Diary

Summer 1991

SCAN0407Wednesday.26th June
Left  Summercove at 1.30 ,drove to Rosslare and stayed overnight at the port. sailed at 9am next morning to Fishguard, A lovely trip-sat out on deck in the sun until we arrived, which was 12.30.pm. Had a quick look around Fishguard,but eager to move on.Drove to Penarth but could,nt find a place to park peacefully to cook our evening meal.  Finally found a bit of peace just outside the town.Cooked up a big meal & left for Chepstow where we stayed for the night in front of Chepstow Castle.
Went for a drink in a trendy pub.

Thursday 27th June
Forgot to mention Swansea where we stayed out on the Gower Peninsula-where we had stayed 3 years ago.Went shopping in Swansea for the day & left for Penarth.

Saturday 29th June
Went to Tintern Abbey and drove through the Wye valley to Bristol. Parked on the main shopping street & walked up & down looking at the shops..Found a great bookshop with” Big Bargains” spent about an hour browsing. Bought two books and this Diary.When we were about to return to the van a towaway truck  ,was observed  and was just about to take our home away when as a result of interceding With a sympathetic policeman we were allowed travel without hindrance or penalty. Arrived in Bath at 4.30 approx just in time to sample some of the shops and bought stores in “Gateway”& liquid refreshments for the weekend.Retired to the car park “Charlotte St” & dined .Finished up the evening at “Salamanders”where we observed a particularly jovial clientele.

Sunday 30th June
Visited the famous Roman Baths today –walked around the old parts of the city-visited the Cathedral & read all the inscriptions on the walls-Later outside we were entertained by the local drunk who gave us a fine sermon on life & its meaning! A policeman came & ushered him to his correct corner.Returned “home “ tired, had a little walk around & retired.

Monday  1st  July
Today was an interesting day-woke up with a parking ticket stuck to our windscreen ,which we quickly disposed of.Went to another great bookshop & browsed for An hour or so-looked around the beautiful narrow streets which were alive with atmosphere. Street Artists  of all kinds. Looked for a garage as we were having troublewith the petrol line and wheel balancing.Finally we were directed to a garage where the wheels were fixed up-then the trouble started-the van stopped and would not start again- Finally we were towed away to another garage in “Henrietta Place ( very friendlyandhelpful). had to stay outside the garage for the night-our petrol pup had died.  However a walk in the park was rewarded with a skittles display-Jugglers to be exact.We then went to a pub called “Mulligans” all the way to Bath to drown our sorrows in an Irish pub.

 

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Tuesday 2nd July
If we had known what was in store for us, we would never have surfaced. Slept in front of the garage and woke particularly early at 7am. Bought the book “Wally “and dined on cod and chips.Visited some greatly reduced bookshops and were delighted with the Costume Museum. However on returning to the garage we were confronted with an enfuriating  bill of £151 ,which to our chagrin could not be deducted from our Visa A/C. French Currency as a result acted as a go  between and afforded us the opportunity to have the van released . After a few nerve tonics in the car park we  headed to Sainsburys- Only to find credit cards were no longer acceptable tender .Roll on tomorrow!

Wednesday 3rd July
£2.40 approx is what we started with today and by 1.30 pm we had £3.30 odd. It was a sunny morning –anyway the day passed , tried the visa –again to no avail. Looks like were stuck here yet another day . Bought an outfit which when tried on was awful. Will have to return it &  see what tomorrow brings .

Thursday 4th July
Yet another scorcher ! Went to the Crescent and delighted in the display house there. Some very friendly guides . Visa mix up! Revisited “Mulligans” and met a characterful  local who was a bricklayer. Told us some amusing stories such as the D.H.S.S. raiding building sites and being met with replys  such as “ Im Mickey Mouse”

