Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Feet up for a day

Another long hop and we arrived at our planned destination, an Aire that we first used at the beginning of our trip to the UK almost 6 months ago north of the Pyrenees at Aire sur l'Adour. A car park style Aire right on the river's edge and we were fortunate to get a riverside spot, again I uncoupled and parked to Suzuki tight beside us.

Video to be added

After such long daily stints we decided a day off was in order before getting into Spain and our campsite destination at Huesca. At this time of year they only open at weekends and its 10€ a night all in which hopefully will give me decent wifi access to upload this blog. So we had a restful day and it was nice to meet a couple of Brits to chat to as well.

Caroline ventured into town and, for someone who knows very little French, managed to get her haircut exactly as wanted - well done!

New French hairdo!

The weather has been lovely here after the incredibly hot and sultry conditions when we arrived. Overnight storms freshened it all up again. There something very cosy about being snugged up in a motorhome when the rain is lashing and its crashing and banging outside.

Reversing an A-Frame.... Or not

Planning to travel up to 400kms a day we knew of a village Aire on the main route that was likely to have room so we headed for it. On arrival there was space but the layout was such that it was going to be best to reverse into a corner of the parking area.

A new experience reversing an a-frame other than in a straight line..... I had set the rig so there was the least angle to manouever possible but on a slippy gravel surface I couldn't get the cars front wheels to co-operate and rather than force to car against its will I just un-coupled again, parked the car, reversed the motorhome up to it and re-coupled ready for the next morning's departure. In practice this is quicker than 2 or 3 attempts at shunting backwards and forwards as could be the case with a conventional trailer.

Nicely tucked into a corner

We had a French motorhome for company and its occupants were apparently quite intrigued by the parking process - a-framing is not for shrinking violets . Nice countryside walking for the dog and a chateau to visit if you have the time. Services which are free were in the adjacent layby so we were able to set off full and empty for the next part of our journey. Always a good feeling to know you don't need any services for at least the next couple of days if needed.

Flat battery!

Our next target was south of Limoges in the Limousin and the Aire was only just off route in a small town with a pretty and very typical central square. Parking was at the side of a side road and could take around 6 motorhomes. At first we pulled in lengthways across the spaces as there was no one else there but then thought better of it and un-coupled and parked as designed with the Suzuki tucked in tight beside us.

Coupling and un-coupling has become a very quick and straightforward procedure and takes less than a couple of minutes. What I hadn't reckoned on however was that having used lights a lot on the journey due to the rubbish weather conditions the car's battery was too flat to start the engine. Luckily I carry a jump start unit so it was only a minor inconvenience and letting the car fast idle for half an hour or so recharged its battery to a reasonable level. Something to bear in mind in future though and I'll be asking TOWtal for their advice for preventing it happening in the future. I'm surprised that the installation does not include wiring to maintain the charge with power coming from the motorhome there is actually a fused red wire to the positive terminal of the car's battery and had thought that this was for the purpose.

Gassed and robbed - not!

We headed to an Aire that had been recommended to Club Motorhome that was new to us, also that it was a motorway Aire which we rarely use and don't generally advise the use of for well publicised security reasons.

Anyway, we hopped onto the toll motorway in order to gain access and were pleasantly surprised at the facilities provided. Free water, waste and EHU (albeit for the service point so long lead needed). The designated parking is along a layby like marked off area but with a little searching there is a very nice picnic area at the far end of the facility for caravans which security staff confirmed was fine for us to overnight.

The service area has all the amenities that you would expect including free wifi. The walkway to the parking area crosses some water containing the friendliest ducks and carp that you could imagine. Digger was quite taken with them.

A curious Digger!

Quite a few motorhomes came and went during the afternoon but only a caravan remained for night time company - and that was gone by the morning.... So we pretty well had the place to ourselves.

Next morning we pressed on. I had decided that with the car in tow it was not ideal for going here there and everywhere looking for likely Aires so we would shorten the time of our journey and stick to stopovers that would likely accommodate us without too much hassle. We hopped back off the toll road and were a bit shocked to have to pay 18€ for the privilege - there's no such thing as a free stopover on a toll road!

UK visit ends.

Checking the Eurotunnel website we found a reasonable crossing on a Saturday afternoon at £150 (motorhome + trailer) and by the time we went back to book it the price had risen to £159 - hey ho.

En route to Folkestone we made a couple of visits to friends and family which gave us the chance, at long last, to meet our newest grandson - now nearly 3 months old and bringing the number of grandchildren up to 6!

Me and our newest grandson

For this visit we used a pub stopover that we've used for the last couple of years. We were made welcome as always and made use of our usual parking space which is tucked nicely in the corner of their car park.

Video to be added

After a lovely afternoon, evening and peaceful night we were happy to be heading for the shuttle. Arriving early for our slot we were given the option to take the next crossing, a much higher price band but at no additional cost - result!

Our plans were to overnight at Cite Europe which is just next to the shuttle terminal in Calais but on arrival it was packed. Its very much a car park and can only accommodate motorhomes by taking 2 spaces. At 11 metres(ish) we needed more room so headed off to an Aire at Equihen Plage.

Plenty of room at Equihen Plage

We've stayed here many times and it gave Digger an opportunity to let off some steam on the beach. But really must remember to ignore TomTom with her ridiculous instructions to follow roads little better than rutted farm tracks to get there, luckily we only had to inch past one blinkin great tractor this time....

The following morning we woke to the knock at the door for the required 5€ we got off to a fairly good start for our trip south. Our plan was to meander on an Aires hunting mission over maybe a couple of weeks before getting back to our Spanish home.