The end of the road

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post before I compile the pictures and story of the last days of our trip.

Unfortunately, our camper failed to start about 70 miles south of our final destination at Mike’s gaff, another 70 miles south of Calais.

To cut a long story short, the starter motor had worn out from being held on by the faulty ignition, and we had just stopped for petrol, and couldn’t start it again.

We got rescued, and could probably have got it fixed if we had more time and more of a guarantee than a french shrug of the shoulders ‘c’est possible…’

Mike and family were great and looked after my family while I tried to get it fixed, then sorting out the hire car etc.

Again, just a short post. We got home yesterday night about 10.30pm in a ford fiesta. What indignation!

Will post up the complete story and pictures soon when I get my act together!



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It had to be done

Paris was great. Extremely beautiful. We did the normal stuff. Up the Eiffel tower now christened by jac the awkward tower. On the descent he exclaimed in the middle of a packed escalator, look daddy! Everything’s getting bigger! We spent 30 euros on tat. Walked for ever down the seine to the louvre. Walked out of a cafe because they were so rude to us. Got collared into a Greek French fusion restaurant where luckily the food was ok etc etc
Time to go, but there’s one more thing that has to be done when you’re in Paris with a vw camper. The champs élysées, the arc de triumph, the Charles de Gaul etoile.
Oh yeah!
Then off to mike’s for the final stop half way between Paris and Calais. Nearly there!

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Paris is gay (like rainbows)

The campsite in montbazon was great and we were all chilling out. The town to the right and intermarche to the left and in the middle, a lovely river, playground, swimming pool, bar and restaurant, all within walking distance.
We were having a great time in the camper after the two nights in the hotel and me and Kate were enjoying evening chats over chilled rose.
But it was time to move onwards and upwards. Next stop Paris!
But as we set off, the engine was sounding terrible after my repairs to the engine belt. A scratchy rattling noise like there was something trapped in the fan. I was really worried even though the actual car was driving ok. Then after about a k, flumpft, it had gone ( that was the sound it made as it went)
I thought something had been sucked in then blown out, and now everything was ok.
The bus was driving and sounding great, the kids asleep in the back and we were heading to Paris.
About 80k south of the capital, we needed refuelling, and there was a queue. When it was my turn to pull up to the fuel pump, I turned on the engine and the sound came back. Worse still, when I got to the pump, I switched off the engine but it kept going….
Even I know you can’t fill up while the engine is still running. So I had to keep revving the engine then switching it off until it finally stopped.
After phoning for technical help, we think it’s something to do with the key that is keeping the starter motor on. So now I have to start it, then slightly knock the key back but only slightly.
This seemed to work so we set off again.
The feeling of brilliance when we turned a corner and there was the Eiffel tower was overwhelming. Despite getting stuck in a bit of Parisian traffic and mad drivers all around me, we pulled up outside the novotel tour eiffel.
Ha! The hotel guys faces! You can’t leave that here sir! I am stopping here, and I’m getting my wife and kids and luggage out and I will take as long as it takes! You have a reservation here? Yes I do! Are you going to help me with my bags? Now where is your car park?Your car is too big sir! So, shall I leave it here then? No no no! One minute sir!
Out they came and organised an exclusive roped off area just for my nice sweet camper. Bless!
The room was great, only 20mins walk from the tower. We were exhausted after a 5 1/2 hour drive and ordered room service, camper class.
We had arrived.

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Mais oui! and pooh!

Some things we’ve bought for the camper have been brilliant, like the electric fly swatter and the 45m of washing line. Some things have been useless like the multi adapter USB 12v things that don’t even charge iPods. But probably the best buy was the portable toilet that we fitted into one of the back seats. Sink a bottle of vin rouge before bed and when you wake up at 1am bladder busting in the middle of a cold campsite, you’ll know what I mean.
But these things have a limited capacity and I’d already emptied it’s glory once on holiday. It comes in two parts, the nice bit that you see and sit on and flush nice pink liquid into, and the dirty bit full of blue industrial strength tissue eating acid stuff.
This morning after a couple of bottles, Kate opened it up to find the nice top bit full of nasty blue stuff (and god knows what else) so I couldn’t separate the two bits without getting covered in blue.
I didn’t know what to do so I dragged the whole thing (it was very heavy) to the toilet block armed with kitchen roll, a cup and some wet wipes.
I needed to separate the two halves but the whole thing had overflowed. How had it happened? I opened and shut the flush but nothing changed. Then out of rage and frustration before residing to the fact that I was going to get covered as I tipped the whole thing out of the top, I shook it.
With a deliciously deep, satisfying and fragrant glug, the air trapped in the half decomposed sewage escaped up through my nostrils and the overflow became underflowed.
After I recovered, I safely emptied the bog and filled it up with nice new chemicals. But the question remained, how did it become overflowed in the middle of the night? Theories of expanding and shrinking air due to extreme changes in temperature filled my head. Which was a lot nicer than the smell that filled my head a few minutes ago……,

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The ascent – injuns!

