Ile D'Olleron

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June 19th 2014
Published: June 19th 2014
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Beautiful BijouBeautiful BijouBeautiful Bijou

I know how to keep cool
Well after 2 weeks in paradise it is time to move on. During our time there we met a fabulous young couple who have created their own haven in Aquitaine. Their vision, and sympathy towards buildings, natural materials and nature were second to none, and we were certainly privileged to house sit for them. They have the most beautiful and HAPPY baby I have EVER seen - and I have seen a few! The other people working there were very welcoming and all had stories to tell about why they have found themselves in this part of France. I so love hearing about peoples experiences and adventures. What makes us who we are is everyday life and skills, how you use them, and having the courage to be different or take a chance.

Its so important to recognise that if you find yourself somewhere the energy does not suit you then get out ASAP! A lesson I have been slow to learn at times. Don’t be afraid to be who you are - we are all here for a special reason and we all add value to life and those we encounter. The important thing is to try not to make other people unhappy. This, in itself, can be confusing because it does not mean that you let unhappy people make you unhappy.

We can all be authors, the early chapters of our lives being influenced by significant others, usually our main caregivers, and this plays a strong part in who we come to be. But, when we come to hold the pen it is up to us to ensure the future chapters become an adventure of learning and growth, that you are the author of. The tip is to take hold of the reins and write your own future as your experiences merge together. The adventure is as it is to you, others may not perceive it as an adventure, but its your adventure so hold on to that and be proud of whatever you do and achieve.

When meeting people be it on a bench by the sea, in a shopping centre, at work, wherever, they all have a tale to tell and it is so important not to judge a book by its cover. For some reason I seem to attract people who share amazing stories with me. I can remember the kids when they
Perfect PoppyPerfect PoppyPerfect Poppy

How lovely am I?
were young saying “Mum why does everyone talk to you! even the cashier in the supermarket is telling you their life story”. I have come to realise that taking note and sharing those moments with others teaches me a lot and hopefully makes an impression on their day as well.

Oh dear, am I rambling? My time in paradise gave me a lot of time to think and set me back on my philosophical path - and I am very pleased about this!

I am going to tell you a bit about the lovely pooches we cared for:

Perfect Poppy:
The matriarch, she is a regal and gorgeous old bird. The hips are playing up but she is not up for lying down and giving in just yet. She knows herself and finds her quiet cool spot and takes care of her needs. When it comes to walk time she is up and ready, she knows she is top dog and makes sure she gets her cheese first. She loves to run and jump with the others even though she may pay for it later, on her walks she is like a young girl. I think this

What can we say - this boy just smiles and smiles!
is something for us all to take on board - that child or puppy within, let it out to play often, as this, I think, is the secret of staying young.

Beautiful Byron:
This young man with the most sparkling eager eyes and sunny smile you ever saw is such a darling. Basically, he is HUGE, but like a cheeky toddler. When he gets an idea in his head - like carrying a plastic water bottle round for the day and thinking he is the most clever dog for making up that game, he cannot comprehend why you don't think its the next patentable idea! He loves you to pet him and cuddle him as you would a toddler. His only fault is what Ian called Byron Breath - hee hee no need to expand. He quickly learnt that he was more likely to be petted and have his back rubbed if he faced away from you! Despite his size he is so gentle, when we first arrived and I saw him charging towards me when out for a walk I suddenly realised how a skittle must feel! However, he sensed this and at the last moment skirted round
Mystical Standing StoneMystical Standing StoneMystical Standing Stone

Can you see a face on here?
me - thank goodness or I could have been transported who knows where.

Bewitching Bijou:
This little lady apparently just turned up one day. In itself this quite a feat as the property is off the beaten track, so she would not have just been passing by. Obviously she was meant to join this family. She has the softest, most gentle nature and loves to lie out in the pouring rain as much as she does in the boiling hot sun! She humours Byron in his mad moments and they run around playing for the joy of it, but she equally likes her cool place under the bush on the patio. When you come home if you have been out she lets out a lovely little hooting howl to welcome you back.

