Wednesday, 15 February 2017

FR17 - Veterinarian Surgery!

Vets in France!

It seemed much easier for the FR16 trip.  The vets in Abbeville had a website and an email address.  I I made an appointment by email and we turned up at the allotted time and it was all very easy.

Even though the Dordogne region must be home to thousands upon thousands of ex-pat British, locating a veterinary surgery that can dose Reggie with the worming pill designed to kill the usual tapeworms and a few that Europe keeps to itself, is proving plus difficile. As they say over there.

I put a note on Tripadvisor and also an email to the tourist board and the results seem to have led me to MC-Vet in Sarlat itself.  An email and we have a dialogue to book Reggie in there towards the end of the week we are there.

There is a particular tapeworm that we don't have in the UK, and that they have in Europe that we need to kill before it comes over to us. So the rules are that the treatment needs to be administered and the Pet Passport needs to be completed by a vet in Europe between 24 and 120 hours before return to UK. Ths apparently is enough to make sure that this pest doesn't come to the UK.

The rules are: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/pet-passport








FR17 - 95 days to go

Well that was easy.  Very easy in fact.  The final balance paid on the Dordogne online on Eurocamp's website.

Whether Reggie comes with us or not we are now paid up.  We had to pay for him as an extra to the normal rental so that they can clean the place. I'd expect that they would be efficient with their cleaning anyway and as they are "dog friendly" they would have certain units that would be let for dogs and others that were for humans only.

Although having camped early and late season with Eurocamp and Canvas Holidays in the past, but in large frame tents rather than mobile homes, I have to say that the human visitors aren't all working to the same standards of cleanliness and decency as me.  Some of the damage to fabric of the tents looked to be ignorance rather than just accidental.

I have ordered the Tesco vouchers to cover the cost of the Eurotunnel crossing.  As usual we'll have to pay cash for Reggie to have his passport checked.But it still means that shopping at Tesco and using their loyalty card has a benifit. In May the fare for a car is in the region of £160 return. We earn the rewards by using the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard as often as possible instead of using cash or debit cards. Sometimes people look askance as you pay for things with the credit card for small amounts but it all adds up. Need to book that ASAP.  

Just checked the weather and found a site that looks pretty useful for wherever you go: http://www.holiday-weather.com/dordogne/averages/may/




Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Shocker!

Something that might affect future holidays/vacations is a change to the procedures at work. They have now decided that we can only have a maximum of three days consecutively outside school holidays.

This is a huge restraint on a lot of us as we don't have kids.  Prices rocket in school holidays and of course, another downside is that everywhere you go will be full of other peoples kids.

They have agreed that 2017 dates will be honoured as long as we have already booked them before they made the change to our contracts.  What of the trades unions?  They are powerless.




Monday, 16 January 2017

New Posts added

If only there was a way of moving posts easily from one blog to another, easily.

Today I have found in another of my blogs some travel posts from back in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

After some messing about I managed to copy them into Devall Travels and they can be seen in the archive list.

There are so many more that were on my old Geocities website that have been lost forever.

Anyway, they are there should anyone want to view them.

FR17 - Dordogne

It's way back in October when we signed away our lives for a week in the Dordogne. At that time we hadn't even thought about going to the US again!  Luckily, the Dordogne trip is in May.

In the last entry for this trip I mentioned that we were having second thoughts about taking Reggie. He went through a period of not wanting to go out and becoming a refusenik on walks.  Whatever was causing that seems to have ended.  

He was also seemingly uncomfortable in the car.  Fidgeting all the time and not settling down.  I have since changed the seat cover in the back and bought one that is more padded under him and that is also like a hammock, so under braking he can't fall off the seat into the foot well. 

We have also bought him a new bed that fits on the seat.  He was okay on the FR16 trip, although that was far less travelling for him.  I am confident that he will be okay.

I have begun route planning as well. The standard Google Maps route from Calais to Orleans, the halfway point, is through Paris or at least towards Paris and then the terrible clogged Perephique. NON!

