• Day953


    February 4, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    Martha is one of 12 motorhomes parked in a row at the riverside aire in Limoux. Although the sun is out now, very large puddles on the gravel and hard earth surface tell of the heavy rains we've had. Ahead of us, the locals, men of all ages and a few women are using the open space to play petanque. Two dozen or so spend all afternoon hurling their shiny steel balls up into the air with a flick of the wrist, aiming to end up closest to the target ball thrown four or so metres away. We suppose it is the same crowd that would be down the local pub on a Monday afternoon in the UK.

    We are making progress west and today the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees have been a far off spectacle to the south, looking like a painted backdrop. They seperate us from Spain and among them nestles the small country of Andorra. We'd initially planned to stay a night here, but with the cold, damp weather, we've changed our minds and opted to stay on low ground, hoping for a bit more warmth before we return to the UK.

    It has been a while since we've eaten out so when we saw a roadside friterie, Will pulled up and ordered a couple of bags as a lunchtime treat. There were signs in English and Spanish warning people not to drop rubbish and as they were cooking the chips, the server told Will we weren't allowed to eat them in the van in the car park because the police had been concerned by the amount of litter and had banned it. Vicky wasn't up to eating in the friterie, so we drove a little way and had our frites in a layby.

    The air temperature was almost in double figures when we arrived, giving our heating and batteries a break. Will sat on the low concrete wall nearby and fished in the River Aude which was teaming with Koypu. Plenty of petanque players came and chatted to him, giving tips on the good spots nearby, that he moved to as the afternoon wore on.

    Heavy rain fell overnight and when Vicky stepped out at 7:30am, it was into a huge, unavoidable puddle. She walked along the riverside, under a couple of stone bridges but the pedestrian bridge to a little island she'd hoped to cross over to was fenced off. The damp concrete buildings and dirty roads with dog mess on the pavement all looked a bit dismal in the weak morning light.

    The town looked interesting and using the Happy Cow app, we'd found a vegan restaurant nearby that we wanted to visit. However, it was only open from 7pm and Vicky didn't have the energy for exploring too far, so as the batteries were getting very low and the forecast was for yet more rain, we decided to move on, hoping better weather would coincide with a quieter, more scenic spot. Before going we visited Gamm Vert, a large garden store only 100m from the aire. We've given up on trying to grow fresh herbs in the van as there simply isn't enough light. Instead, Will bought an aloe vera plant; something we always used to grow when we lived in our house. We missed being able to use the sap to help our skin and occasionally a sore throat, so fingers crossed that it likes vanlife! Vicky also found an air plant, something she'd been looking for for a while to add a bit of greenery without the weight of the soil.

    As we were getting ready to go, two 'boy racer' cars screamed into the car park in front of us. Four youths emerged who didn't look old enough to drive. They lit cigarettes and had a bit of banter, larking about and making crude gestures to each other, they then got their balls out and commenced their game of petanque! Only in France eh!?
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