Our first French holiday

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by kands, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Hi all
    As many of you will know we have just returned from our first French holiday in the RV. It was, in fact our first holiday for over 5 years and we have been looking forward to it for ages. I have completed a diary which I am posting here in day order so as not to send you all to sleep....... :BigGrin:
    I hope that this is of help to anyone else contemplating a trip such as ours.....

    Wednesday 8th August,

    Up at 07:30 to find Sharon already up and doing last minute stuff. We are both really excited about going to France now and cannot wait. I have a quick fix of MHFun and answer a few posts before checking that I have stored all the proposed routes etc in Autoroute. Shut down laptop and start my pre flight checks on Rocky. All tyre pressures were good and the airbags wanted only a small amount of topping up, even the newly fitted one had held up most of the pressure. Topped up water tank to about half full. Sharon has been busy filling Rocky with clothes and food etc. I noticed that the fridge wasn’t running on electric, it was working on gas although it was plugged into the mains, so I started to check out the problem. It appeared that we had 110 volts in the van but no 230, which was odd, as I had been using stuff on mains only the day before. I checked the inlet cable and had power, but there was no power getting to the fridge or any sockets…
    Geo and Pam arrived ready to get going so I decided that as everything other than the inside sockets was working we could get off and hopefully sort it out whilst we were away.
    The off. We left home at about 14:00 hours heading for Dover and had an uneventful journey down the A14, M11, M25 and M2 finally arriving at about 17:30 to join the queue to check in. Because we had tickets to go at 23:45 the lady in the ticket office offered us the opportunity to go on t he 19:30 sailing for an upgrade price of £29.50, which we accepted to allow us to get over a bit sooner, joined the boarding lines and sat waiting to board. I called my cousin Gary, and he gave us the GPS coordinates for a quiet parking spot in Calais for the first night, entered these values into Geos TomTom and we were ready to go.
    Great sailing on board Sea France Cezanne getting off at around 22:00 local time, and off we go to find the parking spot. Unfortunately Geo had the sat nav and I was leading….. I headed off in the right direction, from memory of the directions given to us by Gary, and then I saw the first “camping car parking” sign. Was I a happy bunny, so I took off following the signs which lead us up a small road and into the aire, I recognised it from photos that I had seen on websites so I thought, OK it is not the place Gary had told us about but it will be great for the night in amongst all the other motorhomes.
    It was around this time that I found out that the aire was full and we were in a dead end alley, nothing for it, we would just turn around and move on. I turned around our RV in a space that was about ten feet longer than the RV and Geo unhooked Sooty and did the same. This is when we realised that we were the evenings entertainment for the aire as just about every camper emptied out to watch these two leviathans manoeuvre in the smallest of spaces. I have never seen so many people watching such a mundane action.
    We got turned around and I went off to see where we could go, finding that behind the aire was a car park with two motorhomes already parked up and a height barrier removed, this was to be our camp for the night and without further ado, we headed off for the other side of the car park.
    What a spot, we were looking out straight at the sea and about 100 yards away from us we found several eating wagons so one of them provided us with our dinner that evening.
    Off to bed, our first night in France.

    Thursday to follow......

    Keith
     
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  2. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    OK this is the next installment....

