Week 10. Back in mainland Europe.

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Above: Waiting in the dark to board the ferry.

Week 10 did not start very well. France it seems is closed for the winter. At least the vast majority of her huge number of camp sites are. We have, so far, found two en-route open until the end of October we emailed to check that both could accommodate our twin axle 7.89m length of van. The first emailed back “. . .Je suis desole mais nous n acceptons pas les caravanes double essieux . . .” or in English - no twin axle caravans! Twin axle vans are not liked in France, no-one, it seems, knows quite why, some say it is because gypsies use them, others that it damages the pitch more than single axles, but whatever it is, it could not possibly be that the English use them :-) The second site replied that they were happy to accept vans of our length including those with twin axles but had decided to close early and so would not be able to accept us until the spring.

Oh well never mind, we will find somewhere, and if not we will overnight in motorway service areas that, unlike UK, don’t charge vast sums of money after the first two hours.

All the miserable people and the fun police throw up their hands in horror and exclaim how dangerous that is and how they know someone who’s brother has a friend who’s uncle Cecil was gassed/broken into/attacked/etc.,/etc. Following a few basic precautions - only stoping on busy areas, parking as near to the restaurant and the HGV’s as possible etc., we hope that we will have no problems.

Striking camp at Little Henham was a nightmare, rain fell from the sky unremittingly from when we started until we had finished. We were both wet to the skin, but site owner Mrs M (Kate) revived us with a lovely cup of tea and a warm in her kitchen while we said goodbye to her and farmer Vernon then it was off down the hill to the M11 and more adventure.

We were surprised on arriving at “The Field” that it was empty (and still raining). Whenever we had visited this site before it had, being just five miles or so from Dover ferry terminal, been busy, busy, busy with people arriving from or going to mainland Europe, could it be that in mid October the first tranche of snow birds had already left and the second half were waiting until after spending Christmas with the grandchildren? A even greater surprise awaited us when the alarm went off at 5:45 the next morning, it was still dark and remained so while we struck camp and drove to the Dover ferry terminal.

Arriving at Dunkirk, suitably replete with a full English breakfast inside us we set off across France, Belgium and Holland as we have done many times with and without the caravan and always in around four hours or less. This time I managed to take junction 21 when I had been told to take junction 20, my only defense being that they are so very close together, almost the same junction, Desmond (the navigator) rerouted and we continued, unfortunately Desmond had not been informed one of the roads we now wanted was closed - another detour that took us through narrow streets of houses including one blocked for fifteen minutes or so by an unloading pre-mix concrete lorry and we finally reached Dicky’s place over five hours after leaving the ferry.

When we arrived the camping site was closed for the winter.

Fortunately we were recognised as regular customers by the staff and allowed to stay, but on the roadway, the site itself being waterlogged, and we’re having to use our own facilities as the site ones are closed and the cleaners laid off till the spring. Still they could have told us to "bugger off", but the Dutch are such pleasant and helpful people.

We visit Sue’s friend Dicky whenever we are able, but this time we are collecting her. She is coming with us as far as Calpe, on the Cosa Blanca, where she is going to stay for the winter.

While in Holland we have stocked up on “Old Amsterdam”, we have a particular fondness for this tasty cheese and a stall in Den Bosch market cuts it into small pieces and vacuum packs each piece for us, it then stays fresh until we use it. It is also €13.40 kilo here while the cheapest we have found it in UK is £28.80 (€34.20) kilo.

Planning our traveling through France is still presenting us with problems. We have studied three routes so far one clockwise and southeast to Perpignan then into Costa Brava. One anti-clockwise southwest via Le Mans and Poitiers then into Spain at San Sebastian and a third straight down the middle all three have a very few open campsites and those mainly in inconvenient places. At the moment we have elected to follow the clockwise route and have emailed the two usable (by location) sites and asked if they will accept our 7.89m double essieux (twin axle), as yet no response.

I wrote in an earlier blog of my new computer that “. . .I have (so far) found no way of changing the new word processor (Pages) dictionary to proper (UK) English . . . “ while we were getting the cheese today we passed a Dutch iMac shop. Without much hope I went in and asked if they could help me. Not only did the young salesman speak perfect British English, and knew that American English and British English are different but, after some rummaging around in the word processor preferences, found the answer to my question - result.

We never did get a response from the French sites we emailed so they obviously don’t want our money. Our planned route is now anti-clockwise down the west side of france and we have managed to book two sites, the first, 415 km from Dicky’s place, is less than 100km from Calais. The second a little more than 500km further south and from there we haven't decided if from there, we will go straight to Spain or try to find one more site in France.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014