Friday 5th July

Up at 7.30 this morning with the sun blaring down .Tom is contemplating buying sandals & Bermudas At last we solved SCAN0406the visa situation (£100 limit) – went to the garage & paid £50 cash +£100 with visa.
Went and sat under a beautiful oak tree in Henrietta Park (the heat was too much).Went for one last look in Bath, had a cheap meal  & had a bit of a splurge-bought some books (atlas,Paris Guide,French – English phrase book, a cookery book and an art Book).Tom bought the sandals and we made up a pair of Bermudas for him ,now he is a new man!  And looks like a real tourist .Left Bath at 3.30 approx and journeyed on to Salisbury. Our first sight is the Cathedral all covered for renovations-did some shopping in the best supermarket yet “Safeway”. We are now sitting in the van after our meal (mussels & salad  mmm..) a strange mist is overhead and a very strong breeze –train passing just as I write..
The heat has been insufferable for the past few days. Found a lovely spot beside a stream & fed ducks. The sky darkened in about 15 minutes .We could hear a thunderstorm in the distance so we sat in and waited for it-we were nice  and snug with our beers .It all lasted about an hour- slept….

Saturday 6th July
Market day in Salisbury, very impressed by some of the van salesmen selling their wares. Visited the Cathedral and felt very ephemeral on seeing the numerous tombs dating back to the mid 1200`s  All this while our washing was in the launderette.  Salisbury town is quite ordinary .left around 7 pm. & took a minor route  to Winchester – passed through some typically English villages ,prim & proper- Winchester on a Saturday night was not the best time to arrive – lots of people on the town. Went for a drink around the corner from the car park- a little up from the town.

Sunday 7th July
This has been one of the better days .Paid a visit to Winchester Cathedral and were amazed to see the mortuary chests of Kings with crowns on top dating back to 600.ad.We were entertained by a pianist & cellist rehearsing for a Concert . This was followed by a nature walk on the grounds surrounding the Cathedral.-complete with ducks swimming in crystal clear water.
Then on to Chawton and a leisurely 1 & half hours spent in Jane Austin`s house .Among the exhibits included a lock of hair,(fair in colour)- a patchwork quilt, lace collar, necklaces,  and the table on which she wrote several novels, and the novelty of a creaking door ,also  a donkey cart in the outhouse opposite. We headed on through the English countryside which was typical of what one imagines it to be – pretty little villages with rose gardens and some lovely old houses & cottages .Arrived in Petersfield- met Valerie and Richard in a pub for drinks & stayed in the van outside their place for the night  .Had a good chat with them before we retired.

Monday July 8th
Woke up to heavy rain & wind had breakfast with Valerie & extended the chat from the night before .left for Portsmouth at 2pm( still raining heavily) took a wrong turn at Portsmouth on to a busy motorway .The van packed up- phoned on an s.o.s. for help & we were towed eventually to a garage in the middle of nowhere. Walked to a shopping area in the rain & wind and passed away the time in this  shabby run down area – it was dreadful. Returned to find the van started again –paid our dues & left for the ferry. We are now awaiting our ship which should take us to Caen ,France .

Tuesday July 9th
6.30 am. Reached the port near Caen Normandy – slept a few hours near the sea  .Our first venture to drive to Cabourg SCAN0411was horrifying – the van stopped once again –Luckily a very nice Frenchman who passed helped us to find a garage 7 we were towed once again to the local garage .  To our surprise they found we were out of petrol .(  petrol gauge was kaput! ) Filled up at a Hyper-market to find a massive petrol leak underneath the van –went back to the garage where we were looked after immediately (merci  bien) and fitted 4 rubber tubes. Reached Cabourg and parked beside the sea. Went for a glorious walk along the promenade and observed a very interesting variation on pitch & put.

Wednesday July 10th
Back to the sun again ,a beautiful morning.Walked through the streets of Cabourg .( very expensive) -Strong feeling of affluence here. Came across a Carousel original 1900 -very impressive situated in a landscaped park. After roaming away from the central area we came across a market which was just finishing up – got a last minute glimpse. Spotted the sale of the century at a shoe stall –all leather new shoes for just £3.50 .Psyched ourselves up to purchase a selection of shoes after trying on numerous pairs ( and a very patient stall owner who stayed open specially for us) we decided on six pairs – a brief last look at the price tab revealed we had made a terrible mistake and quickly dropped six  pairs of shoes on the counter  to the value of £205. Sat on the beach for the afternoon very ,very hot.