    Thursday 9th August,

    Woken up bright and early to the sound of ships moving in and out of the Port of Calais, decided to go for a walk into the local area and get some tobacco. Found a small tabac open and made my first purchase in France without too much grief (must learn more that 6 words in French lol). Went back to our RV and had some breakfast then got ready to leave Calais to get down to Le Touquet for our next overnight stop. We had decided to go down by following the coast road, not really understanding just how narrow the French can build roads, so the 2 RVs set off line astern down some of the narrowest lanes we have seen. We were taking our time, weaving in and out of hedgerows and trying to avoid on coming kamikaze drivers in small white Renaults who were intent on scaring us witless by hurling their cars towards us and then veering away violently at the last possible second. We went through some very small villages that I am led to believe are very pretty but my concentration levels are so high that I have tunnel vision and only have about 30 degrees of forward vision. We entered a village called Ambleteuse (I believe it was called) and the narrow and twisty roads became suddenly even more exciting with the addition of an obstacle course disguised as roadside railings with pretty little cast iron posts.
    I am not precisely sure of the actual chain of events but this is a near enough approximation to give the general idea. I approached a small traffic island made of raised fancy block-work quite slowly, guided into this island by further raised block-work which lead me around to the right. On my right the road edge had a beautiful drainage slope which, when my wheels inadvertently went into caused the RV to roll over and there was a loud crunching sound heard, well actually several loud crunching sounds. I immediately looked into the nearside mirror to see the rear awning leg flailing around and obviously not attached to the side of the RV any longer. It was lunchtime and thankfully there was no one in the street or on the pavement otherwise there would have been decapitations going on. I pulled very slowly around the corner and stopped to see what had happened. The RV had tipped over when I put the wheels into the gutter to such an extent that the side of the van had contacted the top of a railing post about four times along half the length of the RV and had smashed the rear awning leg mounting bracket into a zillion pieces. The actual awning leg appears to have survived with no more than a dent in it, but the mounting bracket was history. Geo provided soothing words and a couple of ty wraps to secure the leg back to what was left of the bracket and we very slowly made our way out of narrowstreetville thankful that I had made a mistake and got off very lightly indeed.
    We made our way south through Boulogne and down to Le Touquet and started to look for the Aire. We found signs that led us to what looked like an Aire however once we got inside the site we saw about 15 motorhomes and around 50,000 big caravans and white Transit vans parked up. This did not feel comfortable, especially as we were now drawing attention from the hundreds of kids that were running around the place. It looked like a disused sports stadium and everywhere you looked there were kids watching us, and a group of about 30 people playing boules. We decided quickly that we needed to be somewhere else and left in a cloud of dust and headed off towards the other end of the road where we were sure we had seen some motorhomes parked. I kept a watchful eye on my mirrors to make sure we were not being followed lol. We found the Aire and this looked much better so luckily we found 2 spaces and parked up. We had arrived at Le Touquet.
    We took a drive into downtown Le Touquet, in the Sooty van, and had a look around the shops, the whole place had the feel of an English seaside resort and was, in my opinion, somewhere that I will not feel a longing to return to. The shops were varied and seemed to be very expensive and we did not spend very long looking around. We then went back to Sooty to go back to the Aire when we discovered that the battery was flat. Nothing for it other than to all get out and push it and Geo up hill (we were in a one way street) to get started, luckily it did start very easily without drawing too much attention to ourselves.
    The Aire was clean and pleasant and after dinner we all took a walk along the coast road to the beach and had an enjoyable stroll around. The dunes are very well kept, the entire area was immaculate with no litter and it was obvious that the town kept this area as a nature reserve. We saw a bunker just over a bank and found a beak in the fence so with on more ado we went exploring. Well what we found looked like the biggest campsite in the world. There were pitch markers everywhere and we saw pitch number 425 (I think that was the highest number we saw) and roadways going in every direction. This was built around WWII gun emplacements and was really eerie as it was completely deserted and neglected. It appeared that nothing much had happened there for years and we all thought it was such a shame for such a large site to be abandoned to let nature claim it back. It took us ages to find our way back out of the site due to it being completely surrounded by a huge chain link fence, so we eventually went back to where we started and walked back around the outside of the fence to the Aire.
    Quick cuppa and off to bed for the night.
     
  3. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    And now Friday... I hope that you are not all bored :BigGrin:

