Just arrived back on UK soil….

…and the sun is continuing to shine. We left France at 10.06 (French time) and arrived in the UK at 9.35am. We really are time travellers.

We have had a lovely time away and if it wasn’t for the looming hospital appointments we would have liked to have travelled further down south and perhaps into Spain or even across to Portugal.

For now we are just grateful for having the energy and better health to have been able to have spent the time away we have had. The motorhome makes things pretty easy going as we have everything we need with us. Most stops we made were either at free Aires or just a few Euros each although it was good to be able to stop off at a campsite for a couple of days at the more pricely sum of 18 Euros per night. We only needed to fill Helga up twice with diesel at 1.24 Euro/ litre which works out about 99p and we still have more than three quarters of a tank left, so we are pretty impressed with Helga’s performance.

It was also a bonus to be able to enjoy the sunshine and a glass of wine or three with our good friends. We had great fun French property hunting together before the idea was abandoned in favour of more travelling around in our motorhomes. We also got to visit Futuroscope again which never fails to impress us.

Here are a few photos that I wasn’t able to upload from France although some of you may have caught sight of them on Facebook.
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Thank you again to my ex colleagues for my retirement gift of Euros which helped make this holiday possible. We both really needed this break and feel much better for it. Let’s hope there will be many more motorhome adventures to come.

Deborah xxx

Tues 30th Sept I forgot to mention…

..a few days ago we met this amazing guy at the campsite in Bellac. He had cycled all the way down from Caliais and is on his way to Gibraltar. We have been travelling on the same roads and although they are pretty straight they are very undulating which must certainly make cycling a pretty hard challenge. He was previously a veteran himself and is now raising money for Combat Stress a charity that supports the mental health of these brave men and women. To find out more please visit Aaron’s face book page by searching ‘On yer bike son’ or following this link:

https://www.facebook.com/aaronjdebnam?fref=photo
Good luck Aaron!

Last night we enjoyed a cheese fondu party in Helga with our mates from a couple of vans down. Such fun!

This morning we are heading off for a campsite in a forest somewhere near Rouen. We have just noticed Sue and Angela set off already but we are a bit slower to get going nowadays so will probably be about an hour behind. Still the weather looks promising so we should be in for another good day.

Deborah x

Mon Sept 29th and we have wifi……

…hence the ability to update the blog at last.

We are at a very pretty free Aire in Chateaudun. It is in the shadow of an enormous Chateau and next to a river used for canoeing and kayaking. Unfortunately the excellent photo Colin has just taken for me won’t upload so you will just have to take my word for how pretty it is.

We have had a lovely few days house hunting with Sue and Angela, but after much deliberation they have decided to wait awhile before investing in the French property market. It was however a great experience seeing inside some, seemingly untouched for years, petite French Maison’s

We also spent a lovely afternoon enjoying a picnic next to a lake, reading, chatting to our good friends and watching the water activities. Photo’s will just have to wait.

Having enjoyed another late lunch of steak and chips with mange tout and a lovely sauce made from onions, red wine, mushrooms, redcurrent jelly and Roquefort cheese, we are having a little afternoon nap (again). This really is the life, the motorhome more than caters for all our needs and France is so well set that you are free to travel along until you are ready to take a rest. There will always be an Aire somewhere close by and if not a very reasonably priced campsite. I just wish we were as welcoming and as well organised in the UK.

We are thinking of delaying our channel tunnel ticket by a day so plan to travel back to the UK on Saturday. If it wasn’t for hospital appointments looming we would probably have stayed even longer, never mind there is always next time.

Love to you all

Deborah x

A busy week

At the beginning of the week I wasn’t sure how I would find the strength to achieve all that I had planned. Each day however I have been getting a little stronger and I am delighted to report all has gone very well.

My first challenge was to have an evening out with some old colleagues back from the days when I worked at the Lister Hospital. It was something I haven’t been able to do for some time now.  I was kindly picked up by one of my friends and we met up with the other three girls at a lovely Turkish restaurant in Hitchin. A good time was had by all.

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The next day a shopping trip was organised with Pollyanna. Planning ahead I called Shopmobility at the Cambridge Arcade and booked myself a mobility scooter. I found this quite emotional as I just wanted to be able to wander around with my daughter, as I was able to do, less than two years ago. It was however very helpful and worked out much better than being pushed around in a wheelchair and gave me the independence I needed. It is a free service and you even get to park for nothing and once I got the hang of it I was whizzing around in and out of all the shops I could get into.

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It was also our 10th Wedding Anniversary on Thursday, and I felt very grateful for all the wonderful times Colin and I have spent together. We really are soulmates.