So I am looking at a more westerly route around the Paris/Ile de France area by going as far as Rouen then cutting south to Chartres and Orleans.  Excuse my spelling but this keyboard doesn't have the fancy accented letters to be really French.

Once again, what to and what to see in the Sarlat la Caneda area will be determined by whatever is dog friendly and whatever the weather is like.   I am hoping that it will be pretty decent down that far south in mid to late May.  The idea is not to be top-tourist, but to enjoy being away from work and travel before we become pensioners and live on a much lower fixed income!





Friday, 30 December 2016

FL17 - Second week

So after a pretty exhaustive search for hotels in Florida for the second week of our stay, five nights in total, I decided to use up another timeshare week. It seems a waste but when you consider the exchange fee for that week is £169 and hotels are looking more like £400 for the period, then it is worth it. 

Plus we get to stay somewhere a little different. I looked at Lauderdale by the Sea, and then slightly further north at Pompano Beach.   In the end choosing the Wyndham Sea Gardens resort. It is right on the beach off A1A between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Looking at the Weatherspark site to see what the average temperatures are, they look pretty good for us British.

So another plus point for Florida.  And another thing sorted.






Tuesday, 13 December 2016

FL17 - Investigating Hotels

The second week is a little problem as it really is 5 nights only.

I have been looking at hotels on the Gulf but the current prices are running at about $90 a night. When you total that we are looking at about $450.

It's not a lot better on the Atlantic side either.

I had thought about a trip up to Daytona and across to Cape Canaveral and that might still be on the cards.

This year in Arizona we did the relax then tour system and it worked pretty well.

Another week in the timeshare will be less than half of that. So. What to do?

I have one overnight booked before the Orlando stay.  By the time we get there it will be time to eat and then go to bed as we will have had a long day.

Friday, 25 November 2016

FL17 - Flights and Skyscanner

Of all the comparison sites I have found that the best, for me at any rate, is Skyscanner. Today I had a quick look, always remembering to change my internet cache before searching and was amazed to see that Virgin had a direct flight from London Gatwick (LGW) on my dates, and cheaper (not much!) that my earlier searches.

The times were good and so I thought "I'll have some of that". I clicked on the "offers" page and was taken to TravelUp. An agents we have used before. I filled in all my details, Claire's details and got to "pay now", and a box popped up, "flight details changed".

Clicking on it took me back to Skyscanner and it began another search.  This time Virgin was cheapest still BUT the outward aitport was LGW but we'd arrive back at London Heathrow (LHR), some 50 miles away. Not much use with my car in the parking at LGW and an expensive transfer to negotiate.  

Instead for £4 more I can fly direct from LGW and come back to LGW with Iberia. The Spanish national carrier and a British Airways partner. So I booked that.  No problems this time.

I had to change the car from Tampa to Orlando and as the rates are higher I dropped down a few groups too.

We arrive Friday evening.  The timeshare is from Saturday so I booked a hotel with Booking.com for the Friday evening.

Not much else to do now until nearer the time.



Thursday, 24 November 2016

FL17 - Orlando it is then

Checking on RCI (rci.com) shows that there are quite a few options for the Orlando area. I have finally booked one that gets good ratings from visitors and also is allegedly "quiet".

At all the other places we have stayed over the years, US and Europe, we have never had to pay for the amenities;  pool etc.  

There is always a swipe of the credit card to cover "security" and deposits for keys, usually apartment and parking garages, but never to use the pool or a lounger.

However, this seems the "norm" for Orlando. I'm sure most of the people going there are headed for Disney and the other parks and spend less time at the resort than they might at other places in other parts of the country and even the state.  So I don't think that $10 a day per apartment is appropriate to use the pool at all. So that ruled a few out.  I found one that was charging $1 a day?  It must cost more to collect it in receptionists time than they bring in.

In the end I booked us into Silver Lake Resort. It has good reviews and close to the parks should we want to go to any.  


