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My 2010 European Trip Page 2
Today was nostalga day. Bob,
who was married to my cousin June, sent his projector and many boxes of
slides for us to see. When June was alive my Mum used to stay with them
when she made one of her many visits to the UK. I hadn''t realised she
had brought lots of slides of Australia that I must have duplicated for
her to bring so we were amazed to see a record of our early days in Oz.
Murphy tried hard to upset the applecart by fast forwarding the slides
until we re-wired the changer button.
Since my Turp operation I've been getting a burning sensation when
going to the toilet and I suspected a urinary tract infection. I took
the opportunity today to visit John's doctor. The receptionist wanted
to charge me 25 pounds for the visit but when the Doc heard that he
quickly scotched it and I got my money back! He agreed with my thinking and prescribed a course of
anti-biotics - four a day for a week. The pharmacy also made no charge
so I was well pleased and hope the little annoyance clears up soon.
I heard from Derek today that it's school holidays and all the
campgrounds around Brecon are full this week! They have booked me into
a nearby B&B for Thursday and then we will assess the plan for the
rest of the week.
I'll be putting on weight if I keep being taken out for lovely meals.
Tonight it was a pub in a nearby village where I had breaded scampi,
chips and peas. Again delicious!
Once again we toured the Somerset countryside - the sun was out and it was a lovely day.
We walked around a lovely lake where people tried their skill at rowing
hire boats. At one end of the lake we came across a pair of swans with
seven young signets - all fluffy and lovely. Father swan was very
protective and gave warning to children and dogs who caame to near to
When we got to the other side we saw an extrordinary thing - a
duck must have done something to annoy dad swan because he chased and
attacked it all over the lake. Each time the duck dived and swam under
water, the swan was waiting for him to surface before attacking again.
He did finally catch it by the neck as it tried to climb ashore and
might have killed it but a man with an oar drove the swan away. We felt
sorry for that poor duck - hr must have thought his end had come. I'd
left the camera in the car so missed out on some unique shots.
Ruth had made a lovely chicken curry so for once we ate at home. It was delicious.
Sarah came round in the evening and we relived some of the reunion.
I've certainly enjoyed my stay here and will be a bit sad to leave in
I was up early as usual and busy with email before breakfast.
Despite Steve filling my water tank at Rainham I didn't seem to have
any water and John offfered to fill the tank. He found the drain was
open and it ran out as fast as he put it in. After closing the tap that
tank filled easily. (Murphy?)
I got away about 10am and headed for Wales via motorways and a beautiful new toll bridge over the Severn estuary.
Again it was a lovely day and as I left the busy motorways and
travelled through the glorious countryside towards Brecon I couldn't
believe this was really happening and I was here doing this trip at
I got a bit bushed in the historic old town of Brecon but by sheer luck
finised up in a supermarket car park in walking distance of my friends
residence. My Tom Tom didn't recognise their street name.
It was great catching up with them after all these years - about forty.
We tried to hook the computer to Derek's wireless broadband but it
I'm in a B&B not far from their unit - and I'm going to ask for
their wifi password later to see if I can Skype the family - there's no
Maccas anywhere near unfortunately.
Up early again today and managed to do yesterday's diary plus writing my August column and sending it off to Caravan World.
After a lovely breakfast - bacon, egg, sausage, baked beans, mushrooks,
tomato and toast - I was given the password for the wifi and was able
to have lovely long Skype chats with my family. It was great to be able
to actually talk to them again.
There was sad news as well. Anne, a dear friend for many years,
has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and there is no
cure. She has trouble walking and other problems. She can still drive
the car for a while but can't climb into the Landcruiser. This means
the end of their caravanning unfortunately as Don is unable to drive
nowadays. I was dismayed at the news and rang her straight away.
After finishing computing at about 10.30, I headed back to Derek and
I'm booked for three nights in a 'Certified Location'. It's
just a grassed area with lovely views and I'll post some pictures in
the morning. Derek and I came here to check it out and then went for a
drive into the Brecon Beacons . It was lovely with lots of new lambs
and their mothers grazing or sleeping on the roadsides.