    Friday 10th August,

    We got up and had a leisurely breakfast and decide that we are going down to Honfleur, which we have been told is a must visit place. Off to empty the tanks and fill up with water first, so we make our way down to the MH point.
    The person who invented these MH service points is a very clever person with a wicked sense of humour. Geo decided to pump out his tanks with his macerator after finding out his 3” dump hose was not long enough to reach the emptying point and does this without problem. Now you all know that stuff happens in threes and I was about to have my second event of the trip…
    I pull out the dump hose, insert it into the toilet emptying hole and discover that the designer / installer has the sense of humour that I described above. The dump hole is 4” above my tank outlet, clever. I decide to try letting out some grey water by pulling the valve and then lifting and dropping the hose to allow flow. This appeared to be working admirably, so now filled with confidence I shut the grey valve and open the black one. After about a minute of lifting and dropping the hose to get the tank to empty uphill, most of the contents had flowed away well and then without any warning the Gods of motorhoming have conspired to allow me to join the hallowed ranks of my colleagues from motorhome websites (Pusser and UKRV spring to mind) and duly undid the connection between my two dump hose sections.
    I leapt about 6 feet into the air to avoid the brown wave that flowed from the broken joint in my dump hose and tried to get back down to shut the valve. Needless to say that gravity excerpts and enormous force onto a black tank when it is in full flow and said tank had totally emptied before I had chance to get the valve shut. I will spare you all the description of what lay before me; suffice to say that I now needed to clear up big time.
    OK, the good news was that the area was concreted with a drain grate built into the ground which is meant to handle grey waste, so I decide that the best way to clear up the brown liquid is to wash it away with grey water. This I did and most of the unmentionable had disappeared.
    Needless to say that Pam and Geo had found this whole exercise quite entertaining and had to leave quickly to hook up Sooty. I finished off by putting 2 Euros into the fresh water machine and filling my fresh water tank and another 2 Euros worth of water to completely wash down the mess I had created. The whole area was now clean and fresh again, although some of the foreign motorhomers who were waiting to use the facility must have wondered what sort of lunatic I was, paying for water to squirt on the ground…
    We again decided to use small, non toll roads for our journey down to Honfleur and my Autoroute did an admirable job of guiding us, including sending us right through the centre of Rouen and out the other side, until it took us down a very small forest road (the D351) which was about 12 feet wide. It was a two-way road and other vehicles had a tendency to come the other way. Remember that the RV is a tad over 8 feet wide and you will get some idea of the excitement this provided. Most of the oncoming vehicles decided to head for the piece of grass at the edge of the road in order to get past, then as they were navigating back onto the roadway they encounter Geo in his RV bearing down upon them. I think some of them gave up on the will to live around this point but thankfully no contact was made with any of the opposing forces and we happily followed our navigation all the way to the slipway of an out of order ferry across the Seine near to Sahurs, a few kilometres from Rouen. I was surprised to find ourselves here as I had indicated to the navigator that I didn’t want to use toll roads or ferries, but it had obviously misinterpreted my instruction.
    We have a brew and decide that Honfleur is about another hour plus away and we now just want to stop and get our feet up. Get out the ACSI disc to view sites in the area and as luck would have it there was a site that I had identified for the return leg about 20ish miles away. I called them and they had space for us both, so we plot a new route and off we go.
    Having now driven our RV around some of the tiniest roads in France I can honestly say that I would have no fear to drive it anywhere. I am convinced that the roads in his part of the world were built for horse and cart traffic only. The villages that we passed through along the D67, were very pretty and most of the upstairs rooms were very well decorated indeed. The way the roofs and guttering projected into the already narrow road was a bit disconcerting most of the time, but we did manage to get through without incident.
    We eventually pull into our campsite for the evening at Jumieges, Camping De La Foret ( http://www.campinglaforet.com/gb.html ). The site people could not have been more helpful and got us set up onto a huge double pitch that was just wonderful. We decided to stay awhile and booked in for two nights.
    Time to take a rest now and enjoy some sunshine and not have to think about driving for a while.

    Keith
     
  4. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Saturday & Sunday :BigGrin:

    Saturday 11th August,

    Had a really lazy day and relaxed on site. We did venture out to the local supermarket and got some provisions, followed by a trip to the fantastic Jumieges Abbey. This was a very interesting place and we spent a couple of hours looking around what can only be described as a superb ruin with a huge history, well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

