Day 856 – Home Again – 5 Jul 12 (Shirl’s Birthday)

Published by billkce in the blog billkce's blog. Views: 53

Day 856 – Home Again – 5 Jul 12 (Shirl’s Birthday)
Primarily this blog is aimed at keeping our daughter in the UK, Chloe, abreast of our adventures in Europe. Additionally, we hope that other readers will find snippets of info regarding campsites, prices and foreign travel interesting or perhaps just informative.
For piccies see
Hi Clo,
We left Serenella at Bardolino on Lake Garda on Sunday morning (24th) after saying our goodbyes to Paul and Jackie. Had a fab fortnight and look forward to seeing them again at Cabopino in January 13.

We were planning to stay overnight in Lucerne, but the weather was so good and roads so quiet, that we struck out for Strasbourg – alternating the driving – and got here in a little over 8 hours – 376 miles – a new record!

Herr Wendling was here to greet us and towed Smartie up to the 'van and was all smiles. Nice chap, but I think that MMM article had something to do with his bonhomie!

It's warm here but raining so we set off to Epernay in France tomorrow – towing Smartie again. Will watch England v Italy tonight and crash out early - much like England!

Set off from Camping Sand and the helpful Herr Wendling and towed Smartie off to Epernay. However, when Shirl read the CC handbook it said the site didn’t take outfits over 6 metres – even though ACSI said it was OK. So en-route decision taken and we headed for Camping Municipal in Chalons Sur Champagne. Very pleasant site but a bit pricey (€23.40pn).

Got settled and pulled the bikes off, discovering that my bike had a warped wheel caused by squeezing past a bloody tree at Serenella. Had to do a bit of first aid to get it to go. Will try and fix it properly when we get home. Off into Chalons tonight to try and find some Moules and Frites.

No such luck! Like many, many French towns not on the ‘tourist trail’ it was SHUT! Chalons was like the grave. 7pm , no traffic, no people and only 2 restaurants open in the city centre. We sat at one after perusing the menu – which proudly displayed moules. However, there were no moules. Why put them on the menu if there aren't any? It's typical of France. One big field with the odd scattering of towns which don’t really open till July/August and then just barely. I really don’t like this country and the people are really quite arrogant – and it's not as if they have anything to be arrogant about. They treat tourists poorly and it's not good enough. I am not going to put any more of my money into their economy and will merely transit or bypass it on the way to somewhere else. Spain and Italy arefar, far nicer places to be. In fact, anywhere else is.

Shirl cycled into the centre today to try and find some life. No such luck. It was still shut. Off to Dunkirk and home tomorrow. Paul and Jackie are staying put in Bardolino for a few more days – and I don’t blame them.

We’ve been talking about Smartie and the benefits of dragging it across Europe, when we only need it in Spain. And then we could hire a car with the money we saved by leaving it at home.

Drove the 4 hours to a campsite near Dunkirk, Chateau de Granspette, in Eperlecques, about 17 miles from the dockside. Got a bit worried when we arrived as there were 6 outfits in the queue up the drive to the gate and drivers were milling about, mithering. As it turned out, yes, it was lunchtime, and the office was closed!. However, the receptionist used his common sense and to avoid wags spilling on to the main road he opened up and got us all sorted. We got a hardstanding, co we are long, and were able to fit all connected up for an early departure.

Nice campsite (€23pn) with a swimming pool (2) and a decnt restaurant, which was packed when we had our evening meal there. In the afternoon we walked the 1km to an old Nazi bunker which housed V2s and suffered heavy bombing. (I'm sure I saw George Peppard blowing it up in Operation Crossbow!)

We decided to try for the 0800 ferry, so set off at 0600 and were off back to Blighty by 0700 UK time. First off, straight through customs and an easy ride to the garage in Thakeham to leave Smartie for it's repair. Could be quite some time. Let's hope not. Now sitting at Alan and Mary’s whilst they are in London until tomorrow night.

Smartie will be £500 to get it back on the road – it's an electronic unit which is apparently tricky to find. Expensive, but what can we do?

As usual Alan and Mary hosted us really well and made us feel right at home. Our sincere thanks go to them. We sat and waited for Smartie to be ready, and whilst we did so it was decided to buy 2 new bicycles. The 2 bikes we bought in Spain at a Superstore were CRAP, built in China and far too feeble for our needs. So we went into Halfords in Horsham and were served by a very helpful young man and 2 bikes were purchased at £200 each. We picked them up and stashed them inside the Motorhome for the journey home.

Smartie was ready on time (2 July) and cost £417 to fix the SAM. Water ingress was the problem and the carpets will have to come out at some point. Got home by 1900 after dropping off the 'van at Welby. Lots of mail but the house was OK. The Tornado passed close by but no apparent damage to the house. Our friend Helen who lives 4 miles away was not so lucky, as her ‘listed’ orchard was destroyed in minutes. It only just missed their house. Also, Derrick, our friend who looks after the garden, got his hands on the Olympic Torch - nice one Dirk! (in red)

The weather is really poor and we can't get out into the garden to tidy it up. I'm doing paperwork and waiting for a bit of sun. Had to cancel a couple of visits to friends next week as medical appointments are due.

Rained so bad today, that after trying to drive towards Leicester to visit friends we turned back due to local flooding (6 Jul).

My gout is really giving me gip and beginning to get on my nerves. I don’t even eat the wrong foods or drink very much, so I'm at a loss to know what's causing it.

Anyway, looks like Albufiera weather is brilliant and hot, so enjoy your week with Chris.

See you at the end of the month.

M and D
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