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Homeward bound: 15 – 22 July 2019

Waking after an excellent night’s sleep at the campsite in Arolla, we find it’s been snowing! There’s a dusting of snow on the roof of the van and we’re glad not to be camped in a tent. We set out for the long descent, it’s OK, but we take a few breaks to allow the brakes to cool down. Need to head back towards France and after passing the banks of Lac Leman we start to think about somewhere to stay, ideally where we can eat as well. Arrive at a promising farmhouse, but he’s entertaining his family so can’t feed us tonight. He suggests we go down to a posh restaurant/hotel located in a nearby industrial complex where they’ll probably let us park up if we eat there. It turns out to be an excellent suggestion and we certainly eat in style at ‘le Bois Dormant/Gourmand’ parking the van beside the hotel tennis court (complete with complimentary electric hook up). It’s the full Jura ‘fine dining’ experience.

We plan to spend a couple of nights at a small climbing area a short drive south from where Simon and Ricarda’s wedding party will be. We park up at the Merry-sur-Yonne campsite and go for a short bike ride to recce the climbing area a couple of miles along the river bank. The weather’s fine and on Wednesday we take the bikes out again to explore the Yonne valley, flat riding on gravel paths for about 14 miles and finish off the day with some climbing on the bolted crags by the river. We’d brought quite a few things from the UK as contributions for the three-day party, but also had to buy provisions as we’d been tasked with preparing supper for the first group of helpers who were arriving today. A huge ratatouille with pasta seemed to be a good choice so we bought enough ingredients to make enough to feed a dozen or so people expected by the end of the day.

All the family and friends were gathering for the party, with preparations in full swing at the farmhouse rented out for the weekend celebrations. We were parked up in the grounds and could put the washing machine to good use as we’d been away for quite a while and hang everything out to dry in the sunshine. As everyone began to arrive it was great to meet up again with people we’d met in Paris and more who we’d never met before. On Saturday morning, before the party ‘proper’ began, Bev went on a bike ride in the local area, all very flat but quiet countryside with virtually empty roads (although we discovered after arriving home that Steve had managed to incur not one, but two speeding tickets on the roads around the area on our arrival and departure!).

Setting out on the drive back to Dieppe, found an excellent place to stop in Normandy underneath the cider apple trees in an orchard. Purchased some apple juice from the proprietor of Clos des Citots for allowing us to stay. Decided to go to Honfleur for lunch, and then found an overnight beside the roadside to leave a short drive in the morning for the ferry from Dieppe. Called at a supermarket to stock up before boarding the ferry for a 1230 crossing, arriving in Newhaven at 1530. Drive back to Woodbridge to get ready for the East Coast OGA Summer Cruise.