Back in 2015 when we were last in that area I had planned trips to Canaveral and "Spaceport USA" , where I last went in 1991, and also to Epcot.  But my heart attack six weeks before we went meant we had a more relaxed and "local" holiday, with less driving.

The car is sorted. When we go to the US from Europe where we have shitty little cars, we look forward to gas guzzlers.  Sadly that seems to be fading and the hopes of a V8 recede every year with sensible options taking over. Even the SUV market has smaller engined cars. So I booked the group that is supposed to have these.

Now we have to look for flights. Looking at flying into Tampa as it is cheaper than Orlando, but there's not much in it but Claire wants to have some of the days after the timeshare ends on the Gulf coast and Tampa makes slightly better sense.





Sunday, 20 November 2016

FL17 - Orlando or Other

So for 2017 we are looking at using the timeshare again for a week and after this year in Arizona we started looking at Florida.

One change will be that instead of going in May we are planning to go at the end of September.  

Fingers crossed that hurricanes stay away.

But where?

The quality of resorts in the US are much better than in Europe. In our bracket they are far better and so the only downside is the length of the flight. And possibly the cost but that's to be expected.
So far the plan is to fly to Orlando or Tampa. Depending on flight times and which UK airport!
Last year our return flight arrived at London Heathrow and six hours later we were finally home.  So I'd prefer Gatwick.  Nearer home and doesn't involve driving through the packed traffic in West London.

What I have done so far is a bit of surfing to look at places and flights and booked a car.

So...

Sunday, 16 October 2016

FR17 - Dordogne

Dordogne.

After a couple of successful trips away with Reggie we took the plunge and booked another trip to France.

This time in the Dordogne region staying in a mobile home again, like we did in October this year, but in May! Except this time with a company called Eurocamp.

Claire has some reservations about going so far with Reggie in the car as it about 500 road miles. I have built in an overnight stop on both legs.

I don't think it will be a problem as there will be plenty of stops on the way.

Plenty of time to decide.

Monday, 10 October 2016

FR16 - Day 8

The last day.

We had to be up early as the mobil-home had to be cleaned and the floor washed before we could get one of the staff to come over and check that we hadn't broken or stolen anything....

We had checked the inventory on arrival and they check it when we leave.  Many of the FB and TripAdvisor comments seemed to find this strange.

We hadn't used any of their bedding as we had taken sleeping bags and our own pillows, plus throws to stop Reggie leaving hair or mud on the furniture.

We brushed round and then I washed the floor with the sachet of hospital cleaning grade cleaner they had left. 

We eventually left about 1015.  First stop the recycling bins and then off towards home.

A coffee stop again a Baie de Somme.  Reggie had people laughing as he was looking in the water out back when a huge carp swam towards him. He jumped in the air like his legs were springs. After that he wouldn't near the edge, not even to bark or growl at the ducks.

And then we were off again. Cruise control at 70mph and we passed maybe one other car in 60 miles.

Before pet check-in we went to the Auchun to fill the tank with cheap French diesel.  The price was €1.119 a litre. Today's exchange rate about 1.159 to the £. So less that a £ a litre. At home the same in £'s at Tesco.

And then to the fiasco that is border controls.

Pet check-in was easy and Reggie and his passport sailed through.  ANPR picked us up and we joined the relatively short queue to French controls. Slowly edging forward through empty booths. The French not bothering to check the passports.

The slowness was because UK Border Agency, or whatever pseudo US name they have given themselves now,  had only three booths open. Plus one for coaches only. There was one coach...

We edged forward and then it was all done and dusted. Only 45 minutes from checking in and getting 400 metres up the tarmac.

It did mean we could go straight onto the train. A miracle that it left on time. The first time in many years

And 40 minutes* later we arrived at Folkestone for the short journey home.

Holidays for 2016 over.

* you don't believe all that 35 minutes advertising spiel do you?

Sunday, 9 October 2016

FR16 - Day 7

Our last full day of the holiday. I had hoped to get to St Valéry and ride the train but a bit of back ache meant I could hardly move for hours. Okay sitting or walking but nothing in between.

