France 98 - Metz, yellow gorse, camels in champagne, Tottenham Hotspur and the disabled spot

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April 23rd 2016
Published: April 23rd 2016
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Day 2 With a temperature dropping overnight my little legs were cold. I tossed and turned and was glad when the alarm went off at 5 am. We missed our oil filled heater. It had proved too heavy and cumbersome and took it out replacing it with an electric fan heater which we didn’t fancy leaving on all night. After breakfast of token coffee and croissants I did the shimmy under the fence to detach Suzy from the mains and off we went. Past the Tottenham Hotspur training ground. No we did not see any players it was too early for that. The M25 was heaving despite it being early. We crossed the Thames at the Dartford Crossing which glistened in the early morning sun. On closer inspection it was rather grubby and the sky had turned grey and threatened rain.

The journey through Kent was unexceptional. We arrived at the last petrol station before the tunnel and filled up with diesel and bought cheese and chicken sandwiches for lunch/breakfast/brunch on the train. We filled up with LPG. This was rather a fun event as the machine would not work and I had to go in and enquire if the pump was working . Try again he said . it has not been used for a while and will be slow. Such is the nature of the beast. Still nothing . Keep trying. He said . It is cold and such is the nature of the beast that it wont come out . Eventually it did . £6.33 worth – hardly seemed worth the effort . The cashier laughed and said worth it really think how much calor would have cost . To think of it we have not filled it for two years – worth it – yes.

On to the tunnel. Nice machine recognised our registration. Hello William how are you? Confirm you are William. Of course I am . Would you like to go on an earlier train William,? Of course I would . So we were booked on the 7.50 rather than the 8.50 at no extra cost . We drove to our normal stopping place and saw on the boards that W (our number) was loading so set off. Passports checked. Gas checked and on to the boarding lane . By the time we got half way up the barrier rose and we were on our way to the train. 35 minutes later and we were in La Belle France.

It looks like Kent . It feels like Kent. The only sign on the migrants were the hastily repaired holes in the fences and the heavy police presence. We saw the old men on the allotments discussing affairs of the day and what plants to plant and we thought thank God we are out of the country when the local elections are in full swing. Thank God we are missing the Queens 90th birthday and thank God we are not having to listen to the remain in Europe campaign and the Leave campaign.

The French motorway sanef tag worked a treat and we sailed along almost empty French motorways. Shame that other things did not work. Glenns IPad connection has failed and we cannot charge the darn thing up. Typical going when we have left England and will have the problem of trying to find an electrical store in Italy to try to purchase a new one. The roads actually seemed slightly more busy than last time we were in this part of the world. We headed for Reims, Suzy ate up the miles. We stopped now and again at the wonderful aires and drank tea and coffee and talked about the adventure ahead. The roads looked like back home . primroses in the hedgerows but the trees more advanced with blossom. It felt ten degrees warmer . Our worries and our thoughts were left a long way behind us. 28 days of sheer heaven .

Reims so what did we see of it. The cathedral in the distance. It always looks lovely and camels. The circus was in town and outside were camels . Not something you expect to see in Champagne. On to Lorraine and the foothills of the Vosges mountains. It was beginning to look Germanic .No longer the endless fields and the agricultural landscape but one of trees, forest and deer.

Our spot for the night was a camperstop at Metz. We had not intended to get here but decided to press on and here we arrived. Five spaces, four taken and one left just for us. No electricity, no showers but next to the river and free. Had we hated it then there was the municipal camping next door , grass pitches , shower and electricity at a cost of about 15 euros . No competition there then the aire won. We walked up to the town where we found a 1930’s art deco swimming pool. Had I been on my own I would have frequented it today and tomorrow and taken the benefit of two sessions of swimming and two showers. However the driver does not swim so we by passed it passing an old half ruined pulled down church, crossing a couple of old bridges and getting into town. The town was bustling with bars and cafes typically French style sprawling into the streets and squares . The mission to find a magnet failed miserably but we did fall upon the lovely church with its lace like spire and heavy buttresses. We found the walls the next day when it was too late to visit them. I wont say it is the nicest town I have ever visited in France and in some ways it lacked charm but it was what it was. It did however lack a decent boulangerie. I wanted a cake . I wanted one now but sadly the only decent looking one had nothing left but a rhubarb tart. Neither of us are partial to rhubarb tart so on the shelf it stayed .

We returned back to the van and were joined by a sixth van. They drove up. Madame looked frantically at the aire and waved her arms up in the air . They had found the last spot. Only the last spot it was not as it was a disabled parking spot with disabled sign on the ground and a sign above showing the direction of the aire for camping cars. She was having none of it and they parked and then started the debarcle of trying to work out if the fridge was working on gad. He opened the door and put his nose next to the vent . They conversed. He got in. A few minutes later he came out again and tried his nose up against the vent again. Much discussion went on as to whether the fridge was working. The cupboard holding the gas bottle was opened. The gas bottle shaken . The nose pressed up against the vent again. In he went and then nothing for at least ten minutes before he came out again and the whole procedure was reinacted three or four times more. In the end he gave up and then their dog started to bark. I had half a mind to tell him he was abusing a disabled spot but given my lack of any French apart from bad language I felt it was a futile exercise. We adjourned to the sofa and watched Game of Thrones for an hour or two before retiring to bed.

Guess what we also saw our first lesser spotted peeing man . A young man headed in to the church grounds and peed up against the side of the building. You can only get this in France.

Bonsoir mon ami – tomorrow Switzerland .


25th April 2016
Of course the clock

Yeah the clock
Does anyone really know what time it is? Great!

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