Then it was back home for more food and chatting and I came back to
this peaceful spot just before dark. There are only three other units
here and there's lots of space. It's only five pounds a night which is
great. (less than $10)
I bought a 1500 watt inverter with
the idea of brewing coffee along the way when not on power. I tried it
this morning with out success - it heated up but the motor wouldn't
run. It's fine for charging this computer as you can see.
There's a battery under the drivers seat that would be more convenient but I can't find how to get at it
Maybe if I try with the engine running itIt might work!
This is a lovely area and I went for a little walk with my camera this
morning - here are a few shots showing the beauty of the place:
Five spots for members of The Caravan Club - I'm a paid up Overseas Member
Great weather so the towel's soon dry
Once again it was a nice
relaxing day with Derek and Barbara. So many shared memories of long
ago when we were young aircrew members. We went for a lovely walk
around Brecon and along the canal. The weather was warm and there was
so much to see.
One of my friends asked me what the 'Jacobs' was all about so I thought perhaps I should share the answer with everybody.
My mother and her eleven sisters and brothers were Jabobs. Their
dad, Harry Jacobs, was a farm worker in the liitle Hampshire village of
Rockbourne. That generation are now long gone but many of their
children - my cousins - are still with us. These are the people who
came from all over to meet their long lost cousin from Australia. Of
course they all have children and many of them have children as well.
There were only four original brothers. Bill died in WW1, Jim had no
children, Ted only had a daughter so Jack's son David and his son Liam
are the only ones carrying the Jacobs name. Liam who is single is the
only chance of the name surviving in this particular branch of the
We went to the Village Graveyard after the reunion aand saw my great-grandfather's grave and headstone - now sadly in disrepair.
This really is a fabulous site so I've taken some more pics:
My mother used to love bluebell woods
Believe it or not, that's a Dump Point
I was a bit
sad to leave Wales today. Such pretty country and so nice to catch up
with Derek and Barbara after all these years. Age may have changed
their outward appearance but inside they are still the same lovely
couple we used to know back in Air Force days.
Ros came a long way to see me yesterday and it was really
great to have lunch at a nice local pub and catch up on her Welsh
activities and to fill her in on what's been happening in Oz since she
left just over two years ago. While she was Editor of Caravan World she gave the fledgling Australian Caravan Club a lot of support. New editor Max has continued to help us.
Ros brought the two mutts with her from Oz!
While at D&Bs last night, they gave me a lovely humourous Welsh
tie. It's still in its protective wrapper so there was a bit of
reflection when I took its picture just now.
This the airfield where Vi and I spent the first years of our married life -
RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. It's changed since those days but it still
brought back memories as I drove around the village today.
I was able to talk to Sue on Skype at a Maccas today after dealing with Murphy's interferance!
There's free wifi here at this Caravan Club Certified Location
behind a pub near Cirencester but it's too late to contact anyone back
home. I'll try them in the (our) morning.
The weather has been mostly very nice all the time I've been in the UK
(It's only just over a fortnight but feels for ever!) However today
it's tried to rain at times so maybe the fine spell is over for now.
I filled up with petrol today - 66 ltrs. It cost $137 !!!!!!! No wonder they use small cars here.
wanted to catch up with CLIC member David Klyne but an email to him
found they were away on a caravan trip to Peterborough.
consultation of maps and the Tom Tom and I decided I could make
Perterborough today and have a day off tomorrow to catch up on washing
before moving on the the CLIC meet at 'Conkers' on Thursday.
By a sheer
fluke I found an empty site (pitch!) right next to them and my Aussie flag
alerted him to who had arrived. We went out to dinner at a lovely
complex quite nearby. David and Margaret are very nice people and
great to be with - it will be good in future to know the person who
posts to the CLIC forum
It was a rotten drive today - it rained for most of the way and traffic
at times was heavy. I'd have been bushed without the Tom Tom and now
it's got over its fixation with the Vatican, it's invaluable.
