Pussers Maiden Voyage - France 2004

Posted: Sun May 15, 2005
Two hours prior to departure, I had a final check of our motor home. As previously mentioned in another post, after checking the waste tank which I thought was the marine receptacle as well, which incidentally, I had rigoursly sluiced out with all manner of cleaning chemicals, I decided to unscrew a black cap I found on a black box with a shiny rod, curious as to what its purpose would be.

A few seconds later I knew, I looked like an embalmed Smurf, covered from head to foot in blue formaldehyde and tissue and ****; a legacy from our West Wittering trip.

In my life, I have from time to time been **** on by the odd person but never seven people simultaneously. This delayed our departure somewhat as I had to hose down the road knowing full well I had polluted our local water supply system and dilution appeared to be the only practical solution. The final indignity was when my wife insisted I had another shower even though I had already had one that morning. That?s a woman for you.

And so we evacuated my hometown, now having the same appeal as Chernobyl after my efforts and waved good bye to our kids who were still rolling around the lawn in hysterics, unlike our neighbour and headed off on our maiden foreign voyage.

One hundred yards down our road my wife asked if I had remembered to get a new gas cylinder as the tiny one we had was near empty. Half an hour later we found a supplier who helpfully informed us that although his gas would work, we would not easily be able to exchange empty bottles in UK and not at all abroad.

I was not to concerned as I knew that it would be impossible not to find a gas supplier on our journey to the tunnel.

We arrived at the tunnel, still with no gas. But I knew it would be impossible not to find a gas supplier between the tunnel and the South of France.

We had pre booked our return ticket to France the day before ? cost £126 provided we travelled after 17:00 and arrived back anytime before 11:00 French time. They slapped a hazardous sticker on our windscreen and informed us that security would check to ensure our gas was off. This they did and to make this interruption worthwhile, they checked the whole of our van for explosives and possible immigrants trying desperately to flee back to their own countries after realising what the British have to put up with.

Our motor home was on empty arriving in France, a deliberate ploy to maximise the savings on French diesel costing around 0.98/0.99 euro per litre. in all filling stations except supermarkets where additional savings of 0.07 could be made. We filled up at the very first filling station and then lost our way getting out. After several up and downs and complete circuits of roundabouts we realised that to get back on the motorway we need to follow the sign to Calais. Odd, as this seems to be in the opposite direction but then the sign to Reims came up and we were finally off with only gas to sort out the next day.

To be honest I got sick and tired of waving at motor homes, mainly because most were from foreign climes and looked puzzled at this familiarity and trying to suss out British number plates was distracting my attention from matters in hand. So I gave up.

There were only the two of us on this trip, my wife and myself Pusser which is a non de plume, incognito as well and useful with pending law suits and death threats which happen from time to time.

We decided to split tasks equally and so she ended up as the navigator, cook, washer up, laundry lady, reversing aid, left wing mirror authenticator, sweeper of the floor and ash tray emptier, financier, customs negotiator, tour organiser, victualer, menu maker, fridge switch operator, roof vent winder upper and downer, fresh water hose holder, medical advisor, Health and Safety representative, highway code enforcer, speed trap, profanity censor, bed maker, blind and fly screens operator, lights operator, ?bog full?, announcer, empty water tank alarm, dietary advisor, disc jockey (If I hear Queen once more I swear ?..), site booker inner, site analyser, meteorologist, and approx three nightly conjugal event co-ordinator.. (Surely, this is meant to be a holiday).

Of course everything else as usual was down to me and rather than bore you with a long list, suffice to say I drove the van. I was also put in charge of anything that was **** related. This was fair enough because she took Stormyweathers advice and always used public facilities and, as you will read later on, I wish I had taken his advice too.

Our first night was spent the other side of Reims in a Motorway Aires, the type which has a garage and restaurant. Conscious of gas attacks, we parked in a group of motor homes in a well lit and busy area. Every thing we had was checked for security and then double checked. We survived the night without any problems and I found the keys to the van hanging outside in the external ?Odds and Sods? locker in the morning. I thought it best not to mention this to the wife; partly not to worry her unduly and partly because I cannot handle physical pain as well as I used to.

