We have hit the road in our own motorhome and, two weeks later, are starting to find our rhythm. Let the fun begin!
Earlier in the year, we had started clearing our closets and had believed that we whittled down our belongings to a manageable level. Boy, were we wrong! When it came to the last week and time to move out of the apartment, we discovered we still had so much stuff. A final round of ruthless ‘culling’ and we ended up with a manageable pile of clothes, educational material and Amelia’s toys to pack. In the end we consolidated our lives into five checked bags! We need to thank Jim and Sammy for helping ready the apartment, Janice’s family for letting us stay with them and for looking after Amelia while we were busy tidying the apartment and to our friends who helped in numerous ways!
What would an adventure be without challenges? The first ‘incident’ happened after we had checked-in for our flight to London and were about to meet friends and family for farewells at George Town Yacht Club (a restaurant 3 minutes from the airport). We were told that as this was a repatriation flight (it wasn’t) we could not leave the airport. Amelia burst into tears. Thanks to Janice’s perseverance (and Amelia’s distress) the duty manager made an exception and we were able to say our goodbyes!
The flights (to Heathrow and to Paris) were uneventful; it was just a long day of travelling. Needless to say, we slept well that first night in France.
We based ourselves in Sens (approximately 1 ½ hours south of Paris) as we had a day to spare before collecting the motorhome. Sens is well-known for its gothic cathedral which we managed to miss in December even though we had walked within 100 metres of the cathedral (I’m putting it down to jet-lag, being tired and the cold weather)! This time we didn’t miss the cathedral! When Amelia saw the square in front of the cathedral, complete with pigeons, she commented that this city must have been based on the cities in Guatemala as they are made the same way!
And then the big day arrived, Monday, 22 September 2020! She looked (and is!) a lot bigger than expected (the upside is that there is that we haven’t used all the storage space … yet). We had planned an ‘easy’ day (collect the motorhome, drive back to the hotel and unpack) and it worked out well. If we had tried to do more, we would have run out of time and most probably had more than our two incidents. Prior to our departure, it had been confirmed that all the vehicle registration paperwork was complete but something felt amiss as I had not been asked to pay the insurance premium. It turns out, due to a backlog with the French authorities, the motorhome has not been registered in our names. We are driving on temporary licence plates. The downside is that sometime in the next month when the registration is complete, we need to return to the dealership to get our licence plates fitted. Luckily, we have time to bimble around France! And the other incident was when we were driving back to the hotel, I got too close to a bush and hit the passenger-side mirror. The impact cracked the plastic casing of the mirror (luckily not the mirror itself)! My first drive and look what I did! A little epoxy repaired the damage.
It took about two days to unpack everything and buy the essentials which at the time seemed like a long time (I mean we have a country to explore). But, in hindsight, two days to set up a completely new, albeit small, house is quite reasonable.
There have been a few pleasant surprises. The GPS has a function that allows you to set the size of the motorhome so no more going around a corner and finding a bridge that is too low for us to go under (yes, it happened). And, I can control the air heater from my phone; very useful in the mornings especially after the three days of gorgeous weather ended.
We are generally heading south and have been enjoying the open fields interspersed with quaint, picturesque old villages. The motorhome is living up to expectations as were we able to spend 3 nights without any hookups before the fresh water tank runs low and the grey & black tanks become full. We have been making use of our France-Passion membership; farmers, artisans, etc. who give you a place to park and in return you are expected to say Bonjour and consider buying something they produce. Highlights are that we’ve camped next to a field of ostriches and bought some farm-fresh vegetables but now that we are in wine country it might start getting expensive!
Until next time, au revoir!