Maccas wifi to the rescue today and I was able to Skype Jackie and Chris. No pics today as it was too wet and miserable.
I'm amazed at all the
rabbits hopping about at this place. There's plenty of grass between
sites and at dusk and early morning they are everywhere. There are
squirrels as well - grey ones that are an introduced species and are
endangering the native red squirrel. The magpies are different here -
quite long tails. I'll try to get a pic if I have the chance.
I got up early today, sorted my emails and then did my washing. Quite a
lot had accumulated so I was pleased to get it all done. It cost 3
pounds for the washer but only 60 pence for the drier - unfortunately I
had to put in another 60 p for a second dry.
Tom (Tom Tom gps) took me to a huge shopping centre today - I'd be lost without him to guide me.
When I got back here David and I had a go at the rear door lock as it
would't lock either with the key or by pushing down the button. We
oiled it but didn't think we had done any good but surprise, surprise,
it now works. Must have been the oil.
The park is well served with dump points and other services plus the ablutions are very modern and spotless.
Despite the dire forecast yesterday it has been quite warm and pleasant
today and we even sat outside for a cuppa this afternoon.
Tomorrow when I head
for Conkers, near Ashby de la Zouch, it looks about a three hours run
so I won't hurry away from here.
I left David and
Margaret around ten and headed for a Maccas in a Lincolnshire town I
later found was called Stamford. Sue was out at a meeting so I had a
good yarn to Shaun.
It was cold and damp but I enjoyed a cross country trip using a variety
of types of roads. I passed through quite a number of Counties
including England's smallest - Rutland. It was bitterly cold when I
arrived at the park but a warm welcome awaited me. They had spotted the
Aussie flag which has become a bit tattered with the wind. A warm
welcome also from John and Jean who were here first and from Jim who
arrived at the same time as me. Jean had the kettle on and the coffee
was most welcome. I believe another two CLICers are expected tomorrow
so that will make 6 of us.
The wifi here is a bit iffy and quite expensive - 10 pounds for
just one hour! Too much for me so I'll be going to a Maccas in the
I tried out MSN Messenger
with Rob this morning and it was fine. That should mean it will be ok
for the Board Meeting on Sunday! (I said 'should'!) I then went to
Maccas and had a lovely chat with Sue. They have bought a webcam and it
was great being able to see her. I also Skyped Chris and had a good
I then went shopping at a nearby supermarket only to find the check out
wouldn't accept either of my cards and I was out of cash. A walk to a
bank fixed that but even it wouldn't accept my MasterCard pin -only
UK vans don't have water tanks and the sites don't have water or a
drain for waste water so most have these Aquarolls for fresh water and
a pump in the van draws water from the container. The Aquarolls have handles and they are towed like wheels to the tap.
The other gadget is for waste water and it is towed to the waste water disposal area.
The majority of UK vans are large single axle jobs but quite light.
There are a few large motorhomes like this
But there's plenty of room on sites like this
Jim and Paul were going
for a drive to a large camping and outdoors shop this morning and
invited me to go with them. I'm glad I did because I bought a
self-inflating camping mattress for about ten pounds. It's only
about an inch thick when inflated but makes a wonderful difference to
comfort at night. I also bought a tin-opener. Some cans are ring-pull
but by mistake I bought some that are not.
A couple of CLICers have satellite dishes but were not able to find the
'bird'. It's the soccer World Cup and there are 'England' flags
everywhere you go and flying from cars. The match tonight was England v
USA and ended in a 1:1 draw. They were all very disappointed.
Much more interesting was our extended happy hour after the match when
we drank French red wine and swapped yarns.
I've included this pic Paul took to show the prostate business is not getting me down!
Paul is from Yorkshire and
has invited me to dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday and has suggested a
lovely-sounding CL quite near their home in the Yorkshire Dales at
I'll probably stay there for two days and then move on to Pete
and Jean at York.
