Gary Numan sang ‘Are friends electric’….. well not yet. But today we’ve called in to visit two of our friends from the Jive world – Pete & Jane – so we were grateful to plug Charlie into their electric whilst spending a night with them. Pete and Jane moved out to France 3 years ago to ‘live the good life’ growing their own fruit and vegetables in a small, idyllic hamlet not far from the town of Adriers, 50 mins west of Poitiers in the Haute Vienne region.
Pete & Jane bought the house for a bargain price and very quickly realised they had got more than they had bargained for! The house had a good roof… Unfortunately that’s where its positive attributes ended, so they are slowly working through with a tiny budget replacing, mending or making everything else. They’ve made huge progress and we look forward to going back on a future trip to see the project finished.
After saying our goodbyes, our plan was to head for Nantes, but someone stood up and said ‘Swansea‘ (**). No they didn’t, they said La Rochelle, so the plan changed and we took a quick 100km detour and found ourselves in a perfect aire in a huge carpark (albeit without services). However there was a boulangerie pâtisserie, an ice cream parlour and a pizza take away and the company of half a dozen other vans to share the view of a smart marina full of yachts.
Anyone familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, will understand we spend most of our time concerned with fulfilling our basic needs. Although we’ve forsaken the comfort of a nice home and shunned the company of good friends and family, as we still have each other we’re still able to achieve a large section of the 3rd level. However I can tell you having a French couple watching you emptying the toilet cassette is a real barrier to attaining level 4 and above.
Today it’s… wait for it Laundry Day. Yes is that part of the blog you wait nervously to hear regularly reported. Thankfully the wishy-washy is in at another convenient location at the back of the car park , which means we can have breakfast in the van rather than get dizzy sitting waiting, watching the clothes go round and round and round (we can’t get BBC TV here!).
By the time the wash had finished eating half of a pair of by now partnerless socks and we’d lost patience with the tumble dryer blowing inadequate amounts of barely warm air over our duvet cover, it was already lunchtime. With impeccable timing once again we wanted to take the water taxi on the only day this month when the timetable had an extended lunch hour. Rather than wait until 2:30 we choose to take an electric bus from a very convenient stop close to the laundry instead.
Once we’d explored the town for a bit we found a ideal spot to have lunch (Cath – Lesley had prawns and I had ‘Fish n Chips’ which turned out to be fish goujons accompanied by a bowl of dippable frites and tangy mayo).
One of things I enjoy on holiday is sitting watching the world go by, making up the relationships of the people as they promenade down the street – Are those two an item? Is that her toy boy? Has that couple just met? Are those to having words? etc, etc).
The city of La Rochelle is planned around its port and different basins that make it up. So, when you’ve moored up your rather expensive gin palace in your private berth in the marina and want to go to the old port you can just hop on one of these small solar powered Yélo sea buses and they will connect you to Vieux Port and of its many popular harbour side restaurants.
Our near silent electric powered Yelo taxi took us back to the No 5 berth in the marina, 200 yards from Charlie waiting patiently with a few chums.
Access to the inner sanctum of La Rochelle’s Vieux Port harbour for the vessels with the deeper drafts are governed by the tides. Also and probably more significantly for capacity reasons as Vieux Port is so small 95% of the boats berthed at La Rochelle are in the huge marina(s)
The fact that I am able to contain my inverted snobbery towards the owner of this monster is in large part due to the knowledge having paid out an estimated €15-20 million to buy ‘Harmony’ you still have to spend around 10% of purchase cost every year in maintenance and crew costs! ouch… (and there’s me losing sleep over motorhome depreciation).
This crew aren’t bothered much by the tides and they look like they’re having a whole lot more fun than the big expensive cruisers!
** In 1970 I was sitting in a steamed up, greasy spoon cafe in Corringham, Essex with a group of friends drinking frothy coffee and listening to “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by Bobbie Gentry on the juke box, when Pete Woodard, stood up and put his hands on the table and said “Swansea?”. Without hesitation, repetition or indeed preparation around 8 -10 mates with Triumph’s, Norton’s and BSA’s got up and set off to Swansea. This was before the M4 was fully completed and the story of a litany of bike breakdowns, frozen limbs and sleeping in workmen’s huts is legendary.
It only takes a spark of an idea and it’s amazing what you can get up to with your friends, isn’t it? I think a couple of e-bikes would fit nicely in Charlie’s garage, don’t you?
Dave & Lesley