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Published: October 15th 2017
"When the universe is silent , we listen with great pleasure to a bird that suddenly sings" Hong Zicheng
What a strange night. We went to bed to what might be the penultimate sleep in Europe in Suzy. We may not be making the beds in this way ever again. We slept well. We woke though listening to the birds singing.
Leaving our night stop we hit the road and headed out of Germany into Holland. What was the first thing we noticed ? The hornets nest of German drivers were coming down the slip roads, weaving in the first lane, over to the second lane and finally into the fast lane. When we arrived in Holland the traffic became less frenetic, the drivers less manic and more polite. It was a pleasure to drive on Dutch roads.
Our stop tonight was going to be Camping De Bron near to Valkenburg. The town was pristine. The houses and bungalows in France and Holland always look neat and tidy. Painted prettily, the gardens a treat. No walls nor boundary fences or hedges to marr the neatness. I envy them. Our streets look dingy and dirty. In fact we went
to Chesterfield the other day and saw rough sleepers in the streets and used syringes on the floor.
Camping De Bron - what can I say? Down a long lane, fields to either side. Chestnut trees everywhere. Conkers on the ground and the sticky spiny shells of Sweet Chestnuts. The reception /bar was open. The owner welcomed us, park around the corner anywhere, our bar is open at the moment but wont be later in the evening. No restuarant sadly open which meant yet another meagre food night. One toilet block was open. Our pitch was a reasonable size and the campsite empty. Three vans including us. A few statics opposite us. It really had an end of season feel. An ACSI site we paid 19 euros plus a usual tourist tax.
We spent the evening giving Suzy another wash. She is rather dirty at the moment. We hoped to present her as best we could but of course being on a campsite makes it more of a difficult job. We brushed the carpets. We have no Hoover on board. We cleaned the sinks. The toilet had a good seeing to. We got her as clean and tidy
as we could. Next job ring the tunnel to find out if we could book an earlier train. After quite a bit of frustrating trying we eventually got them and paid the £40 to change the booking. We travel on the 14.40 tomorrow. Check in 14.19 . We are four hours away from Calais so an easy run in the morning. Now that is written with hindsight.
With little to do we went to bed. We slept well and woke early. First job to get off the campground and hit the road. We disconnected Suzy for the last time abroad and headed up for the gates . Shock and horror - the gate was firmly shut and we were going nowhere. I got out and walked past and through the gate. Nothing . No lock , nothing to open it with. We were going to miss the train if we could not get out. I walked to the bar. Shut . The restaurant shut. Luckily round the back of the building I found a woman standing by a car. I asked her if she knew how we could get out. She asked had we paid and did I have
the card? What card - we were not given any . Just a receipt and a map of the site. I told her how much we had paid and luckily I had the bill to hand. She opened the gate and we were away.
Silly Sat Nag was half asleep. Normally our old ones would pinpoint our spot with accuracy. Not Silly. We were in the middle of a field and the road we wanted was not even shown. In a small corner of her map we could see the purple line which indicated our route but she left us guessing how to get to it. In the end we thought - go left , go straight on and eventually she woke up and caught up.
The journey onto the motorway was slightly complicated due to heavy traffic, roadworks and Silly having a hissy fit and sending us down the wrong road. After a detour we were back on the road again discussing reasons why we would miss Suzy. Having gone through those we found ourselves over the border into Belgium and stopped at a garage for a few provisions. A lovely lady gave me a voucher for 50 cents for no other reason than she had too many of them to spend herself. After our brief stop we headed towards Calais on time. Hindsight again is again a wonderful thing. As we drove we talked about the advantages of a new van. We could go out more often. It would be easier to get it off the drive and go on a spur of the moment thing. The handbrake would be better. We approached the tunnel and found ourselves in the queue to get our tickets. No offer of an earlier crossing. Something was amiss. We queued at French immigration control . Was it a natural reaction to Brexit? Were they just being awkward with us. They put their paddles along the van side and over the steering wheel, gave us a cursory glance and waved us on. What about all that space in the Globecar? We have to empty Suzy if we sell her. Now that will take some time. We have acquired much over the last five and a half years. Where to put it? On to the British passport control. Hand over passports, checked and good to go. Next stop parking area . We have two hours to kill. It is at this point we read that there is a technical problem and that trains are delayed by 90 minutes. Nothing else to do but visit the Charles Darwin centre with its shops and cafes. To be fair there is little there and certainly not enough to fill 90 minutes. The van is a better option so its back for a cuppa and the end of Dunk and Egg story.
The boards show that B has loaded but not departed. C has been called . We have a long way to go before we get to our number H. Still at least we are warm in Suzy, we can brew up when we want and we could put the TV on if we got bored. B departs and C together with D has been called . They seem to be putting two letters together and cramming more passengers and vehicles on the trains. We should go quicker now. But no - delay now 120 minutes which will mean we will get stuck around London. Our plan was to stop at Black Horse site on the way home but that was quickly changed to Cabbage Lane at Cambridge. C and D go and E and F are called . We quickly follow and go through the cursory section where they check the gas. We are herded to the holding area where others sit. I suppose it is a different view with different cars and vans and different people. A guy breaks down. He walks about waving his hands, shouting and looking frustrated. He shouts at the Eurotunnel staff. He paces backwards and forwards and looks at his engine as if it will magically spring to life . The wife paces, she shouts at him, she waves her hands . It is like a Christmas pantomine.
In the end we board the train. The last time Suzy might go on the Eurotunnel. The crossing takes 35 mins and before we know it we are back in cold Britain. It looks Autumnal. The traffic is hectic as we drive to Stop 24 to take our toll box back. A quick stop to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken before we are on the road north heading for London and the M25
We ended up at Cabbage Lane Camping site for our last night in Suzy. A lovely site with hardstanding. Another good night . Tomorrow we check the price we have been offered against Suzy against what we can get from two dealers. It is an odd feeling - but one we are looking forward to and imagine what is going to be a new phase in our motorhoming lives.
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