This was a moving on
day so I studied my Caravan Club dircctory and a map and decided on a
Venison Farm in Lincolnshire as somewhere interesting to spend the
night. Somehow the TomTom took me to a different CL in the same
locality and I'd paid up before I realised my mistake. It didn't really
matter as it's a lovely quiet spot and I'm the only one here. I might
get a couple of pics in the morning.
Before John left this morning he showed me a couple of interestng
things on his van. The most impressive was the jockey wheel which
incorporates a nose weight guage, He also has one to fit between the
ball and the hitch that also measures ball weight.
The hitch applies friction to the tow ball to stop any tendency to sway
Today's run across country was again a mixture of roads including the
well known MI which took over from the A1 many years ago and carries a
huge amount of traffic.
For some reason I couldn't get a wifi connection at Maccas today.
Nuisance as I wanted to call Sue to see how the camping weekend turned
out. I'll try again tomorrow but if not Pete and Jean have Skype and
I'll be there on Wednesday.
I bought a little TV gubbins before I left home. It plugs into a USB
port on the computer and tonight I was able to watch an interesting
wildlife programme on BBC 1. It has a silly little antenna but I
imagine it would work well with an external full size aerial.
The sun was still shining at 9pm tonight and it's still light now at
9.30. It's light before 5am as well - a very short night but from the
21st it will be dark longer each night.
I ended up by mistake at
a quite run down CL - I'd intended being at a Deer Farm in the same
area but must have keyed in the next address because Murphy and Tom
brought me here where the grass wasn't cut and the facilities basic.
I'm going to try an
experiment. The views from this lovely CL, Pool Bank Farm, near Otley, Yorks, are so good
I've taken quite a few and put them in a folder of their own. If this
works you can click here to see them.
It seems to have worked - hooray!
I've just got back from a lovely evening with Paul and Julie and it was
as though we had known each other for ages - Paul and I just met at the
CLIC Meet at the weekend. Despite both being in full time work they had
managed a superb meal (I think mainly Julie with a little help from
Paul!) Slow cooked lamb and vegies plus home grown greengage and
raspberry crumble with butterscotch ice cream
Their garden was lovely as you can see from the shots of their back yard.
I left a DVD at their place and Paul came all the way back with it.
The camera battery is on charge just in case I get the urge for more pictures in the morning.
I broke the journey from
Otley by detouring through Harrogate and Knaresborough - old haunts
from the time we spent at Park House Farm before emigrating to
Australia 51 years ago.
When Tom led me to York the Peugeot was soon snugly in the driveway and
me indoors with Pete who works from home so was there to greet me. I
was able to connect via his wireless set-up and that has been great.
After Jean came home we sat in the glorious warm sunshine, sipping wine and swapping reminiscences
.We had a lovely bbq with fresh baked bread but didn't eat till late as we were enjoying each others company and the red wine!
Tomorrow we plan a ride into the countryside as P&J have both taken time off work.
Jean dropped Pete and me off
in the town centre and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours wandering
around the old walled City. I've put a selection of pictures on a
separate page. Click to view.
This is the school where Chris started his education for a few months before we sailed.
also visited the garage where I worked for a few years after I left the
RAF. It hasn't changed that much in the past 55 years except the petrol
pumps are no longer out the front. I took a pic but it didn't come out
but I'll try again later.
We went out driving after lunch and visited the beautiful Valley Gardens in Harrogate. Here's a few pics:
Pete getting warm and cuddly with a flower!
drove to Dishforth and Topcliffe where I spent time while in the RAF
and after that we continued up a steep climb where there were beautiful
sweeping views. After a cooling drink at a village pub, we continued on
to visit Vi's niece Carol and husband Gordon before going with them to
'The Ship Inn' for dinner.
What a great day! Pete and I were in his restored 36-year old V8 MG! It
was a fabulous drive even though it wasn't hot we had the roof open.
