October 25th, 2019

25 October 

Forgot to say, yesterday when we first parked up - caught a glimpse of a red squirrel 🐿- carried on looking on our walk but didn’t see anymore. 

Quick tea of fresh tortellini with pesto sauce last night. Watched the electric bike series of The Apprentice - sometimes it’s just painful to watch!

We were parked near a sewage plant, no smell - but during the many hours awake last night I could hear it. Also managed to blast Tintin with music, but he wasn’t really aware of it. Tintin’s ipad had tried a couple of times, unsuccessfully, to download The Apprentice, so we’d used mine - and I forgot to turn the volume down! Think of the wasted GBs of data - good job we’re going home early!

It was another low cloud/foggy kind of morning - which wasn’t on the forecast at all! XCWeather has previously been fairly accurate. 

We serviced Dave and then Tintin drove for about 40 minutes. He’d found a park4night parking place in Parthenay - but before that, took a wrong turn at a roundabout and ended up in some narrow one way streets - eek - again! When we found the actual parking place - that was a no go too! Was quite a steep hill, with just a loose layer of gravel to drive out - Dave behaved perfectly - well Tintin helped!

Went back to the big, flat, free parking space, with loads of free space! Had lunch, and waited until the drizzle eased off before going for a walk. 

The town of Parthenay (population 10,500) is situated on a meander in the Thouet river in the quiet countryside of the Deux-Sèvres department of Poitou-Charentes, to the west of Poitiers. 

The historical centre of the town can still entered by one of the historic gateways through the town defences that were already admitting pilgrims to Parthenay in the middle ages. One of these is the large Porte Saint-Jacques, reached via a 13th century bridge across the slowly moving river and the other is the Porte de la Citadelle, also referred to as the clocktower.

700 years ago Parthenay was a major stopping point for the 'pilgrims of Saint-Jacques' en-route for Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.

The Church of Sainte-Croix dates from the 12th century, although many changes have been made since, for example the belltower was added in the 15th century and the original facade was destroyed in the 18th century to allow the road to be widened. 

Parthenay still has about 100 half timbered houses dating from the late Middle Ages. Local granite was used to build the ground floor walls, while wooden beams, which were affected by humidity, were used on the upper floors. To avert the spread of fire, granite firewalls were built between the houses. Short pieces of oak were used to build timber frames on the first floor and in the attic. Several facades had the upper floors projecting out above the street. This form of construction was linked to taxation - which was paid according to the surface area of the ground floor - and also protected goods outside from the rain. 

Parthenay is the lively centre of the cattle rearing region of Gâtine, and has a cattle market, and meat processing factories - lovely! The region is the birth place of the Parthenais, one of the oldest cattle breeds in France, recognizable by its wheat colored coat, with black around the eyes and the muzzle. At the end of the 19th century there were over one million of them, making this the third biggest breed in France. They were used for their strength for work in the fields, milk and meat. The breed nearly disappeared in the 20th century, but experienced a revival in the 1970s. 

Parthenay castle is now in ruins with the lower parts of three castle towers and a section of ramparts along the river front being the principal parts remaining. Originally the castle was an impressive structure, built in the 11th century and further reinforced in the 13th and 15th centuries - at one time it had nine towers and thick walls encircling the living accommodation and stables.

Unsurprisingly, yet again - hardly anyone about! It tried to drizzle for a while, but we didn’t get wet. 

Tintin then drove for another 15 minutes to a place called Chiché. There was nowhere to parked ‘neatly’ in a bay, as we’re too long - the area is a sports centre, so we’re hoping it won’t be suddenly busy tomorrow morning (Saturday) as we might be in the way. 

All that remains of the other church in the Citadel
All that remains of the other church in the Citadel
Long straight roads today, up and down though.
Long straight roads today, up and down though.
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Martin and Kay Dumont from Guernsey, first time motorhomers and ready to travel. ‘Dave’ is our Mobilvetta K Yacht 85, purchased in 2017 and travelled all the way from Italy. After following Jason and Julie Buckley’s blog 'Ourtour' for years I just couldn’t get the name ‘Dave’ out of my head. So the Mobilvetta had to be another 'Dave’. More...

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