Each of them had their own specific charm. It was funny sometimes when Poppy crept off to find a cool spot on the stone floor and then Byron would come bounding over and lie as close to her as possible and pant all over her and make her hotter - all he wanted to do was tell her he loved her and she knew this so
Camping ChassironCamping ChassironCamping Chassiron

We would definitely give it 5*
put up with it. The lovely Bijou could be found outside during these moments resting under a bush and keeping out of it.

When the time came to depart we decided to head over towards the sea - as after all we are on holiday and have not been to the seaside yet! We headed for Ile d’Olleron on the west coast. We have never been across to any of the islands except Noirmoutier and that was a flying visit a long time ago. Ile d’Rhe is the best known island - its sounds beautiful but we were put off by that fact - as it is also inhabited by the beautiful people from Paris and has prices to match - as we are not comfortable in that sort of environment we opted for d’Olleron. It took about 4 hours to drive here and we have found what we call a ‘real’ camping site and we absolutely love it. It suits us couple of old hippies down to the ground.

The site is called Les Chassiron (The Lighthouse - follow the link to see the site in all its glory) and sits at the top end of the island

In case you would like to book
just outside St. Denis Oléron, and yes the air and light are stunning. This small site and has about 15 encampments and is enclosed by Tamarisk hedging with dancing butterflies, buzzing bees and all sorts of curious things with wings. You can come in your camper van, your own tent, or, you can rock up and take advantage of accommodation provided by the host. You can sleep in a boat with a wooden deck with table and chairs or maybe you would prefer a gypsy type caravan, or even perhaps glamping?

The site has 1* and this immediately drew my attention when looking for somewhere to camp. The star system needs to be understood so that you are booking into the type of site that suits you. Unlike hotels where 5* means top notch (supposedly) in camping this is not necessarily so. A 5* campsite will have a huge pool with sliding tubes, lots of tents guy rope to guy rope, entertainment, and lots of people and noise. Now if this is your cup of tea so be it, but its not mine. Less etoilles (*) means less amenities but unlike 1* hotels it is not dirty, grubby, smelly or somewhere you actually have to be drunk to get into the bed!

1* camping en France means peace and quiet and a bit quirky, with few amenities, so perfect for us. You have no pool, but having swum on my own under the stars in an infinity pool nothing could match that anyway. (hee hee showing off again)!

This lovely place has cold showers for free or you have to put a coin in to get a hot one. As we are ‘well ‘ard” and its so hot we are having cold. See pictures of our funky little shower rooms. We love it - you have to sing in the shower, basically so you don’t scream in shock when it hits you. However, once you get going it really is quite nice. I do it gradually, first my legs, then my arms, the rest of me and lastly my head. Monsieur on the other hand goes in head first. Frankly, I find this type of behaviour bizarre, why on earth would you do that to yourself? There is something wonderful about being outdoors standing in the shower, or, indeed, sitting on the loo you can see the sky over the top of the door, its lovely. I have also invented the funniest game - basically I creep up and throw water over the top of the door when Monsieur is on the throne and then run away. Those who know me well will know that I find this sort of thing hilarious tee hee - ahhh little things please little minds as they say.

The owners are cheerful, happy, helpful and very nice - in our opinion it would be 5 etoilles.

Today the farmer in the field next to us mowed his hay, the smell accompanied by the sea air floated by and just came into my awareness. One of those moments you cannot create or put in a bottle, just remember to embed it in your mind for cold, wet, rainy January days.

Less than 10 minutes from us in the car is a beach called ‘Les Huttes' and for three days they had an event called “Surf and Paddle” of course we had to go and investigate. Basically some seriously hunky handsome young men line up on the shoreline and when the siren honks they stand on their surf boards and paddle round a long distance route of about 4/5 miles. It must be absolutely shattering and I am glad I was only sitting there thinking how much their arms must be aching rather than taking part to find out, not that I could have even managed to stand on the surf board to start with. Ha! there is another funny image to keep in mind for a grotty day! Off they went and we did not see anyone fall off at all, hmmm, but I guess if you have muscles in the places I did not know muscles existed you wouldn't would you? A very pleasant afternoon passed watching this event with some great music blasting out of speakers along the beach. See all the lovely chill out areas with carpets and sofas in the dunes.

