All posts tagged: life on the road

Stopovers

I’m in danger of forgetting all the stops we’ve made over the course of our journey so far so I thought I’d make a quick list here in the hope that some of this information may help some hapless motorhomer who, like us, set off with no real idea of what they’re doing or where they’re going. To those of you not intending to go off motorhoming around Europe in January the following may be of limited interest. First stop – Dover. Motorhomes are allowed to park along the front. This road is known, I believe, as Marine Esplanade. It goes without saying there are no facilities, it is just a road. Free. Second stop – Disneyland Paris This is just an enormous car park that you pay 20 euros a night to stay in, although after our first night no one came to ask us for more money. I think they pitied us. There are absolutely no (official) facilities in winter but if you’re sneaky you might get away with having a shower in …

Blois

The Good Blois is beautiful We see the sun for the first time in what feels like weeks We find a launderette We get to feel like we’re sort of on holiday as we potter about like tourists We get some groceries and speak a little French The Bad When we arrive it is shut The Ugly We’re all a bit unsettled and homesick and downright loopy

France is shut

  Sleeping in the Disneyland car park for two nights felt like a test. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to sleep in such ridiculous circumstances. Despite several layers of clothing, a duvet, three blankets, hot water bottle and hat, I was still freezing. Any skin that was left exposed (my face!) was almost painfully cold. This feat of endurance was conducted in the bleakness of an almost entirely empty car park, under flat grey foggy skies. I cheered myself with the thought that things could only get better. After consulting our various oracles – road map of France, Lonely Planet France, and Camperstop Europe – we point the van in the direction of Blois in high hopes of a less depressing stopover for the night. The aire in Blois itself was closed so we found another a few kilometeres away in Les Montils that had water and somewhere to empty the loo. I looked forward to meeting a few other folk in motorhomes and perhaps wandering into the town for our evening meal. When …

Bad Omens

It should have been a relaxing and pleasant stroll through one of our country’s most historically interesting woodlands. I was looking forward to the few hours of idle chatter with a friend I don’t get to see very often while our children did the stuff that children are supposed to do in the woods. I imagined I might even get to take some photos of coppiced trees making wintry silhouettes and shadows in the mist and sun. But we were a family on  the brink of leaving the country for some time. The boys had been bed hopping for a few nights while saying their various goodbyes. I hadn’t allowed for them or us, understandably, not feeling quite right. So what followed was a series of unfortunate events. Emergency toilet trips, an asthma attack, disgruntled children. Eli had his head wounded by Rob bouncing a tree bough down on him and we couldn’t park at the cafe so had to park too far away for tired children. We were exhausted and out of sorts and …

Uprooting

As I write, I’m sitting in the last proper bed I’ll sit in for a while and the boys are enjoying the last bath they’ll sit in for a while. Tonight, we sleep in the van for the first night of many and tomorrow morning we cross the channel. The past week has been a whirl of packing belongings, saying goodbyes and feeling a bit odd. Our last few days in Hebden were some of the most exhausting of my life. Pulling up roots is unsettling for all concerned, and we have felt the inevitable strains of a big life change. We bade farewell to our temporary house, our town, our good friends, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts… There’s been a good deal of driving already, some of which has gone smoothly and some of which has brought challenges. It didn’t help Colin (the van) that I drove several miles after leaving Hebden Bridge with the hand-brake on. I found it difficult that having instructed a child to pee in the tin bath I’d shoved in …

Colin the van

The biggest job on the list had been ticked off and with that came some relief. It was good to be able to look outside the window of our rented house and see our van parked just outside. It was good to go and sit in it and imagine all there was to come. Having got Colin home we thought it wise to undertake a couple of test runs. Being complete motorhome novices we needed to figure out almost everything about owning one: where to get LPG and how to fill up the bottles; how to fill and empty the water tank, how the fridge worked, how the boiler worked and what to do about the toilet… We found a suitable site in the peak district we guessed wouldn’t be too tricky to get to (ha!) and decided to leave after Rob finished work on Friday. It was already our usual dinner time before we managed to set off. As newly responsible owners we stopped to fill the tyres with air on the way out but the …