Murphy's law kicked in as soon as we left home on Saturday.
(1) As we arrived at the Caravan Club site at Folkestone and reversed onto the pitch I discovered that the reversing camera had decided to show the images upside down.Not a disaster but somewhat inconvenient and involving a fruitless half hour checking all the visible connections.The screen is also a TV/DVD monitor but we seldom use it as such, preferring the larger TV for viewing but on checking with a DVD, found that this was also playing upside down. A 'factory reset' had no tangible effect and since nothing has been touched since our last trip there was no reason for this aberration. The only other connection is behind the screen and involves removal of the flip-down console so I decided to live with the upside image until safely esconced on a site in Spain with time on my hands.
(2) So then having settled ourselves down I turned the Tv on and pressed the switch for the satellite receiver box only to discover that this had no effect whatsoever and the box (which is in the wardrobe) steadfastly refused to switch on. o I did all the usual things and eventually jiggled all the wires and it burst into life....then burst out of life...and into life etc etc. There appears to to be a loose connection at the switch which is only reachable by removing a large section of trunking at the rear of the wardrobe.....so another job for a slow day. Meantime a piece of gaffer tape has secured the wires in a fixed position that so far keep the connection live so that the Good Fairy can listen to Radio 4 non-stop.
(3) The CC site emptied by 9am as 20 odd motorhomes appeared to head for the ports. We were booked on the 11.20am Shuttle and arrived at the Terminal at 9.45 and as hoped were immediatley loaded onto the 10.20 train along with a string of motorhomes, 2 cars and not a lorry in site. As we exited the shuttle at Calais 30 mins later the Tomtom satnav refused to boot-up. This turned out to be self-inflicted by me as I had omitted to clear the route when turning it off on arrival at Folkestone. For some reason this has the effect of draining the battery even though it is switched off and it can require a reset with a paper clip in a very inaccesssible place to get it going again.......and since I am now barreling down a french motorway this operation was not feasible.Fortunately. I know where we are going having been here so often so it was not a major problem...just a niggle in case it turned out to be something more serious.
So by now I was getting paranoid about things not working which had been fine before we started but there was more to come.....
The Tomtom turned out to be only sulking and when we stopped for lunch and I poked the paperclip into the correct orifice all was well.
(4) First night stop was an Aire (free overnight parking spots for Motorhomes) at Broglie
Despite being described in 3 Guides with 3 different GPS cordinates it was simple to locate thanks to the good signing by the town council and was not in the river (Camperstop Europe), or in the back garden of the post office (guide officiel des Aires). A very nice purpose built Aire with marked bays, gated and close to town. We were the only occupants but its location and nearness of habitation was reassuring. NIce town, pleasant walk along river and then settled down for evening. Very cold outside so gas fired heating on till bedtime. Up at 8am to make tea and turn heating on.......no gas.
This was a new full cylinder, no way it could be empty unless it had a leak or the temperature was down to -20. This was worrying, so dressed and outside in dark to investigate with torch. Temp just above freezing so that was not the problem. The 2 bottles in the locker ( 1 UK calor and 1 Spanish cepsa) are connected to a changeover valve with a gauge...which was showing empty! Tried switching to the spanish bottle but that showed empty even though it had not previously been switched on. Disconnected calor bottle and found it certainly was not empty. Problem had to be the changeover valve so disconnected that and reconnected calor gas to regulator directly. This solved the problem and we had gas again but why the changeover was blocking the gas flow I do not know......
So we left Broglie nice and warm and worrying about what was going to fail next. Long drive including a spell of 225 miles through fog with very bad visibility and evidence of recent snow but made such good progress that we passed our intended stop at Saintes at 14.30 and kept on for another 100kms to a town called Cavignac, deep in the Bordeaux vines of the Cote de Blaye. Functional Aire in the main car park, centre of town and market place. Quick stroll located a bottle of the local brew for a mere 3€ which washed dinner down a treat.
From Cavignac to south of Perpignan and as this is considered Bandit Country by the motorhoming community we headed for a campsite at Elne. Aires are considered risky around this corner of France but campsites are generally closed this time of year. This one was opening all year for the first time this year and was of unknown quality. Turned out to be a building site probably under new management with major rennovation under way. Facilities were virtually non-existent now but will be good next year. However they charged me 15€ for the night and as we left the next morning saw a large sign saying 'Camping Cars Special Rate 11€' so seen off there then.
So far all the route has been mainly motorway for speed and convenience but this is expensive.....142€ in tolls....so the next leg into Spain was on the local roads and a very pleasant one to. Managed to avoid the worst of Barcelona and finished on a very pretty (if winding) coast road to Camping Vilanova at Vilanova i la Geltru where we are stopping for 3 nights. Had a trip into Barcelona by bus and train, about an hour away, and did the tourist thing on the ubiquitous Tourist Bus. Very impressed by the Sagrada Familia, the cathedral still being built after 130 years and still a building site inside.
Bad news of our friends Nick and Barbera who we expecting to meet up with on Thursday when we received a text to say that they were in a fiat garage at Narbonne with a blown turbo. Had to move into a hotel and will not be mobile for 6-7 days. Nothing we can do to help so will see them in a few weeks at Conil.
I might be back ...
10 months ago