First thing we needed was gas and so we stopped at a Chaumont Supermarket when I saw a huge lorry actually delivering gas cylinders to the Supermarket. He is the man I need to speak to I thought as I stood there filling up with diesel.

Alas, before I had finished refuelling the gas lorry started to move off, his delivery over. As luck would have it, I had parked in such an untidy manner I had blocked him in and in consequence, everyone else, so they all had to wait until the refuelling was finished. (I call this a RAS ? Replenishment at Supermarket)

The French lorry driver spoke no English whatsoever and I wondered why the French educational system is so lacking in this respect bearing in mind how good they are on other things like baguette making.

?Pardon,? I said to him, feeling I had done something rude and owed an apology. At this point I had exhausted my entire repertoire of French so I pointed to the pile of gas cylinders on his lorry. Within twenty minutes he had got me a tank of Butagaz with contract from the garage and gave me an adaptor. I offered to pay him for the adapter but he refused. What a nice helpful and kind Frenchman his was. ?Grattizi,? I said with a huge smile then realised that perhaps Spanish would not achieve the desired effect so I picked another word out of my French repertoire. ? Pardon?. I could tell from his glazed expression that he was in awe of my multilingual abilities and he shuffled back to his lorry wondering I suspect, whether it really was a good idea for the UK to play a major role in the Common Market.

At our first stop for a cup of tea and sticky, I disconnected our UK small gas cylinder, unscrewed the jubilee clip on the hose and then found the connector the French lorry driver had given us did not fit the gas cylinder. The nice helpful and kind French gas delivery man, hitherto referred to as the French twat had given us the new type adaptor for the old and more common gas tank.

Late afternoon, we arrived at Le Sourgey ( http://www.camping-sougey.com/ ) on Lac d'Aiguebelette gasless. A truly magical lake. See pix. I explained our gas difficulties to the site owner who kindly telephoned a shop in Novalise, a mere 5kms away and asked them to put aside the correct adaptor. When we found the shop, the owner had no recollection of the phone call but luckily a very nice French lady stepped in as interpreter and in no time at all we were presented with a gas barbeque on wheels.

Once again I dug deep into my French vocabulary and uttered, ?Pardon? whilst simultaneously dragging out the grumbling old shop keeper to the motor home to show him the gas tank and point to the UK adaptor already fixed on our UK cylinder.

He grumbled in French all the way back to his shop. Then grumbled upstairs and eventually grumbled his way back down again with the correct device.

The shopkeeper had an attitude. Whether it was because he is inundated with bizarre requests from the British on an hourly basis or he had at one time or another bought some British beef. I don?t know. He refused to sell us the adaptor until we had produced the gas contract and then charged us 12 euros and grumbled throughout the entire transaction.

?Au revoir,? he finally grumbled and I grumbled ?Bollocks? back as I shut the door behind me. I have always had the ability for the quick and witty retort when required. On the way back we passed the shop we should have gone to.

Within an hour we had gas. Glorious butane flowed freely from our nozzles bringing us joy and happiness, indeed wonderment for my wife, standing some several hundred yards away, camera at the ready for insurance purposes, who was convinced I would blow us up in the fitting process.

Two days were spent enjoying the lake, enjoying the motor home that was working to perfection, enjoying glorious weather, swimming in the warm lake and sun bathing under the majesty of an Alp; totally oblivious to the inconveniences to come.

A quick word about the Fiat 1.9TD engine. A plucky creature and performed well above expectations, but in my next motor home, I will be looking for 2.5TD maybe even 2.8TD. My original estimate of doing 27mpg was dashed by my spreadsheet as this reported at best ?24mpg although I am convinced this is due to my other half bringing so much stuff - the lawnmower being the only thing that springs to mind that she left at home. The engine happily bowls along the motorway between 60 and 65mph and drops down to anywhere between 40 and 0mph depending on gradients.

