Friday, 31 May 2013

May 26th - 31st France to Ireland

 The title refers to driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. When turning to the right we must remember to stay to the left otherwise we'll be in oncoming traffic. So this has always been our little verbal reminder.

Our Voyage from France to Ireland and Scotland – starting May 26th.

When we left Echorigne we headed north a couple of hours  to an area called the Marais Poitevin and the Venise Vert – the Green Venice. More Info
That first night we managed to become stuck in a rut due to wet ground and had to be pushed out by a couple of German teenagers who had befriended us.

Running aground on ground
The weather was gorgeous so we walked around the canals and then had evening dinner in a swish restaurant.  A lovely treat.

There is a group of campgrounds which are called Les Castels (5 *****), each one on the grounds of a chateau. The one we chose was Domaine des Ormes. The grounds have chalets, tents and mobile homes for rent. The short trip from the ferries, all the activities for the kiddies and the other amenities attact the English and their kids - it may as well have been in Anywhere, England.  We ordered pizza and when it was delivered to our table we smiled - we had forgotten how well the French make pizzas (at home we buy  frozen and Brian tops them up).
The next day we drove to Saint Malo which is on the English Channel. We have been there twice before but this time we could not stop. EVERY parking lot had a height barrier and so we could not enter! Most disappointing. We went on to Le Mont St. Michel. A stunning fortified island.  The wind was blowing off the sea but inside the village walls it was calm. More info

The 3rd nite was also at a Les Castels called Lez-Eaux (close to water). Again, all English but this time all adults and most of them with the Morris Minor car rally. The campsite was in a time warp, something out of the 50’s with all the little cars parked around. 

The 4th day we were on Irish Ferries sailing from Cherbourg for Rosslare, Ireland. The trip was about 16 hours and it was  mostly calm with just a little rocking.  Angus was safely in a kennel on Deck 4 with his bed and a bowl of water. I think this will be a more pleasant experience for him than 16 hours in a small kennel flying from USA to Spain with no one looking out for his well being. The ladies who are in charge of the kennels are true angels. He probably is not fazed by any of this - it is me who worries how he is fairing.

We are so impressed with Irish Ferries. Everything is top notch: staff, food, accommodation (tiny cabin but well thought out). The passengers are Irish, French, Dutch, Swiss, many Eastern Europeans (possibly Polish) and the staff all have eastern European accents. There must be 200+ high school students traveling in different groups. The french school system is very generous when it comes to trips, subsidizing the cost.

We  safely arrived in Ireland on time Thursday morning.  We headed for Kilkenny which is only about 75km from Rosslare so we had lots of time to take in the scenery. 
Angus enjoying the scenery

The campground was not too rural and had WIFI throughout – sweet!  The sun was shining and we walked the 2k into town, which had not been our intention..  In the town was the weekly farmer’s market, lots and lots of people, the Nore river, a pub on every corner, colorful shop fronts and a very large castle. As I had not been expecting to see the town at that time I did not have my camera with me. I a saw sign in restaurant window that said "Early Bird Special" - €27/$32 - That is very, very expensive but it seems to be the norm and probably doesn't include wine. Vive La France!

On our walk we were in search of a specific electrical goods store in a commercial zone and had somehow taken a wrong turn. So, we did the smart thing and took a cab to the store and he returned us to the campsite.

We have an electric hook-up cable but it is not long enough. We thought that all we had to do was buy a longer one…No such thing.  Brian bought a 15 meter length of arctic cable, one female end and one male end. We spent the next 2 hours stripping wires, screwing and unscrewing, doing, undoing and redoing the necessary steps to make a new cable, wholeheartedly expecting it to blow up the RV or pitch the entire island of Ireland into darkness. Surprisingly, neither happened as the plugs worked!!  We were so proud of ourselves. We had a quiet happy hour in the sun then watched a movie before bedtime.

Today we are at Lough Ree, 100km north west of Kilkenny. It is a bluserty day but the sun comes out once in a while. The campground in on a the loch and a quack of ducks greeted us. We are parked ten steps from the water and the little pier.
Lough Ree - photo not put together very well due to time restrictions, but the general idea is there.

 There is no WIFI on site but the Dog and Duck Pub has it so that is where I am writing this. Brian with a diet Coke and me with a pint of Tuborg.
Tomorrow we will head for Belfast to catch the ferry to Scotland and we will spend time with Brian's brother, the other Jo(e) Bingham.