What a glorious week it has been! We’ve had solid sunshine with hardly a cloud in the sky since our visit to Keukenhof and it is just so nice to sit outside all day topping up that much needed vitamin D: absolutely priceless!
After our visit to Keukenhof, we drove to the aire at the gorgeous Marina in IJsselstein on the south end of Utrecht, with very good facilities and showers as well as an excellent restaurant above the ‘Capitainerie’ called Rivers, where we enjoyed a most unusual and delicious meal, served by a very friendly and knowledgeable waitress who spoke very good English and explained every dish in detail to us. It was a perfect way to end a most delightful day.
On Thursday morning, we only had a very short drive to our next destination at Camping Groene Eiland in Appeltern near Nijmenen so that Adonis could indulge in some more fishing, which was supposed to be good there, but we stayed there for 3 days and he didn’t have a bite! Nevertheless, it was a very pleasant site and even with it being very busy due to a Dutch school half-term and Liberation Day Bank Holiday, it was very quiet, with just the odd noisy outboard-engine boat going past every now and then, but it was mainly a sailing boat area and I enjoyed my walks with Beano around the island and got another load of washing done. The bill came up to 111 euros, so a little on the expensive side at 37E a day and it’s not even high season yet!
We needed to stock up on supplies, so we did a shop at Aldi in nearby Haren, only to find that they didn’t accept any Visa, Mastercard or even our Visa Debit bank card, so we had the embarrassment of not being able to pay straight away as we didn’t have enough cash on us and Adonis had to return to the van in order to retrieve the cash we keep for emergencies, which thankfully was enough to cover our shop. We were most shocked and annoyed about the fact that an international supermarket chain didn’t accept any of the major cards at all in this day and age! How were we supposed to know that? Totally unacceptable! Needless to say, we won’t be shopping in Aldi again.
After that unpleasant experience, we carried on south to Belgium and stopped for the day at a lovely aire in a very rural setting at Borgloon, surrounded by fields of wheat and apple orchards but, unfortunately, there was also a pig farm nearby and when the wind blew in the wrong direction, the smell was unbearable and quite sickening, but luckily, most of the time it was fine or I wouldn’t have been able to stay there. Having said that, I don’t think I’d return! Live and learn!
On Monday morning, we headed back to France on what turned out to be a long and tiring drive along some dismal roads between Namur, Charleroi and Philippeville that made the going tough and very unpleasant indeed. We sighed a big sigh of relief when we finally found ourselves back in French soil, knowing that the roads would be just fine. It made me wonder about how Belgium, being the seat of the European Union Parliament, doesn’t invest some of the European money on improving those major routes. We felt we were in the Third World!
Back in France, we stopped for lunch and a small shop at the very convenient and free aire in Revin, north of Charleville-Méziers, on the river Meuse. Had we got one of the nice pitches on the far side running parallel to the river, we might have stayed for the night, but we were near the bridge at the other end with constant heavy traffic and noise, so after doing a little shop, we left at about 4pm (very unusual for us) and drove a very short distance of about 20 minutes down to this gorgeous Camping Port-Diseur at Monthermé in the Ardennes, still on the river Meuse. Our pitch is right on the river bank and Adonis can fish from it and he’s already caught 3 chub and 2 barbel: not bad for 2 days!
There is a beautiful wooded park and weir on the other side of the road from the campsite, opposite the old Abbey, where the rivers Meuse and Semoy meet which is perfect for swimming and Beano and I had a most delightful swim yesterday afternoon and we’ll be going there again later on today.
This morning, I went for a cycle ride on the other side of the river just to see the campsite from the far shore and it was a most enjoyable ride. In fact, it is so perfect here we are going to ask if we can stay longer until it’s time for us to return to the UK!