Friday 3rd August                                              Mixed feelings as we leave Poland and drive into Czech                        130 miles
We left at 8.45 on a fine morning and drove cross country to Oswiecim. The name of this town doesn’t sound familiar, but the name it has come to be known by does – Auschwitz. We had wondered whether to come here, and knew that we couldn’t cope with the 4 hour ‘tour’, but felt that as we were close to it, we should pay our respects.
In fact Auschwitz is the name that has been given to encompass Auschwitz and Birkenau (Brzeszcze) camps. We had trouble in following the signs, and ended up at Birkenau (known as Auschwitz 2). There was a vast car park here, where a lady attendant waved us in. In fact this ‘camp’ is free to visit, but we hadn’t realized it at the time.
It is difficult to express the feelings of seeing the rows of huts, the lookout towers, the fence, and the railway line which arrives at the camp. It is a massive area, but we just walked to the first hut and looked at the barren inside.
2012-08-03_1044__8561A A group of Jewish people at Auschwitz - Birkenau entrance, Poland.JPG
2012-08-03_1035__5805R  Auschwitz - Birkenau fence, Poland.JPG
Scenes at Auschwitz-Birchenau
2012-08-03_1031__5802R Auschwitz - Birkenau fence, Poland.JPG
2012-08-03_1032__5804R Hut in Birkenau, Poland.JPG
We drove to a site nearby where there were two cattle trucks on rails. This was at the point where the Jews had been disembarked and ‘checked over’ for those to be kept for labour, and those to be gassed. There were copies of two sketches made secretly and hidden in the camp, depicting the scenes at the ‘Jews ramp’, as it became known. The drawings were discovered in 1947.
2012-08-03_1057__5806R 'Jews Ramp' at Auschwitz - Birkenau, Poland.JPG
The ‘Jews Ramp’ at Auschwitz
We managed to find our way to the ‘Auschwitz 1’ site, but were horrified at the 4 fluorescent jacketed women furiously waving us in to their busy car parks. We could see a large block tower, but the ‘circus element’ of this sobering site sickened us, and we didn’t stop. Places of this sort need to have a serene atmosphere. We had been here, and will leave with our impression of this unimaginable horror.
Our last visit in Poland was much more light-hearted and a complete contrast.
It was the town of Pszczyna - a small town with a long Rynek (Main Square) flanked by attractive buildings, including the castle (palace). This was of special interest, as the owner, Prince Hans Heinrich von Hochberg, had married English Daisy Cornwallis-West in 1891. They were married in Westminster Abbey. ‘Daisy Days’, celebrating the life of this supposedly beautiful and lively lady, are held each year – there is one tomorrow!
2012-08-03_1232__8564A Pszczyna Castle, Poland.JPG
2012-08-03_1232__8563A Rosie & Daisy, Pszczyna, Poland.JPG
Pszczyna                                                                                                                       Rosie with ‘Daisy’
Behind the palace is a huge area of parkland. Being lunchtime, we stopped in the open air café at the entrance to the palace and both enjoyed filled pancakes – wonderfully cooked and attractively presented. It was extremely hot as we walked back through the town to the car park where we’d stopped, before driving a short way to a delightful open air museum of timber houses in another area of the park. It was shady here, and the descriptions on each of the houses, (mostly 19th century) was in English as well as Polish, so it was a lovely way to end our time in Poland. Called ‘skansen’ (farm village), it cost us 4 zlotys each (80p)!
2012-08-03_1412__8571A Rosie at Skansen - Rural park, Pszczyna, Poland.JPG
2012-08-03_1410__8570A Skansen - Rural park, Pszczyna, Poland.JPG
Pszczyna open air museum
It was 2.30 when we’d finished here, but on returning to the van, we were disquieted to discover that we couldn’t find our mobile phone. We hadn’t seen it today, and feared that we had lost it yesterday. We searched high and low, before setting off on fast roads through rolling country for our last bit of Poland before reaching the Czech border.
We pulled into a petrol station for Adrian to buy fuel with the last of our Polish money. He was frustrated by the slow service at the till. The weather had become really oppressive, and dark skies loomed. I had seen that there might be internet access, and in getting a connection, we decided to try Elm Gable, as we thought that Paul & Nicky would be there. We were surprised when Ruby answered, and found that Emma was there too. Annoyingly the line was really bad, and they couldn’t hear us, which was very frustrating. The parking area had become very busy and noisy, and things were trying!
