France 112 - Calais - Le Bien Assise /A meadow pot pourri/a travel kettle and travel toaster /we are on the road again

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April 12th 2017
Published: April 23rd 2017
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9 days and counting. It is getting very exciting. I hear my mum telling me to sit still as I look as if I have ants in my pants. I cannot help it - 9 days and we will be off to sunnier climes - to France and to Greece. As I smell the pot pourri - meadow flowers scent on my dresser I feel uplifted and ready to get on the road again. It will be the first time on the road with Suzy and it feels strange. She has been hoovered out and smells fresh - just like the meadow flowers pot pourri. She has been dusted and our clothes are now packed ready to go. Will we have enough ? Will we have taken too few? Will we have taken the wrong ones? The temperature in Sparta at the moment is in the mid twenties. Four new T - shirts purchased . Will I have taken enough to last the holiday? We called in at the shop down the road and bought a travel kettle. A small thing capable of boiling enough water for two cups of coffee or tea. We have never had one before but perhaps it will come in handy in Greece rather than boil water using the gas. Who knows? We are still after five years in learning mode. We bought a small and light travel toaster. Will we use it ? Who knows? We have thought before the gas is slow at cooking toast and it never tastes the same. We have checked the cupboards. We are short of washing up liquid . Sorted . Why didn't we write a shake down list ? We needed toilet paper . We have stopped buying the special stuff and just use cheap paper . It works a treat . We need Elsan Blue for the toilet. We bought some. Slowly but surely Suzy is coming to life around us. Why didnt we go on a shakedown trip? I think we will regret that decision but there is nothing we can do about that now . It is too late . 9 days - one more Tuesday and the gym. One more Wednesday and a swim. Tomorrow is work so nothing will get done unless Glenn takes a bucket and gives Suzy that much needed wash and clean. Ants in my pants I hear mum saying I have St Vitus's Dance . I just cannot sit still . I need to get on the road again and off to Europe. Despite the recent events in London and Stockholm I feel that we need to send a message out to the terrorists - they wont stop us doing what we always do - travel . Travel with a smile on our faces . We wish sometimes that we could have bought a new motorhome this year. The new models make Suzy look old fashioned even though she is not. They look lower as they are on Al-Ko chassis and Suzy is not. The lower chassis means you have fancy neon lights lighting your way into the motorhome. A bed would be lovely. It would be nice not to have to make up the bed every night and put it away in the morning. So there are things we would love to change but mum always said that all that glistens is not gold so perhaps we should be just happy with what we have. She has taken us to Dubrovnik, all through Croatia . to Spain and Portugal . To places we never thought we would visit. A chinese proverb states that you do not throw away gold because the bag is dirty . Suzy is that bag and she is a little pot of gold.

7 days to go . Tuesday passed by and the car serviced. As I walked home I smelled the hawthorn blossom just coming out and scenting the air. The primroses pretty and delicate yellow as they nestled in the hedgerows. The bare branches of the Forsythia trees are covered in yellow blooms. Spring is a lovely season. Spring should be lovely in Greece - the flowers will be out and the temperature warm.. I can count the days now on my fingers. Thursday - a day at work . Time is just disappearing like water running down a drain. Today is Good Friday . Why Good I used to think when I was a child . I went to church dressed up in my best Sunday coat. I remember it well - lilac in colour with a lilac false fake fur collar .With a matching hat I must have looked like a cloned version of both my mum and my grandmother. I was issued with a Palm Cross and I received a stamp to put into my stamp collection. The picture was of Christ riding the donkey into Jerusalem. On Good Friday the church was mournful. The altar bare as the frontal had been removed. Any trace of colour taken out. No flowers and the choir wore just their black surplices. I came home thinking good - what is good about the day. It felt a dark day . No buses running. Religious programmes on the tv . We ate fish. A treat as we did not eat much fish in the 1950's and 60's. Memories flood back and I wish I were in Greece now watching and taking part in Easter celebrations. Today Good Friday is a travesty of what it was . The TV is on all day and the day feels little different from any other . We have lost religion to a certain extent as we have become a more secular society. Perhaps that is one reason we enjoy continental Europe. In parts it reminds us of our childhood and of a much simpler pace of life . 7 days to go . This time next week we will have travelled south, boarded the train and should be at our first nights stop of Le Bien Assise.

