1 June 2016 – Go!

Finally! On the road

cropped-snails-poor.jpgLots of rushing about picking up random objects in the house, list ticking off, plant watering and we roll out of our street at 12:25 – only 25 minutes late.  Rather than get up very early  and get to an aire in France late we decided to stop overnight near Ashford for an earlyish tunnel crossing.  I identified several Britstops that would be fine but we chickened out and booked at a small Caravan Club site in Puckley – twenty-odd miles away.  Having finally sorted our own difficulties the French unions started a fuel blockade.  No!  Not this week, please!  Decided to go anyway.
I guess in future we might take a few days to get down there along the byways but this time we were desperate to get out of the country after all the obstacles. So we went on the motorways all the way (A1 for the most part).  It’s a long slow drag if you have decided to stick to 50mph  following Jay’s analysis, but at least Neil got to play with the newly discovered cruise control.  It’s smooth – noticeably so for the passenger – no inadvertent speeding up,  slowing down or gear changing. We arrived at Puckley after six hours which is not bad for such stately going and considering the worryingly narrow Kentish roads at the end.  The close-to-level field we parked up in was in delightful spot with good facilities (but no shower).
Things we discovered:
  • the satellite no longer worked!  No!  After much cursing and button pressing Neil moved the van two feet forward.  It started working. Amazing!  Nearby tree was so small it was hard to believe it could have been the problem but – apparently so.  This was especially pleasing as ….
  • the CD player in the cab had stopped working:-(   It reads the disc and seems to play it but no sound comes out of the speakers – just one loud click.  Without the satellite it would have meant we would only have had french radio channels and downloaded music on the iPad for music.  And we have no speakers for the iPad.  So this needs attention.
  • favour substantial slip-on shoes especially when parked on damp grass.  My trainers and Neil’s lace-ups are a pain for taking on and off when getting in and out with wet feet.  I had only flip-flops as an alternative and this was England in June so cold and wet! But it also meant…
  • the new black carpet was a great idea!  black carpetIn the distraction of setting off and settling in we forgot to take any pictures of the site so here is one of the black carpet that I forgot several posts ago:-)
  • we are still in the frame of mind where we can excuse indulgences by agreeing that we are new to all this and need a break until we really get the hang of it!  We strayed from the path of abstemiousness instantly due to the proximity of a lovely local pub. Two steak baguettes and glasses of bitter were more tempting than the veggie chilli I had lovingly prepared the day before to take with us.
  • we seem to use nearly half a tank of water a day  including two very small showers.
  • always look all around the van before you leave and then behind you at the pitch before you finally drive off.
  • mixed size bedding can be made to work to avoid duplication. What?  See below…
Portia offers the choice of single bunks or a huge double.  We will use both configurations but did not want to take both double and single bedding. In the end we took two single duvets and two double sheets.  We can use the double sheets folded over for single use and a single duvet each even when in a double bed.  Simples!  And it worked well.  Maybe king size sheets would be better for the folding over part.
To bed early,  slept well, woke early.  Spent some time on the household chores and drove off the pitch leaving only the step behind, briefly.  Everything takes longer than we expect,  probably because we don’t get the sequence right the first time. I am sure this will come with practice!
And so to Eurotunnel…