We set off, and hadn’t gone far when the storm hit – torrential rain with thunder and lightning. After a bit, we turned off the road – we were in Czech now – and waited for the storm to subside a bit. When it did, we continued to NovyJicin (we had mostly been on fast roads) and then joined a short stretch of road which we had driven in 1999. Just as we reached Hodslavice, we both spied a large parking area. When we investigated this, we found that it was beside a small lake.
2012-08-03_1756__5813R Lake at Hodslavice, Czech.JPG
Our overnighter at Hodslavice, Czech
Earlier we’d have loved a swim, but the storm had cooled the temperature a bit. Anyway, it seemed to be a good overnighter. And – Adrian found the phone – hidden away in his clothes!
Saturday 4th August                                                                           On through Czech                                              114 miles
We left at 9.50 on a fine morning, enjoying the pretty hilly country, which we’ve been missing. We travelled cross country at first, then on more main roads, coming to Hranice, where Adrian found a nice spot beside the River Becva for us to have coffee. There was a large church, with ‘onion spires’, like many we’d seen in Poland.
2012-08-04_1058__5818R Rosie at Hranice, Czech.JPG
Coffee stop, Hranice
We continued on some motorway, and some rural roads, stopping for lunch in a ‘nothing’ layby. Soon we came to MoravskaTrebova, where we shopped in a small ‘Penny Market’ supermarket. This was rather like Lidl – we remember shopping in one in 1999 – but was adequate for us. We had several difficulties – first we had to make sure that they took visa, as we had no Czech money (we’d used a token for the trolley). Then we didn’t understand any of the labels, and also we didn’t know the exchange rate!
We continued to Svitany, where there was a motorhome ’freebie’ in our book (one of only two in Czech). We found this without too much trouble, and made use of the facilities. It was like a French ‘flot blot’, with water & dumping facilities. We took the opportunity to have showers/hairwash before Adrian did the ‘filling and emptying’, and I made a cup of tea. As we’d arrived, three young boys were having fun with the water from the hose!
You could overnight here, but we opted not to – there was little shade, and it was rather ‘public’, edged with houses, and being by the sports area, as so many are. Svitavy seemed a pleasant town.
We continued on our rural route, driving though village after village, including Jimramov, which looked rather like a picture postcard film set.
We were wondering about the wisdom of not stopping at Svitavy, when at 5.30, we came to a pull-off on the edge of the forest near Konikov. We went for a short walk through the pine trees, which was difficult underfoot with scattered pine cones and bits of branch.
2012-08-04_1742__5820R ixi at ovrnighter near Konikov, Czech.JPG
Overnighter, Konikof
Sunday 5th August                                                                                  Tour de Czech?                                                     141 miles
It was sunny, but still pleasantly cool, - we were at 2,400 ft. We were awake early. People had arrived to collect bilberries and mushrooms. We had breakfast, including rolls bought yesterday, and left at about 9 o’clock.
The first town we drove through was NoveMesto. We were surprised to see a ski jump here. We also saw snow fences, which are beside the road everywhere. It’s difficult to think of snow when it is so warm.
Near the village of Ujezd, we passed some marshals at a small road junction, and realized that some sort of event was happening. Then a police vehicle passed us, and we were directed to the side of the road. We suddenly realized that a big cycling event was happening. As we pulled over, an enormous group of cyclists passed us – 60 or 70 competitors. We realized that it was something big. The following support cars numbered at least 30. We were on small country roads so it was a bit of a surprise!
We carried on for a few miles, but then realized that the race was still going on, and people were waiting to cheer them on. At Podesin we saw another police car, and decided to pull in. Sure enough, the race passed us again. This time we were ready with cameras, but mine only took images of the road and the legs of the cyclists, which gave us many a laugh later!
2012-08-05_0951__8575A 'Tour de Czech', Podesin, Czech.JPG
2012-08-05_0951__5825R 'Tour de Czech', Podesin, Czech.JPG
‘Tour de Czech’
We continued to the town of Polna – a pleasant town with a lovely long town ‘square’ of grass with trees and a few monuments. We were able to park right by the park, so had a walk around. The ‘square’ was edged with attractive buildings, mostly with shops underneath. A few people were enjoying a Sunday morning just chatting or walking.  We walked up as far as a large ‘church’ – recently painted, and not open. It all seemed very French to us. We walked back and had our coffee sitting in the park. As we drove out of the town, we passed a walled ‘citadel’ beside the lake.
