Time to Return Home from the Vineyard

Time to head back to the UK for a brief stop before flying back down to Austria to do a spot of dog sitting.

So why we hear you ask, as you’re already in the South of France, are you not just simply continuing through to Austria rather than a trip back to the UK 1st. Just two simple reasons.

1. We don’t have winter tyres, a legal requirement for Germany and Austria from 1st November.

2. Life intended us to enjoy a few other treats on our homeward journey.

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We head off Monday morning from the vineyard Le Baou d’Enfer after a quick rearrange of the car to ensure we could squeeze our rather large oak wine barrel souvenir in the boot and just a few boxes of wine to share with our friends back home.

First stop is a small village Le Peage de Roussillon, just 10 miles from Lyon in the Rhone Valley. This was a great little find, the village was nothing special but the place we stayed was.

La Port du Sud was run by a lovely lady, Aude, who greeted us with a warm log fire and an amuse bouche. (A small selection of appetisers) The rooms were lovely and there was a large kitchen, dining room and lounge for guests. We were offered dinner but declined as we had eaten but after seeing what the other guests got we wish we had said yes 🙄. There was even complementary wine and beer! Aude makes us a great breakfast in the morning. Everything from local baked apples and local cheeses to a homemade caramel yogurt that Steve really enjoyed and he even had seconds….

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Day two’s stop was in Beaune, we stayed in an average place outside of town, if we did it again we would stay in the centre as the town was lovely. Whilst here, we thought it would be rude not to eat Beef Bourguignon, drink a glass of burgundy and have a wander around loads of lovely wine shops and perhaps buy just a couple more bottles for the wine rack.

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Day three saw us back in Champagne in a different area to last time. We turn up at Domaine Ployez – Jacquemart to be met by Charles, he explained we are the only ones staying in the champagne house that night and he was leaving about 19:00 and would not be back until the morning. He locked up and gave us the codes and said the place is all yours so if you want to turn the music up and have a party feel free! We have a nose around and open all the doors to peek inside. The place was amazing and the table set up ready for the morning with just two place settings, the honesty bar was a fridge full of champagne. It was so cool to have the place to ourselves. In the morning Charles took us down into the cellar under the house. Unknown to us we were sleeping on about 500,000 bottles of bubbles, right under the house, going down three levels. In the war it became a hiding place for the British service men.

Day four, we stopped near the port of Dunkirk for our crossing the next day. We spent the day ticking another place off the list. The war trenches of Bayernwald, a really thought provoking place, before heading to Au Coeur des Hotes in Steenvoorde. Gem of a place, anything you think you need at a B &B this place has it. The rooms are so well appointed and the beds so, so comfortable you don’t want to get up.

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But it’s time to go home and start sorting out the next part of the adventure,  travel vaccinations here we come!

bye

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

 

Life in a Vineyard

What’s it like to live and work on a vineyard during harvest?

We have been so fortunate to have such great hosts, Nicki and Colin at Le Baou d’Enfer.

We can honestly say that we have never met a man so dedicated and passionate about his trade. There doesn’t appear to be any question about wine and vines that he doesn’t know the answer to. By the time we leave we will have learnt a lot, not just about the process but about the effects of the environment on your bottle of wine, never will we look at wine in the same way again.

Nicki has an amazing talent for cooking, what takes others ages to prepare, she can simply throw something together without a thought and it looks and tastes so good. Deb has learnt some new recipes and has had to practice whipping up a little something when impromptu guests arrive and Nicki is not around.

Mornings are early and lucky for us, being in the south of France also warm. Colin and Nicki really made us feel at home and extended their welcome to meeting their friends and customers. The people that we have met have been lovely and friendly and we have had invitations to some of their homes. We really have to say that the experience has changed our perspective on french people as we are sad to say that until this point previously french hosts from Northern France really didn’t make you feel anywhere near as welcome as those in the South of France. We are sure that we just had a couple of unfortunate meetings but it is something that sticks with you.

Picking and Portering has been great fun, you use muscles you didn’t use sitting at a desk in an office. Deb worked out that 3hrs of picking is like doing an exercise class of super squats! Your back will ache a bit to start but then you get used to it.