I now feel a little like the man or woman who does the countdown for a spaceship launch at Cape Kennedy or Cape Canaveral if you are of a certain age. 5 4 3 2 1 - we are on D day minus 5 and counting down. It's the Easter weekend. Thoughts go back to the new coat purchased for Easter and the hat to go with it . Walking to a church that was transformed. The church now a blaze of colour 60 style . Yellow daffodils and tulips. Large white lilies in the sparklingly clean brass vases on the decorated altar. Now covered in white frontals. The bells rang out . the choir robed up in black and white and music everywhere. Sleep is difficult. We have done this before but somehow this holiday seems more complicated, different , we need to understand a new language. We add another country to the list of places we have visited . We are getting excited. No more Sunday swims and no more weekends. We go into Suzy and the tap is leaking. How can it do that just before we leave? On a Bank Holiday weekend at that. Glenn takes it apart and the hoses are kinked. Water pours out and it seems impossible to take it apart and put a new washer in. There is nothing for it but to try and find somewhere open Bank Holiday Monday and buy a new one which Glenn can refit over the next few days. The tap was purchased and fitted but sadly the water started to pour out of the grey water tank . Much head scratching and playing with it eventually solved the problem and Suzy was good to go.

Tuesday - last day at the gym. Wednesday penultimate Swim and Suzy got a wash. Glenn carried his bucket of lycra pink Fenwicks solution to wash Suzy. He washed . I washed off . Within an hour Suzy was gleaming .

Thursday night I went to bed and did my age old trick of banging my head on the pillar as many times as the time I wanted to get up. I didnt need to worry at 4 in the pitch darkness I woke up. We washed , breakfasted and set off to do the Suzy shuffle. Off came my car , off came the Beemer. Then disaster struck. In the darkness things went wrong. Suffice it to say we were going nowhere. Before we could set off Glenn would have to make a temporary repair to Suzy. Then problem number 2. You think when things go wrong they cannot turn any worse. No that is not right . The next thing that went wrong required a man with a jack from the local garage . By 10 we were extricated from our problems and Glenn set to make the repair. I rang the tunnel. Turn up late and we charge you £100 surcharge. What !!!!! What happens if we rebook for 4 - £36 surcharge. What about 8pm - ? £26 Ok we will take that one then. So at 12 we set off . Strangely we got down fairly quickly. We were held up a number of times by roadworks but by 5pm we were picking up our toll card for Italy from Harbour Shipping. By 5.30 we were eating our KFC's. By 6.20 on the train . We parked behind a black brand spanking new Rolls Royce driven by two young lads. Drug dealers or Footballers we thought. Bankers with more money than sense . It was the sort of car James May would drive . We followed it to Calais where we parted company as we headed off for our stop for the night at La Bien Assise . Reception was closed . We just parked up and paid in the morning ACSI 17euros and 90 cents. We did not get our meal nor our showers . We were just glad to see the end of the day. It has been a funny old week . Bombs dropped on Syria, an attack in Stockholm and Donald Trump facing up to the North Koreans. It's a funny old world which seemed stranger as we sat looking out of Suzy's window at what seemed like a typically English scene of oak trees and birch, of privet hedges on a campsite that looked all the world like a Camping Club one back home. The Jungle has been cleared and the site looks like a bombsite., There was a large presence of gendarmes hanging round the tunnel entrance and the roads to Calais. Today felt like one of those days that we wanted to forget . Tomorrow might be better we hope.


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