Thursday 11th July
Today was hotter than yesterday so we travelled on  to the next coastal town Huelgate – with a beach running parallel .A little hot & bothered ,we just went to a Hyper- Market to escape the heat for a while. By the way got my first few bites from the mosquitoes last night- today I have two swollen hands.We went for a lovely walk along the promenade and looked at the   incredible villas.There was an impressive kite display also.

Friday 12th July
Villers Sur Mer had a series of quaint little streets where we got 5 very attractive cards .On to Duville and parked by the yachting marina,then took a good look at the posh shops which were outrageously upmarket –realized that we have £200 to last until around the 7th of August –refused a £30 facility which brought home our precarious situation.

Saturday 13th July
Trouville is situated on the other side of the bridge –thence we explored the restaurants in the hope of finding a good price for tonight.First rainfall in some time -off now to the washeteria .
Bought a cool box for £5- a steal. cancelled our meal –far too many abroad tonight.

Sunday 14th July
Rest Day, Bastille Day .Tom played his piano & I sketched – very overcast day.Went for a stroll through Deauville .S.at & SCAN0409watched the Sunday fashion Set off at 5.30 to Trouville & went for a drink in two very French bars .Went for a meal which consisted of Moules Marineres, trout chicken, & a very disappointing dessert .Back to the promenade in Deauville just in time for the fireworks display.

Monday 15th July
A real Monday morning feeling here in Deauville.Went to the market .Left for Honfleur this afternoon .Arrived and parked in the same spot as two years ago .Lots of campers parked by the inlet.we went for a lovely walk through the town at dusk and bought some beautiful mounted cards.

Tuesday 16th July
Spent the day in Honfleur  touring the Art Galleries  then headed for Lisieux .Brakes failed in a small place called Pont levec .Arrived in Lisieux at 8.30 and found it ever so quiet .Rang my mother and received confirmation of the house loan. Brakes seem to be ok .

Wednesday 17th July
Looked around  the shops in Lisieux-nothing too interesting to see here only the Cathedral & Basilica which we visited, also the crypt underneath the Basilica was very peaceful .Out on the road again to Evreux to get to Giverny where Monet`s garden should be a treat. Stopped at a lovely picnic lay-by  & had some great mouldy cheese from Pont Levec-Slept in front of a fine gothic cathedral in Evreux .

Thursday 18th July
Got a tea –shirt after spending ages rummaging through kiddies clothes -lovely & cool just right for Pari! On to Giverny where Monet`s house and garden was the treat of a lifetime.The garden itself consists of some acres with a feast of colourful flowers,and a water garden flowing with weeping willows ,water lilies, and lots of Japanese footbridges. His studio bright & large with a hen house longside .The house was all intact ,consisting of furniture belonging to himself , photographs & lots of japanese prints. His bedroom overlooked the garden , the dining room (all yellow) & the kitchen complete with cooking range .Continued on towards Paris –Stayed in Nantes overnight by the Cathedral.

Friday 19th July
Set off for Paris at lunchtime-stocked up with food at a hyper-Market.Arranged to go to the james Joyce  and had great difficulty trying to find it .Called local police who suggested the campsite in Joinville- remarkably easy to find all considering.

Saturday 20th July
Probably the best day of our trip so far .Bought weekly travelling cards and set off for two suggested shopping streets. No Bargains.However the trip afforded us the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the Metro and the great Parisian experience.We actually had coffee at a street corner Brasserie. Returned to the james Joyce again and bought two pints for a whacking £7.50. However we met two girls from Ballyvourney on their way to Eastern Europe. Great atmosphere here. Nearly lost our way back on the metro. fortunately caught the last train to Joinville.

Sunday 21st July
Woke up at 5 am. this morning to the hustle of trader`s in the square preparing their stalls of fruit & veg etc. for the day .Discovered I had gotten a very bad bite from a mosquito on the eyelid which left me with one eye for the day.left to find a refuge from the threatening sun which looks like its about to return – spent the day sitting on a bench near the Seine which was very relaxing .