    Sunday 12th August,

    Pull out of Camping De La Foret enroute to Bayeaux. We had intended to pull into Camping Municipal in the centre of Bayeaux, which in fact we did. The receptionist had a fit when she saw us nosed up to the entrance barrier and started flapping and saying “no place, no place”, so we figured that we had better reverse out of there and find somewhere else. Again, in went the ACSI disc and up popped a site about 3 miles outside of Bayeaux called Château de Martragny ( http://www.chateau-martragny.com/index.htm ). The site owner could give us two pitches, so off we went to find the site. We managed to overshoot the entrance to the site by a little way and had to turn around in another tiny French village that was about twice the size of the RV, Geo again having to unhook Sooty to make the manoeuvre, but then we found the site.
    This is an old Chateau with about 7 acres of ground and had been converted into a camping site. They have a fishing lake and a swimming pool, some wonderful gardens a bar and creperie and also have a couple of PCs that you can hire for 1 Euro per half an hour to get Internet access if you so wish. I had decided that I needed to keep off a PC otherwise I would spend my holiday staring into a tube…
    The reason for coming to Bayeaux was to take a WWII tour of the British Sector of the D Day landings, which took place on 6th June 1944. I had booked the trip with a company called Battlebus ( http://www.battlebus.fr/ ) over the net some months ago. I was really looking forward to going on this tour and couldn’t wait for Monday morning so we could get going.

    Keith
     
  5. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Monday..... This is what I have waited for for years :BigGrin:

    Monday 13th August

    I awake at 05:30 and could not get back to sleep. Showered, had breakfast and kicked my heels until 07:30 when I saw Geo and Pam emerge from their RV, we have a quick cup of coffee and we are off in Sooty to park in the pickup area in Bayeaux. Unfortunately when I booked this tour there were only 3 places but as Sharon and Ben had said that they had no interest in doing the tour it was not a problem. We found the pick up point (we had carried out a recce of the area on Sunday evening to save time this morning) and waited for the Battlebus to arrive.
    Battlebus has a fleet of about 4 new mini buses that can seat 8 passengers in comfort to transport us around the various sites that we would be shown during the tour. The guide turned up promptly at 08:30 and we all introduced ourselves prior to embarking and setting off for our first stop.
    First stop on this tour was to visit the site of the first airborne landings, the 9th Parachute Battalion, in France on D Day (actually they landed just before midnight on the 5th June 1944) and then to follow the path taken by our troops to see where they had captured a German garrison and on to their real objective, which was a huge gun emplacement, the Merville Battery. The gun emplacement was sited such that it could rain shells down onto Sword beach and would cause devastation to the landing forces. The mission was beset with problems even before they got going and this misfortune continued throughout the day. I will not recite the day’s events here but suffice to say that the soldiers were brave in the extreme and carried out their mission with admirable results. As we were told by our guide, this was one of the key actions from the beginning of D Day that has gone largely unreported and is virtually unknown due to the British way of playing things down and not blowing our own trumpet. Without the bravery of these few troops carrying out this dangerous mission, many hundreds of lives would have been lost on the beach later that day.
    We then went on to visit a Commonwealth Forces Grave. I do not possess the literary skills to describe the emotions that we all felt during our time at this cemetery, I was overwhelmed by the sight of more than 2000 graves, immaculately maintained, that were the final resting places of young men aged between 18 and 29 who had paid the ultimate price and made such heroic sacrifices to ensure that the way of life that we treasure could continue so that we did not live under the rule of tyranny. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, ( http://www.cwgc.org/ ) which works tirelessly to maintain these memorials is now falling victim to funding cuts and I would ask that everyone reading this contacts their local MP with a letter of complaint about the proposed cuts. What a disgrace to these brave men. Again I do not have the powers to describe my horror at this attitude and I will be doing something about it upon my return to the UK.
    Our next stop was to visit the famous Pegasus bridge (this bridge was made famous with the film “The Longest Day” and is a fantastic museum), well worth the visit to see and hear the stories of bravery and skill that led to this victory.
    We spent the afternoon touring the beaches, firstly to Sword and then on to Gold. We visited a huge underground complex which was taken on the afternoon of June 6th almost exclusively by one man, a private (Titch) Hunter who showed such acts of bravery that he was awarded the DSM, this being the highest award that was made to a private in the British Army. We also followed the path of one CSM Stan Hollis from the point where he landed on Gold beach, past the gun emplacement where he got his first citation and onto the site where he got his second citation for bravery, which led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross. His was the only V.C. awarded during the D Day landings. We then returned back to the pick up point at about 18:00 at the end of a full and tiring day. The day was both physically and emotionally tiring and I can honestly say that the Battlebus company provide a superb tour with lots of information and facts that just simply would not be available to the casual visitor. Our guide, Stuart, was incredibly knowledgeable and brought the stories to life for all of us. He is so enthusiastic and delivers the whole story from the first stop until the last with such professionalism and genuine care and sympathy for his subject. I can thoroughly recommend that anyone interested in the history of D Day should go on one of these tours to really make the most of the trip.

