After a quick morning dip, we set off again, sad to leave our perfect swimming spot. We stop off when we saw the canoe sign not far down the road, and decided to give it a try! The Goozle hound was keen to come along, but she obviously didn’t realise we would be traveling on water! She got to stay and guard Berty. Incidentally, Goozle is not a hight loving dog. We went up on a bridge the other day to look at a Swan nest and she lay flat on her stomach, refusing to move. When chivvied by Paps, she adopted a crab like walk as far from the edge as possible. Anyhoo, we purchased the hire of two canoes for some money and amidst much exited squeaking we were given life vests, a waterproof barral for our food and we were off! Rio captained my ship, and Orlando captained Papas with the Chouque in the middle! As it was a blustery day and the sun a bit shy, I did not envy Geoff his enthusiastically rowing team!! We pooled off down the river, much fun being had by all! One could stop along the banks or on the islands wherever one wanted (which we did on numerous occasions, the captains enjoying leaping out, pulling the boat to shore and then pushing it back out and leaping in again) we had a jolly snack lunch on a pebble island, and what with the glistening water, breathtaking scenery, especially the limestone cliffs, and happy chatter it was a highly successful trip. Luckily Elodie only realised towards the end that she wasn’t a captain, and it was only as we reached the landing spit that she bellowed a bit, along the lines of ‘why is it always me because i’m small, i’m not listening, go away, Rio is being horrid’. All valid stuff, which we would have gone into in detail, but as luck would have it, the friendly canoe chap turned up in the nick of time! On the way back he showed us a tiny village on the other bank, only access across the river. Apparently it was abandoned by 8 families, and the whole village was bought by a rich parisien who restored it and uses it as a holiday home! Looked very agreeable. Back to Berry and a quick hot drink as it had been a little chilly towards the end! Then onwards and upwards for Berty! She hung around 90 on the temperature gage, and inched her way up. I got a photo at 900 is m. But she actually got to 1299! The roads were pretty twisty and it was starting to get near lights on time. As I havn’t yet mastered the lights, we scanned the roadsides for a handy spor. This being a national park, there were a few too many nocampingcar signs for my liking. Just as we were getting desperate, and starting to check out the possibility of a campsite, Geoff spotted a sign for a lac. Lo and behold, many a van nestled up. We joined them just as the cloud and mist closed it. Brrrr. Sups and bed. Oh, we spotted a man carrying a dead snake so they all charged over to look. Apparently it had had it”s head bitten off, and was on the unpleasantly large side.
It rained heavily during the night, and I woke often to the pitter patter on the roof, and it was very cold. Cold enough to bring put doudous slanket! At 6.40 I peered outside and couldn’t quite believe it. Snow! No wonder I was cold! Everyone else was asleep so the goozle and I went for a quick, cold and drippy walk round the lake! She thoroughly enjoyed the snow! I didn’t have the correct footwear, my shoes having been chosen for their breathable qualities, so my toes were frozen when we got back! The jumpers came out and everyone had breakfast in a sleeping bag or duvet!! Campervanning in winter must be pretty bleak! Hang on, thats Geoffs plan for the big trip…. we need to research destinations carefully! Hot tea was blissfuL, and then a twitchy moment when I started Berty. I should not have doubted him, he started fine (after the usual minute and a half to heat up!) and didn’t get stuck in the mud! Huzzah! Down hill from here, though the snow and mist out into cloud and sun! Amazing scenery change! Geoff surpassed himself with stopping spot this time. The mairie of Gange had omitted to provide this particular aire with toilets, and toilets along this stretch of road are obviously few and very far between. This aire would seem to be the unofficial human poo corner….. in fact, on one of my trip back from the river I surprised a chappy just squatting down happily on the side of the path! He looked mildly sheepish, but being french he grinned, shrugged, pulled up his shorts and headed the other way!!! Despite the less than desirable stopping spot, there was a little path which led to the most beautiful swimming spot! Lovely water shaped rocks and a deep, translucent river. A most enjoyable day! Geoff swam, I dipped and the three charged around! We loved it so much that after a quick trip to super u ( after a slight mishap involving a low wall and Bertys rear bodywork (I was feeling twitchy and hussled due to a message from our tenants asking if they could remove a fence as it was covered in weeds! I was busy muttering ‘why not do a spot of gardening then’ to myself and git distracted!) Not too bad, but needed gunging up) we opted to cone back for the night. I tried gunging up the slight scratch on Berty. Needless to say that this was the usual type of gunge. You know, the kind that squeezes out too quickly, sticks everywhere but in the hole and dries as quick as look at it. Sigh…sups (lentils again!) and a run around by the river and now to bed.