So it was a long drive. Checked oil – check! Checked tyres – check! Checked engine belt tightness – erm….. It’ll get us there!
About 20 mins from our destination, the injun started sounding funny. The next stop was 10k so I took it steady (not that I wasn’t before!)
We got to the stop ok but I was really worried. The oil had all gone so I filled up the 730. But worse, the belt was slacker than the knicker elastic of, well, take your pick. And the engine was shaking a sounded awful.
After two drinks of oil, the injun was a little better so we limped into a campsite, the grand rouge, montbazon, just shy of tours.
After phoning camper central tech support (phil and ian) I got out my tools and successfully tightened the belt.
Kate revved the engine and things sounded loads better, if a little deeper in tone, so I asked Kate to switch off the engine. Then I asked her again. And again.
Kate appeared out of the cabin laughing hysterically with the keys in her hands and the engine still going. Had we got a real life chittt chittt bang bang ? ( it sounded like it! )
Tightening the nut and a few revs later seemed to have sorted it. We’ll see when we head to Paris……..

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Thanks emillion!

Bordeaux at night was fantastic. Kids just ran amok until they ran out of energy. Every time we’ve been out for dinner, jac has asked for a pepperoni pizza which they’ve never had. Tonight we saw the place. It was actually called ‘the pepperoni pizza place’. Perfect, except that Kate saw a pizza place further down with a nicer interior. Ah well! Jac had to settle for jambon again and we enjoyed our surroundings.
The famous water feature wasn’t on so we paddled and we saw the big statue with the grotesque pseidon thing at the bottom.
Next day we ventured to saint emillion, the most beautiful village in the world that makes loads of wine. The rear passenger tyre has a slow puncture so I pumped it up reminding myself to monitor it and also pumped the spare to the same rear pressure just in case.
We went on the train ride then realised we’d forgot to buy any wine as we celebrated another great day out in the camper.
We jumped in the pool and got ready to go to the Loire in the morning. Big drive, about 5 hours including stops.

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Technical help required

Erm…. been travelling for a while now in the bus and there are a couple of things that I’ve been wondering about.
There are three levers, one blue and two red with some kind of alien writing next to them. What do they do???? They look like the things Chekov used to use to send red shirts to their death. Seriously, what do they do? I’ve put them all in the middle as I thought this would be the safest thing.
The other thing is this big switch under the dash. The wires coming out of it are White and they seem to be something to do with the lights. I’ve not touched it incase it’s like a master ON or OFF. But the kids might have? Maybe it’s a klingon cloaking device?
Any information is gratefully accepted as like most modern day computers, the camper didn’t come with a manual.

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Lake nice, food nice, relaxed camping. Really hot when we arrived. Overcast but warm the next day. The lake wasn’t really kiddy friendly to jump into but we had a nice relaxed stroll round it. Rain was forecast for the next day.
Now it was time to plan the ascent up through France. Camping was fine but after spending a week going through all the ups and downs of everything, we both fancied a night in a hotel just to give us a breather. It was either up to la rochelle or across to Bordeaux.
After spending over 4 hours driving a few days ago and that our booking agency (bron) couldn’t find a nice hotel with a swimming pool for two nights, we decided to get to Bordeaux.
We decided that rain would come any moment so we successfully packed up the camper completely the night before. Thank the lord because as we were just popping the top, the rain came. Time to go……
Then one of the windscreen wipers stopped working. 50 / 50 chance it would be the drivers side. Yep!
There was no way we could go so just before I phoned the AA I gave phil a ring.
His first suggestion was that we waited till it stopped raining. Luckily, we didn’t have to implement his last suggestion of tying two pieces of string for me and Kate to manually drag it from time to time. It was just a loose nut. We set off again. Then the passenger wiper nearlly fell off. We knew what to do.
After the false start, we were making good time as planned. Then we got pulled by the pigs. Again. Oh yeah, that now made it three times in one week (admittedly one of those, abby was driving in steve’s mum’s car). Looks like we’d stick it to the man again and make a dash for it…….
But we pulled in instead. Customs. Busted. They were sure to find the stash behind the….oh yeah, I’m 38, married, two kids. So all these men called Dwain x-rayed our camper – yes, x-rayed – along with loads of other foreign trucker brothers. They didn’t find the stash and after an hour let us go. Dwain was just jealous.
We got to Bordeaux, had an expensive lunch, got a list of hotels from the not helpful tourist information, phoned one with a pool, and collapsed in a family sized heap in a comfortable bed

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Update on the knee

Thanks for all the sympathy about my knee. It is SLOWLY getting better with soft drugs and ice packs. I think it’s just where it is ie just beneath my knee cap that’s made it so painful and slow to heal. It’s ok now and I’m sure it will be fully recovered by the time I get back so no one will believe me. Thanks for asking.

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Location update | Aug 24 AM


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