Monday 22nd July
A day in Paris .Got the metro into the central Station  then to Blvd  St.Michel  visited Note Dame , walked up Blvd .St Michel & visited the luxemburg Gardens .Tom bought two records returned eventually a roundabout way on the metro . SCAN0412

Headed for the latin quarter with some very characterful shops & restaurants in the sweltering heat.By chance we found a poster shop where we bought 16 posters and met a lovely Chinese –French girl who had a friend living in College Rd. Cork. Delighted to find some cool air in McDonalds opposite the exquisite Hotel de Ville .Forgot to mention a 7 piece Strauss band in the metro..One and a half eyes today!

Wednesday  24th July
Headed for Montmartre. Passed the Moulin Rouge and walked past a series of strip joints in Pigalle .Then we hit a whole lot of budget clothes shops . I bought a lovely sweatshirt for £4. We eventually reached Sacre Cour which was mobbed with tourists .on the way back we spotted another poster shop where we purchased all in sight, coasters & all. Drove to the campsite later on & found it very dark. Two eyes today!

Thursday 25th July
Lashing rain – good or bad omen.! Used the facilities of the campsite- showers etc. Went to the launderette in Joinville .Still raining .Took the Metro to St Lazarre where Tom looked through the music shops on Rue de Rome. I drank coffee & wrote postcards.Back to the Champs Elysees where we spent an hour in the Virgin megastore. Tom bought a Video tape of Charlie Parker.

Friday 26th  July
We have been suffering a sort of penance since we arrived in Europe which has not been mentioned so far –  “Stale Bread “ very Expensive & mouldy £1.50 a loaf .Solved the riddle after about two weeks –the butter had gone mouldy. ( but the bread was still stale) Discovered the Baguette for 30p- fresh every morning which we look forward to each day. Back into the city today we went to an area called the Maris where we saw the Pompidou Centre which was a hive of activity –Portrait Artists ,Mime Artists ,Magicians, and one striking act from a Frenchman with an organ grinder-which he sang along with old French Folk tunes .On to McDonalds for food. Bought a suede jacket for £15 .  Caught the last train back to Joinville .Drugs raid in Cork Harbour.

Saturday 27th July
Today was terrible ,woke up feeling  sore in the head from pints in the james Joyce. Had a big breakfast of Baguette,fried eggs & tomatoes – went to find a Hyper Market, which was a disaster as we travelled miles through a very built up area which was a maze of small roads & traffic lights -it was als very humid – found the Hyper market which was`nt very good .Bought the bare essentials and headed back to base .Slept by the river bank.

Sunday  28th July
Very hot today. Set off for the Louvre but when we reached there it was seriously crowded & hot – abandoned the idea of visiting museums and headed for the Champs Elysees where we were just in time for the finish of the Tour De France ,which was a very hyped up occasion for the French- Ended up in the garden of Luxemburg and caught the end of a concert which featured a very nice pianist .Back to Joinville at 9.

Monday 29th July
Another scorcher !Got on the N4 for nancy .Bye bye Paris.Stopped at a Hypermarket and stocked up.travelled 50 miles approx through amazing countryside .Wheatfields ,poppy fields and the famous Sunflower fields .Stayed in Vitry le Francois for the night which has an interesting tree lined square with an old cathedral.

Tuesday 30th July
Travelled on further to Nancy  – very uninteresting .Walked around the shops bought bread basket , a tray, apair of shoes two pairs of socks a tie & a shirt for £11.approx. very humid this afternoon –now we are having a thunderstorm !

SCAN0405Wednesday 31st July
Tom had a look at piano books this morning –however they are far too expensive .Nancy has one really attractive square with 4 ornate gates. Arrived in Strasbourg at 7pm to find the city is was very impressive by night.What with all the restaurants & bars- a great atmosphere.

Thursday August 1st
We both headed off for a thorough look around today and all went remarkably well. The inner city was most appealing with a similar appearance to Goslar. Went on the town to some pubs tonight- to discover there was no such thing ,just restaurants- had a bottle of beer in a lovely square which cost £1.20 each –moved to the one next door which was a sort of pub and two beers cost £3.80.- felt we were ripped off so headed back to our abode by the river ,it was a nice evening though.

Friday August 2nd
Took a last look around Strasbourg – did some shopping for food then left for the German border  which brought us through some nice countryside. Stopped for a while for our meal between a cornfield, a wheatfield, and an orchard which was very peaceful apart from the flies-which were real pests! On to Frieburg  where we drove through a pedestrian street, until we were quickly halted by two policemen who ushered us off, we then found a nice central parking area.