2012-08-05_1019__5826R Adrian, Polna, Czech.JPG
2012-08-05_1012__8578A Polna, Czech.JPG
We continued on our rural route, coming to the largish town of Pelhrimov, where the road was closed in the centre, but we managed to find our way around to continue west.
We were now looking for somewhere to have lunch. We passed a layby which had had picnic tables once, but which now just had a narrow plank for the table. We didn’t stop!
2012-08-05_1213__5827R Picnic table once, Czech.JPG
Fancy a picnic?
We turned off to a site marked on the map ‘Chynaskajeskyne’. We didn’t know what it was, and actually missed the turn, but did then find a suitable layby with apple trees beside it, where we were able to have lunch sitting on our chairs outside, and laze a bit afterwards, not leaving until 2.40.
We now returned to the ‘site’, and found that it was in fact a cave. You could only visit by guided tour. It was quite busy, with a lot of cars parked. The surroundings were lovely, but we decided not to stop.
Continuing on our rural route, we came across the site of an accident. One car was upturned in a field. Another car was by the road. The young occupants of the vehicles were all standing around, so presumably not badly injured. We continued on our way.
We came to the town of Tyn, on the River Viltava. We pulled in beside the river and had a cup of tea overlooking the pleasant town. I’d have loved a swim, but the river looked decidedly unpleasant.
2012-08-05_1619__5828R Rosie at Tyn, Czech.JPG
By the River Viltava at Tyn
We left here at 4.50, hoping to find a place soon to stop for the night. This proved very difficult, as we went ‘up hill and down dale’ through lovely hilly countryside. We then drove through an area where there had recently been a devastating storm. Trees had been uprooted, and debris lay everywhere. We didn’t fancy the idea of staying here, even if we’d found anywhere!
  At about 6 o’clock, we turned off the road to let 2 cars pass, and just there found a suitable spot for the night at Blazejovice. It was just off the road, but we were able to sit behind the van for a drink, and then later for supper.
2012-08-05_2007__8581A Rosie & Ixi at our overnighter, Blazejovice, Czech.JPG
Pleasant place for the night
Adrian had noticed that the sky had become dark, and we had just come in when a big storm hit us!
Monday 6th August                                                                             The hills are alive!                                                  184 miles
We sat outside on a sunny morning to have breakfast. We had slept ‘up top’.
It was just after 9 o’clock when we left to drive through lovely scenery, but on a very narrow road, to Volary (oh oh).
We stopped to get diesel, and by 9.45 we were in Germany. We felt sorry to be leaving the simplicity of the countries we had been travelling in for the last month.
At first we found little to show that we had come into Germany. The countryside was hilly and forested. We continued to Passau, finding places to pull off as difficult as ever! We crossed the wide River Danube, with its selection of river cruisers, and finally stopped for coffee at a parking area beside the road, where the picnic table was as bad as we’d been seeing! There was a concrete table, but the seats on the benches were missing! Although the situation was nice, the litter put us off, so we reluctantly sat inside. Ironically, a worker came to collect up (some of) the litter while we were there. There were no bins.
By now I was enjoying being able to understand the signs, and Adrian felt at home when he saw many an ‘Umleitung’ sign, and later ‘Bahnhof’.
By following Adrian’s sat-nav, we found ourselves crossing the River Inn, and in Austria. We followed roads south towards Salzburg, which was just the time to put on ‘The Sound of Music’! It sounded just right in this setting, with the mountains looming ahead – a treat for us after the flatness of the Baltic countries.
Just before reaching Salzburg, we crossed back over the Inn on a fancy bridge to Germany, at a place called Laufen. Here, we found a motorhome parking place (48 hours max). It was close to the River Inn, so we packed up our picnic and walked down, crossing a small muddy river (where a family of ducks were in line on our return), to sit by the River Inn, looking across to Austria. Just as we were leaving, a JCB and two lorries arrived to do some work so we got it right this time!
2012-08-06_1317__5829R Adrian by River Inn, Laufen, Germany.JPG
By the River Inn, Laufen, Germany
Soon after setting off again in the van, we passed a ‘pick your own’ gladioli beside the road. The rows of flowers looked lovely, and we chose 3 pretty blooms for the van.