In the end a it was also our wedding anniversary we decided to have lunch out. We had exhausted St Valéry and so headed for Le Tréport again.

We have always thought of France as being more dog friendly than UK but we still felt odd asking at L'Aquarius whether Reggie could go inside with us. "But of course" was the response. The food was good and Claire got her mussels.

We had a walk around before heading up to the heights above the town to check out the views. It's also up here where the Funiculaire has its upper terminus.

As we walked along the top of the cliff to overlook the town. Below it looked like a model village.
The funicular runs through the cliff and like parking in Le Tréport it is free.

Of course in lieu of missing the train ride we had to go down to the town and back up again. Then it was bak to the camp to start packing and another dinner in.

Tonight was Reggie's second encounter with a hedgehog. This time a much bigger one but with the same result.

FR16 - Day 6

Today is pet passport day. A drive into Abbeville where the TomTom took us straight to the door.

We were very early and so we parked,  again free, and went for a walk around a garden before a coffee.

Abbeville can't be confused with an interesting city centre. The town hall looks like it was styled on an ancient design with a tower but in white concrete....

The church is old though. Still ugly.

We had time for a pannini and then it was gone 3pm. The short walk to the vets gave Claire a chance to pop into a boulangerie and buy a meringue for after dinner.

The nice lady vet checked Reggie over and filled in his passport and gave him the worming tablet.  He thought it was a treat and gobbled it down. We left ten minutes later and €30.10 lighter in the pocket but with the passport filled in to get him back into the UK.

On the way back to the campsite I saw a sign for a WW1 military cemetery dedicated to Chinese workers. This one at Noyelles has 811 registered burials.

Later I Googled it to find that the allies employed 96000 Chinese workers during the course of the war. Many of these graves show no names but others have names in English and Chinese.

The traditional entrance has been replaced with a Chinese style arch. Still designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.  The architect of many British memorials.

The inscription is by the Chinese ambassador in Paris at the time.


Another night in after a stop at the supermarket for beer and some dinner.

Tonight Reggie encountered his first hedgehog. A bit of barking and lunging at it ended up with the hog in a prickly ball and Reggie having to be tugged away.

Noyelles Chinese Cemetery from front
Rear of Lutyens gate
Only a number....


FR16 - Day 5

Today we had a lazy day, or at least start to the day.  Late breakfast and a walk for Reggie to do his ablutions.

Today we stayed local again. Going into St  Valéry for a walk about and down to the railway station on the harbour to watch the train leave.

The train is a heritage line and runs from Le Crotoy to St Valéry almost all year and in the summer there is an extension to Cayeux.

We were lucky enough to arrive in time see it leave at 1430.

After we watched it fill up and leave there was time to have a barquette of frites between us.

Once again we ate in for the evening meal.

One man and his dog
One woman and her dog
Selfie

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

FR16 - Day 4

Another disturbed night due to whatever has Reggie awake and growling plus today the locals are out with their shotguns.

It is a miserable existence for anything that can fly in France as the brave hunters will shoot it. From endangered songbirds to ducks if it takes to the wing some twat in camouflage gear will shoot at it.

I almost feel sorry for the French airforce as they flew along  the course of the Somme the day before.  A target that big?

After breakfast and a short walk we both had an extra lay in to get some rest. Relaxing this holiday isn't! !

It meant we were late going across the bay to Le Crotoy.

With pay to park everywhere I moved the car a few times to more convenient places all on the one ticket.

Reggie wasn't enjoying today's walk and he wasn't allowed on the beach here.

We had a coffee and sit in the sun for a while. Nice to soak up the warmth.

On the way back we stopped in another Carrefour and got some sandwiches for lunch plus some tarte de pommes.

We ate the sandwiches at St Valéry overlooking the river. The tartes waited until we got home.

The late afternoon spent reading and blogging.

FR16 - Day 3

After another affected night we awoke to bright sunshine. Again Reggie and I went to get the bread.  The cats that live near reception kept a low profile.

After breakfast we drove into St Valery and parked up. Pay again.