It has a Rover 3.5-ltre V8 motor and there were only 2,000 ever
made. Pete also has a new blue MG! That's him skulking in the
The rest of the party, Vi's niece Carol, husband Gordon, Jean, and
Pete's Mum Joyce, were in Gordon's Landrover Freelander and first stop
was a Lavender Farm.
Then over the hills to a lovely pub for lunch.
From the left: Pete, Gordon, Carol, Joyce and Jean.
After lunch a walk in the garden before heading out across the Moors to
Whitby where Captain Cook left for his voyages of discovery
We all travelled in an open-top double decker tour bus with a very interesting commentary given by a 'Passenger Assistant'.
We broke our bus trip at the half way mark and Jean made friends with the donkeys that were giving rides along the windswept
This 2/3 Replica of Cooks 'Endeavour' was giving trips on the windswept harbour
(I see I've used 'windswept' twice recently. Probably because that's mild for the freezing gale that was blowing!)
Our bus was parked behind this steam bus.
After wandering a bit and indulging in coffee, we re-boarded the bus for the second half of the tour.
finished the day with fish and chips from what was claimed as
'The best fish and chip shop in Whitby' before a drive over the
Click to go back to the top
Today was great! Pete
and in particular, Jean had done a great deal of preparation for the
'Lamb Family Gathering' and people had started arriving before 4pm.
More than 25 altogether turned up.
Before that I went for a drive to Stamford Bridge with Jean. Her
daughter Jackie's family had entered a 'Scarecrow' competion in the
town and we were delighted to hear their entry had won first prize.
There were people at the party I knew from when we lived at 'Park House
Farm' in Harrogate - now sadly a housing developement. In particular I
remembered Pat - Vi's niece who used to visit us in our caravan as a
teenager. It didn't seem possible that also at the party were Pat's
daughter Kim and her two children Victoria and Daniel - one a school
teacher and the other at university. How the years have flown.
Before everyone left Pete had them sign a replica of the spoof card they had used as the invitation to the party!
We relaxed, after everyone had left, over a few more reds followed by delicious Coffee Royale!
And so to bed.
This started out as a
quiet day as we had been late to bed yesterday! I spent a lot of time
sorting out photos I took the day before and making them into a
captioned printable document that I can print out for Mary back in
Highett, Vic, as she doesn't have the internet. She is one of Vi's
two surviving sisters and very interested in what happens with
her rellies many thousands of miles away in Yorkshire. She told me to
take paper and pencil and write everything down but I thought a
pictorial record would be much better.
Pete and I did some route planning for my trip to France next week -
they have been there many times so have good knowledge plus photos
of 'must see' places.
In the afternoon P&J went out for a little while and I caught up with the diary and finished Mary's document.
They had a treat in store for me in the evening - a lovely meal in an
historic little restaurant they know and then on to a hotel for a jazz
night. The four musicians were brilliant and even though I prefer
traditional jazz to modern, I still really enjoyed the night helped by
a little of the red stuff. My only regret was that I hadn't taken my
camera! I'd have loved to have shared the wonderful happy expressions
of the keyboard player with you. The leader played a very modern
looking trumpet and doubled on a mellow flugal horn. Actually it wasn't
my only regret - we sat on stools and I had a dreadful backache!
How can I begin to
describe this day? A day with stunning, everchanging landscapes with
weather so perfect it was hardly credible!
It started with farewells to Pete and Jean who have made my stay so
enjoyable. Apparently according to them I did the same when they visited
Tom was annoyed that I ignored his instructions and headed for
Harrogate where I not only managed to get a pic of the garage where I
used to work 55 years ago, but had a good chat with the current owner.