And so two happy campers set off for the sunny south of France using the Route National so we could see a bit more of France and get more miles to the gallon which we didn?t.

It was while passing the Ardeche area that our motor home nearly fell over. We were half way around an S bend when it happened. The Navigator has never been impressed with stunt driving particularly as a passenger and doing wheelies in a motor home was no exception. A steward?s enquiry was convened while we changed into clean underwear and it was my submission that the French were to blame. My wife?s submission was that it was me to blame. As everything is always my fault it came as no surprise but I fought my corner vigorously. I pointed out that there were only two signs warning of an S bend not counting the 10kph sign or the black and white chevron fence and it was quite obvious to anyone that this was woefully inadequate. . So we agreed to disagree and both felt that a sign saying, ?We are not joking. This really is an S bend Pusser?, would be more helpful.

Soon after this event we went back on to the motorway for the final leg to Sete or near there. At some time, I am not sure exactly where but we went into a large Aires that had facilities for motor homes to dump everything. I was really impressed. It was a large concrete pad, with all sides sloping into to a large and long drain with eight ground level water sprays that engaged when you drove off out and broke a sensor beam. It was fool proof.

I joined the small queue of motor homes and then it came to my turn. I had to make a couple of attempts to get my waste pipes roughly over the drain hole. I don?t know why but I have always fancied myself as a long distance lorry driver and watch them jump out of their cabs, stretch, look at their front tyres and kick them and then wander around and check their headlights. So I do this too, but when I bent down to examine my headlights my arse broke the sensor beam and eight high pressure sprays burst into action. These sprays would not have looked out of place as the climax to the closing ceremony at the Olympic games.

I was soaked. I was humiliated. I had lost the will to live. But on the plus side, a lot cleaner. However, glancing up at the waiting motor homes, I may have just started their holidays off on the right foot. Some had the ?They must be British,? expressions whilst others nearly shook their motor homes to bits with hysterics.

I couldn?t get any wetter had I jumped into the Atlantic which I would have done had it been there and then quite happily sunk to the bottom. But the Dunkirk spirit came through and I fought, nay swum my way through the sprays and groped around until I found the waste tank puller thing. I yanked it and as expected all our wastewater fell out and was whisked away in seconds by the eight spray water feature. Then I pulled the shiny rod on the marine loo that had given me so much grief at home and ?.nothing. I pushed it in and pulled it out ? still nothing. My marine loo was full and it was determined to stay that way.

Fed up, and my wife looking straight ahead, knowing it would be a bad time to say anything, I drove off, the sensor beam ignoring me as I passed through. Obviously you only get one shot and to be honest, one shot was enough for me. A meeting was called with Top Brass and it was decided that we find a quiet place where we would not cause an ecological disaster and examine the problem.

Off the motorway and on some gorse covered mountain slope we found such a place. We had some concerns about a local vineyard close by but made a note of the name so we did not buy that vintage in the future; 2004 would not be their best year, assuming I had some success with the drain cock. Perhaps fortunately or not, I had no success and as I sit here typing, half way through our holiday, we still have a full to bursting marine loo and worse, I still have a full to bursting tummy.

That night we booked into a campsite at Valras Plage ( http://www.campinglesfoulegues.com ) advertised as on the beach. On the beach was in fact a 300 metre walk though gorse bushes with kamikaze flies attacking you every inch of the way. The plots were very jumbled and very close and my worst nightmare unfolded. They had unisex loos and showers. I?m sorry, but I cannot live with that. I cannot use public loos because my bottom seals up as soon as I sit down in them. I have a phobia. A phobia that I believe was caused by a traumatic incident whilst in potty training when I was about thirteen. What was I going to do? What could I do? I couldn?t use our loo anymore as it was full; partly because I had this great idea that pouring a load of fresh water in it would help free the drain cock and partly because I had enjoyed using it liberally. Things were getting out of hand. I already looked seven months pregnant.

There was nothing for it but to buy a porta pottie at the earliest opportunity.

