Holland: 21 May 1969

Heavy early morning mist led us to hope for fine weather, and sure enough it cleared quickly and the sky was blue. Air full of bird song, and felt optimistic (at least!) about getting tent up. Decided to have a day in France, so drove to the frontier, changed some money, sailed through Customs, and some mile or so later arrived at the French Customs. 2 sexy young men in navy blue, Andrew was mesmerised by their guns. Anyway, the Green Card was all they really seemed to care about. Drove along the Meuse valley, it is very pretty – well wooded, quite a few barges travelling it and had juice and biscuits near a bridge in a small town. Continued on, climbing through the Ardennes – saw a spectacular view of one meander from the cliff side – text book example.

Came in to Charleville – very ugly skyscraper flats, quite as ugly as anything we’ve got, and parked in square and walked through to an enormous main square  surrounded with colonnades. Then we hit their lunch time rush-hour – quite an experience! Bought some bread and eclairs and then pressed on to find somewhere for lunch N.B. Champagne very expensive, we were surprised – more or less the same prices as at home. Found a place for lunch – Hotel du Cheval blanc,at Dom le Messigny. Crammed with drivers, and lunch was excellent, very satisfying. Cold sausages and potato salad , then pork cutlets and pasta and green salad, fresh fruit and coffee and vin rose. Gareth ate and drank alarmingly, was quite drunk after. Children took some watered wine with great aplomb. Plumbing very french …(in a skittle alley too). Cost 1£ per person for lunch, quite good. Several regulars at this place, with own napkins and rings.

Continued on to Sedan (Bismarck 1872!) and walked around. Impressive layout and style and somewhat scruffy finish, one always feels these towns have had such horrific happenings in the wars. Anyway, we sat in the park for a while, ate ice creams, bought strawberries and generally enjoyed a peaceful hour. then set off back to Belgique – very pretty route, and even longer distance between the customs – again main interest was in the Green Card.

On our return to the site, we put  up the tent very near the caravan and felt very pleased with the effect. No rush this time, and everything put away tidily. Weather really nice – camping is very much influenced by the weather! Even so, cold once the sun goes, and we are very glad of that heater……

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