What I did on my summer vacation:
Hi Guys, as I mentioned on twitter recently – I want to say sorry about the lack of content over the past week or so, but that is OVER! I thought you would all enjoy a bit of self-indulgence as I reminisce over the exact reason why I’ve been suspiciously absent. For the first time in years, our family decided to go on holiday to the Loire Valley – which is one of the most beautiful areas of France. After buying a huge caravan, we decided to finally use it in a constructive means; and so we found ourselves driving through Paris with an 8 metre monstrosity behind our land rover.
DAY ONE (Monday 17th August):
Okay, so for the first day of our “vacation”, we did precisely as my mum wanted; and spent much of the day by the pool and relaxing. Not really much happened I’m afraid, but I did finish reading the Annie Proulx novel ‘Postcards’ which I had to read for English Literature. I thought that it was quite an interesting story and found the main plot line (following a character named Loyal Blood) to be really intriguing and thought-provoking. With my summer reading becoming revitalized, I then began to reread my favourite book series of all time – The Belgariad by David Eddings, which was the subject of my blog post Why you should read The Belgariad a couple of weeks ago. http://rohangotobed.com/2015/08/02/why-you-should-read-the-belgariad/
DAY TWO (Tuesday 18th August):
On the second day, we decided to go on an adventure. The Royal Chateaux of Chambord was built in the 16th Century under the original stewardship of King Francis I, though he was dead by the time it was actually completed. It is also believed that part of the castle was designed by a certain Leonardo DaVinci, who had moved to Amboise in 1516 after being employed by the excited young king. The campsite where we were staying was only a twenty minutes cycle ride from Chambord, and so we took a comfortable hour to travel along the Loire and cycle on to the Chateaux. Chambord is a beautiful area, and we were lucky enough to have tickets to an enjoyable carriage ride through the royal forest (with the sights including a family of wild boar) and a horse show that featured more costume changes than stunts. The inside of the castle was quite drab, because of how rarely it was actually used in the years gone by, but the view from the top was something to be rivalled! Today I also read the second book of The Belgariad, intending to read all five books in five days, and bought a small music box that plays ‘La Vie en Rose’ which was made famous by Edith Piaf.
DAY THREE (Wednesday 19th August):
We didn’t do much again; though I did read the third book of The Belgariad, and began to read the fourth.
DAY FOUR (Thursday 20th August):
Being very bored with staying at the pool, I decided to go exploring this day; and thus spent a couple of hours in the nearby village of St Dye sur Loire. St Dye is a historic area, and has links to figures such as D’Artagnan and Moliere. The titular saint is also entombed in the local church, which was a stunning place to visit. I also ventured upon a small local museum, ‘Maison de la Loire’; which was incredibly interactive and was very keen to explain the geology and history of the Loire valley. Before returning to Muides-sur-Loire, I also decided to walk along the Loire river, which was as stunning as you could imagine it to be.
DAY FIVE (Friday 21st August):
This was a long day! We decided to drive into Amboise, which is about an hour away from the campsite. Hopeful of going to a mini Chateaux, we instead visited Close Luce, which was where the aforementioned Leonardo Da Vinci (not DiCaprio) spent the final few years of his life. Always eager to build a museum and generate tourism money, there is now a large museum and garden which is fully dedicated to the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. The tour begins in the room where Da Vinci died, and the garden contains working dioramas explaining a great many of his fabulous inventions. On one of the hottest days we were there, it was excruciating; though I did enjoy having a ham and mushroom omelette at the expensive museum restaurant and I walked away having purchased a book about Da Vinci as well as postcards depicting the Mona Lisa, the Vetruvian Man and the last Supper. This day was also great because I finished reading The Belgariad. Five books in five days was quite an achievement in my mind, and I know that I’m going to have to continue onto the sequel series – The Mallorean – as soon as I’ve finished reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
DAY SIX (Saturday 22nd August):
With my mum and sisters deciding to spend another day sunning themselves by the pool, I had lost interest by noon as I began to read the highly impressive translation of ‘Confession of the Lioness’ by Mia Couto. Bored, me and my dad decided to have a look around in the nearest city – Blois. We began by visiting the museum dedicated to the French Resistance and moved on to the royal chateaux which was the home of four French Kings between 1391 and 1610. Blois had a lot more interior decoration than Chambord, with a huge entrance hall as just one of the highlights.
DAY SEVEN (Sunday 23rd August):
For our final day before a long journey back, we decided to visit another chateaux as a family; and opted for the Chateaux of Cheverny, which is perhaps best recognised as the inspiration for Marlingspike Hall in the Tintin Comics by Herge. A highly interesting exhibition showed off the quirky landscape of the Tintin story, but there was also an incredible garden and interior of the castle. The highlight (for me) was a large weapons room which was filled with everything from katanas to full plate armour and crossbows. There wasn’t a better way to spend our final full day in the Loire Valley, and we all returned to the caravan completely satisfied with our holiday before spending another couple of hours in the pool.
The journey back began as being highly comfortable, and we spent a nice evening in a campsite at Calais before catching the ferry back yesterday morning. As we arrived in Ashford, giving my mum and sister Hattie a lift to the station, the problems began to occur. Our land rover broke down, with the back of the vehicle looking as if it’s more than a bit lopsided.
It ultimately took us nine hours to travel from Dover to Dorset, courtesy of spending a few hours at Maidstone services while waiting for a courtesy car to take us home. After getting in the courtesy car, my dad then decided to drive seventeen miles back towards Dover before realising that we were going completely the wrong way. Well, they did say we were going to get experiences!