That opportunity came the very next day when we left this site and headed towards Estartit in Spain. We had to park some way from the Supermarket because the car park was full and we had to use an overflow car park. They had only two porta potties in stock, both with their boxes already opened. When we paid for them, I asked them to check that everything was there that should be and then suffered the indignity of carrying this thing back through the crowds to the motor home. Why does the word PORTA POTTIE need to be in such BIG letters on the box? Surely it could be put in a plain brown box without any words at all and just to ensure there is no confusion, there is a large picture of it on all six sides. I?m sure passers bye must have thought I was incontinent and carried this around all day in case of an accident.

The porta pottie arrived back at the motor home without incident although my self esteem had reached an all time low. I began to assemble it with some desperation as I was, to use a midwifery term, already 3 centimetres dilated. The check on parts made at the supermarket were flawed in as much as the swivelling empty tube thing was missing. So I had to make a return trip, my walking somewhat impaired as I had got to 4 centimetres, to get the replacement and suffer yet another humiliating return trip.

On the way back I thought at one stage I would have to assemble it in the road and use it as contractions were coming thick and fast. I think I may hold the world record for the assembly of a Porta Pottie and using it. My wife estimated 1 minute 10 seconds as she stood by, mobile phone at the ready just in case emergency services were required. Having experimented, this porta pottie is so much a better idea and, so easy to use. I feel like a new man now. I have visibly lost weight and it is all thanks to Thetford.

The marine loo is going when we get home but how, I have no idea but it?s going. At the moment the porta pottie resides in the shower area and in a way has helped us to name our motor home. We wanted something artistic in nature as our road where we live is named after a famous artist and our first thought was Pottiesmelly but settled on Two Loos La Trek. Pottiesmelly was only under consideration because the marine loo had begun to smell but later on, it actually turned out to be a benefit.

Sometime later, we arrived at the Spanish border. If there is a queue of cars, start off by following the lorries and then change course for the caravan\caravan lane. Nobody showed any interest in us mainly because there was no one to be seen and soon after the crossing, arrived in Jonguera to stock up on tobacco and buy a couple of bottles of spirits for presents. What I immediately noticed was diesel for 0.81 euro per litre. I?ll have some of that I thought. Diesel prices seem very much the same whether in supermarkets or tiny filling stations. At one point I noticed there was a choice of diesel. I am not sure what the other one is and no one I spoke to later knew either. One was creatively entitled SR and the other SC. (I think).

El Delphine ( http://www.eldelfinverde.com/eldelfinverde.php?lang=EN ) was a campsite we used last year with car and rented mobile home so we knew the site would be top quality. The pitches range from mere borders to a free for all under the trees. Beach is actually right next door. The left side of the beach is absolutely ideal for parents with kids as it gently slopes into the sea. The right hand side of beach is reserved for parents whose kids have persistently tortured them for the entire journey down and who wish to have a tranquil return trip because here, just a mere three feet into the water there is a drop to an unknown depth. Many's the time I saw a solitary water wing float past now redundant

That evening we met up with my sister in law, her son (as seen in some pix) and her elderly parents. She had flown out with Easy Jet without probs and hired a car.

Her sons face was different since we last saw him in as much as it was almost football shaped. This was due to a multitude of bites he had received and had reacted to them.

It soon became obvious that everyone on the site was bitten and we too suffered from them that night just by walking around. This appears to be a new type of mosi if indeed it is a mosi at all. It is a tiny fly that in my view looks nothing like a mosi and seems capable of keeping a haemophiliac going for a week. If you squash one on the wall, it looks like the chain saw massacre has taken place. No known mosi repellent has any effect of these little sods although a tip I read on this site re rubbing the bites with soap does work and itching stops within ten minutes and the swelling seems to go down much quicker. I used more soap on my body in those two days than I generally use in a month. I believe we need further information on this fly. I know the campsite is looking into it because of complaints. Incidentally, and I may have posted this before, Italy and some other parts of Europe now have the Tiger mosquito to contend with, so called because of its striped body. They came over in new car tyres from the Far East. My daughter and son in law were bitten in Venice and my daughter still has the scars. My son in law was ill for two days due to a reaction.