Oléron is a beautiful island and the second largest French island after Corsica. Oléron is where life's best kept treasures can be found. This place is about nature, heritage, leisure, gastronomy... it is about the GOOD LIFE! Everyone will find something to enchant them here. With its diverse landscape, favourable climate and ecological wealth, Oléron is just mesmerizing. Oh, and of course, don't forget the wonderful light!

Oléron has an area of 175 sq km, making it the largest french island of the Atlantic coast. Its stunning beaches are a dream come true for kids. Several of these beaches boast the blue flag for their quality. There is something for everybody on Oléron - it is great for cycling and in fact you are discouraged from using the car. Lots of families riding around as the island is flat and very pretty for touring. However, there is often a strong wind so not quite as idyllic as it sounds for family cycling as it could be hard going for the kids. The beaches are nothing short of stunning and so safe for children. When the tide goes out there are rock pools to explore and nice little paddling pool bits for the babies as well.

Oléron is also exceptional as far as heritage is concerned with its fortifications, maritime monuments, churches and local architecture. A fantastic historical journey awaits you. There are the citadels of Château-d'Oléron and Brouage where Vauban made his mark, there is the Moulin des loges ( a windmill ) in the marsh of Saint-Just-Luzac and moreover the villages are typically quaint.

The very popular Fort Boyard, a splendid "stone ship" built in the ocean. ("Fort Boyard (pronounced: ) is a fort located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits, on the west coast of France and is the filming location for the TV gameshow of the same name. Though a fort on Boyard bank was suggested as early as the 17th century, it was not until the 1800s under Napoleon Bonaparte that work began. Building started in 1801 and was completed in 1857. In 1967, the final scene of the French film Les aventuriers was filmed at the remains of the fort" copied from Wiki). More information - worth reading can be found here!f(MISSING)ortification%!<(MISSING)/a>

Well peeps Les Grande Adventure is swiftly coming to a close - we have had an amazing time and will be sending a few quick following blogs to make sure you share all our little tit bits before we return. We are seriously missing you all now and cannot wait to see you all. Especially our bride to be Bessie Boo and Le roi des pêcheurs M. Kieran see the picture of his latest conquest!

à bientôt

You even have your own bit of lawn
et Madame

Poppy, Byron & Bijou
People we met along the way
Hippy haven camp site - Les Chassiron
Surf and Paddle on the beach at Les Huttes
Lovely camping food
Sitting in the morning and evening sun outside the tent
Lying in bed and admiring our wonderful tent - it is amazing.
Sea air

Flowers and trees


Additional photos below
Photos: 40, Displayed: 32


Les showerLes shower
Les shower

Cold - but you can get hot one
Showing off with my cameraShowing off with my camera
Showing off with my camera

I thought this was quite clever
Port St DenisPort St Denis
Port St Denis

Ahhhhhhhh just charming

The french are masters of shade

19th June 2014
And I can do 'high five' for a bit of cheese

cheese, cheese, cheese, please, cheese!
19th June 2014

I'm crazy for dogs....and he looks like he is smiling.
20th June 2014

Jealous Again!
Hello Monsieur and Madame! Well, yes, there you go, making us jealous again!! What lovely places you have been to again! Can't believe we're going to see you soon - I keep telling the girls you'll be home soon and they are quite excited - watch out!! We're all good here. Clem is chillaxing on the sofa having her 'mummy day' today, while I sort out the schedule for her half days when she starts school in September! She is going to be in the same class as Elizabeth and Alba, so they're all happy! Clem is also excited as it's her 4th birthday next week - can you believe that!! We are off on a weekend camping with Emma and Andy over 4-5 July, so are looking forward to that. And since you have been away, Monsieur will be proud to note that I have painted the skirting boards in the kitchen and done half of the deck cleaning ready for oiling! What a handy wife I am! Jim did put his motorbike in your garage, but it is still not fit for the road yet......... Anyway, if you let me know when you are due back (if you know yourselves!), I will go in and switch your fridge on and get some milk and bread for your return. Can't wait to see you for a big hug! Love Gabs xxxx

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