    Keith
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2007
  6. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Tuesday

    Tuesday 14th August

    Today we are off to Bayeaux to visit the cathedral and the Tapestry.
    The cathedral is impressive with some quite wonderful stained glass windows and the architecture also being awesome. The visit to the Tapestry is something that everyone should do in my opinion, it is simply stunning. At just over 70 metres in length it spells out the story of the Norman invasion of England in exquisite detail. I am so glad to be able to say that I have now, at last, seen it.
    We returned back to the site and had our first wet and miserable evening. It pored down with rain and everywhere is soaking wet. Geo and I decided to drop our tanks and fill up with fresh water tonight rather than mess around in the morning. This all happened without any hiccup I am pleased to be able to report. We did however still manage to barbeque under Geos awning and had a nice relaxing evening amid the downpours.
    Off to Le Mont St Michel tomorrow.

    Keith
     
  7. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Are you still with me here?

    Wednesday 15th August

    We arrive at Mont St Michel and get parked up on the beach car park. There is a sign that informs us that the area will be flooded by the incoming tide and we needed to leave by 19:00. After a quick look around the area we decide to go and visit the Mont. Pam tries to get into their RV and finds the door locked, calls Geo to get the keys and he says they are inside. Luckily he had left the drivers window open and by climbing up on the tyre, and having me push his backside, he managed to get far enough into the vehicle to reach the keys. Pity that no one thought to get a camera and capture this event, and it must have looked hilarious.
    Once again the RVs caused a stir and we had many people come over to look at the two vehicles. Sooty as ever, seemed to be the star of the show, they just loved looking at it, don’t think they have Daihatsu minivans in Europe lol.
    After a slightly delayed start we are off to visit the Mont. The place was mobbed; I think they were giving free pardons out in the Abbey. It took us half an hour to walk just a few yards so we gave up trying to get up to the top and had an ice cream and wandered back down to the bottom via a different route. We did the obligatory tourist-shopping bit and went back to the RVs for a cuppa before departing for the campsite for the evening.
    Because of the flooding of the car park we were told to use a site just up the road about ½ mile away from the Mont, which had been opened up. We used our parking ticket (8 Euros) and this was a temporary Aire. We had a great view of the Mont and sat to eat dinner looking at this most impressive sight.
    Then the rain came. When I say rain what I meant was a deluge, it rained like Noah should have been there (maybe he had been and had taken off due to the amount of water falling). Geo dropped a corner of the awning after only a couple of minutes and about 50 gallons fell off it, just missing him, which was a bit of a disappointment to me lol. It rained all night and at times the Mont just simply disappeared from view due to the intensity of the downpour, and we were only about ½ mile away from it. The Mont is illuminated at night and was a very impressive sight (when we could see it), with the lights from the Abbey lighting up the clouds overhead and turning it into a really surreal view, with light appearing to shine down from above as though it was a divine light.

    Keith
     
  8. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Pay attention, I will be asking questions later......:BigGrin:

    Thursday 16th August

    Left the Mont St Michel and made our way to visit Pam & Geos friends who had only just emigrated from England the week before. They have bought a fabulous farm with a house and a couple of large barns along with about 7 acres of land. All the property needs extensive renovation which should keep them busy for a couple of years, but the will have a very beautiful and special place when they have finished it, we were all very envious of them. We spent the day and evening with them, having a nice meal, shared under a tractor shed for shelter from the rain. Yes it was raining again, just for a change.
    We discussed the opportunity for them to set a little bit of land aside to have a few motorhomes park up. The site itself is just wonderful as it is very flat and access is easy even for RVs. They are about 1 kilometre from a main road so they are easy to reach and being just outside Mayenne they are situated in a great place for a stop over for those travelling further south.