Steve has got used to the bugs in the vineyard, spiders, grasshoppers that bite and praying mantis. He has also found a friend or two.. Little green tree frogs and geckos .. You have to watch them, they love to hide in the washing on the line. Frogs in your knickers are not a good thing. Then there are the “Sanglia” the Wild Boar. If you leave the gate open they will sneak in and nibble at the grapes all over the place, they can munch their way through so many given the chance.

Deb, being photo mad, could be seen spending many an hour laying on the ground in the vineyard practicing new angles and manual focus, either in the vineyard we were working in or the neighboring one.

Soil now means so much more and as soon as the Autumn arrives and the leaves change colour you then really start to see the difference in each variety of grape vine. You get to taste the grapes at different stages and begin to understand why you wait and pick at the right time.

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We have been very wet, very warm, appear to have drunk our own body weight in wine and been part of a team that has picked around 20 tons of grapes.
When you consider that we have all been living in a static mobile home together for 4 weeks, things have gone so well and there has been much laughter, more smiles than you could ever imagine and a few tears when it became time to leave..

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Steve is still mastering the art of making a lemon meringue pie and Debs will continue to take way too many pictures.

After seeing ourselves in the local St Tropez paper, fame at last! Time for a little exercise, detox and diet before we are brave enough to stand on the scales and see extra pounds.

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Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Lets Try Again..Pressed Publish Blog Before I Had Finshed!! All Good Now :)

Off we go to explore our surrounding towns and villages of the vineyard Le Baou d’Enfer in Le Mole Valley.

You won’t find every place below that we visited just the highlights.

Nice –Although a good location to fly into and get around and about, we really wouldn’t say it’s the place to go. Sadly due to the terror attack on the promenade, you will currently find the army patrolling the seafront. The beach is a pebble beach and very busy even on a September day, goodness knows what it’s like on a summers day. If you are short of time, give it a miss and go elsewhere.

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Bormes les Mimosas – Beautiful little village on a hill over looking the coastline. There’s not a lot there but a great village to wander around the small local arty shops and stop for lunch and admire the views.

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Le Lavendou – Super seafront village with a huge market every week, you will find Colin from Le Baou d’Enfer selling his wine here and the market prices are good. If you have been to St Tropez market you will see the same sellers but prices will be marked up! Le Lavendou has a bit of everything you need for a lovely holiday.. Sand, sea front restaurants, shops, a marina, ice-cream shops all at reasonable prices.

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St Tropez – The vineyard was only a few miles from here so the 1st place we explored. We turned up here with Alan, on our 1st week of our workaway. Not sure what we were expecting but it didn’t seem to measure up to our expectations. St Tropez is a lot smaller than we were expecting, where was the beach and the beautiful people? Turns out that the St Tropez beach isn’t actually in the village, it’s about 5 km away and called Pampelonne Beach.. Perhaps it was because the sun wasn’t shining, we weren’t feeling it? We wander off into the backstreets with 2 hungry men wanting to be fed breakfast. It’s pricey here, we find a little cafe and still end up paying €12.50 each.. More than in Monaco!

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The good thing about St Tropez is there is a lot going on event wise and these are generally free to attend. (Maybe because to park in the village, you are looking around €14.00 for 5 hours) Try to get the bus in if you are looking to save your cash. We happened to be there for the 23rd Porsche meet, only about 500 cars to look at 🚘🚘🚘 and for the Les Voiles de St. Tropez, the local sailing regatta. Gorgeous 19th century sailing boats all wooden and brass and also new sailing yachts. Can’t help but laugh at the Wally Class sailing boats, a whole bunch of crew with Wally written on all their polo shirts.

Pampelonne Beach – 5 miles of white sand and a whole load of bars and restaurants. These include the famous Club 55 and Nikki Beach, where the rich people pretending to be rich pose around, stupidly over paying for the privilege of being seen. E. G. Fancy a piece of melon? €28.00 please! 😲 Come on who really pays this if you have half a sense of intelligence. 🤔 €1000.00 just to spray a bottle of champagne over your friends.. Should this sound a bargain to you, please just forward the money to Debs bank account and she will spend it wisely on some travel adventure and spend the money benefiting the local communities.
Don’t get me wrong, It’s not all bad, the beach is great, the sea is clean and blue and the views great. €4.50 for a days parking, toilets and changing room. You can get yourself settled in, bring your own lunch and people/super yacht watch to your hearts content. If you’re into celebrities, who knows you may even spot some of these too…

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Ramatuelle – Built up in the hills, it faces out on a fabulous view of the Bay of Pampelonne. If you’re a foodie type there are many restaurants and it has a bit of a glamorous feel about it and has drawn many famous people to buy there holiday homes here. Rumour has it that one Brigitte Bardot once owned a home there.

