Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Week One

Week 1

30th June (Joe)
On getting off the ferry in Dover we traveled down to St Omer to meet up with my mum and Ron who were on there way back from a sailing and cycling holiday on the Islmer, Holland, after crossing 3 countries in a day to meet up, we met in the cent re for a drink, walk and meal before retiring to the same Aire on one of the toll roads (autoroute A26 Aire de Grand Riez to be precice).

1st July (Joe)
Day one of the real travels we headed west after hearing the word that there were big beaches to be seen in Le Touquet, we were not disappointed, the beach was massive but with only a light off shore wind and a lot of people we decided it was a normal people beach not for our likes, so after a quick look in our windsurf manual, we decided to head down to Le Crotoy. On arriving we found a sneaky parking spot right on the beach not on the pay and display road (even before we knew of this road's existence, I like to call it instinct local knowledge). To our surprise there were lots of beach dwellers in this massive mostly empty estuary apparently unaware that they were walking round in muddy sludge and not on a beach. After a trek we drive out of the village to find a Camping Car parking for 5Euros for 24hrs right on the beach and near the sea, when the sea decided to come in, so I started to set up camp, after some tussling with the Awning, it was assessed to be unsafe and need further work so was removed.
In the evening a storm was a brewing, and we saw lighting which was cool, we went to bed with the plan to get up in the morning to go for a kite surf in the shallow estuary.

2nd July (Joe)
We woke up and there was water, (my crude tide estimates worked) however the weather wasn't great with about 3 knots and a light drizzle we decided to head south in search of better things, after a look a the map we were off. This was the first of our map scale mishaps. Latter that evening we we arrived at our camp site north of le Mans in Le Grez, it was pretty exciting; we were one of 2 vans in the site, there were showers, toilets and a lake, after making camp doing some washing and food, we set up the bikes for a cycle around the lake. It was about 10.30pm at this point we set off with high spirits after getting part of the way round we realised our error in the lack of torch, our only light was Lou's red rear LED, with her inablilty to ride backwards this didn't prove that useful. We pressed on into the dark until sanity got the better off us when we headed in to a forest and our route no longer lit by the moon light on the lake. We decided to unwind around the lake and all was well, only had to walk a little bit when visibility went sub 1m.

3rd July (Joe)
We woke up with a leisurely shower and attempt 2 at cycling around the lake, this time it went more smoothly, the night before we got over ¾ of the way round. We packed up paid our dues and decided to head to the closest bit of sea that was supposed to be nice. So we headed for Pont Mahe (Point de Bile). Again later that evening (Scale error 2) we arrived some where were still not sure about where or what to do there, we knew we were near the beach (we could see it) and we found a field we assumed was free to stay in, it was for us any way)

4th July (Joe)
After waking up early from are very slanty “Free” field of rest we headed for the beach this time, however the tide was out but a good 15 knot cross shore we decided to first go for a walk to watch all the Cocklers, then have a go at flying my kite. It is amazing, I could let the bar out and it would stop pulling me almost completely, much better than my old kites, we went for lunch and waited for the tide to come in. What felt like several days later it started coming in and we got on the water wind was pretty gusty but was really cool me and Lou had a quick go as it got busier and deeper I was off with Lou as my rescue team on the beach, I think everyone else on the water was under the impression that I was in more control that I really was, After a kite and eventful “landing” and the removal of weed from my strings I went for a quick windsurf as the tide started to go away we came in and got ready for our first Date, in the “feet in the water restaurant” I paid AND I ate fish! Not sure I am keen to repeat either of the two experiences. After we retired to our abode next to the beach with aim to wake up early to catch the 7am high tide the next day.

5th July (Joe)
We failed, the tide was gone, so Lou decided to set up her face painting shop, however thanks to a 20 knot onshore sand blasting session business was not well, and a cool French cycling man told us of pastures greener a camper van parking place near beach but in trees out of the wind, after arriving there at about 2 we set up waiting for the tide to come in, just us and some other fellow vanners. As the water began to flood in so did several thousand French windsurfers all with vans and cars with trailors. I was holding out for a donkey, some with so much retro kit you needed sunglasses even though it was over cast, as the water appeared on the horizon they were off, us the Lazy Brits waited for the tide to come in a bit more then it was time for Lou's fist lesson.
Even though it was windy, wavy, and on her first short board she got up and going, almost planing once, she still thought she was rubbish though, not as pro as she seemed in no wind Galini for sure but an amazing effort! As the shore dump got up Lou headed in and I pushed out and got a couple of good runs on some pretty wavy bits of wind chop. After a quick go on Lou's board I headed in. As the mayhem left it was just us in the park again and a massive scary dog. Plans for heading out early the next day for the morning tide to plotted.

6th July (Joe)
We failed, after another encounter with the scary dog being massively tired and the tide ebbing fast we decided to head. Our aim to head just an hour away to St Brevin, after getting there were had a look and didn't approve, next stop Tharon- nice good spot, but being near the St Nazaire estury a lot of shipping and Weston Super Mare water colour, and the similar onshore brown mush, we decided to continue our venture, regretting missing the morning slot at Pont Mahe, we headed south finally finding a campsite just north and inland of Les Sables, after leaving the first one which had a camel and a circus (I assume they were together) we found a nice but pricey camp for our wash day. In sight of wave territory!!

30th - 6th July (Joe)
Going well so far- half way down France, been to nice places with wind, sun and water, (sometimes at once) been kiting and windsurfing. I am eating better, am cleaner and am better dressed than I am at home, in a van!! I have even washed my hair!

Week 2
7th July (Lou)
Got up just in time to buy some croissants from the lady at the crazy expensive campsite, and munched them (persuaded Joe to eat moldy jam too!) Headed down south again for a place called st Nicolas which promised a windsurf lagoon with no people! We got rather confused and lost. It turned out the road was closed to the lagoon so went a bit further up instead. Walked down to the lagoon place though and saw a couple of kiters doing exactly what we want to be able to do with a kite and board. Insanely windy and much sand-storm goodness so after a walk headed on to LaRochelle. Turns out I have been confusing it with Mont St Michel the whole way here... but it is pretty nice! Tried to find a free camp place and after much Joe-driving-through-town-centre we found some sailing shops and I asked a French dude where we could camp free and he said 'here' so now on harbour front. Chucking it down with rain! Went for a nice beer in town. Heading to the Oceanarium tomorrow!!

1 comment:

jeff said...

Sounds like you're having an amazing time! Gradually moving into the new place; have finally shoehorned a bed into my room and put the TV up this morning. There's a lot of "hmm, where shall we put this...? Lou and Joe's room!" so you may need to bring back some space with you.

What we're all really interested in, of course, is the electronics! Is everything working ok?

Jeff