As we walked along the pedestrian area Ali guide the bay the tide was us starting to turn. We had a coffee at La Terrasse before walking to the end where the river opens into the marshy bay.

The tide was rushing in quickly and in less than half an hour the beaches on the far side of this inlet had gone and it was lapping up against the concrete sides on the town side.

We stopped in La Terrasse again. This time for lunch. A goats cheese salad for Claire and a blue cheese burger for me. Amazingly I could eat all the chips/fries.

We called in a Lidl for some supplies on the way back and noticed a McDonald's as well.....

After Reggie's dinner we went into Cayaux for another walk as it was still bright and sunny.
Tonight's dinner is fish soup and bread bought in the Carrefour.

FR16 - Day 2

I mentioned that Reggie can be protective but what I really meant was overprotective. It rained heavily overnight and as well as that there were strange animal noises to keep him busy at intervals all night.

The beds are okay and the sleeping bags are similarly okay. But having a dog having mental barking fits is not so good.

Luckily being off season the four similar units we drive past to 136 are all empty.  At least no one for Reggie to annoy.

The people in 137 across the roadway are in their own caravan and they seem to talk loudly all night until gone midnight. Reggie does not like that either.

So Day 2 dawned a little dull and we had a walk to reception to collect our bread order. The French love their fresh baguette every morning.

Once breakfast was over we set off for Cayaux and after a walk and coffee we went to look for the tall chalk cliffs that extend from Ault almost to Le Tréport. We found them.

Le Tréport is a very lively town on a Sunday with free parking everywhere after 30th September. 
Something other places might like to note to attract visitors to spend money rather grubbing about for €1 an hour parking.

We had a walk around the harbour and  coffee and gauffres before setting off back to the campsite. 
A long day ended with Carrefour couscous and a beer to wash it down.

It is easier with the dog to eat out if need be at lunchtime and in for the evening.

FR16 - Day 1 Pt2

From the Baie de la Somme services it was a short run to the campsite at La Mollière.

We checked in quite quickly and drove round the one way system to emplacement 136 where our mobil-home is placed.

As Reggie takes ownership of anywhere he stays, he gets protective and defends. This means there is liable to be barking. I asked for a spot with little passing traffic.  That's what we have.

After unpacking we had a walk across the road to the dunes. We had imagined the sea to be there. Wrong.

We also climbed this 60 foot sand dune when a walk along to the west would have seen us walk through a gap on a path....

It was good exercise and we were the only ones daft enough to do it.

For dinner we ate in on Carrefour supermarket microwave lasagna. Yum.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

FR16 - Day 1 Pt1

A bit of a fraught start with the car seemingly needing to be bigger than it is. In the end the Tardis effect worked and the boot/trunk was full and half the back seat not occupied by Reggie was packed too.

Once we had filled the tank and checked in to find we had an hour delay we had time to let Reggie have a run about in the dog exercise area.

Our original departure time was 1020. The huge board by where I parked said it was now 1050.
We rushed into the terminal to get a coffee. Huge queues so made do with a crappy machine.
We should have bothered. We sailed through passports, UK and French, and into Lane 12. It was 1014.

Our place for the next 50 minutes was that queue. It rained a few times and that 1050  crossing faded.
Almost an hour was up and we moved up to the next queue, tantalisingly close to a train.

On the down ramp we could see another train loading in parallel.

1120 came and went. At 1141 we finally wheezed out of the station.

Delays of over 30 minutes on UK railways are eligible for compensation but not Eurotunnel.  The lack of information is the main source of frustration.

Finally in France and the exit from the train was to turn left and out of the back entrance rather than the usual right turn and out past the petrol station.  Who knows why. No one bothered to explain!!!
The run down the A16 to Abbeville tested the new toll tag I got from SANEF the French autoroute operator in the North. You just drive up to the toll, it peeps and off you go. Pay later.

First stop the Baie de la Somme services for a coffee and sandwich. It's always a reliable stop and plenty of parking.