Saturday August 3rd
We set off early for the Kaufoff deparment store and were delighted with our purchases .On the top floor we found two jackets at £ 11each , and two sweatshirts at £ 6 a great buy. I bought a blue & brown silk scarf. We then split up for an hour- Tom went to the music shops and I continued window shopping. Everything closed at 4 pm sharp so we decided to head straight out into the countryside.

Sunday August 4th
We are now in the Black Forest – a very cooling experience. Amidst dense forest & high slopes-tiny little villages  so picturesque .Found a parking area in a place called Titisee by a lake ,which seems to attract a lot of people .Went for a walk through the village of Titisee which was very commercial with tourists walking around eating greasy sausage & drinking beer .However we hired a pedal boat  on the lake which was just perfect ,we peddled our way all around the lake which was surrounded by forrest and some beautiful houses tucked in between with lots of flowers  .Bought a very romantic looking tea caddy in one of the shops .back on to the winding roads of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) again. Came across some beautiful scenery high up in the mountains .Also the air was lovely & cool- some of the chimneys were even smoking –arrived back in Frieburg late .

Monday August 5th
Another scorching day- rose very early and went shopping-did find a light jacket for 10 marcs. Searched every shop thoroughly!

Tuesday August 6th
Drove from Fribourg to Baden Baden.The drive went through the upper Black Forest region.We passed through many small villages which did`nt have quite the same appeal – possibly because their appearance became all to familiar .Extremely warm. We arrived in Baden Baden only to find no parking for campers. I had a good look around and was struck by just how organized  it seemed to be –more for older people.

Wednesday August 7th
Drove onto Karlshruhe in the hope of getting something from visa. Arrived at the Hauptbanof- unfortunately no mun no fun yet again. Woke to a further scalder of a day. However we did manage to have a good look through Karlsruhe where we bough ta red jacket , handbag, & pepe jeans for a princely £ 20.

Thursday August 8th
Had a lot of rain during the night which cleared the air a little.Went to check on Visa again and to our dismay it was`nt there. Went & stocked up in foodstuffs in Karnstadt a big department store. .Bought 2 lovely hot chickens for comfort . Returned to the van & demolished half of one chicken m.m.m..headed out on the homeward bound trail again& travelled 90 miles north to Sarbrucken.Walked around this very lively place which was buzzing with late night shoppers and some serious socialites which we found in a little side street which consisted of pubs and restaurants .found an irish pub  & indulged in two big glasses of Kilkenny Beer which cost us 8 marcs .  The last of the cash. Slept comfortably  with lots of fresh air.
Friday 9th August
Rose again – the sun is peeping through the shade where we are parked..Went on the trot yet again. Paid another visit to Visa “ Norris Bank”, Surprise ! Surprise!  It was alive & kicking .Withdrew some cash & headed straight for Kaufhalle where two cheap skirts ,a scarfe & a roll of film for the camera were quickly purchased, then a silver ring. Our first visit to Aldi was today where we bought chocolates and sangria – continued to window shop for a few hours – by the way its another scorcher.Went out for a drink to the irish pub where 3 Americans entertained with irish music complete with Uileann Pipes. Moved onto a less attractive pub where the Germans were very much out for the night.

Saturday 10th August
Discovered a marvelous Bric a Brac market by chance, where we purchased several tins , and I got another jacket for 5 marks. A marionette side show  however stole the show , where children sat in wonderment- entranced by the spectacle Travelled on to Metz today and paid a visit to a Hypermarket on the way- Metz is a surprisingly nice old town with rows as in Berne Switzerland.- all upmarket shops,,pastry shops ,antique shops ,tea houses along with all the modern influences .However , it was very warm –retired to a  shaded spot near an old church & convent for the night. Metz is a very old city situated on the Moselle and is very impressive- must have a good look tomorrow before we leave it finally .M et with two Polish men who were sleeping in their Cortina.We invited them into the van for a few beers ,they had very little English and we of course had no Polish .So it was an interesting experience as we communicated through sign language.

