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GIRLS ON TOUR:Just say Yes!

When someone I had only met once in my life asked me to give her a lift from London, to her home in the South of France in my motorhome, I did not give it a second thought. I excitedly said "Yes". I am all about life's adventures, especially as I get older. I encourage women to 'Say Yes More' to things that will take them out of their comfort Zones. This was my chance to put my money where my mouth was.

Five minutes later the Ferry for a motorhome and two passengers was booked from England to France.

I had been following Honor for a few years now on social media. We are both champions of women, helping them get the most out of life as we grow older. Which is why i I wrote my book RETIREMENT REBEL and I host my podcast RETIREMENT REBEL;Life after 60. Honor has her MIDLIFE MAGICAL MAGIC inspiring women.

Having met her once last year, I had an inkling of how we would get on but there were no guarantees.

So it was with much laughter, we waved goodbye to the other ladies at the luncheon in London and headed off on our 'Girls on Tour motorhome adventure'. Many of the women were speculating as to how we would get on over the next fortnight.

Honor who is 59 had never been in a motorhome, let alone live alongside a 64 year old woman for two weeks, so what could possibly go wrong?

Honor was initially shocked at the small space we would have to co-exist in for two weeks. She soon took to it like a duck to water. Her deal breaker was emptying the toilet cassette. She physically could not bring herself to doing that, but she did everything else, filling the water tank, putting away the beds, washing up and making me laugh so much with her antics heading to the showers.

In my excitement I had inadvertently booked the ferry from Dover to Dunkirk, instead of Calais. Fortunately we arrived at the port of Dover early enough to be allocated the earlier crossing to Calais.

When we arrived in France we drove to the coast and had a lovely walk along the beach at Le Touquet.

From the offset we had some really heart to heart, soul searching chats, about life, ageing and how, when women support women, great things can happen. One thing we both strongly agreed on was the need to ban ANTI-AGEING labelling on products and adding PRO-AGEING.

We booked some of our campsites through the Caravan and Motorhome Club Alan Rogers campsites in France. The first being La Fontaine des Clercs campsite near the picturesque village of Montreuil Sur Mer. It is a very calm and peaceful site.

We headed off early in the morning to Chartres Cathedral. It is one of the most beautiful and historically significant cathedrals in all of Europe. It was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

A couple of nights at Camping Le-Jardin De Sully gave us chance to stock up on some french food and wander around a local Chateau. It was a good base for exploring the Loire Valley.

Chateaux de Chambord blew me away, even on a rainy day. It is one of the most recognisable Chateaux in the world, because of it's very distinctive French renaissance architecture, which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. It has a special 'magic' Leonardo da Vinci staircase.

Spanning the river Cher is one of the best known Chateaux in the Loire Valley, Chateaux de Chenonceau . I just loved the feel of this place as we wandered around. We then drove to our next campsite, on the outskirts of to Nantes There was an excellent tram service from the campsite into the city. As we explored the city we stumbled across the most amazing restaurant called Chez Maman ,

I promise you it is well worth a visit. It is full of the most eclectic memorabilia. You walk though a wardrobe door to access the loo, which fascinated me! To top it all off the food was absolutely delicious.

I was surprised by Nantes, there is so much more to it than I envisaged and I wish we had given ourselves another day to explore.

Time to head towards the coast. We found a lovely Aires at Saint Martin-de -Ré and went exploring. At the harbour one of the restaurants stood out because it was full of locals enjoying their lunch in the sunshine. Just as we approached we were lucky because a table became free and we grabbed it. We had a great vantage point looking over the harbour and we enjoyed a delicious fish platter at Bistrot du Marin

Sometimes it is hard to find places to park the motorhome when you head into cities. Fortunately after driving around for ten minutes, we discovered the perfect parking spot. It was only a ten minute walk in to the coastal city of La Rochelle. A centre for fishing and trade since the 12th century. Its worth stopping off here, with its cobbled streets and charming atmosphere. We had lunch in a quaint square opposite the Town Hall which was built mostly in the seventeenth century and is considered one of the oldest City Halls in France.

