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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mini Hols

Here we are, back from our little holiday on the Mediterranean, err, except we didn't exactly go there!  We stayed instead just north of Beziers and Montpellier - lovely countryside and lovely weather too.  The whole area seemed to be laid out to vineyards or olive farms, which was just what we were looking for.

Here's Eric enjoying our first lunch in the sunshine (he is wearing shorts, you just can't see them!).  The view was magnificent (unlike my photography!) :-

The nice thing about having a camper van in France is that you can park up practically anywhere and stay for the night, and lots of farms, wine producers etc. welcome you to stay on their land for free.  The etiquette is that you buy some of their produce in return for your free night, but it's not obligatory.  Our accommodation for the whole trip cost us absolutely nothing.  The first night we stayed on an "aire de service" which can just be a glorified car park with maybe a toilet and emptying point for your chemical toilet, and somewhere to empty your waste water and fill up with fresh, but a lot of them are very picturesque.

The second night, we stayed on a small estate, Chateau Coujan, which produces wine and olive oil.  It was a fabulous place with a large, elegant main house plus numerous other houses for family/estate workers.  It also had its own church, which apparently dates back to Roman times.  So, where are all the photos?  Well, I was too busy photographing the other occupants :-

Peacocks!  (if you'll pardon my French!!)  The owners hadn't a clue just how many there were, their best guess was between 30 and 50.

The tail feathers look like an elaborate bridal veil from the back.  They look awfully heavy - fancy having to drag that lot around everywhere you go!

The females, by comparison, look rather dull, but they were definitely not as noisy as the males.

Ah yes, the noise!!  That was something we hadn't really worried about until we realised just how many birds there were.  But don't worry, I told Eric, I'm sure they'll go to sleep when it gets dark.  HA HA!!!  By the time night fell, we'd had a meal and a bottle of wine and settled ourselves down for a good sleep.  We watched as the peacocks took themselves off into the wood alongside the house, roosted in trees, 3 or 4 perched on the house roof and a couple more on the balcony.  Silence! - for about five minutes, and then all hell let loose again.  One would shout out and the rest would answer.  They did this every 15 minutes or so throughout the whole flipping night.  How on earth the owners manage to sleep night after night with that racket on their roof and outside their bedroom windows is beyond me.  Maybe they have good earplugs.

The last night was positively uneventful after that.  We stayed on a small farm, right on the edge of their vineyards.  When we arrived, the owners showed us where we could park and invited us for "aperos" at 6 p.m.  We bought some of their wine which, of course is the purpose of having drinks with them, but it was nice all the same.

A lovely quiet evening snack amongst the vines.

 Ooops - mind your fingers Eric!!

The next day we headed back home with a camper full of olive oil, wine and honey and Eric had changed colour, having fallen asleep in the sun!  The solar panels had been viewed and we'll probably put in an order next week, so all-in-all our mission was accomplished and we had a relaxing (if short) break as well.  The weather behaved impeccably until about half an hour after we left to go home, then we hit rain.  Who cares, we had glorious sunshine while we were there.

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