Friday, 30 September 2016

FR16 - One day to go

Packing and sorting had begun.

From the reviews it looks as though the units are quite sparsely furnished so I have emailed to check what we need to take.

A bit late but I didn't expect to take essentials like kettles with me.

I knew we had to take our own bedding and we have sleeping bags plus half the car will be taken up by Reggie and his paraphernalia; food and bedding.

We take throws with us to cover furniture.

The vet in Abbeville is booked for Reggie's passport. So that should ensure he gets home again.

Monday, 12 September 2016

FR16 - France with Reggie

Since we were married we have tried to get away for our wedding anniversary and this year we have booked a week in France with Reggie in a mobile home.

We tested the water last year with a weekend away and with a week to Scotland with him. He was generally very good on both trips.

This year though we'll need to have his pet passport kept up to date with a visit to a French Vétérinaire before he can come back. I have located one not far from where we are saying and he is booked in on October 6th in the afternoon.

The mobile home is in a seaside town at Cayaux sur Mer.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

CZ16 - T -4

Pepe is ready to roll, only needing a top up of petrol before heading off to the Shuttle on Wednesday morning.

Before then I have a day at work,  a day work from home and a visit to the hospital to see about a hearing aid.

Then I need to pack.

The weather forecast looks pretty good so I'll need to get out the sun screen. And the insect repellant.
Clothes? I like the idea I read about in a magazine of simply taking old stuff and binning it rather than carrying it about.  I'm sure I have pants and socks that could fill that role!

The Saddlemen bag is pretty huge for one person so the panniers can be used to carry heavier low down stuff. 

Our Czech hosts like wine and live in a wine producing area. So taking English eine might seem like selling sand to Saudi but I am sure with enough bubble wrap I can get a few bottles safely 800 miles across Europe. It might need a few days or weeks to settle before drinking.

What else?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

AZ - Route 66 Pictorial

A lot of pictures taken on Route 66 this summer. I have saved them to Flickr where they can be seen by eveyone.

Click here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Somme 2016 - Ulster Tower

It rained. It was sunny. But it was a great day at the Ulster Tower for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Some pictures.

Friday, 24 June 2016

AZ16 - Day 16

The last day. We had a full day almost to get the 200 miles from the hotel in Lake Havasu to the airport at Phoenix.
We set off after breakfast and took the 95 down to the Parker Dam.  We couldn't get to it as it was pretty well fenced off. So we carried on to Parker and onto 72 heading south east towards I10.

The first stop was at the Chevron station at New Hope where we topped up the tank before joining I10 for the last leg of the trip to Phoenix.

Here we bought a huge drink each. It was still very hot and the drink was necessary. 


On the wall of the diner were different cartoons and photos. This one of Ronald Reagan was easiest to photo,



From there it was simply a straight line to the airport and drop the car off.  

The flight home was okay and Friday morning we landed in London.

Another holiday over.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

AZ16 - Day 14/15

We had two nights in Havasu.  What to do? The plan was to chill after a week of driving across the length and breadth of the state.  And do it was,


View from our room



We ate locally the first night but not before we had taken a drive across London Bridge and around the island it leads to.  








The next morning we found a cafe/diner along the road, Peggy's Sunrise Cafe (1584 Countryshire Ave, Lake Havasu City) was a great find. 


Breakfast
From there we headed north on London Bridge Road to the State park, and put off by the parking charge we went a bit further to a small parking lot.  We had a walk into the reeds and to a viewpoint where we met some local people fishing.  







They told us to try the beach area on the other side of the bridge.  After lunch, that's where we went. The strangeness of a beach and fresh water is hard to comprehend. Swimming and avoiding ducks?






It doesn't take long for me to get bored and we set off again with the intention of having a dip in the motel pool. We gave that a miss as there were too many kids. We went out again to have another walk along and under the bridge.  Here I found a Harley dealer with no bikes and no obvious access to the road.




That evening we ate in after checking out loads of places to eat. We settled on a chinese take out place.  The portions were massive and not too expensive.

Tomorrow is our last day.