Thursday 23rd June contd.
……………….. Heading south at this time of the year when the French Holiday season is about to begin could have been “dodgy”. The “high-speed” French drivers are all escaping the big cities in the north, and heading down to the riviera for their annual “Vacances” but fortunately the motorways were reasonable. The good news was I didn’t need to “frequent” any service stations other than for driver swaps; oh dear we could have done the small train tour after all, still an excuse to re-visit Beaune!!!
We arrived late afternoon at Andrew’s, found the gate zapper and drove in, a far cry from our last visit when the only parking was a space on waste ground in front of the house alongside building equipment. Now the property is surrounded with a nice, bright, shiny 2-metre wall and an electric sliding gate.
After unloading the car and settling in, we dived into the pool; just what the doctor ordered!!!
Andrew had very kindly given up his gigantic bed in his unusual bedroom that boasts a walk-in shower and a bath in the middle of the room, with a loo very conveniently near the side of the bed; different to say the least, but comfortable.
After dinner we settled down to watch telly as we hadn’t seen much telly this past 7-weeks, well that was the plan; we just couldn’t find out how to get live TV but by chance stumbled on films, so watched a film instead.
Friday 24th June
We woke up to wall-to-wall Rivera sunshine with the accompanying heat.
After breakfast we headed down to the local supermarket to stock up with provisions. Once back and provisions stowed away, we relaxed again!!!, and enjoyed another day by the pool knowing once Elton was about, he would be “full-on”.
Andrew returned, as planned this evening with Elton. Christine had been “beside herself” with excitement all day, after all she really hasn’t had sufficient time to bond with her grandson, so over the next few days, she has her opportunity, but tonight was not the time to start the bonding process.
Poor Elton was hungry and exhausted, he’d had a long day. Firstly he was in a car heading to the London City airport from Peterborough, then hanging about the airport for a couple of hours, now in a ‘plane for the 2-hour flight to Nice followed by another spell in the car from the airport to Frejus; a long time for a 19-month toddler, poor Elton.
Andrew had already told us he wouldn’t want food upon arrival, but Elton had different ideas; fortunately we had a nice piece of fresh Salmon and pasta, just in case, but by the time the food was ready, Elton was really too tired to eat, well, to do anything really!!! So it was bed for him and the three of us soon followed.
Saturday 25th June
Another brilliant hot morning and Elton was more his normal chirpy, happy self. Today Andrew suggested a trip out in his speedboat this afternoon as there was to much wind this morning, hopefully the wind will have died down by the afternoon . Never mind though, and we all headed off the the local market in the old town. Andrew needed a pair of light shoes for Elton and we hadn’t been to the old town before so it was a win-win. Whilst in the old square by the church we enjoyed a “coffee” with a “pan au chocolat”; no brandy here at these prices!!!
So back to base and the four of us hit the pool, where Elton was quite at home splashing about with only his armbands on. He really laughed when dad held him high and jumped into the pool. At one point, whilst Christine was entertaining Elton, Andrew was getting his latest acquisition out for Elton, a small “bouncy castle” which Elton took to immediately.
Though Elton was very chirpy and enjoying his swim and bouncy castle, we could see he was still tired from yesterday so he had an early lunch and he was put him down for a midday snooze, before heading out to the boat.
Eventually Elton woke up and off we headed to the Marina but as it was still rather windy for the boat, so we ended up “supping wine” and watching the world go by alongside the multi million dollar “gin palaces” in this Marina. We decided we would try again tomorrow to get on the water.
Back at the ranch and we were back in the pool again, no wind around here!!! By now Elton is showing he still hadn’t got over his travels so early to bed again, hopefully by the morning he is back to normal.
Whilst all this was going on I was keeping up-to-date with the cricket scores; the third and last test against New Zealand. This is day three and New Zealand are settling England an interesting challenge which should set everything up for an exciting day tomorrow.
Tonight, after dinner and Elton asleep, we settled down to another film but it is a very hot evening, so every window is open to try an get a breeze running through. We don’t want to “circum” to using air-cons!!
Sunday 26th June
The weather is now a given, hot with blue skies every morning so today we are heading to “Lac de Saint-Cassie”, a man-made reservoir up in the mountains about 30-minutes away.
The views around the lake are quite brilliant and being a Sunday, everywhere was busy so parking was “interesting” to say the least. We finished up on a dirt track up a hill at about 45-degrees. Andrew’s SUV wasn’t designed for this sort of treatment, after all it is a Bentley and should probably have been shown more respect; for my part, I didn’t know Bentley built any SUV’s, I thought they were just posh, heavy, prestigious cars, but no, they have an SUV!!!
Down on the lakeside decking we booked a couple of sun beds as our base. Andrew wanted to take Elton out on a pedalo, but we weren’t too keen as we still had the memories from when we took a pedalo out onto the Mediterranean with Tobin and Zander before covid; our bones are still complaining!!!!! Anyway, Christine relented and joined Andrew and Elton, I stood my ground!!!!! Besides someone had to guard everything and take ‘photos!!!, and off they went. I must say the lake was very inviting, there were Pedalos, paddle boarders, swimmers, but no motorised water toys which was good.
