Crossroads

Narbonne was nice, but the beer at the hotel was awesome. Jac and Dylan played on Toy Story 3 xbox while me and Kate gulped grande bierres. We dipped in the pool before heading oot roond toon.

The meal we had was shite and I refused to pay for mine. I’d ordered calamari salad and it came with more batter than, well, let’s keep it family friendly hey?

Got back to hotel, more beers, and now it’s 6 in the morning and I’ve no idea what we’re going to do today or where we’re going to stay.

The hotel is full tonight and we’re worn out from camping and travelling.

I’m at a hotel and I can’t sleep. Go figure.

Still, it’s free wi fi and gites de France looks tempting. Apparently I’ve got till 11.37am to work something out for the next 11 nights…

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Made it!

We finally got to the south coast Mediterranean sea yesterday mid day.

We weren’t sure where we were stopping, so we just headed to a campsite that looked nice. It took us to Vias which is like Filey if it was in Vegas.

We stopped at the beach for a couple of hours then headed off before a mysterious mist engulfed us.

At this point we were knackered and didn’t fancy staying at Vias Las Vegas even though the kids would have loved it!

I googled a hotel and we went to Narbonne

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Gorgeous Du Tarn

Stopped for three nights in the Gorge du Tarn in a little village called La Rozier.

It was absolutely beautiful.

Winding down a TomTom special small road from 1121m high into the valley had Jac declaring he wanted to cry as it was the most awesomist campsite ever. This was 6 miles from the actual campsite!

Lovely campsite, lovely weather. Our pictures won’t do it justice, so google it.

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Disaster! Turn around now!!

Well, when my phone had “no service” when on the ferry, I had to seriously consider if this was a mission critical failure.

Luckily, I had downloaded tomtom western europe yesterday, so I had all the maps already on my phone, but if I couldn’t do my blog and pick up my email, was the trip worth it? After all, who would believe me if I couldn’t prove it?

After about 30 seconds, I’d worked out various work arounds so we could press on.

Stopped at a lovely 4 star (?) camp site south of Reims, dodged the rain and jumped in the pool avec curly slide, displaying for the first time my adidas spray on trunks. We got a show from the local chavs. They were like street runners only in a kiddy pool. They impressed their under age girlfriends anyway, and Kate liked their g star raw white see through under crackers.

A stroke of genius and the impending rain made us not put everything out as it pissed it down all night.

We pressed on today through the rain and tonight we’re camping municipal near Vichy, and we seem to have beaten the rain, next to a river and a lovely small town.

If I can work out how to swap sims to use kate’s connection, I may just be able to enjoy this holiday after all…

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Damn you! Damn you all to Hull!

Well, we got to Hull at least…

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Oh baby, I think I lurve you…

Pictures speak a thousand words….

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Planning

yes, err… planning.

About that…

Well, we’ve been pretty loose about it. We’ve booked BOTH ferries this time (we only booked the first one last time, which turned out well actually, because we ended up as foot passengers. *ahem*…)

But we’ve found a cracking website www.campingfrance.com that seems to have all the campsites in the world in it (well, France at least). So, we’re pointing our finger at the map, looking at all the FOUR STAR campsites (oh yes, not making that mistake again. “camping rural’ my arse…), and going there.

First stop, we reckon will be just south of Reims.

A quick look at the weather there for the next few days…

Looking... great!!

ummm. oh.

Right then, best not tell the missus!

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Morning!

Hey ho! It’s the morning of our trip, and I’m feeling… well, I’m feeling pretty good about it! Pretty excited actually, and pretty confident that everything will be ok this time.

The same time last year, I was completely papping myself. We’d not done anything like this before as a family or as individuals, with a camper that we’d only had for four weeks and had been working on it right up to the last minute.

We’ve done quite a lot of work on it, thinking about it. Here’s a checklist.

1. The 12V electrics work this time, and through a hook up. Last time, the electrics failed just before we set off from England – a fuse hadn’t been pushed in right.

2. The 3 point seat belt works. Last time, it just locked, again, just before we set off. We’ve even got a seat belt adjuster so the kids can sit right in it. In fact, we’ve now got four working seat belts in the back.

3. We’ve a proper double bed downstairs. We’ve a 3/4 rock n roll seat that converted into a 3/4 bed, but now, with some extra foam purchases, we’ve managed to turn it into a proper full size bed. And the springs work. Last time, the first night, me and Kate got drunk and argued, and Kate must have ragged the bed, so both the springs bust. I’ve now got spares. Ooh, and I’ve fitted some brackets to stop the foam from slipping at night, and we’ve some handy elastic tidies for “stuff”.

4. We’ve a heater! A proper propex heater. That reminds me, I must get the gas refilled today. Does anyone know how to tell how much gas is left in a bottle??

5. The pop top stays up and is waterproof. Last time, we had two wooden stakes that kept the pop top up. And the first night, it rained, and we found out the old canvas with my gaffa’ed up windows wasn’t quite water proof. New blue and cream stripy bellows and new gas struts!

6. We’ve a new front axle. Last time, our mechanic warned us that we’d need a new one, but it would be ok for the trip. But after the trip, when he took it off, he found that it had been repaired with FILLER. Our front axle was being held together by filler… so we’ve got a new one of them then.

7. The ignition works properly. Last time, it wasn’t disengaging the starter motor, and ultimately, this was what burnt it out, and ended our last trip so close to victory 70 miles south of Calais. So that works now.

8. My seat which is fully electric, but doesn’t work, so was stuck on a certain setting where my head was touching the ceiling, has been lowered. Still can’t adjust it though.

9. I know where the oil cap is, I know what the strange levers in the front do (they are meant to control the heating, but they don’t work, so they don’t actually do anything), I know how to start the van from cold, by stamping on the accelerator to set the choke. It seems a bit weird that one, but it seems to work!

10. We know what to take now. We’ve took out big bulky stuff and promoted really important stuff (blu tac, gaffa, washing line), and we’ve left behind our big bulky cooker.

11. Our drive away awning. Last time, it wasn’t ‘drive away’ as we had to tie it to the camper, because we found out that this was an ‘optional extra’ that we hadn’t optioned. The first instruction on our awning was ‘make sure you’ve set up and tested the awning before you go on holiday’ – yeah, cheers. This works now.

12. Bikes! We have a bike rack, and are taking mine and Kate’s and Jac’s (which attaches to mine via a trailgator), and Dylan’s seat. This hasn’t been tested, so we’ll probably spill all the bikes over the M62 this afternoon.

13. Tyres. One or maybe two of our tyres had slow punctures in them. Both replaced.

14. iPhone TomTom handsfree. Connected to my stereo too. Well, it didn’t exist last year. (Reminder – must upgrade maps to cover France before I set off)

Finally, last but, oh no! definitely not least. I have a shiny new aluminium handbrake handle.

Oh yes!

I was fitting the under dash storage thingy I picked up, and had to remove the old handbrake handle, so I thought, what the hell! £20? Bargain… (thanks Phil for helping me with this, yesterday)

So, all that’s left is for us to pack the van (Kate’s packed all our clothes), and set off at around 3pm.

Wish us luck!

I’m sure we won’t need it this time!

Positive…

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Testing my iphone

If this works, I can update my blog from my iPhone

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Hello world!

Ok then,

This Friday (13th… i know…), we’re off to Hull.

HULL!?!? Your mother cooks socks in Hull!?!

I know, but we’re catching the ferry to Zeebrugge.

Then on the 3rd September, we’re catching the ferry from Bilbao to Portsmouth.

Umm… that’s it.

That’s all we’ve planned.

Oh No! Daddy!? Not again!!!!

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