It is sod’s law that we now have an extra 300MB of data (I think; I got the lady in the Tourist Information yesterday morning to listen to my prerecorded call to the phone company as the French was too quick for me – she thinks I have an extra 300MB, but it was all a bit too much for her too, so who knows?) and a perfect Fon wifi via Campernet, but we are likely to be in Italy tomorrow where we will have to start again. We will need: a new Italian SIM; and the Fon network is v sporadic. Oh well.
We sat there last night listening to Simon Mayo and we Skyped Mary (I know, on camera even without hair) and we were reminded again how good it is to have reliable interent. Via my mate Richard Branson and BT Internet (Fon) it was almost wall-to-wall data in the UK, but over here it’s more of an issue. But with upwards of twelve weeks in Italy next it’s something we will need to sort. I’ll let you know how it goes. And sorry, therefore, to all the people who have commented on the blog and have received monosyllabic replies – I’ve always found myself under pressure to ping off a reply without time to think it through.
Yesterday morning was fabulous. In almost sub-zero temperatures (after a cold, still night with temperatures retained by a heavy mist) I walked through Castelanne to the Tourist Office and, having got there ten minutes before nine, stood outside in perishing weather logged on to a rubbish SFR Fon connection and tried to load the blog. The trials of an e-vagrant. Thankfully, before hyperthermia set in, the office opened and I unceremoniously staggered in and abused their free wifi – which the two ladies were more than happy with.
After that C and I, dressed up against the cold, clambered the two hundred metre climb to the church on the hill, with C, always over dressed, discarding items of clothing along the way. Thankfully she was wearing underwear. I knew we were racing against the clock as the sun burnt off the mist, but we timed it perfectly and the rocky route was a mixture of cold cloud and piercingly warm sunshine. At the top the views were significant with the mist hanging in the
valleys like a wedding dress tossed on top of a pile of combat clothing and the sun welcomed us to the summit like the ascending heroes we were. The church had too much history to bore you with, but it was much visited and we wrote our note in the visitors’ book. We stopped off for a coffee in the town on the way back to Doris and, once home, I retightened the turbo jubilee clips to no particular effect. We decided to drive southeast to Nice and chose the only Aire on the southeast coast (they don’t like us motorhomers here) and drove the quiet beautiful route out of the mountains down to the sea, a drop of over a thousand metres, stopping off for an egg banjo lunch at a viewpoint where C counted over twenty vultures waiting for a farmer to drop dead in his field.
The Aire at Nice was rubbish. Not only was it just a small carpark with no ambience, it was wholly overcrowded and a French couple made the point that where we elected to park was a place where the Municipal Police had moved people on. So, rather than wait to be moved, we gave ourselves a good telling off and headed for Nice seafront where my new App had said parking was tolerated.
Nice seafront is spectacular (“a bit like Benidorm” was C’s comment; you can’t please everyone, although we did like Benidorm) and although there was the odd van parked up, every space was taken. The promenade was heaving and, whilst the drive down the ‘Route Anglais’ had our name on it, there was no room at the Inn. We stopped, rethunk, and chose the small village of Contes a few kilometres north of Nice which the App said had carparks etc just made for us – the App, populated by people like us, has photos, so you can tell what it’s going to be like. It was right again and Doris is now parked up under another hill with another church looking down on us. There’s a circus just off the carpark, and although there are no roaring lions and tigers, we have seen a llama and a pigmy horse, but the sense of danger and excitement is not quite the same. What exactly goes on in the Big Top is a mystery, but people were paying to watch something.
We had a disturbed night (after a great aubergine pasta thing and the last episode of the West Wing – what will we do next?) but this morning the sun looks like it might pop over the horizon at any moment. We’ve dug out the Italian sosta book (sostas are equivalent of French aires) and decided that Italy is definitely next stop. We might climb up to the church this morning before we leave and bag ourselves a cup of coffee at the top. Yippee!