2012-08-06_1432__5832R Rosie picking gladioli, Germany.JPG
Picking gladioli
We were following a ‘rural route’, and when we passed a pretty lake called Weitsee, reminiscent of Canada, with unspoilt forested slopes surrounding it, we stopped to have our cup of tea.
2012-08-06_1558__5833R Weitsee, Germany.JPG
Weitsee, Germany
We then came to the ‘resort town’ of Reit am Winkl, which was busy and packed. The flowers on the balcony were unbelievable – mostly balcon geraniums in all sorts of different colour schemes.
Using the sat-nav, we made another excursion into Austria, stopping by pretty Walchseeto have a quick look at the lake before driving through the touristy little town.
2012-08-06_1638__5834R Walchsee, Austria.JPG
Walchsee, Austria
Back in Germany, we turned on to mountain roads, where stopping was difficult because of the steepness, but at 5.20 we found a parking area at a road junction at Tatzelwurm. It was cooler by now, at this height (2,600 ft), so I set about organizing a chicken casserole, and then the rain started – torrentially for a while, and then steadily. It lasted until bedtime.
Tuesday 7th August                                                          Across Bavaria to visit Elsbeth at Elgg                            201 Miles
Not the early start we’d planned, after a very disturbed night. I had had a terrible bout of heartburn/chest pain, which was distressing and worrying – even more so when my temperature in the morning was alarmingly high. This is the first time that this has happened, and I was supposed to get medical help immediately if it did.
We decided to continue with our plan of crossing southern Germany, and hopefully calling in to see Elsbeth at Elgg later. We left at 9.30 on a sunny but initially cool morning. It was a difficult time, as the roads were very busy, and we were both feeling anxious. We tried to enjoy the lovely mountain scenery. We couldn’t get an internet connection, and had a frustrating time trying to do so. In the end, we stopped in a car park for Tegersee (although no view of the lake), near Gmund and had a cup of tea while trying to ring Elsbeth. Her number had been changed, so we had to ring Renee to get it. Success at last, and although Elsbeth was extremely busy, we arranged to arrive there later.
We continued on our route westwards, stopping to have lunch at a picnic table at the edge of woodland. I was feeling considerably better by now, and my temperature had finally returned to normal.
We continued on our journey to Lake Constance, driving a couple of times through a bit of Austria. There was a very long queue at one point, which appeared to be caused by people walking across a pedestrian crossing.
The journey was taking longer than anticipated, so we didn’t stop, and drove on into Switzerland at 5 o’clock. We had lovely views of Lake Constance with its turquoise water, but now carried on to Elgg, finding Elsbeth’s house (last visited in 1981 with our ‘young’ children), and were greeted by her. She had cancelled the English lesson she should have been giving, so we were able to have a lovely time chatting, eating tea, and looking at her attractive garden, with its beds of dahlias.
2012-08-07_2014__5838R Elsbeth in her garden, Elgg, Switzerland.JPG
Elsbeth with her dahlias
Later Bernhard and Lucenir arrived (we last saw them in 2002), as they are over here for a while from their home in London. More chat before we came out to the van to sleep.
2012-08-07_2215__5842R Lucenir and Bernhard, Elgg, Switzerland.JPG
Bernhard and Lucenir
Wednesday 8th August                                                                   On through Switzerland                                        131 miles
It was a lovely morning as we came in to enjoy breakfast with Elsbeth, Bernhard & Lucenir.
We left after saying our goodbyes. Elsbeth was leaving to meet up with Sonja, who had had a little baby boy very prematurely 2 weeks ago.
We drove through Winterthur, which was not pretty, despite its pleasant sounding name. We didn’t find this part of Switzerland attractive at all, but were able to pull off inadvertently just before Zurich and find a seat to sit on above a little river to have coffee. Passing cyclists greeted us – very different from Poland, where they wouldn’t catch your eye.
On through Zurich, which wasn’t at all nice to drive through. Adrian was having trouble with the sat-nav, and I was finding it difficult to follow the signs which were green for motorway and blue for main roads. Consequently we drove right through the middle of Zurich!
We found it amazingly hard to find anywhere to pull off for lunch, and it was 1.45 before we were able to pull in beside a sports field and a community building in Olfingen. We sat on a park bench for our lunch and didn’t leave here until 3.00.
