Just before going to bed last night I remembered that I needed
to attach the white plastic baffles to both the air vents for the fridge. These have to be fitted when the temperature drops below 10˚C to reduce the outside airflow around the back of the fridge. Whilst doing that I realised I'd ignored one of my own tips
which was to always park to the bottom end of an HGV parking space so that if and when the tractor unit starts up the engine is as far away from our bedroom as possible, and likewise when using a car and caravan space. Use the first one, so that if an HGV
cheekily grabs the spaces in front of us its diesel engine, which may fire up during the night, will again be as far away from our bedroom as possible. So that was the second chore before going to bed - move the vehicle back a space.
We decided to sleep with the gas central heating running all night on a low setting so as to ensure our habitation area stayed comfortably warm. As the night progressed it needed turning up higher, which isn't
surprising given that by this morning we had slept through quite a frost, though to my surprise I didn't have to de-ice the windscreen as the sun was shining down on it and I had placed a silver screen shade inside so that reflected the heat back on to the
Today's plan was to drive further up the road before heading across country for Chartres on the N154, then on to Dreux, Evreux and Rouen, before
heading east towards Calais.
Rather than fill the tank up at the Truckstop charging about €1.60 a litre for diesel we decided we would fill up whilst travelling
across country as it should be far cheaper. As it turned out there wasn't one filling station before we reached Dreux, and by then I was down to a quarter of a tank. There was no option, I couldn't risk going any further without filling up and so
we dived off in to Dreux where we came across a 'Hyper U' supermarket and filled up for €1.38 a litre. Needless to say just a few miles further down our route we passed several filling stations. Odd though that there was not one on the southern
end of our cross country journey. We usually use that route as a way of avoiding going near Paris. The reason I didn't use it on the way down was because I had a good load on and didn't want to be encountering lots of roundabouts etc. I have to say
though, that after today it is losing its appeal. Lots of speed limits have been reduced, lots of 80kph/49mph & 90kph/55mph, even much of the dual carriageway along the route was restricted to 110kph/68mph, this meant we spent a lot of time tangled up
with the HGV's though it is still preferable to getting any closer to Paris.
I have to say Rouen really is an industrialised, ugly, dump, and
is always tricky to navigate through or around, and makes Blackburn in Lancashire look like Henley-on-Thames by comparison.
We arrived on a lovely
sunny day, though again with some fog out in the sticks, here at Cite Europe at 15:45, having travelled 266 miles, so that's a total of 1,007 miles since leaving Benicassim on Monday morning at a total journey average of 59mph at 27.6mpg. The cost
of the fuel and tolls will be included on the spreadsheet which I will post once we have the bill in from the toll road people.
It's been a long journey, and in future we'll
look to use the ferry from Spain as it is so much easier, I'm sure the costs are similar, though I imagine the ferry fare will be much higher in the summer season.
that's it then, we'll spend the night here before driving the very short distance to the Le Shuttle terminal for our booked 12:50 crossing tomorrow.
By the time we come back
over the Channel again in early September our politicians should have put the final touches to the Brexit pantomime. They may even be able to get us out by the year 2050. At our time of life it doesn't bother The Chef and I either way. If we 'Remain' then
we can carry on with our lifestyle unhindered, and if we 'Leave' then we get back control of our destiny, but it won't effect us too much at our age. For us it's the principle of the thing. Either we're in a democracy or we're not. The 'Leave' camp won the
vote, it was a democratic process which 48% of the population on this occasion disagreed with the result. Every trick in the book seems to have been used to overturn the result, and that sadly, coupled with the incompetence of our politicians, has
greatly weakened our negotiating position.
I tend to believe the recent communication from Jean-Claude Juncker the EU Commission's President to the leaders of the EU 27,
saying that they had got almost everything they wanted out of the UK in the negotiations, and that we would be tied to their regulations for many years to come. Little wonder they're unwilling to renegotiate the agreement. So the Wicked Witch is
going to have a job spinning that one to Westminster as some kind of good deal, though it's better than Comrade Corbyn's latest idea which is to demand everything the 'Remain' camp want but to call it 'Leave'.
I just hope they now crack on getting new trade deals around the world, but confine them purely to trade and not start including generous visa arrangements with developing countries such as India, otherwise we'll have folk arriving
here on 'holiday' only to disappear in to the black economy, probably in a sweat shop somewhere working for people like Turbans-R-Us.
I can see why some of them would want
to come, I'm sure a new pair of flip-flops from Harrods would be real one-upmanship on the neighbours back home, especially the ones with cut glass crystals stitched on to the straps for evening wear. So the arrangement would be reciprocal, in that I could
go on holiday to India more easily and for longer. Would I want to? The thought of walking around dodging piles of human pooh wearing flip-flops whilst balancing a tray of popadoms on my head doesn't fill me with wanderlust I'm afraid. And
what would we trade in? I suppose they would sell us things like silks and fine materials while we sold them stainless steel folding shovels to dig their latrines and watering cans, so they could boast of having a flush toilet.