    Keith
     
  9. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Friday 17th August

    We left our friends with some sadness as we really wanted to stay and help them to achieve their dream and get stuck into the task of renovation, bit much for a weekend though, lol.
    We headed north towards Rouen to find another site for the evening. We had chosen a site called Chateaux Gaillard in a village called Bernieres Sur Siene, which is only about 20 miles east of Rouen. This site looks great on the disc but in reality it is like a 1960’s Butlins camp. It appears to be a bit run down and not well cared for, but with electric hook up and water virtually at every pitch, all for about £16 per night it is reasonable for a couple of nights. We wouldn’t want to stop here any longer as there is absolutely nothing to do but this may suit some…
    Sat out until 23:30 transferring pictures onto the laptop and just having fun, the weather is much kinder to us than it has been of late.

    Keith
     
  10. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Next

    Saturday 18th August

    Got up to a gloriously sunny morning. Summer has at last arrived. Had a pretty lazy day just soaking up some sunshine and generally not doing much. We went out for a drive into the next village, Les Andelys, which was about 3 miles from the site and found a beautiful little village where we bought some bread and other bits and had an enjoyable time looking around at some of the local shops as well as a stroll down to the river. Just outside the village was a ruined castle, which unfortunately we did not visit, we felt that it was a full days worth and as most of the day had gone, it seemed better to leave this site for another time. This is a link to an interesting website with some more information http://les-andelys.com/chateau-gaillard/ . We would like to revisit at some time in the future.
    We had a drive down the side of the River Seine for a few miles to see some quite wonderful villages and then returned to the campsite for the evening.
    Geo and Pam decided to eat in their RV so we had a quick dinner outside which Sharon rustled up from some local produce, I have to say that aubergine cooked on a Cadac is superb…. And then we had a drink and retired for the night.

    Keith
     
  11. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Homeward bound

    Sunday 19th August

    Got up early again and spent a couple of hours trying to find a suitable campsite, and also plot the route using Autoroute. I was getting pretty good at this by now, as it had been my morning ritual since we had arrived, and I found a campsite just south of Abbeville http://www.camping-levaldetrie.fr/ which I called and got us booked into. We set off around midday and drove up to the campsite in appalling weather and when we arrived it looked as though Noah had just left before the real flood arrived….
    The site was very pleasant and all the pitches are individually screened off with hedges, unfortunately the rain meant that everywhere was soaking wet. The guy on reception told us to go to pitches 53 / 55 and when we had got the RVs through the narrow site roads to the pitches we found that the previous occupants were still in residence. Deciding not to run over a tent and a caravan we looked around and found two other pitches, which looked suitable to squeeze the RVs onto. I spun around and reversed onto the pitch whilst Ben went down to inform reception that we had different pitch numbers and the reason why. I inadvertently found a foot deep and foot wide drainage ditch that caused me to jump a bit but didn’t prevent any real problems, so in we went. Geo parked next to us and we were set.
    Then the rain started.
    We had decided to go out to eat that evening as we had not really sampled much of France since arriving and so we all set off for Abbeville in Sooty. We found the town centre and parked up. After strolling around for a while we found a restaurant but kept looking in case we found something else. We found a kebab shop and Geo thought that the Gods were smiling on him, we said that he could eat that if he wanted to but we wouldn’t, so we ambled back to the first restaurant and went inside to eat. I guess that being a Sunday evening, most places were shut, but this place looked OK and the menu, although limited was just fine. We all had steaks, except Ben who had a burger, but at least it was made from real minced beef and the meal was really nice. The bill amounted to peanuts too, so all in all we thought it was very good value.
    The town centre of Abbeville is a very nice place, it is immaculately clean and there are several fountains dotted around. There was a huge church, which was being renovated, and it appeared that at least half of it was missing, we never got to discover any of the history of this church which was a real shame because I am sure that there is a story to be told. I will do some research on the net to try to find out some more.
    We left the town with me driving Sooty as Geo had had a drink and headed off back to the campsite. Unfortunately I made a wrong turning at a roundabout and we rapidly got lost. It was around this time when we discovered that there were no maps in Sooty, which filled me with joy. It was also around this time when Sooty decided that he had gone far enough and decided to become very erratic and stuttered to a standstill. I discovered that if I extinguished the headlights then the engine would run, so off we went only using sidelights. This worked for about 5 minutes at which time we came to a stop again. Geo and I got out and replaced the battery with the one that had failed in Le Touquet and had been charged up. This seemed to encourage the little Sooty to go again, so off we went, as far as the nearest fuel station where Sharon jumped out to try to get directions. Armed with some information that didn’t mean much we leapt off down the road again, only to find ourselves lost again. I pulled over into a drive in burger van and again Sharon jumped out to get directions. This time the guy in the van got out a map and was really helpful, showing me where we were so I could then see where I had to go to get back to the site, all we had done was cross town to the other side..
    Off we go again, up onto the A28 motorway for one junction, with me fearful that Sooty would throw a wobbly halfway between junctions, but happily this didn’t happen and we made it off at the next junction and then we had to drive along several miles of narrow, twisty roads in the dark. Sooty’s lights were getting dimmer by the minute so I decided to favour keeping the engine running over being able to see, so off went the lights. I was driving along in the dark (I have pretty good night vision) and all was well when Geo decided to help by flicking on his lighter to illuminate the road. Well this didn’t really work and I temporarily lost my night vision but we did not hit anything so all was well. My level of forward concentration was so high that at one point I heard Pam asking me what gear I was in, and having no idea I changed up from 3rd to 4th gear and continued our drive at about 25 MPH into the darkness. I finally gave up and put the lights back on with about a mile to go and prayed. These roads were so narrow and twisty, and the hedges were so high, but we eventually got back to the site with about a minute to spare before the gate got shut for the night. I have not had such a nerve-racking drive for years. We had got back safely.