We both wanted the excitement of wild camping, so we headed off to Forêt Domaniale de la teste and found the perfect spot under the trees, with a few other vans nearby.

We could hear the roar of the sea in the distance and headed off, only to be confronted by the most breathtaking views of the sun setting over the sea.

It turned out to be a magical night. As we sat wrapped up warm in our swimming robes outside the motorhome, chatting under the stars. We saw several shooting stars, then out of the blue the biggest meteor shot across the sky, right in front of us. We were beyond excited. It was the icing on the cake, at the end of a wonderful day. Honor really felt she was getting the true motorhome life experience.

It gave us a spring in our step the next day to conquer Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe.

It was time to check out some of the wine region. We spent the day walking around the cobbled streets of St Emillion, despite it being March, we were able to sit out in the sunshine and have lunch by the motorhome.

Our next overnight stop was not far from Bordeaux.

It was nice to get back on a campsite with electric hookup and nice showers..Camping la Motte

Honor and I had a lovely walk in the countryside and a great chat. I was opening up about my life and learning so much about myself, both good and bad. Honor also felt like she had gleamed a lot from our conversations, firing her up to organise more women's retreats at her Gites. And yes there were some minor fractious moments in the two weeks but we learnt each other's love language very quickly, so any disagreements were soon settled amicably.

We got a very warm welcome at camping le Soleil du Gers

It was nice to just kick back and relax in the countryside. There was even a little farm area with goats chickens and ducks.

At the next campsite the mellow, medieval walls of Alet-les-Bains form one boundary of the Val d'Aleth

site, while on the other side is the River Aude. You can also find out why locals say that their local sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux, is the first Champagne. We had a lot of fun wandering around the streets of the Medieval town in the dead of night. The Abbey and cathedral ruins are lit up and this just adds to the atmosphere.

I am an ambassador for the Caravan and Motorhome Club

which is running a campaign, Read, Tour and Explore, showing their campsites and Alan Rogers recommended sites, connected to literary works. It encourages people to explore the real world settings of their favourite book narratives. With this in mind,

we visited the Mary Magdalene church at Renne-Le-Chateau, which inspired Dan Brown to write the Da Vinci Code. Luckily Honor's friend, Fred, is an expert in the connections to the church and the book, so he gave us a guided talk and explained the significance of things you will see in the church. I cannot recommend going there highly enough.

After that we searched out an aires in Limoux so that we could go to the longest Carnival in the world! A 400 year old tradition, 3 months of celebration, music, dance and blanquette! It is an unforgettable atmosphere.

En route to Honors house we called off at Carcassonne

The Medieval city is wonderful. I could spend days just exploring it. The double walled fortifications are an imposing structure on the hilltop.

Finally we arrived at Honor's amazing place, between Narbonne and Carcassonne. Where she rents out her Gites and hosts women's retreats. It is beautiful.

During our time on the road in 'Dora the Explora' we forged a lifelong friendship, which I am grateful for.

There was just one thing left to do on my wish list. To camp in a vineyard and be able to do some wine tasting. Ordinarily I am driving, so I cannot do the wine tasting.

I was very excited to learn that we had been invited over to Domaine Jones vineyard

where we were greeted by the owner Katie. She could not have been more welcoming.

She organised a private wine tasting for us. I have to say we tasted some fabulous wines. Obviously I had to buy some to take with me. Then we drove the motorhome out into the vinyard amongst the old vines (which you can adopt) and parked up. She laid on some fabulous food and we drank more Jones wines, until it grew dark. It was such a magical way to end my trip with Honor. I will never forget the experience.

1 comentario

08 may

Amazing. I loved your book retirement rebel ( recommended to all friends). I have followed your antics since and listen to your podcasts while gardening.

My dream is to buy a campervan with hubby once our youngest has fled the nest ( we foster and have four long-term) whenever that will be who knows, but we will retire one day! Keep going with posting your adventures they make me laugh and keep my dreams of owning a camper van alive, travelling around the UK, then onto France.

We visited carcassonne last year for the weekend, staying in a medival airbnb with our own knight in the lounge/dining area ( always made me jump when I needed a nighttime granny pee…

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