The evening entertainment was superb. A Spanish rendition of Saturday Night Fever and with a couple of pints of San Mig, it went down very well indeed. None of these horrible little flies turned up and maybe music keeps them away.

Early in the morning it is peacefully quiet. Then at sunrise the only noises that can be heard are not made by cockerels but by smokers trying to clear the previous days tar and morning dew from their lungs. Some multitask and, whilst hacking away, lay the table for breakfast and utilise the energy required to cough to clear unwanted gases from their bellies. A true example of energy conservation.

This site has good facilities for the disabled, spotless and piping hot water in the shower block, restaurant of good quality and reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, the weather was not good and neither was the forecast so we bid farewell to our relatives and headed back towards France in search of some sun.

As we passed through L?escala, I decided to demonstrate to the Spanish the merits of driving on the left. What a commotion? So OTT. Flashing headlights, arms and legs waving out of windows and sun roofs and one big fat man decided to get out of his ridiculously small car, if indeed it was a car, and practice semaphore. I?m sorry but it has to be said. I believe the Spanish are still smarting over the thrashing that Sir Francis Drake gave their fleet. Maybe time will heal.

This time we passed Jonguera and on the motorway went through Spanish border guards and was pulled out by French Police. We were put to one side, just by a coach load of bemused tourists. He went through all our paper work and then systematically went through our motor home from the front to the back. By now, some of his friends had joined the search for drugs. All the police curiously come from the same family. The John Darme family. A tad incestuous I thought.

I am sure we were only one step removed from having our tyres off, x-rayed and worse when the chief police man opened the door of our loo. I think it was at that point, having smelt our inoperative marine toilet that he decided he couldn?t give a toss whether we had any drugs onboard or not and was almost trampled to death by his mates following behind as he attempted to launch himself out of our doorway to fresh air and French soil.

It appears I have unwittingly perfected a drug smuggling machine which I am willing to swap with any Drug Barons for an A class with a porta pottie in.

As we drove off, I saw the four policemen in my mirror comforting and reassuring each other back to their offices, oblivious to streams of possible drug runners whistling pass them, two fingers raised. You don?t mess with Pusser and get away with it I thought. I suspect that I had also given all British Motor homes free passage for a week through that checkpoint.

On Wednesday the 1st of September 2004 we arrived at the nicest campsite we have ever been to Le Soleol http://www.campmed.com/campeng/csoleil/piscine.htm and we have been to many as mobile homers rather than motor homers.

It is truly geared for the disabled, including those who are either blind or have poor vision. The roads have ridged lines so the blind and partially blind can move about unaided. They a painted bright yellow so people do not trip over them. I fell over one of these ridges while on a baguette mission. However, none of the other four hundred holidaymakers had a problem so it could have been just me. When I picked myself up, the baguette was in three separate sections so I skilfully arranged the wrapping paper so my wife would not realise that I had wiped the floor with it. Much to my amazement she did realise and I was sent back for another.

Special wheelchairs are available to go in to the sea and each shower block has a disabled section and only disabled people are given the key to it. Oh how I envied their privacy.

The beach is superb with beach bar, a good restaurant which will also do Cordon Bleu takeaways, a too small grocery and baguette shop for its size and a paper and tabac shop with toys and sweets and current English Newspapers etc. The swimming complex is extraordinarily nice and well laid out with poolside bar and ice cream facilities.

It also has a small pond where black swans with their babies paddle about but no beach for them.

A special Aires section for motor homes is here and the place is eco minded. Their catch phrase is, ?We do not inherit this earth from our ancestors ? we borrow it from our children?. I thought this was quite thought provoking even though my own opinion is that it belongs to all forms of life equally and was certainly not built for the Americans.