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Port Grimaud – Well Deb and Steve found this the very best place. It’s like a little mini Venice, there are loads of small canals and bridges and some stunning houses all with moorings. The houses are all painted in bright colours, there are boat trips to take you around and have a look or you can be super lucky and meet some guests at the vineyard who are having a tasting who invite you to go out on their boat for a look around the port and then zip off over the bay to St Tropez harbour 😍 and then off for a cheeky glass of wine.

Must start spending a bit more time looking at where we should go in the Philippines.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Marvelling Monaco

Feeling very privileged, we set off from the vineyard to go and stay in Vence near Nice for an overnight stop before our two days in Monaco.

We have been so lucky to have had so much generosity from so many people. We had the offer of a stay in an apartment in Vence with free parking and another was tickets to the Monaco boat show, so how could we refuse experiencing things we would not of dreamt of doing before we started our journey.We do a search on places to stay on Saturday night in Monaco, we find a few airbnb’s but as soon as you start to add up the cost of an end of stay clean and the booking costs it ends up the same cost as a hotel! Finally we find ourselves a late room special offer in Le Meridien just for one night, Debs is so glad she joined the SPG loyalty club.

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Let’s start in Vence, it’s a lovely old artist styled town perched on a hill over looking the coastline. From the amazing balcony of the apartment we could see the sunset over the town and it was only 15 mins walk right into the centre and to the bus station for our journey into Monaco the next day.  We head off into the village square for a meal, armed with the knowledge to ask for a pecher of wine, which is a small local bottle of wine that doesn’t seem to appear on the menu but saves you getting charged per glass. The square is a busy place with a typical local market and petanque area.

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1st thing in the morning we head off to catch the bus and then pay extra to hop on the train from Cagnes sur Mer to get there quicker so we get the whole day to explore the boat show.

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The train station is only a few minutes from the port and was so easy. We go and get the tickets, then off to view the unimaginable.. Boats in all shapes and sizes, Steve quite fancied Ulysses it was only for sale for 195,000,000. Yes a mear 195 million 😲. It came complete with a helicopter garage! Deb decided she would be just as happy with any of the boats with a pool and jacuzzi, they were priced around the 40,000,000. So much more affordable 🙄
If you ever get the chance to go, there are so many things to see, boats, helicopters, submarines, super cars, rich peoples toys.

18:00 came and the boat show finished.. All the boats blast their horns and play tunes. Never ever have we heard anything like it and it continues for 10 minutes. So many mega and super yachts with every one wanting to be the last one to sound their horns.

We arrive back at the hotel and the loyalty club paid dividends again. Happy hour for members with 50 percent off drinks until 20:00 and 20% off food. So obviously we order cocktails and 5 minutes before it finishes ask the waitress for another to allow us to sit and people watch in the beautiful surroundings. Steve has Candy Mojitos and Debs goes for the Negroni, both were much stronger than anticipated and we munch our way through a cheese and ham board.
The view is straight over the private beach and onto a horizon of unbelievable boats.. and the pool area wasn’t bad either 🙂

We wander back to our room with intention of going back out later, Debs makes the mistake of lying on the bed and promptly falls asleep but Steve is happy just sitting on the balcony watching super cars and girls tottering in high heels supporting botox faces pulling up for dinner in the local restaurant. Amazing the room you can get if you just tell them that it’s a special occasion. Well it is, as it’s not every day you give up a job for a super car company to go travelling!

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Next morning, we go off to find breakfast, you didn’t think we were going to spend €70 just to have breakfast in the hotel did you? We find a little cafe that still had a view of the bay and spent only €12.90.

Rest of the day is spent wandering, the harbour is already void of boats, they all leave so quickly. Off we go to watch the cars buzz around casino square and Cafe du Paris. Deb must say it’s nice to see so many women drivers.. #girlsrule

Time to head off and collect the car and drive back to the vineyard ready for another early morning of picking those lovely grapes.
Sun is still shining and the next blog we shall tell you about our trip to the local villages.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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