As we left, we passed a walled town high up above us, and at last we had reached some pretty country. We were by the River Aare. We passed through villages with large barns right beside the road, with stores of hay and wood stacked outside, and Adrian was thrilled to see an old Citroen.
2012-08-08_1534__8583A Citroen Traction 11Bl-1956, Switzerland.JPG
A lovely old Citroen
We had finally come into the Jura, and stopped above a stream to have a cup of tea. We had passed into French Switzerland from German, and the place names changed immediately – we had driven through Moutier.
We decided to explore a bit more of the mountain roads, and followed a dramatic road through the Gorges du Pichoux, where we had to drive through two short tunnels in the rock which were just high and wide enough for the Ixi.  Soon after this we came to the Grotto St Columbe, a wide cave opening in the rocks, beautifully looked after, and with a statue and plaques saying ‘thank you’ – obviously a pilgrimage place. Very atmospheric.
2012-08-08_1750__5843R Grotto St Colombe, Switzerland.JPG
2012-08-08_1752__5845R Grotto St Colombe, Switzerland.JPG
Grotto St Columbe
It was at this point that Adrian wondered if there was anything in our ‘freebie’ book, and realized that the one place mentioned around here was the town that he’d just put into the sat nav. We continued towards Saignelegier, where we followed the directions, and came to a motorhome ‘flot blot’, and opposite a parking area which we imagined to be the one.
It was in an open situation, so still got the evening sun. Beside us was a small field, and we were aware that something had just happened, or was about to happen!
Hence we spent a happy evening watching various vehicles arrive and depart – a lorry loading up with some sort of staging with a fork lift truck; a girl cantering along on a horse; a cart pulled by a team of 4 horses in line; an old carriage on a trailer. All good fun!
2012-08-08_2058__8588A Saignelegier, Switzerland.JPG
Something about to happen?
Thursday 9th August                                                                   And back into France                                            99 miles
The night had been quiet, but we were aware of things happening this morning – men were fixing up rope fences, one or two pony and traps arrived. We never saw any notices, and can only imagine that some sort of horse show was happening this weekend.
We went across to the motorhome dump and used the facilities, but couldn’t see where motorhomes were supposed to park for the night. We leftSaignelegier at about 9.30 on a fine morning. It had served us well.
We continued on our route through the Swiss Jura, which we’d not found as attractive as we’d hoped. At the large, neat and boring town of Chaux du Fonds, a road near the centre was closed, with no diversion signs yet again.
We took a smaller road, and had coffee sitting in the sunshine on a huge log in a pull off, with the sound of cow bells in the distance. Most pull-offs had logs or wood stored in them, as we were to find later when looking for somewhere to stop for the night.
Just after the village of Butte, we found the one lovely spot of the day. We pulled off just above the little stream of the River Areuse, with a huge forested cliff face opposite. Although early, we made it our lunch stop, and sat by our picnic table.
2012-08-09_1325__8591A Rosie at a lovely spot near Buttes, Switzerland.JPG
Lovely spot beside the Areuse River, Switzerland
We toyed with the idea of staying here for the night, but discovered that it would still be 2½ - 3 hours to Simon’s in the morning. They were arriving back from their holiday in Canada today, ready for the ‘deluge’ of Cape family visitors for the weekend.
Soon we found ourselves in France, and discussed our possible route to Simon’s, deciding to stay in France, and not drive back through Switzerland. Just south of Pontarlier, on a bit of road we had driven before, we saw the stunning sight of Chateau de Joux high up on the cliff.
2012-08-09_1421__8593A Chateau de Joux, France.JPG
Chateau de Joux, France
After a bit, the little towns looked more French. Remora had a stark stone-coloured church and similar coloured houses. We were finding this area much busier than we’d hoped, with no places to pull off at all. Everywhere was so populated, with houses scattered all along the roads.
We had mentioned to Simon by email that we might arrive tonight, but I felt this very unfair on them. Some time after 4.00, just after Tancua, we pulled into a lay by which was full of piles of road chippings (made a change from logs) and decided to stay there. We rang Laure to say that we would be arriving in the morning.
Friday 10th August (to Wed 15th)                                                       To Simon & Laure’s                                           33 miles
It was a fine morning – we moved the van to be in the sun, as we were in the shadow of the one tree.
We left just before 8 o’clock and drove back to Morbier, which was very quiet at this time of day, and still in the shade, but was very pretty with flowers. There was a tall railway viaduct in the steep valley.