Plots are well laid out with bushes and flowers with elec hook up. On the beach side, the plots are a little untidy as many campers try and squeeze in to be as near to the sea as possible. It is odd that the fit and healthy campers do not want to walk more than a few yards away, whilst the elderly, infirm and unfit, have no problem walking an extra hundred yards. I have noticed too that the fittest of young families come from Scandinavian regions and in particular Denmark and the Netherlands. (Why do we call Netherlands Holland?). There seems to be a marked increase in other European counties including UK in obese children. Parents really should sort this out as a matter of urgency ? it?s not the kids fault neither can they be responsible for health matters.

The beach is of high standard but no lifeguards here or, incidentally, in the pools. I have to say that I was disappointed in this year?s topless numbers. Certainly down on last year so I may have to make representation to my MEP to get Brussels to make topless sunbathing compulsory. Obviously there would be have to be some exceptions. The Queen for example and Ann Widecombe and John Prescott would be included.

It?s not a big thing for me as you will appreciate but out of 327 women, only 23 were topless. This is a poor showing indeed and something has to be done about it. I am absolutely useless in remembering names but I am not so bad at remembering measurements so in reverse order may I congratulate in third place for the 2004 Topless Awards, Miss 32A (and I am giving the benefit of the doubt here), for losing her towel completely in the wind and rather than cowering in terror, marched a hundred yards nude to retrieve it. Well done Miss 32A ? a first timer. In second place, Ms. 36B who ignored the forces of gravity throughout the entire day and managed to maintain shape irrespective of position. She has been put into the free draw for a week?s holiday in Silicone Valley. But in first place is Mrs. 44HH who not only won her game of beach tennis but managed to do this without killing anybody. Well done Mrs. 44HH ? Ms. Topless 2004.

Today, Sunday, we reluctantly left Le Soleil because of uncertain sun and made our way up through the Pyrenees (I think) towards Millau, reaching heights of nearly 1000 meters and more once passed. I, and I am sure others, have problems in visualising just how high this is. Well, to make it easier for you, imagine 333 C class motor homes stacked one on top of the other. This motorway is free as it is under construction, opening next year and I presume they will then charge. It has to be the most picturesque motorway in Europe. We stopped at Lac Saligoo, ( http://www.decouvrir-l-herault.com/gousala.htm ) (see pix) signposted at least twice on the motorway. The lake was lovely but the part we arrived in was barred to high vehicles and in some ways spoilt my enjoyment. I suspect if one has the time, there will be other places dotted about where motor homes can pull up close to the waters edge. There was a campsite a mere stones? throw away that may be worth considering for an overnight stop. I also had problems closing two of our windows for some reason and one bit popped out when I stuck a screwdriver in it. Another job and questions for the forum when I get back.

We arrived mid afternoon at a lovely campsite aside the River Tarn in the Tarn Gorges. Our site ( http://www.campingpeyrelade.com/index-gb.html ) Le Peyrelade is right next to the river, see pix, and cost 9 euro per night with elec hook up. Once again I had the wrong adaptor. The one I got in Spain is apparently for Germany and Spain so the site owner kindly loaned us one. They have a small pool complex with a Jacuzzi type pool, a larger pool big enough to swim in and a couple of tiny ones for kids. A restaurant is here and tomorrow, if I survive, I am hoping to relate how I got on with a canoe trip. These gorges are huge and make you feel quite insignificant ? slightly more so than I normally feel at home.

The motorway leading up to Millau from the South is still under construction and bails out just as you get to Millau. No charges have to be paid so it is a good road to use either on the way up or down. There are some bits of this road, and the ordinary road it joins coming into Millau that gives you the impression you are going down hill when really you are going up hill. It?s the same feeling as driving along with your handbrake on and it makes your rear brakes smell and go very hot. But after a brief stop for a cup of tea, this all seemed to go away. Magic.

Over the course of the two weeks away, we did see several accidents but all of them were immediately behind me. Obviously some idiot not paying attention.

