‘spending a few days’ (Matt’s Week 8)

Mon 19th Oct – Mon 26th Oct

This week we have been in southern Belgium and Luxembourg.  We started off in Rochefort a small town in the Ardennes region and whilst heading towards our selected campsite we had noticed road signs pointing towards motorhome parking and being slightly intrigued as to what we would find we followed it to a car park that was only 100 meters or so from the centre of the town where there was plenty of space for us to park up for the night and best of all it was free!

Unfortunately the weather was pretty naff and although the rain wasn’t overly heavy  it didn’t inspire us to go out and explore. We settled in, cooked and then sat down in front of the computer for a few episodes of One Foot In The Grave of which we had recently purchased the full box set.

That night neither of us slept that well.  Although we hadn’t taken too much notice at the time there was a road behind the hedge (which on the Sunday night when we arrived was very quiet – but not so quiet early on the Monday morning!) and we had parked under an oak tree, which somehow turned the normal almost rhythmic pitter patter of the rain into a more annoying version of a small child tapping away at a piano for the very first time.

The next day we decided to move off and head further into the Ardennes and look for somewhere we could go exploring from, so we chose a campsite from our ACSI book (an out of season camping guide where you can stay for anywhere between 12-18  Euros). When we arrived it wasn’t quite what we were hoping for it was a campsite with about 200 static caravans and just a handful of touring pitches. We were directed by the rather brash owner to the other side of the lake where we would meet a site worker who would connected our electric. At this point he warned us to look after our things as there was a rogue element on the site who liked to steal things! Needless to say we should have headed off, but it was getting late (and we had paid in advance) and because of the time of year many campsites were now closed so again we locked ourselves in and continued watching (what I think Ellie thinks is my training for old age) One foot in the grave!

The next day we set out as early as we could (not too early as we had to wait for the petrol station to open (it was closed on Mondays..because people don’t need fuel on Mondays!) ) only to find the petrol station was unmanned you just had to put your bank card in and fill up which made me wonder why it had been closed the day before!

This time we had studied the campsite  book a little better and realised each of the campsites are given a colour coded letter “M” to give you a sense of the type of establishment it was.  We had left a rather disappointing Yellow “M”which was meant to be “Relax and Enjoy” and were heading to a Green “M” for “Relaxation” so we would see what the difference was.  On our arrival the new site was clearly smaller and set within more wildlife so for us it was a significant improvement.

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The next morning we wanted to go walking so popped into the campsite office, picked up a map of the local area and headed off. We walked for hours in the forests of the Ardennes up long trails and around windy roads, we took photos of trees, plants, fungi, moss, scenery, eagles and cows and generally had a great time and on  arriving back at the campsite I think we  realised we were much more Green “M’s” than Yellow “M’s”.

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From here we were heading to Els cousin Dom and her family on the outskirts of Luxembourg city we stopped one night at a campsite next to the Sure river and planned for somewhere to visit on our way to Luxembourg City the next day.  We chose to see the chateau in Vianden

The next day we arrived in Vianden, which was a pretty little town on the banks of the river Our. We took the tour of the very impressive chateau  and walked the fortifications. Although in scale all was very impressive, the inside was a bit of a mish mash of ideas and rather experimental curating.

From here we walked to the bottom of the town to a house once stayed in by the author, poet and playwright Victor Hugo, it was a very small house over 4 floors but gave a great insight into the man and his work and had great views back up to the chateau across the river.

That afternoon we headed to Luxembourg to see Dom and Paul and their three boys Chobe, Kai and the ever cheeky Jacob.  We were in for a bit of a rugby fest as there were two world cup semi finals and each of the boys were playing rugby on the Saturday at different times and places.

We watched Jacob training for his rugby team at a dual club training session for all the player up to under 12’s. There were quite literally hundreds of children split into all their different age groups it was quite a sight to see and also quite a noise to hear!  Els and I watched for about 20 minutes and then decided we needed a walk!  After an hour or so we came back to the training session slowly winding down and the noise was now only a mild din.

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That afternoon we went to watch Chobe play in the under 16’s, after going ahead early in the game the opposition had come back to 19 all with only minutes to play and thankfully after a great move RCL  got a final try leaving the score 24-19… So a great victory against a large Flemish Belgium team who’s number eight it had taken 3-4 players to take down, each time he had the ball, because of his enormous size!

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That night we watched the first rugby semi final and had a great meal, and Dom had even invited over Jess an old friend from the UK who now lives with her partner Jules in Luxembourg to share the evening with us which was fab.

On the Sunday we all rested for most of the day, apart from a brief walk taking in the local area and again a bit more rugby in the form of the second semi final of the rugby world cup, along with a few  beers, some food and general chit chat we whiled away the hours into the evening.

The next day we would be heading off into France via a brief stop in Luxembourg city to take in the sites and heading  to Epernay the home of the Champagne region!  So bring on the bubbles!

Matt

 


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