Camping with Canvas Holidays – Chapter 5

Last night the rain fell heavily. Inside our mobile home it was like someone had given a hyperactive seven year old a new drum kit and we were inside the drum. A little bit of an exaggeration but it was noisy.  Linda is not a great sleeper and even in hotels or cruises wears earplugs to bed, whilst I can sleep through a sonic boom, so we still managed a good night’s sleep.  A much remembered event of our last mobile home trip, with the kids to the UK east coast, was huddling in bed in the morning saying “you go light the gas fire, no you go light the gas fire”.  Even though it was just a little chilly in the mornings here and the fire heated our home in a trice, history was repeated!

Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France With so many Chateaux in the Loire Valley, we decided to visit another as it seemed like a day to spend at least some time indoors.  We chose Chateau de Chenonceau, which is also known as the Chateau des Dames after a number of special women who provided so much input to this magical castle.  Building began in the 16th century and it is significantly smaller than Chateau Chambord, but its outstanding feature is that it spans the Cher River using a number of elegant arches.  The gallery that sits above it is said to have been the venue for many an interesting party in its day.  The English language guides were well worth having and these ones were provided via iPods (Touch version), which gave both audio and pictorial information on each aspect of the castle.  There were also beautiful gardens, a maze and waxworks to admire.  It took about an hour to get to the Chateau de Chenonceau from the site and we stuck to the minor routes to get a look at some of the smaller towns and villages along the way.  This made for a really interesting drive, on which we saw smaller Chateaux, churches and were impressed by some of the villages who take a real pride in beautifying their homes with flowers and shaped hedges.

Beautifying their homes So before Debbie will give me my travel writer’s degree I need to test the hypothesis we started out with, which was that camping is fun for empty nesters.  On the pros side; we loved the alfresco dining and the late afternoon and evening often turned out to be the best part of the day; the fully equipped unit made self-catering easy and it’s great to have things to hand, rather than having to order drinks and meals as you would in a hotel.  There was a quiet tranquil nature about the site, particularly in the evenings, when it seemed to get very still, very relaxing (possible not the same in the summer holidays). 

Led by Hannah, the onsite Canvas team’s customer care ethic is great, we really appreciated them popping round “just to check everything was OK”; when things aren’t right they get fixed pronto e.g. 2 blown bulbs, reported and replaced in 5 minutes. On the cons side; the electricity supply was weak, such that you could only have so many devices on at a time, so if the fridge/freezer cut in and all the lights were on, the hair dryer wouldn’t work.  A greater variety of healthier and more reasonably priced food would have been welcome on site.

Games Area So was it fun? Yes it was.  It was different without the children, when they were younger we’d have used the on-site facilities more, gone swimming, used the games area, kicked a ball around etc.  We would have been unlikely to have visited the Chateaux or gone on the relaxing riverside walks.  There’s also the advantage that on the drive here, no one asked me “are we there yet” and I didn’t have to listen to “the wheels on the bus go round and round” (or the age related equivalent) a hundred times in the car.

So the acid test is would we do it again?  Our expectations were pretty low coming into this and sometimes, as in this case, that’s when you are delightfully and pleasantly surprised.  We had such a good time and yes we’d do it again (might even take the bikes next time).  In fact the lakeside lodges that Canvas have at Berny Riviere  are looking appetising…

In the sixth and final chapter we’ll be visiting a few towns as we head back to Calais and revealing a few facts, figures and updates, but before then….

This is the part you’ve been waiting for (and I do hope none of you have skipped ahead to this point), the premiere of the Workout video and Silvertravel bag’s directorial debut.  Hollywood giants are quaking in their boots!  Turn your speakers on and click on the video link below to witness a world first.

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Steve Aldridge

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