Sunday 11th August
Visited the cathedral in Metz and out on the road again to Reims. It was a very hot day as we drove through flat countryside ,it was hard to find the shade when we started to overheat. Met two Germans in Reims who were also in a camper ,had a few drinks with them and retired late ( Rang home)

Monday 12th August
Cool and overcast. Walked through Reims in the morning – however most places were closed I Bought a sweatshirt and sent a card Drove approx 100 miles to Beauvaix  and found a campsite where we washed the clothes and showered .Compiegne was not as impressive this time- Reims is a very spread out old city with dull buildings

Tuesday 13th August
Woke up to a sunny cooler morning in the campsite – left at 12 and headed for Rouen. Parked in the very same spot as the last time (we were here two years ago)we knew where everything was but everything was outrageously expensive .Bought two postcards ,a baguette & left for Dieppe on the coast .Went to  a Hypermarket and dined on chicken tonight – parked near the sea for the night , and the air is very refreshing .Saw two women in a punch up on the promenade.( or the plage as they call it).Went for a walk and discovered Dieppe to be a highly commercialized place .Lots of restaurants and bars by the dockside .Quite expensive ,old and moody.

Wednesday 14th August
Woke at 7 am to the sound of another camper pulling in next to us ( Germans). Rose at 9 to a lovely morning sunny but cool – left for Le Havre & took the coast road – passed through some pretty little villages & country roads .Stopped in Fecamp a nice town but closed for Siesta ( as usual) .On to le Havre which was a terrible let down – a big sprawling place with cheap shops .On to Caen next –arrived here at 5.30 & had one hour to look at the shops .Off then to the last hypermarket of the holiday & bought some wine & presents to bring back. Arrived at the ferrport & stayed overnight.

Thursday 15th August
Woke at 6 am to the sound of cars arriving for the ferry.We were last on the ferry as we were on a waiting list .Left Caen  at 8.30 and sailed to Portsmouth which took 6 hours – sat on deck most of the time in the sun. Had a brief look around the shopping street in Portsmouth , then headed straight for Salisbury., in a roundabout way ! as it was badly signposted. Retired early – very tired after the journey.

Friday 16th August
Bought 3 more tins (French style) in a tea shop and combed Salisbury for more. Eventually found a set of 4 tins , one slightly damaged for £ 1.50 – great bargain ! As the money is very low .Left for Bath in the afternoon  & arrived around  five just in time to spend a credit note to the value of £ 16 in a boutique – got a really nice flowery shirt for £ 8 and was refunded £8  change which came in handy for Mulligans pub tonight. Forgot to mention that we stayed by the riverbank in Salisbury ,and the ducks were very friendly .Went to Mulligans for a drink – it was very busy so we just had one drink and went to” Salamanders” ( Baths yuppy pub) with loud music & very tarty women .We have been to this pub several times and have always enjoyed it as we did tonight- returned to the van & conked  out !!

Saturday 17th August
Parked by the Crescent – and went back to the bookshop in Bath again- bought two books of masks and a painting technique book .Spent most of the day looking around  Bath which was very familiar at this stage  .Left around 7pm and drove as far as Monmouth in Wales . Went for a drink and met a man who had been to Kinsale & had a very entertaining chat with him. Slept  !

Sunday 18th August
Did a lot of travelling today and ended up in Tenby  on the south west coast of wales – very commercial place with all you want for the beach holiday There were also some nice shops with Victorian artifacts ,which we wadled in for a while .the town itself was dainty and interesting with houses sloping down to the sea  But alas too many too  many fish & chip & beach ball types.Stayed by the station.

SCAN0408Monday 19th August
( Gorbachev has been overtaken) left this morning for Fishguard,stopped in Haverford west to shop in Gateway ,  then onto the ferryport  & sailed to Rosslare at 3 in the afternoon& . arrived at  6.30
Collected some money in Waterford and winded our way down to Dunmore East .had a drink in the”Hotel”where the atmosphere was very lacking with two fellows playing ballads on the guitar .Got chips next door & slept on the pier- freezing night!

Tuesday 20 th August
Woke to the sound of seagulls making a big racket  outside. A lovely sunny morning . Drove to Cork then Kinsale , the holiday  has finally reached the end-  until next time !