It is worth pointing out I think if only for first timers as old hands will know, that Sundays in France really is Sunday and no supermarkets are open. You may, if you are lucky, find a baguette shop open in the morning but that?s about it. Many garages also stay shut Sunday particularly in towns and villages so in an emergency, head for the 24/7 Service Stations on the motorway where incidentally you can buy loads of stuff albeit at a premium.

Monday 6th Sep. Porta Potties full, and I mean really full. Wifey has been nagging me to empty it which I will as soon as there is a lull in Shower Block activity and I will report the success\failure when jobs done. The smell from the marine loo has subsided somewhat due mainly to lashings of blue stuff and two inches of disinfectant in the bowl. It may have even gone altogether but those smells seem to adhere to the inside of your nose and you can smell it for weeks. I also managed to get rid of a load of ants that were sunbathing on our awning by winding it in and flattening them and then banging the underneath to make them fall off.

The canoe trip has taken place ? 7 euro for an hour or more if we wanted said the campsite lady. But today there is a very strong wind coming down the gorge in the same direction as the stream and with my wife sitting in the front doing bugger all except giving unwanted advice I had difficulty going up stream more than about 500 yards. She paddled back down stream with the wind behind us and remarked how easy it is to do and wanted to go back and do it all again. ?Off you go then,? I said as I got out.

There are quite a few flies around during the day and at first light, a walk by the river will invoke a cloud of Scottish midges (you can tell from their accent), which fly around and around in circles for no apparent reason. Surely there must be something else they can do for entertainment.

All day, flotillas of assorted ducks patrol their domain and while there are huge numbers of fish dinners to be had with no effort, the do prefer baguette. High above the gorge vultures soared effortlessly in the thermals. Did I say vultures? Yes indeedy I did. They were introduced in 2002. Griffins, Egyptian and another make which I have forgotten. Tourists sunbathing on river beaches have been advised to wriggle about a bit now and then. Truly a place you should at least stop over for a nights worth but keep moving.

We have decided to head back tomorrow Tuesday, timing it to go through Paris at midnight and then getting to the tunnel hopefully for about 05:00 in an effort to get someway home and off the M25 before rush hour.

I thought this was the end of this rubbish but no. We decided to have a meal in the campsite restaurant and to be fair, they were closing down for the season and the menu was a tad limited. Pizza, roast chicken and chips, burger and chips or burger, chips and egg. I chose burger, chips and egg with a glass of Jupiler beer and at best, the meal was mediocre I suppose because I really wanted taggytelly bolly naze.

After the meal, I hovered outside while my wife paid the bill. She came out beaming all over her face. They must have undercharged her a cent I thought. But no. She could scarcely contain herself and blurted out that the bloody minced meat burger I had just eaten was horse. My God? I was horrified, neigh, devastated. I really need to know whether my poo will now have straw in it, whether I can get mad nags disease and which part of the horse would have been likely minced for my consumption? Actually, don?t bother with the last question.

Incidentally, with this tunnel ticket I bought you must come back on the day stated. We had to pay another £30 as we arrived two days early.

So that?s it. I have a few bits, mainly advanced technicalities for us engineer types to add to the correct sections later. I?m now back in my stable safe and sound and feel quite refreshed if not a little queasy from my wicked holiday.

Posted: Mon May 16, 2005

Many thanks again and I'm even more happy. It is true I never did tell anyone on here what happened to the marine toilet. Well, I can say that P and P Campers in Gosport drove up to Aylesbury to collect my m\home, took it back to Portsmouth, removed the marine toilet - (I didn't dare ask how they emptied it) and replaced it with the Porta Pottie I bought in France buy adding some brackets and then drove it all the way back to me.

This is certainly one company that honours its guarantee without any quibbles whatsoever and therefore I can recommend them to everyone.

They were very nice people to deal with, not pushy and it was not their fault I have really bought the wrong type of m\home for what I now see as useful to me.

They do deserve a plug... http://www.pandpcampers.com/

p.s. Pse everyone feel free to give a copy to anyone anywhere.

Get a free Giffgaff Sim