A Travellerspoint blog

One Week Down!

French Keyboards can be tricky...

semi-overcast 23 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

Bonjour tout le monde!

First week has flown by! Left sunny glasgow around 1030 on monday for the loooooong drive south to Steves. Had a lovely evening in Twickenham with Steve and Lauren with spag bol and wine!

Set off for Dover the next day, stopped in public carpark, where we spent the day and night. walked along the white cliffs and had fish and chips for dinner. managed a few hours kip before the 4am ferry wed morning.

arrived in boulogne 7am local time and started driving. cal took first shift. had to stop for a wee nap in rouen which turned out to be a lovely place. lots of sunshine which meant the shorts went on! :)

i took over driving and we plooded on to oustreham which lies along the normandy beaches. spent our first night in an aires which was an experience as it took us 15mins to find the service point...i remain convinced it appeared from nowhere! rain was heavy, and it took us three trips to find the right place to buy tokens for the service point!

next morning we set off along the coast, stopped for lunch at Luc-Sur-Mer after we picked up some meat,cheese,and bagettes! was lovely to relax by the sea; kept plodding south-west to mont st michel (where it was still miserable weather).
its a strange place! a little island with a road leading up to it. parked up the van and took a wander in. It was like ye olde disney. too many folk in the little cobbled st made it a bit daunting. stunning architecture in the abbey though. had to move the van from the carpark as it floods when the tide is in! drove to the overnight carpark which was just a big field with lots of campers. after dinner we headed pack to the island which was thankfully quiter for a drink and a crepe!

early next morning we travelled south to carnac. somewhere we wernt bothered about but turned out to be lovely little seaside town. Seen the first sunshine too! had lunch and then set off to explore on the bikes. had a stoll along the beach before heading back to the van to relax in the sunshine. decided to go out for dinner and had the french classic of Moule Frites! delicious! cal had paprika flavoured ones which resulted in him being covered in a nice red sauce! obviously i was much cleaner!

another early start the next day to head to Noutimer which is a long thin island on the west coast. Travelled across the bridge at St Nazair which was a spectacular view. arrived in L'Epine about 1330 after a slight detour along a dirt track road that almost got us stuck in the sand! aires on beach was full but found another spot at roadside where other vans were parked.

spent the afternoon on the beach (which stunk to high heaven of seaweed!) after an unsuccessful search for a bakers. dinner in a hot hot van, and an evening cycle to the town of Noutimier en I'lle. Stopped for an ice cream before cycling back to L'Epine to watch the sunset. would have been perfect if it wasn't for that smell!

yesterday we decided to head on from l'epine and ended up in La Rochelle. Glorious sunshine, so once we parked up the van in aire (which was just a public carpark) we spent the afternoon lazing about in the beatiful park. we stopped en-route at a supermarket for supplies so were sorted for lunch and dinner. had a few problems with the toilet cassette...the details of which I shall not go in to for it is too traumatic to relive! but I think I fixed it now! I really hope I have!
played some travel scrabble in the park had some dinner then took a walk into town. there is a lovely harbour here with alot of activity. enjoyed an ice cream (its becoming a theme but when else can you enjoy ice cream if not on your holidays...) before heading back to the van to read, enjoy some wine and fall asleep.

This morning we were awoken by heavy rain :( much to my distress, also had to move the van for roadworks! met a lovely aussie man called john, Cal helped him change a flat tyre on his van and he treated us to coffee and tales of his adventures! weather is sunny with showers today, fingers crossed it brightens up!
think we're heading down to the harbour for dinner tonight, not sure where we're heading tmrw. thats the joy of the van...we can go where we like! travelled quite a distance so far - 1200 miles from glasgow and alot still to go!

will try and find another cafe before the end of next week but they are few and far between. loving the relaxed atmosphere in france, and struggling by with what i can remember from sgrade but we're having a great time!

looking forward to see what happens next!

Posted by lkane86 04:45 Archived in France Comments (0)

It's getting a bit exciting now...

Last day at work

sunny 14 °C

So today is my last day at work! Holiday time officially starts at 4pm today (or 3:30pm if I can get away early)
So while I'm skiving I thought I'd write a wee update on our plans.

The van is currently at the garage having the wiper linkage fixed. We couldn't source the part ourselves so ordered one from the dealer. Should get the T-unit back Monday and then its a week of final preparations!

Since I last updated, we've been to "the caravan shop" on great western road TWICE. We're sorted out for our toilet chemicals, gas cannister and hook up cable. I think the only thing we need to pick up now is a basin for grey water.

Bought new speakers (as there was only noise coming out one speaker) last weekend, we thought this would solve our problems. It didn't :/ I'm convinced it's something to do with the headunit so after pulling it out and seeing the MESS of wires that was in behind it, i'm pretty sure. So when the van is back in our possession it'll be up to me to have a bash at wiring it up correctly. Oh dear...

Rucksack, memory cards, camera gear, chargers have all been purchased. We're just ready to pack our bags and load up the van now!

Off to pick up a France LonelyPlanet guide today - we're worried we miss out on stuff and want to know what should not be missed! Paris campsite is booked so we've got three days there before we head up for the ferry on the 2nd Sept.

Arranged to meet up with Ben and Sarah in Nice and then all head up to Grand Canyon Du Verdon the next day. The second largest canyon in the world. It looks beautiful and i'm sure i'll be snap happy!

Planning is coming along nicely, but we both just want to go now. It's been such a long time coming we can't wait to get away!

L x

Posted by lkane86 01:35 Archived in Scotland Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Service

update on all things engine...

sunny 25 °C

The T-Unit went in for a Service on Tuesday. We got the van back on Saturday and there was lots of little things fixed.