Friday was spent cooking and preparing for a family lunch on Saturday and packing up the motorhome for our trip away. This was something I couldn’t have even dreamed of doing last week when even getting downstairs was still quite a struggle. It was also great to feel I was able to help out a little and not leave everything up to Colin.

Yesterday was a lovely day as we were joined by Pollyanna, Jem, Elliot, Lucy (still in her mummy’s tummy), my nephew Charles, my parents and my Aunty Mo and her partner who were visiting from Australia. It was very exciting to see Mo who has been a great support to me, from the other side of the world via the internet.

So here we are today travelling down to the channel tunnel. The sun is shining and I am able to put Myeloma to the back of my mind. I am enjoying life again and taking full advantage of feeling well for the first time in many months. It is day 73 (of my Stem Cell Transplant) and I can assure my fellow myeloma buddies that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This was something only a few weeks ago I dared not to believe myself.

So very soon, slowly we will meander through little French villages, stopping at local patisseries for fresh croissants and a baguette or two. We shall sample local wines and enjoy some Moules Mariniere and Frittes. Most excitingly, we will be meeting up in a few days time, with our best friends Sue and Angela, who are already in the Haute Vienne region in France. We have every convenience on board our motorhome and we will enjoy relaxing, reading and just spending time together. This really is the good life, long may it last!

Much love to you all and thank you for helping make this possible.

Deborah x
PS. Just stopped off for a fry up as we are so early for our channel tunnel train.
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Day 55 and the journey continues.

Today I was looking back at some old blog posts from this time last year, when we were enjoying some French sunshine. It did bring back some lovely memories and showed both Colin and I really enjoying and living life to the full. That seems to be something that has been rather lacking over the last six months as I have allowed myeloma to get the better of me. I am not going to beat myself up about it though as when one is physically so poorly it really does take a big toll on your mental wellbeing. Along with the physical ill health comes plenty of anxiety which in turn does no good for the healing process. As those of you who know me well will appreciate, I am probably one of the most optimistic dreamers around, always playing the glad game made so famous in the film Pollyanna. In fact only my lovely daughter Pollyanna is better at playing the game. I have however, had to learn a new skill recently and that is living in the moment, the here and now, instead of drifting off into some sort of fantasy land and dreaming up all sorts of crazy plans. I am not knocking that though as it has worked very well for me in the past so I am not about to give up on visualising altogether. I am just learning to appreciate the moment more. I have become some what nervous about planning too far ahead though for the fear of being let down again, but I think as my health continues to improve this may become less of a problem.

We have been out in the motorhome a few times over the last few days. Colin wanted to visit Houghton Mill in Cambridgeshire on Monday, so we made good use of our National Trust membership cards. I didn’t go in as I wouldn’t have managed any further than the ground floor but I was quite happy relaxing in the motorhome. Yesterday we popped over to Dunelm to buy a little lap table and we stopped off at the BMW garage to try out sitting in one of their new cars. Although our little car has not let us down over the last few years of ownership, it has never been very comfortable. I have just applied for the higher rate of disability allowance which if I am successful, will allow us to rent a car through the mobility scheme, so any tips on the most comfortable cars would be much appreciated.

Tomorrow I am off to the Cancer Hair Care charity to get some tips on tying my scarves and a bit of much appreciated pampering. I am still very hairless with no sign yet of any new growth, so not sure how long that will take to come back. Being bald is very liberating and I don’t mind it too much, especially if I feel strong enough to put on a bit of make up, but I don’t like to frighten other people too much and I do get some funny looks if I go out without a hat or scarf. Maybe I need to find out my old wig again. I also hope to see little Elliot sometime tomorrow. Then if the weather is good on Friday and over the weekend we may take another trip out in the motorhome with our good friends and fellow motorhomer’s.

My strength is coming back but it’s an extremely slow process. I have just realised the time and I am still lying here in bed! I have however managed a bath which does seem to take an enormous amount of energy nowadays.

Well today I am appreciating being at home. I am not in hospital, I have no temperature or infections and even after a full English breakfast I have no feelings of nausea, how good is that!

Onwards and upwards my friends. I feel our arms are metaphorically linked and you are holding me up and guiding me along. Your are my strength.

With much love and gratitude.

Deborah x

We’re coming home.

