Revin, the River MeuseMarch 29 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C
The sun is shining and we are sitting on our own little patch of riverside grass, right outside the van. Vicky rests in the camp chair while Will perches on the bank, catching little fish, whose shiny silver scales glint in the bright light.
With Martha's new rear tyres, we drove 20km north from Charleville-Mézières to the 16 place aire here in Revin. The landscape was typically Ardennaise; plenty of rolling forest hills to please the eye. Our aire sits between the River Meuse and Revin's commercial area, which hosts an Intermarché supermarket and Bazar Land among other outlets. The town's historic core is just a short walk away, over the other side of the water, the backs of its old terraced stone houses and stepped gardens provide an interesting view. Some remind us of the Lake District, one was built back in 1622 and retains its stone facade, but many have been extended and rendered with smooth creams and yellows, creating a real mix. Behind the homes rises a ridge covered in bare winter trees and above it we watch the colourful crescent shaped sails supporting paragliders as they play in the breeze.
Still a little worried about the broken cable near the rear wheel, Vicky spent time researching the internet and mentioned it to her Dad, who thought it might be the brake pad sensor. Handily, he was visiting his local garage that afternoon and showed photos of the problem to the mechanic. They were able to confirm this theory and that it was nothing to worry about. We can have the brake pads replaced as normal, which will solve the problem. Phew!
On Saturday morning we visited the town centre to post a card. The touchscreen stamp machine had an English language option, and weighed our card, printing out the appropriately priced international stamp (€2.60), for us to stick on and post in the long distance mail box. Revin is a little rough around the edges, some of the younger residents are pretty loud, (rap music from a birthday party blasts out as I write and the Gilet Jeunes protest made a clatter), but real efforts have been made to make vanners feel welcome. Planners have found a scenic spot with no through traffic and planters with wooden trellises partially obscure the grafittid concrete wall behind us. You can use a credit card to buy tokens at the service machine for fresh water and the there is a couple of washing machines and dryer not 100m from us, not to mention the nearby shops and eateries.
Sunday started as another glorious blue sky day. Vicky fetched boulanger's croissants for breakfast and picked out a Tarte au Sucre for a mid afternoon treat. This large cake is a speciality of the region and is sometimes called an Ardennaise Tart. It is a soft, bread-like consistency made with sugar, butter and a heap more sugar! Very sweet and tasty but perhaps not the best thing for the waistline...
Will fished and Vicky did a marathon wash at the nearby machines, hanging a load of clothes, our floor mats and sleeping bags, out to dry in our 9m x 4m 'garden'. We weren't the only ones enjoying the sun; our solar panel has been amazing in this weather! Whereas before we would be limited to staying 2 nights if we didn't have electric hookup, the panel has charged our phones and power packs and replenished our leisure batteries to around 13.5V each day, so they don't drop below 12.3V (about 75%) at night. It gives us so much more freedom to choose when we move on and means we don't need to find places with mains electric. With the control box, wires and panel itself, it was an expensive investment (over £500), but it will save us money we would otherwise have spent on hookup, extend the useful life of our batteries and perhaps even save money on fuel if we choose to stay put rather than moving on so frequently. Aside from the financial considerations, we are so happy to have bought and finally fitted it for the lifestyle options it affords us.Read more