Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sunset

video

Sunset in the comfort zone.
Five days of surf, sun and sand have brought a calmness back.
This morning we head inland for a few days.
A bientot.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Hmmm...





It was an unwelcome six hour drive from The Dordogne heading south west to the European surf capital of Hossegor and the promise of sun, surf and plenty of free camping spots behind the dunes. As we approached Landes a sea-mist enveloped the flat, pine-forested land and a coastal gloom descended. Arriving in Hossegor we cruised up and down the coast looking for surf —way too big and stormy for me, and camp spots — the dune-side car parks had prominent, well tended signs banning ‘camping cars’ from overnighting and local enquiries confirmed there was zero tolerance. I settled for an unsatisfactory high-tide surf at the sheltered Plage Sud before overnighting in the charmless, toilet-less, government sanctioned, €8 ‘Aire de Camping Car’ along with two or three hundred other hapless souls whiling away their retirement.

The continuous driving of the previous week compounded by the constant listless search for a camp spot, a toilet, a shower, somewhere to call home for at least a few days began to take it’s toll. Neither of us wanted to admit it, because this trip is about embracing the romantic idyll of life on the road, freedom and a simpler life yet here we both were feeling anxious, unsettled and cabin-fevered by the heavy weather, the expensive jammed car park camping and one too many ‘baby-wipe’ baths in the van.

The truth, uncomfortable to admit, was that we both held a resistance to this transient life borne of our familiarity with routine, order, deadlines, disposable income, comfort, space and home. The undesirable irony is these are the things we left home to escape, yet their hold is strong and this new, basic, budget-pressured lifestyle is difficult to embrace. I’m so used to the safety of a salary which, though never huge, over last five years or so allowed me to do pretty much what I wanted.

I always knew this trip was going to be much more than a holiday. Yes, we’ll see amazing places and enjoy the absence of work, but the underlying essence of this trip is about life-change, it’s about not only embracing but forcing change, it’s about release from dependency — on possessions, on income and the familiar. It is about facing challenges and learning from them. These last few days cheek-by-jowl with the retiring and retired, motor-homed community with surf that scared me was the first lesson of the trip.

The next day the sun shone, the wind calmed, the surf dropped to a perfect 3ft and we decided to throw caution to the wind and invest an extra €4 a night on a campsite in Vieux Boceau with toilets, showers and wifi. We’ve been here four days now, right back in our comfort-zone like pigs in muck.

Nb. The photographs were taken once we were safely tucked inside our comfort-zone.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Inland





Six hours of road and ferry - across the mouth of the Gironde Estuary - delivered us to the lake, pine forest and sand-duned landscape of the Gironde region. Perhaps it was the damp weather, the slightly dour toilet-less Aire de Camping-Car we stayed in, the ‘Marie Celeste’ air of a recently busy yet almost entirely deserted region or the disappointing combination of a beautiful steel-grey-gloss yet waveless sea at Hourtin followed by a stormy grey-brown slosh down the cost at Lacanau reminiscent of a winters day at Brighton marina, but our attention turned to the plight of our dwindling budget. We’ve spent over €200 of €250 weekly budget on fuel and an extortionate €45 5km ferry crossing with the rest (and more) going on food, supplies and campsites. Yet we feel the compulsion to keep moving. With the weather forecasted to continue in the same vain for the next few days we head inland, through the beautiful city of Bordeaux to visit Sofie’s family friends Graham & Carol in their newly acquired home near Angouleme.

Emily guided us through the winding, rolling, charmingly rural French countryside delivering us stress-free to our exquisitely isolated destination. We ran a few miles in the rain to forget the drive and take in the beautiful surroundings, arriving back at our hilltop refuge to find our hosts returned from their day in the city, and a wonderfully warm welcome to their magnificent new abode complete with an achingly beautiful southerly vista over rolling fields of corn and sunflowers. Hot showers, good food, delicious wine, great company and a level, free camp spot beneath an accommodating walnut tree gave us the impetus to spend the next morning shifting boxes and furniture from the creaking old barn into the house making a very small but appreciated dent in our hosts task of moving in. Tea and cake fortified us for the drive South into the Dordogne region and Christopher Timothy spurred us on by reading All Creatures Great and Small to us as we drove past decaying farmhouses, derelict Chateaus and a landscape that was almost too French to be real … Ahhhh, the rock’n’roll lifestyles we lead!

La Roque Gageac, the venue for many a Radecki summer camping holiday, is a town apparently carved by the Dordogne river into the sandstone cliffs which tower above. The next morning we get a lift 20km up the valley and in our rented canoe we glide, slide, sunbathe and picnic our way lazily downstream as villages, Chateau and ancient fortifications drift by, the sun shines and our sprits lift. The slurp (splosh) gurgle as the water eddy’s from the paddles is as soothing a soundtrack as one could wish for. Inspired by such an enchanting day we go wild and find ourselves an under-used carpark right on the Dordogne’s banks and fine-dine on a candle-light terrace of our own making, drinking champagne as the sun sets. If life is a series of interconnected events, why not try to make each event as indelible as possible?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Early Days


Late September, the air is cool and heavy with moisture. It’s either just stopped raining, it’s just about to start raining or it is raining. Take your pick.

Life with Neil (our Nomad) is a little more condensed than expected as the combination of weather and location doesn’t allow our living space to spill outside, yet the childish excitement of being in our four-wheeled home is galvanising. From the ferry at St Malo we head South toward Saint Gilles Croix de Vie on the Atlantic coast of Vendée guided through the torrential rains by the soothing presence of Emily our GPS companion. We arrived mid-afternoon as the weather broke and a small clean swell nuzzled the town beach. Wetsuits negotiated we both went in, to wash the road-miles away as much as anything else. Although the waves were small the angle of the beach had them breaking right on the shoreline and Sofie snapped a fin and got out before breaking something less replaceable, but the few waves I rode soothed the soul and gave me the energy to drive on to the deer-farm, our home for the night courtesy of the France Passion scheme. Waking to the smelly bleat of an over-furred goat and the realisation that we were parked in someone’s back garden, we breakfasted, packed and headed off, the cool damp air driving us southwards down the Atlantic coast to the Gironde.

Preface


“Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the Gods gave you and you didn’t use them..... there is a limit to the time assigned you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.” Marcus Aurelius (Emperor of Rome), Meditations AD171

Our Itinerary:
16th September 09 — 10th November
France, Spain & Portugal aboard ‘Neil’ the ’91 Nissan Urvan Nomad

14th November — 31st January(ish)
Karnataka, Kerela, Tamil Nadu - India

1st February — 1st April(ish)
Bali, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa - Indonesia

1st April — 15th April(ish)
Australia

16th April — 1st May
Tonga

1st May — 3rd May
Los Angeles, USA

3rd May — 30th June
Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua

1st July
Brighon, England

Our Mission:
Do less, but do it better.

Our Crew:
Ed Templeton & Sofie Radecki