We came to Les Rousses, which we had driven through last year, and managed (with difficulty) to get both LPG and diesel.
Then it was time to hot-foot it to Simon & Laure’s house at Cessy.  We were first to arrive, but Matt arrived soon afterwards, and then gradually all the Cape clan.
We had a fantastic weekend, with superb weather, which was great as almost everybody was camping in the garden.
About half the group went on a long walk in the Jura on the Saturday. We joined about 15 others on a shorter walk in the afternoon.
We had a barbecue meal in the evening, all sitting outside, and then on the Sunday everyone went down to Lake Geneva at Versoix, where great fun was had by all, and many of us swam, and had a turn in Jon’s inflatable canoe.   
Most people left on the Monday (our 46th Wedding anniversary), but we stayed until Thursday. Emma and family had returned on the Wednesday after a couple of days camping in the Jura. All the cousins had had a wonderful time together.
Thursday 16th August                                                                 To delightful (on the) Dole                                        83 miles
We left at 12.30 to begin our homeward journey. It had been very windy last night, and had rained quite violently in the night. The day soon became warm and sunny though.
Emma and family had just left to fly home. We stopped in Gex, hoping to buy bread, but the bakers had closed at 12.30! We managed to get some bread at Carrefour before driving up Col de la Faucille, where we ate lunch with views down to where we had been staying, with Lake Geneva beyond. We were surprised at the number of motorhomes (several English) which had pulled into the small parking area.
2012-08-16_1348__5914R View from Col de la Faucillle down to Cessy, France.JPG
Looking down to Lake Geneva
We continued through the Jura, stopping to have a cup of tea at a small boring pull-off, having passed lots of attractive picnic areas. Immediately afterwards we passed several more suitable places!
We reached Dole, remembering our visit here in 1999, when we had called in to see Margherita and Rene the day before their daughter Cecile’s wedding. There was a place here for motorhomes to stay, beside the River Doubs – we had done this then.
It was an attractive area. We pulled in by the river at 5 o’clock, with remnants of a 13th century bridge with Roman arches in front of us. We almost immediately set off to walk into this delightful crumbling French walled town.
2012-08-16_1743__5925R The canal, Dole, France.JPG
2012-08-16_1715__5915R 'Roman' bridge, Dole, France.JPG
Delightful Dole
2012-08-16_1732__5923R Louis Pasteur monument, Dole, France.JPG
2012-08-16_1725__5919R The Canal, Dole, France.JPG
Louis Pasteur had been born here in 1822. We viewed his birthplace, which we had seen with Rene, and wandered around the very quiet town, which was pretty with flowers. We came back and read and reminisced about our previous visit.
After supper, looking out to the lovely view of the river, with 3 grey herons, we walked across the bridge and back by the river. A top overnighter!
Friday 17th August                                                                             North in the sunshine                                                 190 miles
We watched sunrise over the river, with mist rising above the glass-like water this side of the weir. The heron added a magical touch.
2012-08-17_0649 Panorama early morning across the river at Dole, France.JPG
The magical misty River Doubs from our night spot, Dole
We left this wonderful spot just before 9.00 and enjoyed the French countryside, particularly the bales of hay in the fields, lit up by the sun.
After about an hour, we arrived at Gray, a name we remember from past visits, particularly returning from Corsica with Tom & James in 1992, when we camped at Marnay.
We crossed the River Saone, and couldn’t help but be impressed by the magnificent frothy hanging baskets across the bridge. We pulled in beside the river, looking up to the huge church, and had a walk around. The water here was glassy smooth too, with a weir. A tourist boat was going through the lock. The captain called up to us with a leaflet about the trips. We stopped on the step in front of the van for an early coffee – it was already hot.
2012-08-17_1000__5936R Gray, on the Saone River, France.JPG
2012-08-17_1006__5941R Flowers on the bridge at Gray, France.JPG
Colourful Gray
Continuing northwards, we passed many pleasant picnic stops, but were luckily able to find a nice spot at a picnic table to have our lunch, near the River Marne, just before Chaumont. We were near the River Marne, but weren’t able to actually see it.
We did turn off and come down to the river, with the canal beside it (Champagne to Burgundy canal, although there was also the Marne canal). We were atRachecourt on oneside, and Chevillon on the other. We had a little walk along beside the canal. There were large dark green dragonflies above, and a lot of fish in the water. Passing cyclists called out ‘Bonjour’ – a bit different from Poland!
