The adventure has commenced…
My ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe went very well, despite announcements of rough sea, I’d say it was my best crossing yet. Also, I highly recommend DFDP Seaways. They were very friendly, the wifi was good and in fact, when Sarah changed her crossing route, there was no issue there at all. I spent the crossing writing a blog post and planning my night spot.
As the ferry approached France, the excitement set in. Then sheer panic… I’d lost my van keys. Yes, the ferry was in the port, everyone had gone, and I was in absolute panic mode. I spend fifteen minutes searching my ruck sack and the area I’d been sitting, with no sign of my keys. Of course, the thoughts of what on earth happens now were flooding my mind.
I decided to head back to the van in hope that I’d actually left them in the ignition – in case Ted needed to move the van. Upon returning to the Pilot, no sign of my keys. Enter sheer panic overdrive. I pulled absolutely everything out of my bag and went through the many, many pockets to eventually find my keys had slipped down into a net at the bottom of the bag.
THANK YOU UNIVERSE. Not only for finding my keys but teaching me to be ultra careful where and how I carry them from this moment on. I got into my van just as the cars in front drove off. Panic over, though it may take me a while to get over that one!!
After going straight through Passport control, I pulled over to fit my headlamp beam deflectors. Of course, no mention in the guide that came with them of either an LDV Pilot or Convoy (same headlamps). A quick Google image search showed me roughly where to put them and I didn’t seem to get any flashes whilst on the road. Must be ok then!!
I’d found on Google maps what looked like a series of lakes about 60 miles from the dock. I like to be near fresh water, even if I can’t get in it, and the distance seemed an alright journey for 21:30 at night – which of course was now 22:30.
I pulled up after half an hour to feed Ted and myself. The first time I’d used my Ridgemonkey… Having used Sarah’s a week or so ago, I fell in love with the endless possibilities this nifty piece of cookware could present.
What do you do at half past midnight when you arrive near a lovely lake in warm France, lit up by moonlight? Jump in, of course. Why? Firstly, because I can. Secondly, I felt like I need a good wash after a day of ferrying and driving. It was delightful. Needless to say, I kept Ted well away from the water on this occasion!
The sleepy spot I’d chosen turned out to be perfect. No disturbances and a great sleep. My morning view was delightful and I stayed here until mid morning to give the van a tidy, do some blogging, and generally enjoy the relaxed start of this adventure.
One thing I can certainly advise on when it comes to travelling in a van with a dog is avoid a long haired breed. Ted is the perfect travel dog except for his hairs and now it’s warm, he’s dropping them like leaves off a tree in an autumn hurricane.
A quick dip in the lake on a beautiful morning then a 188 mile drive to meet my friend and ever faithful blog follower, Mark. It’s always great to catch up with Mark in their piece of paradise near Pouance.
The Pilot is doing great on fuel. If I stick at a religious 50mph, I am getting a steady 43mpg. However, if I up that to 60mph, the drop in fuel is down to 32mpg! I never realised the difference 10mph makes. It seems having the van loaded wit my stuff, 30Kg of Ted food and bike on the back, costs me 3mpg as when un-laden I was seeing 46mpg. Either way, definitely can’t complain!
My first proper evening in France was with Mark and his friend, Steve. After a lovely home cooked meal which Steve prepared for us, he popped some “must visit” places in my map books of France and Portugal. Both Mark and Steve have their own pieces of paradise in France. It does make one wonder what the attraction to the UK is when you visit them…
A thunder storm that night too… such fun!
On my previous travels, I wasn’t able to stop, meander and find interesting places en-route for various reasons. This trip is different, I’m in no hurry whatsoever and can take the time to experience new surroundings. Ted’s dreams came true on our first day of minimal driving. A day of walking and lake swimming near Noyant-la-Gravoyere.
For Ted, life gets no better than this. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed our walking, being blessed by the presence of Mr Solar Face at 28 degrees, and a delightful swim in a warm lake. This of course also doubled up as my wash for the day! Of course, I do have my van shower available, but you just can’t beat a lake in the warm sunshine…
Returning to the van, I happened to notice my leisure battery was, well, flat. Blazing sun and a flat battery – not good! My first thought being the worst – solar panel failure or controller failure. Being optimistic, I decided the fault would be a connection. I’d had the sense to keep my multi-meter in the van and soon traced the problem to a connector. Probably expanded in the heat! We were soon back with charging facilities. Phew!
The next destination in mind is Dune de Pilat. Europe’s tallest sand dunes which are south of Bordeaux. We may go straight there, but we may spot somewhere else of interest on the way. Who knows… Watch this space!