Friday, 30 June 2017


Our next stop on this trip was at Lake Annecy where we stayed on 2 different campsites.
This is  hand stitched picture of the view of the lake which I spent about a week working on while we were there.

The first was called Les Rives du Lac which had this jetty and a beach right at the water's edge in the camping ground.  We had to wear the blue band to prove that we were staying there as the  proprietors were concerned that the public could just walk in and use the excellent facilities.

As it was a holiday weekend we could only stay for 2 days because the camp was fully booked from the Thursday onwards.  So we got on our bikes and went in search of another camp with more space.  Our first attempt was at the Panoramic which as the name implies was at the top of one of the hills overlooking the lake.  After pushing our bikes most of the way to the top we were rewarded with fabulous views but we knew it would be impossible to stay there!
Eventually we came back to water level and found a wonderful, friendly site with plenty of space where we chose on of the best pitches on the edge of a field with views up to the mountains.
There is a fantastic cycle way running the length of the lake and beyond which we used every day to explore.  Going south from the camp we came to Duingt which was a tiny village with typical cottages and a fantastic bakery next to the little bar cum paper shop where we refreshed ourselves before cycling back to camp.

This is the view from our pitch which we enjoyed every day sitting with our lunch or a glass or two in the evening.  We did visit the town of Annecy while we were there but as it was the holidays and market day it was very busy and the cycleway resembled a motorway with people going in both directions an all sorts of self propelled wheels some even with trailers for children.

There was a stream between us and the field which some of the tent campers used to keep their drinks cool until it dried up in  the heat!
We loved our time by this beautiful lake but all too soon it was time to move on.
We had been recommended a campsite on the side of lake Bourget at Aix les Bains which was difficult to find but eventually we succeeded with the help of the GPS. It was in a lovely location only 100 metres from the water and near plenty of cafes and restaurants, but the pitches were not very flat or clean and the showers did have very hot water.  All this for 23 euros a night, the highest price we paid during the trip.
After being woken at 7am by the builders on the site next door and the noise of marquees being erected for a motorbike festival on the open space by the lake we decided that enough was enough and left after 2 nights. We did manage to cycle the path along the lake which was very pleasant but later when the wind picked up it became quite stormy.  The town of Aix les Bains which is famous for it's thermal treatments will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, 25 June 2017


After 5 lovely days at Briare it was time to move on  and we decided to visit St Fargeau on the way to our next destination. We had been recommended by our neighbour as he had grown up in the town and his grandfather had worked in the chateau gardens.

We finally arrived at Decize late in the afternoon and set up camp by the Vielle Loire, a tributary that joins the main river at this point.  We were lucky enough to watch this heron from our chairs as he slowly walked searching for his supper while we sipped a glass of rosé.

The town of Decize is famous for the Promenade des Halles, a 985 metre long alley of Plane and Lime trees, protected by the inventory of historic monuments.  I couldn't resist sketching the trees, sitting in the shade in the afternoon.

I had decided before leaving home to bring some hand sewing materials with me to try my hand at embroidery while we were on holiday .  Here is my first attempt copying my sketch and inventing stitches as I went along.  Bob suggested appliqueing the 2 large trees as I would have had to spend far too long stitching those big trunks.

Here is the finished picture, it measures 14 x 19 cms and the colour is really much greener than it appears here.  What do you think, have I found another new medium to add to all the others?

Here's an aerial view of the alley and the confluence of the rivers so you can see what a beautiful place it is. The campsite was near the top of the island right by the water's edge.

Sadly some of the trees in the alley had become diseased and had to be cut down, leaving several gaps in the line.  When we arrived the workmen were busy cleaning up the large trunks and sweeping away the branches but I managed to pick up a wedge to take back to camp to draw on a rainy afternoon.
We left Decize on the Saturday morning as there was a motorbike festival planned for the weekend and we didn't really fancy being kept awake by the ZZ top tribute band or the sound of hundreds of bikers turning up at all times!

We moved on to another historic town, Paray le Monial, famous for it's basilica and of course on a canal so we could continue our biking experiences. I didn't do much drawing here as we were busy cycling about and exploring the town.
Next time we visit Annecy, a beautiful town with a fabulous turquoise lake.
A bientot!

Sunday, 18 June 2017


We have just returned from our summer camping car trip to the Loire valley and the alps.  We started at Briare where there is a renowned canal bridge over the river that we had wanted to see for some time.

Here is a photo I took of the canal bridge with a boat passing over the river.

We took our orchid houseplant away with us as the neighbour who normally cares for it was away on holiday at the same time. It travelled in the shower room and sat on the dining table when we were parked up.

As we drove down the motorway my eye was caught by the tall slim trees overtaken by mistletoe, I love the shapes that show up before the new spring leaves come out and hide the clumps.
This looks like an interesting possibility for a needlepainting.

We cycled into town on Sunday morning and sat in the shade of the parasols outside the café with a coffee before going to look at the canal bridge. The cathedral at the end of the square was an interesting structure but impossible to draw so I decided tp concentrate on a small section.

We had a lovely pitch by the river and a view of the trees and wildlife.
My new sketchbook is made with a combination of 2 different papers, A rough Arches watercolour paper and some very smooth Vivaldi drawing paper.  It was really nice to have the contrasting surfaces to work on

The Loire valley has many cycle paths along the river and the canals which are perfect for exploring the area, being mainly flat.  We took advantage of them while we were at Briare to visit other villages and enjoy the wildlife we saw along the way. This is the otter we stood and watched for several minutes as it swam along the canal.

The campsite had a large shower and toilet block with open rafters where a flock of swallows had taken up residence, building their nests in almost every nook and cranny they could find, even on the light fittings.  I spent some time just watching and listening to them chattering to each other as they worked collecting twigs and mud to make their homes ready for their families.  I would love to have been there when the eggs hatched and the fledglings came out for their first flying lessons!

 Another day we cycled to Gien along the paths through the countryside for a tasty lunch out and a visit to the town where Bob had bought the first pieces of pottery that began my collection 45 years ago.