we had previously stayed at a very comfortable all-year camping ground.

We did make time to visit the Bandol region, famous for its high quality rose wines and included the pretty little seaside towns of Bandol and Sanuary-sur-Mer. Both towns were gorgeous, with lovely architecture and a great market at Sanuary. It was Halloween while we were there, with the whole town of Bandol getting involved. Parents and children dress up and the children go into the shops asking for treats. Along the seafront there were lots of old-fashioned games set up for the kids to play. It was great fun to watch- at least until the kids started to OD on sugar!

On our travels back to Nice we also visited the Maison de Vins de Provence at a little village called Les Arcs. This was a recommendation from Michael’s friend Philippe at the Cave de Loupe in Villeneueve-Loubet. An inspired choice! It was an impeccably presented view of the whites, rose and reds of the Provence region. There were 14 wines for tasting each day as well as hundreds for buying. We had an individually hosted tasting and concentrated on rose and reds. There was only one (red) wine we didn’t like; its nose was too ‘barn-yard’ for us. The rest were superb and very reasonably priced. We ended up by buying 6 wines, four reds and two rose.

We were soon happily ensconced in our camping ground in Villeneueve-Loubet. The tent was up to store the bikes as well as the BBQ. The awning was out (for rain shelter not shade!) and the outdoor setting was in place. We were quite comfortable and starting to get organized for our brief trip back to Adelaide.

We have been in France over eight months and travelled 11,000km. We have managed to live within our means, even though France is said to be expensive and this is the most expensive region (except for Paris perhaps). We eat out several times a week – after all, Michael is aka Sir Lunchalot! But we usually eat at little bistros rather than Michelin-starred restaurants and lunch is good value in France.

We dropped Grubie to her dog-sitter in Biot, just a few kms from our campground. Coco and her family host up to eight dogs (and some extras for doggy day-care) and the dogs have the run of the back part of the house and the garden. No cages! We had been for an interview before Grubie was accepted, to make sure she was good at socializing with other dogs.

We spent a whole day packing and cleaning, before dropping the motor-home at ‘Nice Caravanes’ while we returned to Adelaide. They would be repairing our small ‘dingles’, doing some modifications we decided upon after living in the van for 8 months and most importantly installing a refillable LPG gas bottle so we can travel throughout Europe without having to change gas bottles in each country.

Then it was off to Adelaide! We had been counting down the weeks and couldn’t wait to see our family and friends. We had a great flight back with lots of Moet, sleep and movies.

Our nephew Jack Berketa was marrying Alina Eacott and this was the reason for the timing of our visit. What a fabulous day! The wedding was at the Botanic Gardens on a lovely sunny day. The vows were funny and sincere and the wedding party looked gorgeous. Then it was on to a function centre in the city for a great party to celebrate - with dancing, good food, lots of mingling and entertaining speeches. It was worth a trip back from Europe!

It was fun to stay for a few days with our long-time friends and travel buddies Nina and Bruce, who also attended the wedding with us.

Sue’s mum had been struggling, but did get to the wedding and reception with the help of a wheelchair. Next day saw her in hospital so Sue spent time chatting to her mum in a hospital room rather than in restaurants/cafes as she had planned.

We had a packed agenda for our time in Adelaide including medical check-ups, financial and taxation meetings as well as lots of fun with friends and family.