Our last stop for the night was at a place called Arques. We have stayed here before and remembered it as somewhere peaceful and only an hour’s drive from the port at Calais. All I could hear was what sounded like the ducks laughing. We are parked opposite this apple orchard inviting you to enjoy their fruits.
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We will try and catch an earlier ferry today, rather than getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow, as we have got rather fond of sleeping in.
We have both enjoyed an exciting mini adventure as we have toured around France but there is no where quite like home. The plan now is to save up some money and learn a little more French before our next visit.
See you all very soon
Deborah xx

Forte pluie…

…or pouring with rain for those of you with even less of a grasp of the French language. On our return to the UK we are intending on joining forces with our good friends to take up some private French lessons. They are very much needed as I just had a rather embarrassing moment in the local wine sellers. In fact you could say it was one of those ‘Miranda’ moments which included me trying to explain how lovely the weather had been in Bordeaux. I was very close to dancing round the shop singing ‘if your happy and you know it’ with a big grin on my face but Colin was unable to cope with any more embarrassment and dragged me away. I had already said soliel, soliel madam. I mean you wouldn’t shout sun mrs sun mrs to an English speaking person. I then went on to try and explain my wish for the wine of the region. I think she answered “have some strawberries with your wine” but I may be wrong. All of this was done with me in my pyjama bottoms partly covered up by my floral pac-a-mac and whilst having my one of many hot flushes so desperately trying to remove the scarf that was caught up in my hood. Hopefully I will never have to meet any of the people in the same wine cave again and if I do I shall be so fluid in French they will forgive my previous faux par.
Talking of faux pars or faux réponse, mes cher mari (my dear husband) advised me that we were travelling back to the UK at 4.30pm and I mapped out our route accordingly but on closer inspection of our printed ferry information we are actually sailing at 7.15am. This isn’t going to be too easy as we rarely even surface before nine these days. It also means we will have to miss out on visiting the Champagne region but maybe it’s just as well if we don’t visit anymore wine caves.
We have just crossed over the river Seine and are travelling through more little pretty French towns.
Here are a few photos of our travels and another empty street we came across on our walk around the local area in St Julien Du Sault.

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Take care dear friends
Deborah xxx

Lurky Levis…

…or rather Lurcy Levis in the Auvergne region. Here we stopped for a home (rather Helga the Hymer) cooked lunch of steak and chips and as it was a little overcast we pulled out our few remaining unwatched DVD’s. We are both rather disappointed that we didn’t bring the second series of 24 with us and we were left with a choice of a few subtitled French films or Les Miserables. I wasn’t in the mood for trying to read subtitles so we managed to depress ourselves, as we cried our way through Les Miserables. To pull ourselves together we took a leisurely walk around the lake and a few mosquito bites later we were ready to call it a night.

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We are certainly getting around France and Helga is doing us proud. So far we have visited the regions of Northern France, Normandy, the Centre, Poitou, Atlantic, Auvergne and now we are heading off for Burgundy for lunch and perhaps the Champagne region for dinner. We don’t like to plan too much, we just have a rough idea and a few Aires in mind and see how it goes. As we choose to drive on the smaller roads we go through lots of little French villages. They mostly look like film sets and as by the time we get up and sorted out its usually midday, the places are deserted. We often think we must have missed something on Yahoo news and that France must have being attacked by some mysterious illness as there is nobody to be seen. We are both enthralled by the enormity of this country as the landscape changes and we wonder at its beauty. We have only been away for a few weeks but somehow it’s seems much longer as we have visited so many different places, but there is nowhere quite like home.
I’m looking forward to catching up with family and friends but for now I shall enjoy exploring a few more Patisseries and tasting the various wines of the region as while in France I may as well live as the French do. The living is good here and today we have a little more sunshine.

Deborah x

The French love their motorhomes…

…hence the numbers of them using the well equipped Aires and campsites. We. Are currently staying at a campsite close to the centre of Bordeaux. Today we will take the bus into the centre to have a look around. Yesterday we had lunch at the campsite. Unlike most of the UK campsites which either don’t have restaurants or. They are rather seedy, the French have high standards a specially as good is concerned. I enjoyed a lovely lunch of rib eyed beef followed by this gorgeous pudding.image
This was followed up by the obligatory siesta.
All ready to go now so. Will try to report back from Bordeaux centre ville later.
Deborah x

Thank you Jem….

…for our lovely anniversary meal. It’s not our wedding anniversary until September 18th but our lovely daughter gave us a very generous early present of some Euro’s to spend whilst we were on holiday. So thanks to Jem we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a little restaurant overlooking the harbour. I chose to try some thing new, a local dish of deep fried crispy eel! I was a bit nervous about it but the lovely waitress who spoke very good English recommended it. It turned out to be very tasty, Colin stuck to his old favourite Moules avec frites. We really should have been brave enough to go for the oysters as the small fishing boats bring them in daily but neither of us could face them. I declined a desert having spotted a creperie on the way into town so we stopped on the way back and I enjoyed a pancake stuffed with pears and served with hot chocolate sauce and cream.
We are having a great chilled out time of doing very little other than eating and sleeping with the occasional bike ride thrown in to further explore the area.
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The bay this evening at 8pm French time.
Love to you all
Deborah x