Sunday, 10 January 2016

Sunday 10 January - Saint Denis les Ponts

The view from Colin’s passenger seat as we approached Chateaudun, the nearest town to our current night-stop
Where’s Colin? He’s at a Free Aire with toilet and service point: N48º3’59”, E1º17’22”
Sometimes I’ll find myself sitting in a comfy chair in the warmth of our living room in deep mid-winter, plotting out a route for an upcoming long walk and, from that nice warm sitting position, I will adjudge that in a few months time we will quite fancy consecutive long days walking pathlessly over hills. Unsurprisingly, when we find ourselves on the ground faced with going arduously up and over, we’ll look at the plotted route and wonder what I was thinking when I came up with it.
In a similar vein, I now wonder what possessed me to book a EuroTunnel crossing which required us to check in at just gone 6.30 on a Sunday morning. I can’t even blame having booked it in the warm, sunny long days of summer; in fact, it was only booked a few weeks back. As we retired to Colin’s bed at a little after 10 last night, with the alarm set for 4.30am, the early crossing didn’t seem like such a good idea.
As it went, a monstrous headache woke me at 4am, so I was raring to go (or at least to get up and search out some suitable painkillers) by the time the alarm went off. After necking a cup of tea apiece, filling the flask and using my new toy* to clear the condensation on the front windows, off we set (from Crawley, where we’d spent the night outside Vic & Juan’s house) for Folkestone.
We set out with the cab-fan on max, which may seem like a superfluous bit of detail, and it’s not something I would mention, except that when we came to turn it down after a couple of minutes, we found that our 4-speed fan had become 1-speed. It’s happened once before  (about this time last year, if I recall correctly), but on that occasion it only lasted for one journey and has worked just fine ever since. Maybe it will start working properly again in due course, or maybe it won’t, but if you are going to have three of the four speed settings on your cab heater fan break, then ‘max’ has got to be the most useful one to retain. We made do as we wended our way south by intermittently blasting ourselves with heat, before turning it back off to cool down again. Not entirely comfortable, but it could be worse.
Arriving at Folkestone just in time to catch the shuttle before the one on which we were booked, we arrived in France only a tiny bit later than our originally scheduled time. We don’t have vast experience of the tunnel, but when we have used it, we’ve always been delayed, but at least getting on an earlier shuttle minimises the chunk taken out of the day.
Having been flashed by a speed camera within about 5 minutes of entering France* (I won’t disclose who was driving, but if it was me then it would be my first speeding ticket ever; if it was Mick it would be his first in 24 years. Google suggests that Brits caught by cameras in France currently get away fine-free, but only time will tell). That led us to pay a bit more attention to road signage which, coupled with what the SatNav was telling us, led to some confusion. After passing a 50 sign, we would pass no other sign, but the SatNav would tell us the limit had increased to 90. Likewise, we would pass an ‘end of 70 limit’ sign (i.e. 90, or 80 if it’s raining) then without any further signs, the SatNav would tell us we were in a 50. It took a visit to Google to remind us that the ‘You are entering Place X’ sign means the start of a 50, and the ‘You are leaving Place X’ signals recommencement of the National Speed Limit.
As it went, we weren’t on little roads going through every village for too long and even though we avoided all toll roads, for a good chunk of the day we were on dual carriageway, and occasionally free motorways.
Having set out on this trip with very little by way of a plan, whilst Mick drove I pored over the map and our German-language motorhome parking book, ruing the decision not to buy a dedicated French Aire book (we’re probably only going to spend 4 nights of the trip in France, so it didn’t seem worthwhile; on reflection, of course it was – we will be back) and came up with Saint Denis les Ponts as our destination for the day. The Aire here is right on the side of Le Loir (which is running quite high at the moment).
Le Loir, l’eglise de St Denis les Ponts et Colin le Camping Car (if you look carefully, he is in shot)
Thank goodness sunset isn’t until 5.20pm here, as our arrival (at 3pm) coincided with a prolonged rain shower of almost biblical proportions. My step count at that point only stood at 600, and my unbroken chain of hitting my Fitbit step target stands at 379 days, so there was no question of not going out for a walk, but I really didn’t want to go out in *that*. Nor did I much want to go out in a strange place in the dark. At twenty past four the rain stopped and by the time I stepped out it was under blue skies. Four degrees C, said a local temperature display.
Well, that’s probably enough wittering on for one day – moreover as it’s a day when we didn’t actually do anything!
(*A Karcher window vac, bought half price and during a Clubcard double up at Tesco, meaning it only cost £14.50 in vouchers. To my mind it not only gives a good and quick way to clear the windscreen in the mornings, but it also effectively turns the windscreen into a nice big dehumidifier as rather than the accumulated condensation getting transferred onto a towel and then released back inside Colin, the water can now be collected and put down the sink.)
**The SatNav said we were in a 70; seems that it was actually a 50. We certainly weren’t going obscenely fast!)


  1. Strange folk them furriners, they all drive on the wrong side of the road too!!!!!!!!!

    1. The driving on the wrong side of the road thing gets me all the time. I'm okay when I'm behind the wheel (touch wood!) but when walking down the street it startles me all the time. I found the same when we were walking the GR10 last year and had only just got to grips with which way to look when we returned home.

  2. Oh, I do like a good chuckle! This is going to be a fun trip ;-)

    1. I do hope so - although preferably without any more speed camera drama or breakages!