We still have our wiper problem at the moment, but it is fixable. We're trying to source the Wiper Linkage part ourselves to try and save a bit of cash, but I trust Fergus (our mechanic) and if we can't find it, we'll leave the van in his very capable hands!

Fergus gave us a full list of the work he carried out, helps us out when we come to sell the van after summer. Most of the repairs were small, but significant. But it's the little things that make a difference and I'm already feeling more confident about the van. T-Unit has been well looked after by its previous FIVE owners! and it shows.

We got the windscreen replaced on Monday. Delighted and relieved when the fitted told us our van was "minted" as he'd previously failed to replace windscreens as a result of corroded windscreen lip. He told us van's have been scrapped for this reason alone. We'd have been distraught if this had been the case for us - but luck was on our side, and we had a shiny new windscreen in place after 30mins :)

Massively relieved to have the windscreen replaced, was beginnin to get paranoid about the chip getting bigger and shattering while I was driving!
But all catastrophes were averted and once we get the wipers fixed we're pretty much ready to roll!

2.5weeks left at work, and it's 3.5 weeks untill we leave! So close I can smell the salty sea air already!

L x

Posted by lkane86 08:12 Archived in Scotland Tagged preparation Comments (0)

More Firsts

We popped our campervan cherry...

semi-overcast 14 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

Friday the 12th of June saw myself and Cal spend our first night in the T-Unit.

We decided to opt for a campsite in order to fill up the water and test out the gas etc. Originally we had intended to travel up to Immervoilin, but they cancelled on us at the last minute and ended up at Gart Campsite on the outskirts of Callandar.

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We were eager to get going so we found ourselves a prime spot in the campsite and set about filling up the water tank. This was deemed a success untill we realised we'd left the drainge tape open at the other side of the van. Oops!

Another minor disastor was had when we realised our bucket to catch the grey water was too tall to sit under the van. Oh well, this is what this trip was for!

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we successfully managed dinner, a walk round the campsite, a few games of cards and setting up the bed! On our walk round we discovered we were by far the youngest folk there (unaccompanied by a guardian) and had the oldest van! Least the T-Unit has character...
After a good nights sleep (or a slightly chilly evening for cal who was convinced we'd be too warm...) we were well rested for another days adventure!

We had to set off by 11am on Saturday morning so we got up, had showers, did a few minor tidying up bits (like emptying the chemical toilet...an essential task that is NEVER discussed) we headed into Callandar for a pub lunch while we waiting on our Friends joining us for a second night WILD camping!

We set off from Callandar in our 4 car entourage. Needless to say we were trailing behind, the boy racers forget we're maxing at 60! I was driving on Saturday, as Cal drove up on Friday. Boy did I pick the short straw, it was all fine untill we got to the single track round that follows the edge of the Loch round to Balquhidder. Its enough driving along it once, but by the fourth time along the track I was getting annoyed! It was testing my patience, trying to find a campsite EVERYONE thought was suitable. Well we eventually got a nice spot on the edge of the loch, with enough space to park the cars and vans.

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We set about making a campfire, and pitching ourselves beside the water to escape the dreaded midgie. We suffered a bit of a rain outbreak...but we escaped to the van for some dry time while the rest snuggled in their tents. Cruel...but we didn't pay all this money for a van to get wet!

When the rain went off, we got the campfire going and had some dinner. The rest of the night was spent enjoying the view and laughing with friends. We headed to bed around 1am.

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After drunkenly setting the bed up, we quickly fell asleep. I woke at around 5am to discover an ambulance parked next to us! We soon discovered one of the girls had broken her leg on her way back to the tent at around 2am. She's ok now, but there was much drama on the campsite...all of which we missed cause we were asleep in the van!

We got up around 10am, cleared up the campsite (while dodging the midges) and headed back to Callandar for some lunch.

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The morning had stayed dry, and it wasn't untill we headed back to the van that the rain came on. ideal for our broken wipers! it was fine in light rain, but we HAD to stop when the hailstones came pelting down!

We made it home in one piece, and all in all - it was a successful first trip for the T-unit, Cal and Laura :)

L x

Posted by lkane86 01:59 Archived in Scotland Tagged preparation Comments (0)

On the Road again...

only just

sunny 13 °C

My first time driving the van on my own! T-Unit is booked in for a look over at the garage for wednesday morning, so I took the van down to my house to stay for a few nights before I drop it into the garage on wednesday morning.

I felt very aprehensive about driving the van on my own, mainly because I was scared it would just decide to stop working for me, and also incase it rained (even though there was glorious sunshine last night...) because our wipers wernt working!
But it all went without any drama and I got it back to Greenock no problem. Dad, brother and Susie came out to inspect and were all quite impressed. I'm not sure what they were expecting, but I'm thinking nothing as clean and nice inside as our van!

Before we left Cal's, we had a check of the water system. All works fine, and we found where the grey water comes from too. The only thing we've really got left to do is connect up the gas and fire up the hob and water heater.
Unfortunately we've discovered a strange smoke coming out of the exhaust when we started up. Hoping Fergus can fix that on wednesday.

Once we've sorted out mechanical things, we're on to the windscreen :/ Things we would like not to have to spend money on, but we're pretty sure we can make our money back on the van.

It's an investment!

Also had a look at our route last night, and trying to settle dates. We want to book a few days in a hotel in barcelona in order to break up the routine of the van. I imagine we'll be itching (maybe litterally...) for a shower by then. Will give an update of the finalised route once we've got it sorted. Cal has his own blog too - which I'll post a link for when I figure out how to do it!

Keep your fingers crossed we don't need too many repairs this week!

L x

Posted by lkane86 00:26 Archived in Scotland Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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