And we are off!

Day 1 – Friday 20th September – 140 miles

Random Campsite somewhere south of Boulogne sur mer.

Things did not start well, even before leaving. I woke up on Thursday with a very painful eye. On further inspection, I had what appeared like a huge white bulge growing inside my lower eyelid and rubbing against my eyeball. No wonder I was in huge pain! After a gasp of horror, as Alistair was out on an errand, I grabbed the dog ( he was very anxious with all the packing going on) and marched to the local health centre. I managed, by some miracle, to get an emergency appointment and see a GP 15 minutes later. 

I was told I had a “stye” and there was nothing the GP could do! At least I was not about to die so could have been worse! 

Back home I felt worse and worse. Not sure it was the stye, but I spent most of the day in and out of the bathroom! I had not been that sick since Ecuador, back in our first year motorcycling around South America. I had caught some amoebas and that was pretty nasty too. 

Despite all this, I managed to finish packing the van and tidying the flat. Not the best start for our next adventure! 

I discovered that tea bags are wonderful at keeping heat for a long time and I used plenty of those on my sick eye. It seemed to help as the white bulge inside my eye reduced considerably through the day. 

With all that I had an early night. My stomach settled a bit, my eye reduced size and by the morning I started looking less zombie like, with a bluish grey skin and a bulging red eye. Well, at least I went through passport control without too much problem in Folkestone. 

Before leaving I took the precaution of popping a pill of Loperamide (Imodium cheaper version) just in case. 

So we left. Unusual for us we forgot few things. There is so much we can cram on the campervan it is almost daunting. With the motorbikes we had it well organised and I knew exactly what to take and no more. With the van, we have so much space it felt we did not take enough! 

Not only can we take the essentials, but we can add the “nice to have” and the “ might be useful”; let’s not forget the “ uh… that could be interesting!” Stuff too! Maybe next time 8 will take a hairdryer! The summum of luxury! 

We also packed our stuff all over the van, so now we have no idea where things are! 

After the shuttle we drove to a farm near Boulogne sur Mer, that had space for camper vans, by the sea. I found it in an App called Park4night. Unfortunately the 5 spaces available were taken or booked so we had to drive away. 

Stopping for fuel and cash near Boulogne we continued by the coastal road, passing the tidy Bancourt British cemetery. For so many years we wizzed through by the motorway and had no idea it was so close. The area is dotted with those cemeteries with hundreds of white stones from soldiers fallen during both WW I and WW II. 

Pinched from Internet

We continued south and aimed at an Aire in a forest, but just before, we saw a camping. For 11 euros, including the dog, we decided to spend the night there. 

We got the gazebo up in seconds and cooked our first meal on this adventure. The gazebo nearly flew away because of the strong wind and the dog was insistant in coming with each of us to the shower block. Eventually we settled for the night. 

Day 2 – Saturday 21st September – camping Saint Leonard Des Bois, south of Alençon 

One good thing about a campervan is that you can stop anywhere and cook a hot meal for lunch. This is exactly what we did and ate te left over soup and meatballs with couscous in my very wicked spicy tomato sauce. I had made a big batch before leaving home and had few bags of those in the freezer! 

So after lunch we drove south avoiding all tollroads and stopped few hours near Rouen to see one of my close friends from school. 

We then selected a camping site that was not too far and arrived there at 7pm. Parking took a second, getting the gazebo up about a minute. The day was hot and sunny, perfect weather for camping and sitting outside. The gazebo has four mesh walls. It also has removable external walls in case of rain, or for privacy. It is  a great choice instead of an awning I find. 

We took turns to have a shower. The dog seemed to be learning as when Alistair went for his shower, although Scruffy looked anxious, he sat by the side of the campervan, staring in the direction of the shower block where Alistair had disappeared, instead of trying to follow him.

We did not want to cook for dinner as it had been a long hot day, so got some ham and cheese with bread for a small snack.

Sunday 22d of September – camping St Leonard des Bois.

We woke up to find out that our LPG was almost gone. We had had an LPG leak recently and got it fixed by a specialist who came to our house. All connections were loose under the van. We then had stopped at Convert Your Van, in Sheffield, to get all that checked again. So we were not very happy to find out that the 20 litres of LPG filled on Friday were gone. After further inspection it was the gauge that was flicking… Alistair started the engine and the gauge went up to full again. Not good. This meant one thing: the fridge is using way too much electricity and our two leisure batteries were already almost flat. 

So we have a bit of a problem. The fridge should have vents on the outside of the van for the heat to get out, but we have none. As a result, not only the cupboard above the fridge is extremely hot, but the fridge will not last long. We need to get it sorted and install vents. Not happy with the bodged job of the converters. 

On top of that, despite what we were told, two leisure batteries and a 100 watts solar panel will not be enough to power the fridge. We need a bigger solar panel and make sure the fridge is vented so that it is not in overdrive all the time trying too cool down. 

So, as usual for our trips, we are having few teething problems. We will work on that.