    Keith
     
  12. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Nearly over......

    Monday 20th August

    Got up and sat and worked out our route back to Calais. The rain had been beating down, trying to wash off my new roof paint, all night. We had very little sleep and just wanted to get home now away from the damn rain and mud. We left Noah’s yard mid morning and had decided to hit the shops when we got up to Calais. We drove through more torrential rain but eventually got to the outskirts of Calais when I saw Citie De Europe, with the big Tesco sign along the roadside. I looked in my mirror and indicated right but could see Geo some way off behind a lorry. I slowed down as much as I dare on the motorway and eventually had to make the turn or hit the concrete barrier, I was sure that Geo had seen my indicator. It was as they went past us that I realised that they had not seen the exit and were still on the A16. We tried to radio them to no avail, so tried the mobile phone with the same results, so we continued to find the RV parking and sat waiting for them to turn up. After about 45 minutes we figured that they must have got lost as we were getting no reply from the radio or the mobile, so we nipped into Carrefour to do a bit of shopping. We had just got into the shop when Pam managed to call and said that they were at the port and the next boat had space, so we rushed around picking up a few bits, queued for ages to pay and got back onto the road to the ferry. I tried to get diesel and went through the centre of Calais looking for a fuel station but never found one so went off to join Geo and Pam at the ferry terminal. We were able to change our tickets for the grand sum of £9.50 so we were all set to get going, we made our way round to the embarkation point and a duty guy pointed to me to follow the bus lane, which I did. I arrived at the Passport Control to find it empty, so I sat there for a while and figured I would sit there until Christmas so I pulled forward, turned through a small gap in the cones and parked with my hazard lights going, figuring that someone would now have to sort it out. A really nice customs guy came over and asked if we had been through Passport Control and we told him what had happened so he asked us to reverse up into a coach bay and we then had to go through coach Passport Control. Geo’s experience was lees than perfect and I will leave him to recount his story himself, luckily though the casualty count was low and we managed to board the ferry for a great ride home.
    Once through Dover we headed straight up to meet ScotJimLand at his pub in the back of beyond. The roads to get to Jims pub are very entertaining, but after just negotiating the French roads they were not to bad, until we come nose to nose with some moron driving a Peugeot the other way. I pulled right into the hedge but there is not enough room for the two vehicles to pass, I could see in my head lights that some 10 – 15 behind Mr Moron is a pull in which would afford plenty of room to pass. Geo is now tucked up behind me with Sooty in tow. Sharon jumps out after waiting for several minutes for MR Moron to do nothing and asks if he can reverse back the few feet into the pull in so we can get past. He suggested something along the lines of what did we think we were doing driving these huge monsters down these roads and if Sharon thought he was reversing then she had another though coming. When I saw Sharon gesticulating to him out of sheer frustration I decided that it was him that was having another thought coming. Another car approached from behind Mr Moron, saw what the problem was and immediately reversed about 150 yards into a gateway; still Mr Moron sat there staring through his windshield. I got out and had a word with him, which seemingly encouraged him to reconsider his position and he begrudgingly reversed up the whole 10 feet so we could get past. It just had to be England eh? We have met nothing but the most helpful and courteous people during our travels in France and all the drivers over there did whatever they could to help us, but here we get into a discussion with a turkey within a few miles of being in this country.
    We got to Jims pub OK in the end and had a wonderful evening catching up with our friends, thanks Jim.
    Well this is our holiday over, and sadly we return to normality. We fully intend to return to France as we thought the country was beautiful, and it will not be too long before we go again. We are looking forward to it already…….