After that Tom settled down and brought me through absolutely beautiful
countryside to reach a CL here at a farm near Broughton in Furness. I have a fair
idea of the layout of Broughton and surrounding area as Tom didn't have
the address for this dairy farm and so I did a bit of a wander before I
I also met a bus coming the other way on a narrow stretch where there
wasn't room for both of us. I had to reverse a long way before he could
sneek past with inches to spare! Steve, who sold me this Peugeot on a
'Buy Back' scheme, will be relieved to hear the vehicle is still in one
I took two more pics showing the view from my site (OK - my 'pitch' for all you UK folk!) :
was great. I must have upset Tom by ignoring him yesterday so he took
me along twisty, narrow - but incredibly lovely - country roads
to get to my first destination - the Lakeside Motor Museum. Not to be
outdone, Murphy took a hand and had Tom take me to the wrong place
first! The museum moved just last month.
It was well worth the visit and there's a separate page of pictures of
the exhibits and also of Lake Windemere. The three of us (Me, Tom and
Murphy!) crossed the lake on a ferry and took in the beautiful
views of the lake and the craft on it. Click to go there.
The day was not without a little drama. I met another huge coach on a
narrow section of road and the driver refused to reverse a couple of
yards to let us pass easily. Instead I had to reverse a long way back
and even then there was only just room. Next time I'll just sit there
until the bus backs if it's somewhere where it could be done without
much trouble. Today was just ridiculous as a couple of yards would have
made passing a doddle. But then what would I have to entertain you with?
If I'd stopped to write
this diary before lunch I would have painted a far different picture of
my day. You may remember I said a while back that the M1 was boring.
Well the M6 and M61are worse! I started the day with a lovely chat with
Martin and Pauline, the owners of the peacefull rural CL
where I stayed near Broughton. Then for a while my senses were again
overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty of Lake District vistas.
That all changed as I headed towards Manchester and found myself on
four lane motorways with the enthralling vistas of the backs of huge
trucks travelling like me in the left hand lane while cars zoomed past
in the other three lanes. Charming I'm sure!
Finally sanity returned as I got nearer the Peak District and again
found myself negotiating the narrow twisty streets of little towns and
villages as I started getting into the hilly country that makes up this
fascinating part of Britain.
I'm staying at a Caravan Club site at
Castleton right in the heart of the Peak District and tonight I walked
- yes, you read it right - walked to the historic little town that has
its origins back in the 1,000s when Cromwell's Peveril Castle that looks down on the
town was built.
In one of the pubs, I rewarded myself with a Yorkshire Pudding and a pint. The pudding
was delicious. As big as a dinner plate but with high crusty sides
like a pie and the whole thing filled with rich brown onion gravy. Yum!
A quiet morning. I did some
washing - after I was told by the office, "Yes - the coins do reject
but keep putting them in and it will eventually accept them!" A notice
to that effect would be helpful.
Then I spent quite some time arranging my itinerary for the next few
days before I head for France. There's still some hold up about the
insurance certificate and I need a letter from Steve so I've arranged
to call in at Rainham on Monday morning and pick them up. It took a
while to find somewhere to stay for Sat and Sunday as most parks
(Sites) are full at the weekends. The same for tomorrow but I managed to
get into a CL about halfway between here and the destination for
the weekend. The map suggests I'll be spending some time on those
accursed motorways but at least they get you from A to B pretty smartly.
After lunch I had an experience I'm never likely to have again in my
life-time. A boat trip underground on a river 600ft under the hillside.
It used to be a lead mine and the tunnel was just a few inches wider
than the boat so it often scraped the sides. You had to keep your head
down at times.
To get down to the river you descended 164 steps - the trouble was you had to climb back up them after the tour finished!
Owen, our guide, told a fascinating tale of the old mining days. The
miners were given free alcohol to combat the dreadful conditions but
most never saw their 30th birthday.
The views from the car park were stunning including the famous Winnats
Pass that was once the bed of the sea millions of year ago.
I came down it yesterday and it gets very steep.
Looking back towards the town of Castleton was also quite impressive
Did I forecast motorways for
today? I wasn't kidding - lots of miles on both the M1 and the M61 and
they were extremely busy in parts.
