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Thursday, 15 August 2013

The first week

Well, actually, not quite a week, but nearly, and it makes a good title.

The adventure started at 8.30 as we left home for the tunnel. Nearly at Ashford, the puncture light came on, so a hurried call to the nice people at Eurotunnel to arrange for a later slot gave us the time to ring LeasePlan to find the nearest Quikfit. A quick call to them to confirm that we could get in and out with the van and we arrived at the garage to have the puncture fixed. The trouble was, when they went round the tyres, none had low pressure. So, a quick reverse back fifty metres and we were on our way, with the tyre flat light glowing for the rest of the day. This story continues later. 

We arrived at the tunnel almost, but not quite, in time for our original time slot but having picked the automated queue (one of our key lessons has been to be careful which queue you select, not being as nimble as usual).

The lucky thing about the Tunnel terminal, like ferry terminals and any other waiting-for-transportation places, is that there is lots to do and time goes quickly (dramatic irony), but in the end we were loaded and on our way. Forty minutes later and we had arrived and those in front of us were happily departing, however we could not because the doors in front of us had not opened. Two cheerful and banter-full English guys tried to force them open to no effect, and it took the French engineer, playing the strong and silent role (excluding a couple of Gaelic grunts) to get them open before we were able to disembark, with everyone behind us moaning about the caravan that, even on the Tunnel train, was holding them up. 

We were soon on the Autoroute heading for our site near Reims, and what a delightful site it was. 
We backed on to a river on a delightful site, and once setup we were in the pool rinsing and cooling our bodies from a weary day of travel. 

That evening, I Sussed the tyre issue, it was coz I had increased the pressure for towing, and during the drive down, maybe due to them heating up on the journey, they had obviously tripped the sensor. I just had to do a reset and all was fine. 

Next day we visted "Merlin's Castle", to be precise, Pierfonds Castle, where they filmed Merlin's, the TV series much loved in Scobi towers. It was a fantastic castle, tastefully presented in a typically understated French way, in a lovely small town that was planned round a small lake. 

Next day, we were on the road, heading for Beaune. As we arrived at the Beaune exit, it suddenly occurred to us that the the small detour to the site was actually an hour and forty five minutes away, which was a bit less than the time to our third site. We quickly rang the third site to confirm they had space for us a night early, which the did, so we detoured to Colombiere and arrived at around 4 pm. We setup, swam, ate, and retired happy to watch the end of Bond with the kids and to start Game of Thrones for us. 

Next day we visited Geneva, which was OK but not wow. We arrived by bus, departing from a fantastic shopping and aquatic centre near the site, slightly shell-shocked and realising you cannot just turn up at a city and work out what to do. Luckily they had Tourist Angels, young people who wander round dispensing advice to people just like us. We visited the Jet d'Eau and the cathedral before we called it a day, Maggot 2 having been sick the night before and LO also not feeling right. 

Back at the 'van, we met our new neighbour, a crazy naturist Dutch guy and his family. They were on a five week tour in a newly bought campervan, and their son Yip took a shine to Maggot 2. The next day we left, having had a tour of their van and having said goodbye, Yip having given Maggot 1 and 2 a hug. We then took a fantastic route through the Alps, and through the Mont Blanc tunnel, a 58 euro shortcut and a most amazing 7 mile tunnel through a hell of a lot of rock. The views were to die for, and we seemed to arrive in no time, ably accompanied by several Desert Island Disc podcasts. This site, Camp Fontanelle, was rather poky but fine and with a most amazing pitch, right on Lake Garda. 

Tomorrow, we will do nothing.

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