Friday, 9 June 2017

Friday 9 May - SW of Dülmen, Germany

Where’s Bertie? He's at a free Stellplatze (footnote 1) at 51.8073, 7.24745, near to Silbersee III, which is SW of Dülmen, which is SW of Münster.

The parked cars were still there when we went to bed last night, but were gone when we were awoken by a thunderstorm at 3 this morning. Neither of us had heard any of them leave. As for the storm, it wasn't the thunder that woke us, but the rain and, having the skylight and blind above the bed open, we couldn't help but notice an impressive amount of lightning. The thunder itself was not loud and, after closing the blind, we were soon back in the land of nod.

Presumably that storm passed, but it was raining heavily again (really heavily) when we woke this morning and continued to do so beyond the time we wanted to be on the road. Of course, the rain wasn't stopping us from leaving, but with a need to empty the toilet, fill water bottles and dispose of rubbish, all of which involved venturing outside, we sat tight and watched ducks take to the large puddles that were developing all around us.

Finally there was a lull that caused a rush of activity both in Bertie and his neighbours (I still got wet, mind, as the tap was right under a heavily dripping tree), and off we went for what should have been a three hour journey. It took five.

A quest for LPG was our first distraction. Whilst still having plenty on board, we did have one empty bottle, and as it is so much cheaper in Belgium than in the Netherlands or Germany (footnote 2), we wanted to fill up before we left. The first attempt was a fail. Motorway service stations in Europe always seem to want prepayment, and the automated payment process caused us no problem ... except that when the pump refused to vend we had no idea whether it was because the prepayment had timed out or something of that ilk. So we authorised the payment again. And again. Even the attendant couldn't work out the problem, so we gave up and set the SatNav for another station. Our info as to that one selling LPG turned out to be false, so our detour became bigger as we tried a third location (thank goodness LPG is so widely available in Belgium!). This time we found a man with a big blow torch just removing the LPG markings from the ground in front of the pump and feared that we were on some sort of wild goose chase. Happily, they hadn't just stopped selling the substance, as we feared, but were just altering their road markings, and after a nervous holding of breath (LPG pumps can sometimes take a long time to get going) gas was dispensed.

In amongst all that we stopped for diesel too as €1.146 seemed a good price - at least until we got to Germany and found it at €1.059.

Add in a stop for elevenses (footnote 3) and some very heavy traffic in the mass of motorways which surround Duisberg/Essen, and it was a very late lunch at gone 3pm when we finally arrived at our destination.

Bertie is right of the red van in this snap

All we've done this afternoon is to take a recce of a potential running route for the morning. I suspect that at least some of the lakes around here are old gravel pits, and the one nearest to us (Silbersee III) has a path running around it that (so the signage tells us) is 4.5km. Add in the distance there and back from Bertie, and that should fulfil our requirements nicely.

Silbersee III

In other news, considering that Bertie's engine is a long way from being properly run in, and that he has the aerodynamics similar to those of a brick, and that we have a lot of stuff on board for this trip, we were amazed to get an average of 36.1mpg out of him on today's journey. I think that says a lot about how flat and smooth the roads are through Belgium, the Netherlands and this part of Germany!

(1 In France official motorhome stopover places are called Aires de Camping Car, shortened to Aires. We also tend to call them that in Spain and Belgium. In Germany they're known by a couple of different names, but I'm going with Stellplatze.
2 the price of LPG was, by our observations, 36c in Belgium versus 79c in NL and 56c in Germany.
3 elevenses was at a motorway service area in the Netherlands, where they charged 50c to use the toilets. Accordingly the grass area behind the parking area was covered in poo and toilet paper. I saw in the news recently that some council in England has closed its public toilets only to now receive complaints that people are using the beach as a toilet instead. We noted that Argyll and Bute has closed many of its conveniences too and that the Highlands Council had a public consultation last year on the idea of charging 50p a go. Aside from detering those who need toilets frequently from venturing out so much, the impact of all of these cost saving measures is predictable and, in my view, not acceptable, particularly in places where tourism is a key industry. Rant over.)

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