I needed a Maccas to Skype home and made the mistake of letting Tom take me
to one in the middle of Chesterfield! It was a nightmare of busy
streets and thick traffic. Tom tried to send me up one way streets the
wrong way, landed me in the middle of a crowded outdoor market and
generally confused both of us. I never spotted the Maccas but
re-programmed him to get me the heck out of there.
As I finally got clear of the CBD I spotted a Maccas just off the main
road and pulled into their car park. I didn't even have to go in as
there was an excellent signal in the car park. I later found that
Costas - a caterer at some service areas - also has free wifi and
easier to get to. A few service stops have Starbucks with wifi as well.
I still haven't worked out what I'll be doing in France for Internet
yet but I guess it'll have to be more Maccas until I do.
You don't see much scenery on
the motorways - firstly you are too busy watching the traffic and
secondly because the road usually has banks with bushes and trees so
the view is hidden. I did notice after I got on minor roads near Oxford that the
houses down here are mainly brick.
The whole of the northern parts I saw were of
stone - the houses, the barns, the walls separating the fields where
there were no hedges and the walls around gardens.
There are lots of hedges all over the country and very little fencing like we have in Australia.
The evenings get a bit boring so I bought an amplified indoor aerial to
see if my TV gubbins would work. It didn't! I'll try again tonight -
its own little aerial worked the other night although the picture was
very snowy. By the way - it's not as big as it looks in the pic.
I also bought a doona/duvet cover and pillow case today - what a swine
trying to put the cover on in the confined space of a motorhome. The
night was mild and I was too hot!
Travel today was all motorways including the wretched M25!
No more needs to be said except for some unaccountable reason everthing came to a stop and then we crawled for miles.
I've been wondering what would happen when my 30 days for 2 pounds
special deal for internet access ran out. Well today I found out as
they sent me an SMS explaining the options.
Simple! I now have another month of unlimited browsing although it won't be as easy in France next week.
Tom brought me here OK to the lovely spacious Caravan Club site at Alderheath, Redhill, not too far from London.
He then proceeded with Murphy's help, to give me the big run-around
when I went looking for a maccas to ring Sue. Three tries and three
blanks. Murphy must have moved them all as there was no sign
of maccas big yellow 'M'.
Yesterday I said the telly didn't work. Of course it didn't as I hadn't
tuned it! Today there's a plethora of sharp clear stations - both
analogue and digital plus countless music channels. It all else fails,
I think I may have been maligning poor Tom unfairly! He took me to a
different Maccas today but I almost missed it as it was just a
shop-front. Maybe that's the sort of places he took me to yesterday and
I didn't see them.
He played a rotten trick this morning. He kept repeatedly
re-calculating the route. Over and over - until I began to wonder what
life after Tom would be like. The one word that came to mind was
'miserable'! I've come to rely on him so much that without him I'd be
Sue bought me an Aussie flag that clipped to the passenger window but
repeated encounters with hedgerows in narrow lanes finally saw its
I need identification as an Aussie - so some insulating tape
'borrowed' from the park managers (wardens no less) has let me fix a
flag to the bike rack on the back.
And talking of the bike rack - I constantly bang my head on the rotten thing - the last time it bled profusely.
Some people never learn.
This afternoon I was able to watch the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix
live with my fantastic little TV tuner. It was on analogue BBC TV with
no ads. The tuner picks up both types of telly equally well.
It wasn't exactly a fun
day today! M25 to Rainham and when I got there the insurance still
hadn't arrived. I'll have to ring them in the morning and get my policy
number - at least that will show it's covered.
M25 again and a king-daddy of a traffic snarl a few miles before the
Dartford Bridge. We progressed in a series of small hops for the best
part of an hour. Then Tom got his own back for me maligning him about
the Maccas and somehow we finished up on the way to Bournemouth instead
of Newhaven and when I queried him he came up with a different
route showing we still had about 70 miles to go as opposed to the few
mles he showed previusly.
