Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A 'new' motorhome & we're off

May 2014

France - Normandy

Never one to stand still for long, over the winter months & much scanning of the internet, a change in motorhome was deemed necessary, a possible downsize after seriously looking at the Shire Conversions demonstrator, Phoenix M Studio at the Harrogate Motorhome Show, then finally deciding that perhaps we would rather have a bit more space for storage in the BBQ & the other outdoor living stuff, moved onto another Yorkshire van conversion firm, IH Motorhomes, finally settling upon a 60 plate IH J500 on a mercedes base. 

So that was May, now what? Ok, all essential items transferred to new machine, tow bar fitted a quick service booked in, we were ready to go somewhere.  Ok, so we do 'spur of the moment' things, being only 30 minutes from the PO Ferries Terminal in Hull, a quick internet booking 2 hours before sailing saw us sitting waiting to board for the saturday evening  crossing with little thought to the gale warnings being given out for the North Sea.

Boy it was winding, thump-crash-splash as the Pride of Bruges cut is way through Storm Force 10 heading to Zeebrugge.  Breakfast saw only myself & a few others who were in a fit state to face the full english!

From Zeebrugge, we headed westwards hugging the coastal autoroute towards Rouen, from the hills bordering the English Channel large waves could be seen crashing onto the beaches at Boulogne.  

Our ultimate goal was Brittany, so the first night's overnighter was the aires de camping car at Heurteauville, Les Cherisiers, on the banks of the river Seine.  

Hmn, not always a good idea to set off without a full check of the on board equipment, TV not working properly then the onboard gas tank gauge showed 'empty' having been 'full' on leaving the UK.  The TV wasn't a problem but the gauge was.  

We had purchased the European adaptors, watched how to fill up your tank on youtube, but in reality we decided that after several attempts, the gauge must be faulty.  So that took up 24 hours trying to work out what was wrong or not.  The weather was rather wet too, a very wet night was spent on the municipale site at Vimoutiers parked not on the grass pitches but on the access road, a sensible decision as another UK motorhome on deciding to park on the grass pitch, sank in the saturated lawned area.  The site itself was very tidy with the warden being somewhat stressed with the thought of damaged pitches!

Moving onwards to a slightly brighter morning, we battled on towards Falaise where a lull in the weather allowed us to revisit William the Conqueror's castle, which is still undergoing heavy restoration from the WW2 D-Day battle.

The evening's night stop was on the Aires at Pont d'Ouilly,with its hedge d, hard standing pitches on the banks of the possibly rising waters of the River Orne.

Due to the weather we didn't explore the small town, but the drive from Falaise through the the Suisse Normande was rather scenic when breaks in the weather allowed the sun to shine!

So our first 3 nights were spent in Normandy, an area we had last visited back in the early 1990s & it was interesting how the French infrastructure has developed at an alarming rate in those intervening years, high speed road access with motorways & dual carriageways linking most towns in the Calvados region, by-passing the half-timbered villages.