It was hot in the sun, so we continued a short distance to St Dizier, where there was a supposed overnighter. It was a pleasant spot beside the old town walls, but was on a busy road. We stopped to have a cup of tea before taking the fast road to Chalons. Here we turned off to Juvigny, where the overnighter was beside a restaurant, but with no shade. It was still very hot, so we drove on to the canal, where there was no parking, so came back to a shady spot near the sports area.
We sat outside with our drinks, and I saw a red squirrel leap from a fir tree to a silver birch, and we spied a tree creeper. Just as we were about to eat supper outside, the football team all ran past, calling out a cheery hello!
2012-08-17_2003__5947R Rosie at Juvigny, France.JPG
Nice night stop, Juvigny
We stayed outside until 9 o’clock.
At about 10.00, some people came down to play tennis, playing their (not unpleasant) music, and didn’t leave until after midnight! In the morning Adrian saw that there had been no net there!
Saturday 18th August                                                 Back to Calais                                                  221 miles
The night was really warm, and another beautiful day with blue sky followed. We moved the van into the sun for breakfast and left at 9.20.
We drove cross country through numerous villages, most with oversized churches and lots of flowers, but virtually no people!
We were driving through flattish agricultural country with the hay stacked in rectangular stooks instead of rolls. The golden stubble looked stunning contrasting with the solid powder blue sky
We stopped to have coffee beside the RiverSuippe at Boult, north of Rheims, where a wire fence obstructed the view. It was as difficult as usual to find stopping places, and we finally stopped for lunch before reaching the motorway near St Quentin at a village called Crecy surSerre. We pulled in beside a rather neglected park and put our seats out in the shade (it was extremely hot). As we were finishing lunch, two chaps who had also been picnicking gave us two magnum icecreams from the pack of four which they had bought. Nice!
We left here at about 1.45, and joined the motorway to Calais. It may be a bit bland travelling in this way, but it meant that we avoided the non-stop dreary towns on the ordinary roads.
We reached Calais at 4 o’clock, and headed for Auchan. This was busy and crowded, and not much fun! Prices are no longer cheap. We loaded up with goodies, but had a set back at the checkout, when we discovered that the French beans should have been weighed by us. Adrian went back while I waited, but then we had the pears too! We gave up on those, and despaired of the French system which had started so well, but has now lagged behind other countries in their self service approach.
We stopped to get fuel and then headed for a place to stay for the night, in readiness for our early morning ferry. Calais was particularly busy on this hot Saturday, and we didn’t fancy our chances of a place by the harbour, so pulled in beside the ‘marina’ where several other motorhomes were parked. It seems that this is an overnighter. It was still very hot, so we got out the seats, and sat out with our drinks, and then afterwards with supper. It was all very pleasant, except for a high wire fence in front of us, like the one at coffee time.
By 9.00, when we came in, it had become quite cool.
2012-08-18_1935__8655A Adrian & Rosie having and end of trip cheers on the harbour, Calais, France.JPG
2012-08-18_2157__5949R Adrian at the fair, Calais, France.JPG
Back to Calais
There was a fairground just along from us, so we walked there – it was quiet, with not much custom. We spent 50 cents on three goes on the ‘grabber’, which, if it picked up a toy, dropped it before it got to the hole!
As we walked back, we realized how many campers are parked here.
Sunday 19th August                                                Home again!                                                       143 miles
We were up at 6 o’clock on a beautiful morning, and made our way to the ferry for the 7.45 crossing. It was very quiet as we drove through part of Calais, and then we saw the red ball of the sun rise.
The crossing was really calm – we spent much of the time sorting photos of the family weekend. It was beautiful on deck as we came in to Dover, and we were reluctant to go down to the car deck!
2012-08-19_0912__5950R Adrian on the boat coming into Dover.JPG
Coming into Dover
By 9.30 (now 8.30) we were on our way home. We stopped briefly at Clackett Lane Services, and arrived back at Elm Gable late morning. The day stayed beautiful and very hot as we set about sorting the garden after nearly 7 weeks, and unpacking some of our stuff.    
Total Mileage -  5107 Miles
Nights away - 45                     6 - Paid       39 - Freebies

Krakow, Poland to Hermitage