I just hope he can manage to take me to the ferry in the morning. It's only six miles!
These are not exactly the 'White Cliffs of Dover' but I can see them from the van tonight.
Messeurs and Madames - yes I'm really and truly in France! The crossing
from Newhaven to Dieppe was a little quicker than I thought and I set
tyre on French soil shortly after 2.30pm.
It would have passed a little
quicker if I had known you couldn't get back to the vehicle
once we were under way so I couldn't get my kindle to read.
The Channel was smooth and the ferry very comfortable. I decided to buy
a map directory of France to help Tom should he get lost.
This huge truck was lifted to a higher level by the ramp.
It was with
some trepidation that I started driving on the 'wrong' side of the road
but I was feeling quite pleased with myself until I dived to the left
when I met a vehicle on a narrow lane near my destination. This is my
first night at a 'France Passion' free site. I'm the only motorhome
here on this busy working farm. (Since I wrote that another friendly UK couple, Alan and Krys,
have come in and I've shared some ' healthy' organic wine!)
My first language problem showed up at a toll station. I'd been driving
for kilometres (Yes - I've reset Tom to something familier) and then
came to a halt at a toll station. The red lights were on going my way
and I couldn't see a way of lifting the barriers. There was no booth on
my side but motorists going the other way were being relieved of their
money. I parked and went to the booth where neither attendant spoke any
English. They seemed to think I wanted to know the way to somewhere and
helpfully produced a map! I finally convinced them that all I wanted
was the barrier raised so I could go on my way. "Ah - you take ticket"
they said! I hadn't noticed a ticket machine but when I pressed a
button out popped a ticket and the light went green. It all became
clearer when some time later I came to another booth where they
took money and the ticket.
This is a lovely place and I won't leave in a hurry tomorrow.
You'll have a new page tomorrow so the pictures will load quicker for bit.
Today started off well. A quiet drive through undulating French
countryside took me to the large city of Rouen where I was after a
maccas. (My UK dongle won't work over here). Tom found the maccas
fairly well but trying to find a parking spot in Rouen is like trying
to park in the Melbourne CBD! I found a spot in a big hardware store
car-park - a bit like Bunnings and was able to Sype Sue and answer
email. For some raeson it wouldn't let me load the diary so I'll have
to wait until tomorrow.
I then headed for Le Mans- famous for its 24-hour sports car races -
along one of the smoothest and qietest motorways I've been on.
The gloss wore a bit thin when I had to pay a toll of 30 Euros!
My prime objective was to get a French dongle to access the net
and that led to an incredibly frustrating after noon. I found a large
shop selling Orange gear (the firm not the colour) and despite our lack
of communiction I bought the dongle. It said you could put money in
through the net or pay in the shop. I've been caught before so i went
back the van and tried to get it working. The instruction wher all in
French which could have been Chinese the good they were to me. I
couln't work out how the sim card fitted so back into the shop. It was
easy, so back for another try. All went well until it asked for credit
card details. It rejected my Aussie Visa and Mastercard. Back into the
shop again. We don't sell vouchers but there's an Orange shop in the
big shopping mall nearby. It was two shops from the entrance but Murphy
ensured I'd entered the other end of the incredibly long mall.
I was sweating and then had to stand in line for about an hour
only to be told the only way to buy time was by credit card on the net.
Back to the first shop and asked for my money back. It took a while but
it's back in my wallet waiting to see if another Tele-company is more
accessible. The UK dongle was the same and you may remember I had to
'borrow' a credit card in exchange for cash to make it work. I don't
know any Frenchmen to try the same trick.
Phew! That was a long diatribe - sorry.
I'm now about forty kms from Le Mans in a quiet little free camp
all on my own. The Loire is a short walk just across the next
field and it's lovely. It was very hot today and I felt
dehydrated with all the running around. I even drank water! It's still
29C in the van at 10.15pm with doors and windows open.
A new page starts today - click to go there.
free to email any
queries you may have - I'll try to help