When they returned they were glowing, they’d had a good time and had also been swimming off the pedalo whilst on the water. The pedalo also had a small slide for children; apparently Andrew went down it, holding Elton and though they both went under, Elton came up smiling!!!
The Saint-Cassie dam was built in 1966, and the lake behind it now has a surface area a little under 4-sq km, (1,200 acres) and is 147 meters above sea level, it’s deepest point is circa 43-meters deep (140ft) and holds approximately 60,000,000 cubic meters of water; that’s a lot of water!!!
Whilst there we enjoyed a bar-b-q’d mixed grill and though this was basically a “shack” at the side of the lake, being French, the food was excellent and set us up for the day.
Back at the house in time for an afternoon nap for Elton and time for Andrew to catch up with some work whilst Christine and I continued the theme, “swimming and relaxing”; can’t be bad!!!!
Monday 27th June
This morning we headed back to the marina as the wind had died down and the sea looked fairly calm and after parking the car, Andrew shot ahead to prep the boat. When we arrived we were rather perplexed; we knew he had this very powerful power boat but totally surprised at its size, it was a real “inland water” powerboat; now we understood why the state of the wind was so critical!!!!! One look and that was it for us, especially with a baby on board. This boat can travel at 60-MPH and on the sea it could be positively dangerous, a little porpoising and whoosh, we’re all swimming!!!!! We also think this boat has a mind of its own; it decided it would not start!!!! So a change of plan was called for.
Andrew suggested an afternoon on the beach so back home, a play and swim in the pool and a snack lunch, a “Kip” for Elton before setting off to Bambusa Plage, a beach club with restaurant. Today was sunny but the sea was very rough and there were some pretty big rollers coming in, quite unusual for the Mediterranean; there must have been a storm out at sea in the previous 24/48 hours.
Being a beach club there was “oodles” of space and “4-poster” sun beds with attentive stewards fetching and carrying drinks etc., for those who wanted them. Christine was in her element building sand castles with Elton. Whilst here, the decision was taken to eat at the beach restaurant before heading home.
Once Elton was in bed, Andrew could get on with some work whilst the two of us played crib.
Tuesday 28th June
Today was our last and the day followed the same format as previous days though today we went to the Tennis Club to use their very nice pool and enjoy a light lunch; Christine was cooking our last supper at Andrew’s tonight.
Back at base and apart from the normal, today we had to pack up and tidy things. As stated previously, Andrew had very kindly given up his bedroom for us so the least we could do was leave it in a respectable state.
After dinner we played crib, Christine had had a few bad days and lost and tonight she was determined to change things around; and she did, she was victorious!!!
Wednesday 29th June
After a final clear-up and whilst Andrew had is morning run, Christine “squeezed” in as much bonding with Elton as she could before we all said our goodbyes.
This has been a wonderful few days where we got to spend time with Andrew and Elton, thank you very much Andrew for putting your “interesting and unusual” home in the south of France at our disposal, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and look forward to the next visit, though of course you have an open invitation to come to Spain.
We hit the road around mid-morning heading to our night stop, just outside Tarragona.
Our drive was un-eventful but it was good to arrive in Spain where all the tolls has been lifted. This lifting of tolls looks permanent as all the toll booths have been dismantled and the wide area they occupied have been cordoned off. This helped with the finance’s; tolls in France seemed very expensive to us but with none in Spain, the costs got evened out!!!
Our overnight stop, “Hotel Sant Jordi” just north of Tarragona was one road away from the “Playa Savinosa”, an EU blue flag beach and being out of the main town, fairly quiet. So after booking in we strolled down the hill, under the railway lines and straight onto the lovely sand, very convenient. By now the Mediterranean had quietened down, more it’s normal “self” and if was a pleasure to stroll in and cold down. Alongside the beach is the “Bandida Beach bar” so after our swim etc., we headed for a drink and some food but to our surprise they were only a bar, no food!! Quite extraordinary, with such a large beachfront facility, one would have thought that they would have also been a restaurant, oh well back to the hotel.
We had stopped for our main meal earlier so a snack or light meal was all we were seeking and fortunately the hotel came to the rescue; after 2000hrs, their bar served just the sort of thing we fancied, so all was good.
Thursday 30th June
After a very prolific breakfast for only 7€ each, and a very comfortable room with balcony and sea views, we hit the road. Tonight Bill and Jenny were doing a bar-b-q so we only had a brief food stop and got going again. According to SatNav we were due back mid afternoon but decided to swing-by Media Mart in La Zenia Boulevard to collect our coffee machine that we had left for repair before we left at the beginning of May. I had been pestered by emails and texts over the past 2-months telling me to collect so hopefully it is still there!!!
We arrived at the counter with all the paperwork and to our relief our coffee machine was still waiting; mild panic over.
Arrived back at home nearly 2-months after leaving and apart from some pretty spectacular growth of trees in the garden the old place looked the same.
Until our next trip……………)