Wednesday 14th August.
We are parked up tonight in Anduze next to the steam railway line and it's pretty full of Motorhomes, at least 30 parked up tonight. We arrived here this afternoon after an uneventful drive apart from some madness in Uzes, a town that became rich on silk, linen and liqorice however it's main claim to fame now is the Haribo museum. It took us the best part of an hour to negotiate the town and it's roundabouts as a result of the number of visitors to the museum. As we entered the town and saw the signs we thought we might pop in and buy a box or two but when we saw the number of vehicles in the car park and the queues to get in to the museum we didn't bother. It was absolute madness with cars parked in every available space on and off the roads and the sections between the many roundabouts just gridlocked. Eventually we managed to clear the town and arrived here to find the car park rammed and just managed to find a place to park. Now the trains have stopped running for the day it's just us motorhomers left and it's pretty peaceful.
Our plan yesterday was to take the train from Gadagne to Avignon and do some sightseeing. We walked along the country lanes from the vineyard to the station to catch the 10.15 train and were surprised to find we were alone on the platform. By 10.30 we suspected there may be a problem and then an engineer from SNCF arrived and bade us a cheery bonjour. I asked him when we could expect the train and he said we couldn't, they were working on the line and there would be no more trains until late afternoon, if we wanted to go to Avignon we would have to walk to town and get a bus. So we walked to town to find we had missed the bus by ten minutes and the next one was not for another two hours. We wandered about Gadagne for half an hour or so before we realised that this was not so much a one horse town but a town sans cheval and set off back to the vineyard. A quick search on the SNCF site showed there was a train the next day at 8.55am so we set the alarm and looked forward to a day's sightseeing today. Last night or early this morning it started raining. It woke me and I closed all the overhead roof lights, went back to sleep but this morning when the alarm went off it was still hammering down. It was a disappointment and it seems like we weren't destined to see Avignon. We packed everything off and set off here and the satnav took us through the former papal seat but it was still raining as we came through so we didn't stop. We'll save Avignon and it's bridge for another day.
Tomorrow we set off for Aumessas at the bottom of the Cevennes to visit our daughter and her family. We're really looking forward to it especially as they have an African Fete in the village this weekend. We've been to Aumessas a few times before and it's a peaceful place to stay and we have happy memories of earlier visits. Phil and Catherine, our daughter, celebrated a joint 100 years birthday there a couple of years ago (I won't divulge how the numbers added up). There are lots of beautiful walks around the village, the locals let me play boules with them although they mostly groan when they have to partner me and Patrick, who runs the bar, always gives us a warm welcome. We're looking forward to it.
Saturday 16th August.
We are parked up today in the village of Aumessas. Well, the van is parked up and we are enjoying some luxury staying with our daughter and family in four walls with a roof over our heads, it's all a bit strange. We arrived on Thursday as the village was preparing for the Fete Africane which is held most years over the bank holiday weekend. The village has a strong long lasting relationship with a village in Burkina Faso and over the years many different artists and musicians have visited here. In return folk from here in France have helped build schools and wells in Burkino Faso. Yesterday the Fete was a great success, plenty of stalls selling African crafts, a Batik workshop and a great group of African drummers and dancers. The bar also did good trade. Today was a "recovery day" although our granddaughter is taking part in a tableau and a musical extravaganza today , representing the village of Aumessas in 1910. Not the kind of thing you see at the average English fete I have to say but good entertainment none the less. After applauding the village folk who acted, sang and danced after many rehearsals we retired to the bar just in time for Patrick to wink at me and change the TV channel to the Arsenal - Crystal Palace match. A nice start to the new season with three points.
This evening the entertainment comprises of a Celtic/Cajun crossover band and fire eaters!! It's all go in these tiny French villages.
The African drummers.
The 1910 re-enactment.