I am writing my blog one day behind schedule due to our breakdown, which, as one might imagine, threw things out of sync a bit. But more on that later.
We enjoyed a few more days at Lac de l’Uby and Adonis ended up catching 9 carp of various sizes and I believe 3 got away, but heck, that’s not bad going at all!
I had a very enjoyable Friday afternoon with Dany and a couple of her friends, as one of them, Andrée, had asked me if I could show her how to make crochet jewellery with wire and beads and she was kind enough to pick us up in her car from the campsite to take us to her holiday apartment at the other end of Barbotan-les-Thermes. This turned into a 3-hour session of crocheting and knitting, not just jewellery, and I think we all had a very good, relaxing and productive time and, of course, very beneficial for my French.
We were due to leave the campsite on Saturday morning, but we asked at reception if we could stay on the same pitch until Monday morning and, although there were neighbours who wanted to move there, they were obliging enough to wait for us and we were able to enjoy one more weekend at this lovely site. Not only that, but we have booked another 2 weeks to return in mid June!
We got everything ready to leave on Sunday evening and were able to make an early start the next day, so, after saying our goodbyes to Dany, Daniel and our next-door neighbours, we were on our way again. We did a big shop at the convenient Intermarché in Cazaubon and had only been on the road for scarcely half and hour, when we felt something which sounded like a bottle hitting the van under my seat. We thought nothing of it for a few minutes until the battery red light stated flashing and the engine temperature shot up to the top of the gauge. We had no option but to stop on the side of the road and Adonis crawled under the motorhome to see if he could locate what it was and came up again holding a metal disc that turned out to be a pulley for the engine water cooling system pump. At that point it was obvious we were not going anywhere fast and had to call for breakdown assistance. I am glad to say that this came in under an hour and, luckily, the garage we were taken to was on our route, being as it was in Bernos-Beaulac on the N524, just south of Langon in the gironde, our destination for the day, as it happens.
The mechanics were having their lunch when we got there and we had to wait until 2pm for their return, but they were very efficient and quick with the diagnostic and, after ordering the necessary parts for water pump, a cam belt and a new radiator that got damaged when it has hit by pulley, they told us to return the motorhome to the garage at 8.30 on Wednesday morning. Happy with that, we slowly and safely drove down 200 metres to the very convenient and attractive motorhome aire by the lake, where we enjoyed very pleasant walks in the afternoon and evening with Beano.
On Thursday morning, we walked the trail by the Ciron river to the viewpoint and back to the aire and we delighted in the lovely views along the way. It was a hot day, so we were happy to just lounge around the aire in the afternoon and evening sun.
We were expecting a courtesy car at the garage when we took the motorhome back on Wednesday morning, but seeing as there was nothing waiting for us, Adonis phoned the Insurance Company and they sent a taxi to pick us up to collect our car from Hertz in Langon. The taxi came at 10am and it took about 20 minutes to get to the car hire shop. The taxi driver wasn’t very impressed with the fact that nobody had told her we had a dog with us, but after the initial awkward moment, she was very friendly and helpful and even picked us up again in the afternoon to take us back to the garage.
After picking the car up, we did a bit of shopping in the Industrial Estate nearby, where I was able to get some crocheting supplies to complete my Nativity set at Centrakor, that Dany had recommended. I was very pleased with all the different colours available and I even managed to find some toy stuffing at a haberdashery opposite Centrakor, and all at very reasonable prices. Now it was my turn to be happy (after all the fishing success, I mean).
After my successful ‘shopping spree’, we drove into town and parked by the Garonne rive near a beautiful park. Being quite hot, we just walked a short distance into the town centre and found Chez Philippe, a bar/restaurant where to cool down for a beer right by the Townhall and, as the lunch hour had already started and some people were enjoying what looked a very nice meal, we decided to join them and had lunch there too. And most enjoyable it was too.
After lunch, we had a couple of hours rest in the shade in the park by the river and near the car park and, following Beano’s afternoon walk, we made arrangements to drop the car back and be picked up by the same taxi driver, who was very jolly this time.
Once back in Bernos-Beaulac, we had to wait until 6.30pm for the work on the van to be completed and just enjoyed the hot weather by the lake.
We had to take the van back to the garage this morning to make sure that the cooling level on the radiator was correct and, after a quick check, we were on the road again.
We only had to drive about 90 minutes to our next destination, here at Léoville, in the Charente-Maritime. This is another beautiful stop-over by a little stream and a nicely kept leisure park with lots of picnic tables, trees and pretty bridges and ample space for parking. And it is all for free! There is a viewpoint on top of the hill above the aire, but it is a bit too hot at the moment in mid-afternoon (27ºC), so might have to leave it for later