Lac de l’Uby, Thursday, 14th June 2018
It has been a week dictated by storms, rains and floods, forcing us to change our plans again and again. Needless to say it’s been very frustrating and worrying at times, but luckily we managed to find a flood-free stop-over every day.
After leaving Montils in the Charente-Maritime last Thursday morning, we were hoping to stop at the campsite in Jonzac, just a short drive down the road, in order to do another load of laundry, but this was badly flooded too and we had to look elsewhere nearby. We thought of the charming aire at Léoville, south of Jonzac, where we had stopped on our way north in April. Sadly, this was also out of bounds and even the hard standing parking area on chalky ground was full of puddles and soggy all over, so we had to carry on in search of somewhere drier. As the morning was advancing fast and getting closer to lunchtime and we were becoming a bit disheartened, we tried our luck at another aire further south at Chevanceaux, but we found it taken over by a large group of school children and their teachers having a picnic, even sitting on the little access road, and we had to knock that on the head too.
We carried on south headed for the pretty little aire at Clérac, really crossing our fingers this time hoping that our fourth attempt of the day was going to be the lucky one, which happily it was. Not only was it dry and on hard standing, but Adonis also managed to do some fishing in the pond and caught 6 small carp. Maybe our bad was turning…
Friday was another interesting day. I still wanted to get our washing done and was keen on finding a campsite with hard standing pitches and washing machines and our chosen destination was the campsite at Pomport, just south of Bergerac and west of Monbazillac in the Dordogne, but yet again the river was overflowing and once again the site was inaccessible. The only solution was to go to higher ground and suddenly a visit to the Château de Monbazillac a stone-throw away seemed like a very good idea indeed and that’s exactly what we did. Being on top of a hill, not only did it command stunning panoramic views of the vineyards and landscape all the way around, but the château itself is simply magnificent and straight out of a fairytale and, more importantly, not a puddle in sight! we parked in the coach park with the beautiful panorama in front of us and we went to the shop to buy some of their fine sweet wine and asked if we could stay the night and, of course, they didn’t have a problem with it at all, so we had a ‘room with an enchanted view’ that day.
On the road again on Saturday morning hoping that further south would be drier and for a campsite with washing machines, we tried Camping de la Place at Clairac on the river Lot, south of Tonneins and, Hallelujah! it was open and ready for business and, although the pitches were on grass, we found one near the entrance that was fairly dry and were very happy to set up camp there for the weekend. It was a hot day and I did my washing straight away, just in case, and hang it out on my new mobile rotary line we bought in England. We also had a gorgeous take-away pizza with Mexican topping that evening from the bar and Sunday lunch at the very popular campsite restaurant.
We really enjoyed our stay there, walking through town on Sunday morning and even had some Spanish neighbours doing some seasonal work in the area who came with their guitars and entertained us with their lovely music and singing. We got talking to them and praised them for their playing and singing and they turned out to be very friendly and I think grateful of our appreciation. Some of them were professional musicians and play and sing at venues as they travel: how wonderful! They even invited us to join them for a paella and musical soiree the following weekend at the campsite, but sadly we had already booked 2 weeks here at Lac de l’Uby and couldn’t stay. What a shame!
We left Clairac on Monday morning after 2 major storms and heavy rain, but fortunately, we had parked with the front wheels of the van on the verge of the access road to our pitch and got out with no problems at all. We thought we might stay at the aire at Le Temple-sur-Lot and visit the water gardens there, as they had been closed back in October when we spent a day there, but it was a miserable day after the heavy storm and we didn’t fancy it in the end. The aire itself was also very busy and felt a bit cramped, so we left that too and tried Lavardac, between Tonneins and Condom, only to find 3 dogs locked in a pen a few metres from the aire that started barking the moment we arrived and, with Beano on board, we thought it best to abort the mission. The obvious choice from there was the tried and tested aire at Condom, which was our saviour once again and where we ended up spending 2 days at only 3 euros a day from April to September to be payable at the campsite round the corner. It was interesting to see the change in the landscape from last autumn and early spring, especially the weir on the river Baise, which must have been at least one meter higher than on our previous visits due to the heavy rains, as well as the colour of the water, all brown and murky, almost like liquid chocolate. Nevertheless, the walks around the park near the aire and campsite were still very pleasant and this is still a lovely place to visit and stop for a couple of days, even in the rain, and yes, it did rain again!
We left Condom yesterday for our final leg of the journey before our 2-week break from the road at Lac de l’buy and, mercifully, it is dry, warm and, to our great relief, NOT flooded! We have a different pitch by the lake, larger than our usual one at Easter, but there is a fishing competition going on at the moment and campers are not allowed to fish until Saturday. This was totally unexpected and a bit of a shock, as fishing is the main reason why we come here. Instead, we went for a 90-minute walk around the lake this morning and might ride our bikes somewhere tomorrow. Good job I can crochet and read anywhere! Poor Adonis, though! Oh, and the swimming pool is open!!!