We woke early and hustled the troops out early, hoping to get to a couple of swimming spots. A quick carrefour stop for more strawbs and cheese, and we headed back along the Tarn. After the initial incredulity from the three that this was not a trip from one bouncy castle /slide pool infested campsite to another, interspersed with ice cream as sweety breaks, they have settled down and seem to be enjoying it! Taking the road easy, we stopped for a quick look at the swimming possibilities, parking up under a huge overhanging cliff. Geoff found the perfect spot! Just bellow rocher de champignon ( which is swimming spot number 114 ) we found a delightful spot. Burbling waters lapping the shore, shallows to play in, enough current to float downstream for a bit. Perfect! What followed was a most relaxing day. The actual wild swimming was rendered less wild be the frequent boat/canoe”s gliding past, but very enjoyable non the less! It goes without saying that the crystal clear water sparkling in the sunshine was bone chillingly cold! Pip enjoyed it less and less, but at least she got to relax in the sun afterwards. Everyone swam (though Memem had a wobbly moment when she spotted an eel slide off into the depths….) Rio and Orlando went for full underwater swimming for some smurf sweets! It was decided that Elodie could go up to her neck. She just about managed it, but on being invited to take a second dip, said ‘i’ve already tried that cold on’. Slightly hairy moment when we tried to cross the river (we had seen a man,his pregnant wife and small child cross, so thought it was totally doable) possibly crocs are not the best thing to cross a river in, or possibly the children were too light, but they could not really stand against the current. Elodie screeched (this was because her crocs were trying to escape she said) so what with a wobly duo (Rio was waiting on the bank. Ellegedly for Paps to come back but highly likely waiting to see what happened to the rest of us!) And having to carry the useles’s hound, we aborted the cross over mission! A last swim and to bed. Trying to ignore the overhanging rock face! We had the clever idea of putting the rubbish bag outside which obviously resulted in some expectant creature trying to make off with it in the night. Goozle woofed, I peered out of the window, and it was the work of a moment to send Geoff out into the night to pick up the scraps which had been strewn wide and plentiful!
‘Huttopia’ is a very pleasant camspite! Berty got a slot amongst the daisies and we had warm showers all round! I have been using the bottle method up to now, but the others have been making do (very happily) with the odd river splash! The Goozle hound is taking her enforced swim every day, and is smelling less like a manky sock as a result. I can’t say she enjoys them!! We had a leisurely morning with tea, coffee and book reading and feeding a trio of ducks. The three were playing their own complicated version of top trumps, followed by a swim in the pool! Much fun had by all. We later noticed the ducks swimming in the pool!! We found a nice resting spot by the river, and while I got a few supplies, everyone else with Narla, Simba and Nimba built a dam! We saw a pair of swans nesting on an island (no photo unfortunately). A please tell spot. As you may have noticed we opted for another night here, and off tomorrow! Upon consulting his maps, Geoff found a way round the road block, so we set off early.
Left with beautiful sparkling sunshine on the river. Only a few drops on the ground under the faithful engin, so possibly no oil leak after all. Getting going in first gear is a challenge, and Geoff seems to need to stop in the middle of a steep hill to check his barings frequently enough to allow Memems storm clour a small airing! However, mr sunshine reigned for the majority of the day!Spectacular scenery along twisty mountain roads, and no meetings with any other wide loads, which was great. The D200 was beautiful and completely deserted. Stop for lunch in a shady spot. Got a bit twitchy when I discovered Geoff had overlooked a couple of upcoming tunnels on the planned route!! After a little deliberation (Geoff found a camping car site which recommended the route with no mention of tunnels) we opted for a campsite by the river for the night and to leave the route planning until the morrow. Dam building then bed! So far so good! Minor issues such as coffee, washing up liquid, hot chocolate, and wee spillages and stinky cheese oozage far out numbered by the good stuff! And to cap it all, those pads are secreted away and have not been mentioned! (Well possibly once by Rio, but only in a half hearted sort of way! )
Leaving our small piece if scrub behind, we hit the small, narrow, twisty roads. Stopping for a quick tea break, we stumbled on a nifty little swimming spot for lunch. A spot of wild swimming for all (except for memem who was in charge of lunch!) Geoffs second mistake. He omitted to check the map for tunnels, and when we did reach the minute tunnel he (possibly I should have noticed it as well but thus is a debatable point) didn’t read the width limit. I am trying to blank from my mind the tunnel trip. Prodding furiously at the seemingly useless light buttons and a huge line of furiously honking French cars which have materialised from nowhere plus a largish 4×4 coming the other way. We made it through intact to be informed by one of the honkers that there were two more tunnels ahead…..geoff”s life’s expectancy was pretty rocky for a moment, but a kindly chap saved his skin by pointing out a twisty path we could take! Cor! ! This is another pretty village purched on the edge of the Tarn. Beautiful setting. Sups, a bit of ‘the horse and his boy’ and another restful night.