Belgium 9 - Peruwelz - The journey begins/the delayed train/holidays are not all they are cracked up to be

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April 19th 2019
Published: April 27th 2019
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Anyone who reads my utterings knows I like eastern philosophy . They also know I have a calendar which offers me pearls of wisdom each morning. Sometimes the words are short and pithy. I understand them easily and they resonate well with me. Other times they go on and on, rambling missives that mean nothing to me. Today Swami Vivekananda was offering a long thought for the day around success and ideas. I guess it did resound well when I read the first line. " Take up one idea " "Make that one idea your life - think of it, live on that idea" Our one idea at the moment was Gabby and the Sat Nav .

We slept poorly as we thought about Gabby. Was she safe? When she is not under your feet you miss her. We kept looking out of our window. Was she locked up in their big garage for the night with its padlocks and bars? Was the garage safe within its own locked compound? Rationality is not a done deed when you start to imagine. Of course she would be looked after. She would be under cover, locked away. Indeed she was within a second locked area. But still our thoughts drifted back to our girl. What would we do if she were stolen? Our holiday would be ruined. Thoughts were however put to bed and we did the only thing we could do which was wait for the morrow.

We drove together to Ilkeston retracing our steps of yesterday morning. Arriving on the forecourt we could see Gabby waiting for us. She was being tested. Apparently everything worked and the last job was for Glenn to be taken on a tour of how this all singing , all dancing Sat Nav worked. He was introduced to Keith - the animated voice that would guide us on our travels . Point to remember - change Keith to a female voice when we get home. The technician who didn't really seem to know how to navigate the sat nav couldn't find the camper van setting needed to input our size. He set it for lorry and put our size in using yards. Who uses yards these days to measure vehicles? It felt an odd concept and one that we were going to have problems with.

Glenn set off and I followed. Our first stop the motorway service station were we filled up Gabby with £8 worth of LPG. The brakes smelt hot as if sticking and we were so involved trying to find out what was binding we forgot that we were not intending to fill Gabbys thirsty fuel tank. £107 later we realised we had paid £14 more for our diesel than we would have had we gone to the nearest supermarket. On top of that Glenn pronounced Keith was a fool. He kept telling Glenn not to travel down this road or that he was prohibited from using that one. His speed was limited according to Keith to 50mph. It didnt take long to realise that the technician had set us to articulated lorry size and poor old Keith was obeying lorry laws. A bit of disappointment and frustration arose when we got home and tried to fathom out how to change Gabby back to normal proportions and correct speed limits. We failed. We rang the firm who fitted it and they told us that we could do it easily as it came up as soon as we switched the sat nav on. The conversation became heated . No we retorted - it does not . We have checked the instruction book and that is worse than useless. We have trawled t'interweb and found nothing apart from one disgruntled customer who had the same gripe as we had. In all fairness they rang the company who returned the call and sent us videos to show us how to change Gabby from articulated lorry to campervan. All is now well as Kevin has become Sally Sat Nag again, she knows our size and has stopped telling us we are speeding. Relief. It is time to load clothes into her ready for the off . An off which is becoming closer and closer by the day. More ideas were coming to mind and I was back to the thought of the day . The great sage continued "Let the brain ( well our brains were getting overloaded), the muscles , the nerves , every part of your body be full of that idea " " This is the way to success "

The holiday was certainly taking over and when the sat nav went out of our thoughts ideas of what clothes to take, what food needs purchasing and have we got everything kept coming to mind. We will get there . We always do but the last days of planning are always most difficult . Brexit still looms large . We have an extension which may or may not last until the European Elections in May . The talking continues . We have a new Nigel Farage Brexit party. The yellow jerseys are still protesting in France about fuel prices. Stories are coming back about long delays going out on the Chunnel . Four hours quoted this week. Delays upon return. We just want to get on our way and hopefully have a good break.