    I hope that our story has been entertaining and encouraging for you all and can only thank you for taking the time to read it :BigGrin:

    Keith
     
  13. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Great Account of your trip Keith, an excellent read.:BigGrin:

    where are the photos? :Laughing:
     
  14. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Jim
    It took me hours and hours to type all those words up mate, I am an engineer, not a typist :Laughing: and now you are chasing me for pictures????????
    Darn slave driver.......:Laughing: I will put some up once I figure out where and how :BigGrin:

    Keith
     
  15. george1

    george1 Read Only Funster

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    Brilliant!
    I know some of the places you stayed at in France(but in the sun:Wink:)
    I wish I could write like that.:Laughing:

    George
     
  16. Road Runner

    Road Runner Read Only Funster

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    Really enjoyed your exploits mate:Wink:

    Thank you for posting them:Wink:
     
  17. Blondi

    Blondi Funster

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    Splendid - really enjoyed reading this - look forward to more tales, next time we see you........

    Di
     
  18. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi Keith, good read thanks, interesting link to castle gailliard have to visit there one day.

    I have a spare awning foot for my A&E from when it got smashed at Lincoln, if it will fit your Carefree your welcome to it.

    Olley
     
  19. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Great story you could write a book, great way with words.
    Look forward to the pics.
    But I'm even more worried about driving the monster abroad now as we have'nt ventured across the water in it yet. I don't like the idea of spending my time on paeges and I intended to do the same as you go to Calais and turn right but am worried about getting stuck in the middle of a small vallage. Having said that we have been through Cornwall, Somerset and the Lake District without too many dramas except Camelford.
    Cheers
    Ror
     
  20. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Hi Olley
    Thanks for the offer mate but I believe the awing foot is ok, it just picked up a small dent and a scratch :RollEyes: It was the sidewall fixing bracket that let go and sprayed Geo with a zillion bits of schrapnel :BigGrin:
    Linda is getting me a new bracket and then the awning will be as good as new :BigGrin:
    Ror, don't worry about the roads mate, they are fine (ish). When you come to the little villages, just slow right down and make sure that you remember the railings :Laughing: and the funny little humps and drains in the roads.......
    We drove through some tiny encampments where the roads were only about 12 feet wide, but we also found that the French drivers were so courteous and even reversed back to allow us through with a big smile and a wave, don't get that over here do you????
    Just relax and enjoy the ride, the scenary is fantastic and the traffic is fairly light which does give you the opportunity to have a look around as you are driving. We went down the D940 which follows the coast and it is really pretty. I wished we had stopped at Cap Gris Nez, but unfortunately we overshot the turn in and turning around with 2 RVs and a toad was not going to be easy, so I will leave that till next time.
    I hope that you enjoy your trip and if I can be of any help, just holler mate :BigGrin:

    Keith
     
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