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It's that time of year again. Those spectacular Autumn colours have now been blown down, and we have just swept them up. The garden is looking smartish, but strangely empty without the colour, although the heather is in flower, and the choisia, and the schitzostylus, and the... But enough of that, although it has been a strange year, with plants flowering at such odd times. And our home grown grapes were splendiferous this year...

Left: Fishing on the Dordogne

So what have we to look forward to? Looming large on the skyline are the Christmas Lights, but we have spoken about them before. One of the real pleasures of this time of year is planning next year's holidays, which leads to fond memories of what has gone before.

Right: Sunset effect in Volterra

We bought our motorhome, 'The Leaky Cauldron', in 1996, and so started on a series of continental holidays that only the retired can experience, ie no money but loads of time. Our continent has so far consisted only of Franceand Italy. I doubt it will enlarge as we love both these countries, particularly France. Our aim is to move around on the minor roads and to stop where we see a campsite in a really nice location. We are not 'wild' campers, preferring all the conveniences to hand, and the 'municipal' sites are generally of a very high standard. We tend to avoid the widely advertised sites, as the only people you meet there are the Brits, of course, and the Dutch (but then they are everywhere). Also you experience the joy of motoring on roads where you only see the occasional other vehicle. I can't imagine a greater shock for the visitor to the UK than joining the M2 at Dover with three lanes of nose to tail traffic, all travelling at 60mph, and having to cope with driving on the wrong side of the road. I admit to using the Autostrada in Italy, but it is such a long thin country, quite hilly and a long way from the Channel ports, so it's excusable if you are staying less than, say, six weeks.

Above, left to right: Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, Sunset over the Dordogne and A view from Limeuil

Our motorhome has let us down on one or two occasions. In Italy we lost our exhaust but it was amazing how helpful people were, the trouble they took, and the comparative low cost of the work done. Again in France this year, with the help of Britannia Rescue, we were transported to the campsite we selected on a low loader (new to us and strangely enjoyable), deposited in the car park, and fitted up with electricity. The site owner was extremely helpful, and the local garage came out next day (a Sunday) with the correct part, and we were up and running again.

We enjoy the local food and wine, and we try to use the native language. (A bit difficult in Italy, as we do not know any, but schoolboy French does help in France!) Inevitably, though, our foreign neighbours know that we are English before we open our mouths, and I'm pleased to say, insist on practicing their very good English

So what do we look for? Apart from the food and wine, we enjoy the peace and quiet and the beautifulcountryside. And you can enjoy some spectacular sights - beautiful sunsets, fantastic gorges, rivers, buildings etc. etc. (I know most of these can also be seen in the UK, but somehow it's different on holiday). And there are not so many people around if you can avoid the school holidays. The only negative side?.it's getting more expensive to stay there.

But we love it.

Contributed by David

(Published 29th Oct 2014)

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