We are getting there. The minutes, the hours and the seconds are ticking away. The clocks have gone forward and for a few weeks the mornings are slightly darker as the sun rises later. However the trade off are lighter nights. We talk about what time we need to leave home. After the Greek debarcle where Suzy got stuck and fell off the ramps we have left leaving until it is light enough to see. Glenn has worked his way through Silly Sally and oddly it doesn't seem half as complicated as it did a few days ago. Patience, trial and error seem to have worked. The grass has been cut at the back and the hedges tidied up. The warm weather has brought the Montana clematis and the Potato plant on. The flowers are clearly visible but they will be over by the time we return. The council have been out cutting the dandelion filled roadsides. We cannot wait to get on the road again.

We never sleep well on the night before we set off. We lie in bed thinking of the morrow and wish the morning would come around. It does in the end and we quickly shower, eat breakfast and start the checking of everything that needs checking. Why do I find it harder to set off now than I did years ago, I swear that I didn't check every window and lock at least three times before I left the building. I am sure I didn't ask Glenn to check them twice more and to check the cooker is switched off. I have become obsessed checking things times many before heading off for our break.

The roads are clear which is a blessing considering it is a holiday period. We don't have much trouble getting to our first stop Toddington Services where we brew up in Gabby. Silly Sat Nag has misbehaved . She couldn't find us on the M1 and had us in the middle of field. So much for her superior mapping. Perhaps it is us and we need to sort her out. We hear a bang, the sound of stone hitting metal . Silly Sat Nag loses us again just south of London. We appear to be riding round Brands Hatch when we look at her screen. Arriving at the Tunnel always makes us smile. It is quite empty and the ticket machine welcomes us and asks if we want to take an earlier train at no extra charge. I press to confirm I want to go early and our coathanger ticket spews out of the machine. We were due to travel at 13.50 but are on the 12.50. Time for dinner and a sit down waiting for the call. There is a delay of 15 minutes and eventually we drive to passport control , are checked and waved thoirough. We pull up at the check in for the gas to be checked and then off to French customs. They barely look at the passports. Straight onto the train and off to France we go. Holidays are not all they are cracked up to be though. As we sit in Gabby we look up. Can you remember the noise of the stone? There is a large dink in the top of the windscreen and a 6" crack partway down. We are praying that it will go no worse and we can change the screen when we return home. Not the most perfect of starts.

35 minutes after leaving the UK we arrived in Calais. Silly took a while to realise we had left the UK and were on french roads. She also struggled with the speed limits at first. Eventually she caught up with us as we passed the allotments just outside Calais . I never had noticed before that each plot had an identical blue plastic water butt. A few old men were digging and there were signs of beans and peas being planted. It rained as we arrived in Peruwelz a tiny village with a port de plaisance

So where in the world is Gabby the motorhome. She is parked up in the Port de Plaisance on the canal Nimy - Blaton . It is a lovely spot, Very quiet , very few motorhomes and boats. There is very little here apart from a beer garden and pub. There was electricity on site , no WiFi and no showers but for 6 euro a night we were not complaining. A couple of the motorhomes looked as if they were long term parked up .

If there was one complaint it was our Dutch neighbours who turned up at 9 in a panel van. First the driver opened his door and shouted to someone inside. His wife came out of the passenger door and was followed by two others. It was like the Tardis being unloaded. Where they all sit and sleep I had no idea . They shouted to each other , they closed each door , they went inside and then opened all the sliding doors again. It went on for over two hours . All was quiet then as they went to the pub. The opening and closing of the sliding doors resumed an hour later . Our peace and quiet was shattered by the bain of motorhomers lives - the sliding door. Thank goodness Gabby has silent closing ones. We did sleep peacefully though. It really was a lovely well thought out spot for the first night of our holidays .


27th April 2019

Yay! You are on your way!
Thank you for sharing your travels with us! Today we have sold our campervan and bought a car so its going to be very different travels from now on!!

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