As this blog has had something like 67,000 visits by folk kind enough to show an interest since I created it three years ago (visitor count shown bottom right of home page), I recently shared a little
bit about myself, and will now share some final thoughts to personalise the blog a little more, though in future it will revert back to just being just about The Chef and I on our travels. First then, how we make our way in the world. I call it 'The Escalator
When each of us is born we step on to the bottom step of an escalator, just like those very long ones you get on London Underground. The period between stepping
on at the bottom and stepping off at the top is the period of our life.
Like most escalators we stand to one side one behind the other. We are leaving space beside us for
those who wish to bound past, such is their hurry to reach the top. Such people include those who take drugs, drive without seat belts, drive fast and recklessly, involve themselves in gangs, and other dangerous pursuits. How sad that they are in such a hurry
to reach the top of the escalator, and it's end. Sometimes there'll be folk who at a certain time in their lives will want to try and slow the journey down, so thow on some jogging gear, turn round and try and run back down the moving escalater, though eventually
they tire, realise it's a waste of time, turn round and rejoin the queue.
Behind us, in the order of things are our children, and maybe grandchildren, moving upwards
on the escalator. As they grow up they run the risk of doing something foolish, and we're there to put our arm out to stop them passing us, to protect them, and hope they don't push that arm away, for we can only do so much to protect them. Sometimes they'll
just give that arm a gentle push, and that's their way of saying, "I know the risks, but I want to give it a go, I want to be adventurous", and we slowly drop our arm and place it on their shoulder as a way of saying "Go for it. Good luck and be careful".
I have had such moments in my life with both my daughters, of whom I am enormously proud, they turned out just fine, despite having me as their father.
Many years ago my eldest daughter Clare decided to try and overcome her fear of heights by doing a skydive, something I would never do myself, I wouldn't have the courage having seen the results
of what happens when things go wrong. Diving in tandem doesn't make it any safer, it just means you don't die alone. But jump she did. I take my hat off to her.
daughter Nicola joined the Royal Navy as an apprentice specialising in the servicing and maintenance of helicopter airframes and engines. During her first year of apprentiship her intake were required to tour venues during the summer season with a Mast Manning
display. A historical ritual where in the days of sail, naval ratings would man the mast as a way of honouring senior officers.
Nicola fancied a bash at becoming the 'Button
Boy' who stands at the top of the mast, something a female had never in the history of the Royal Navy ever done. I advised her that if she wanted a crack at it she should tell her senior officers so that they could prepare her physically because it wasn't
so much the climbing to the top of the mast and standing there but the physical strength of climbing back down on the long rope that was the challenge. Anyhow her instructors prepared her well and at the Peterborough Showground in 1992 Nicola became
the Royal Navy's first ever 'Female Button Boy'. The following year she was asked to join the 1993 team as the Queen wanted to see the 'Female Button Boy' perform. She was to perform during the Royal Tournament at Earls Court in front of most of the Royals
at various performances.
Unfortunately she sustained an arm injury in training and was booked off sick by an RAF doctor on site. But being her dad's daughter she disobeyed
the 'sick note' so that she could perform just once - for her Majesty The Queen. This was good for the reaat of the display team because it then gave them the opportunity to be the 'Button Boy' in her place.Her mother and I were very nervous watching
that display knowing that she was suffering a weakness in her arm, and we knew from a post display photo-shoot that the mast itelf wobbled like mad near the top and anything could have gone wrong. Thank God it didn't and she completed the performance
receiving a souvenier coin rather than the traditional tot of rum from Her Majesty at the end, and was presented to her in the line-up after the show.
A couple of years
or so later, whilst performing at the Royal Suffolk Show the young Button Boy froze part way down the rope, and hung there a while before falling, hitting the ground very hard and breaking his back. All future planned displays were cancelled and the team disbanded,
and in all honesty I don't think it will ever be reformed because 'Health & Safety' and 'Duty of Care' will result in so many safeguards that it will never be realistic enough to be worth the expense and effort.
So my youngest daughter, the mother of my grandson Alexander, remains and is likely to always be the Royal Navy's first, and only, 'Female Button Boy'. So you see that's another one of those occasions when you
have to drop your arm and place your supporting hand on their shoulder and say "Go for it, good luck, and be careful".
So there we are, just so long as we all stay in
the correct order on that escalator of life, all is right with the world. Things will be as they should be.
I suppose we all have our own idea of what lies beyond that
bright white light that greets us at the top of the escalator. Personally I hope that I'll be greeted by past loved ones and family, and get the opportunity to spend eternity with my darling Rosina undertaking new adventures together, but if I discover it's
nothing more than the showroom of DFS offering their 'This One Lasts for Eternity' sofa sale, I'm going to be really annoyed.
As for me I've got to get back in to trying
to learn sign language. I was hoping to spend lots of time doing it in Spain, but the problem was finding somewhere to wave my hands about without drawing attention to myself, and I must pluck up the courage to go and see 'Blind Brian'
for a haircut. I haven't bought his guide dog a treat back so I've no idea what he'll do to my locks. The Chef is always interested to see what he's done with it each time I go. Never mind, it soon grows long again, about the only part of me which does these
God willing we'll see you again in early September for our France & Northern Italy tour.
PS. I have uploaded two of the three videos I am hoping to post. You'll probably need to turn the volume up on your device if you can.