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Night night guys - be good!
userMel B
Posted: 10 May 2007 10:40 PM
Subject: Night night guys - be good!

The special one

Posts: 12468
Location: E Yorks, 2015 Globecar FamilyScout L Ducato Maxi

Well, that's it, I'm off to beddy-byes, lots to do tomorrow before we set off.

Try not to 'kill' each other as I shall be doing a teddy bear inspection when I return to check on abuse.

The other 'girls' will no doubt keep you all happy and amused.

I'll think of you all as I sit in the sunshine sipping my cup of tea!

Michele ... I think I'll need some of your tablets though as I'm sure I'm going to get forum withdrawal symptoms.

See you in 2 weeks.

au reviour mes amis ....
Posted: 10 May 2007 11:03 PM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

Location: Rapido ..ask him what size

Bon nuit sweetie,

Have a good time mel . I can't be giving you all my pppppills i need em for on here What will I do now till you get back where's Carol and Donna and lizzy and all the girls . Sylvia go get em sort em all out till mel's back..

seriously safe travels take it easy relax unwind have a cuppa for me
Lucky you I have gone green now,
Posted: 10 May 2007 11:30 PM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

Location: Dunnshargin

Enjoy the break Mel. I know you,ve had the new van for a while now but this will give you the chance for a real shakedown and get everything exactly has you want it. Take care, and don,t forget to do a headcount before boarding the ferry back home.
Posted: 11 May 2007 7:25 AM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

Pillar of the forums

Posts: 608
Location: Grantham - rapido 741f - 2.8tdi fiat ducato - 02

Carol here, all present and correct and on watch!
Have a good one Mel, and Chris and the dogs - have a safe journey.
Look forward to hearing of your travels when you get back.
We are off on the 2nd, only 3 weeks to go.
take care
userdonna miller
Posted: 11 May 2007 8:08 AM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

Forum master

Posts: 2281
Location: Autocruise Starspirit

I'm still here,
I might not post much, but I read most of what goes on.
Have a good time, enjoy yourself and take care.
Posted: 11 May 2007 8:23 AM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

Location: Rapido ..ask him what size

So thats Twooks we all voted for then . Ah good she''ll keep em in tow.
userTony Jones
Posted: 11 May 2007 8:52 AM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!
Forum master

Posts: 3210
Location: France, or in our 2005 Burstner Privilege t585

howie - 2007-05-10 11:30 PM

Take care, and don,t forget to do a headcount before boarding the ferry back home.

Probably best in your case Mel. The more usual method (count legs and divide by 2) wouldn't help, with your mixture of 2- and 4-legged crew. There's probably a formula you could use, but unless you're a Maths PhD I'd stick to the heads.

Have a good time!

T x
Posted: 11 May 2007 9:35 AM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

A posting machine

Posts: 314
Location: East Anglia. Rapido 966M. Mercedes Auto 2004

You may not have time to read this before leaving tomorrow but just in case here's wishing you well. Look forward to hearing all about your travels when you return.

userMel B
Posted: 28 May 2007 6:05 PM
Subject: RE: Night night guys - be good!

The special one

Posts: 12468
Location: E Yorks, 2015 Globecar FamilyScout L Ducato Maxi

I'm back ... but only just! This is a warning for anyone who is going to the Ardeche region- I would recommend that you don’t the gorge canoeing … even if you survive the trip without a ‘tipping’ you could seriously damage your holiday …. it’s not the water that gets you!!!!!

Week 1 - weather changeable but picked up the by the end, then from the Saturday ....

After travelling the length of the Ardeche gorge in the camper we pulled into St Martin d’Ardeche to stay there for the night, next to this parking area canoe trips were being advertised at €25 each to canoe down the gorge from the Pont d'Arc down to St Martin d'Ardeche, total of 27km. No problem we thought, we're used to canoeing and having established that it wasn’t difficult at this time of year we decided to do it, so off bright and early on the Saturday morning we clambered on the coach to take us from St Martin to the Pont d'Arc starting point. After applying sun lotion, we set off in the canoe at about 9.15 am paddling nicely, us two and the dogs, we went over a few small rapids without a hitch, we then came to our first major one about an hour in to the trip. This is where the madness started! There were loads of canoeists (idiots mainly!) messing about splashing each other and playing ‘dodgems’ with the canoes, having managed to avoid them on the way so far we bade our time to cross the rapid, seeing a gap we headed on in, then the male idiots suddenly arrived … they formed a pincer movement on one side with some girls in another canoe on the opposite side of us, the idiots bumped our canoe twice and this unfortunately put us off course and forced us into the middle of the rapid right where the large rock was! Yup, we were tipped over and went into the drink. The dogs were not best pleased but thank heavens we had put on their lifejackets (we had taken the ones we already have for them as they are not provided for dogs), I had Romy with me and just grabbed hold of her and she scrabbled up onto my shoulder with her bottom being supported with the canoe paddle I still had hold of. My hubby floated away shouting “Where’s Midge?”, needless to say I was concerned to hear this and exclaimed “You’ve got him!” as he’d been in the rear of the canoe with him! We had clipped the dogs leads to their life jackets and then to our life jackets so that if we did capsize they wouldn’t float away, unfortunately when we had gone over Midge had gone under Chris’ leg and the so was bobbing around behind him! He managed to get hold of him and eventually someone came over and got our canoe and Chris managed to pop Midge into it, then they took him over the to the bank with the canoe so he could get back in. After a couple of minutes and then shouting “Assistance s’il vous plait!” (they’re not very forthcoming unless you ask - despite my floating along in the river with a dog on my shoulder!), I eventually managed to grab hold of someone’s canoe and they took Romy into the canoe, whilst I hung on the side and they took it over near the bank so I could clamber on shore. Chris eventually paddled over to us and we all flopped on shore for a rest and recuperate!!! Chris had banged and scratched his legs and I’d got some lovely scratched up my arm where Romy had scrabbled. Midge went nuts rolling about on the sand to try to dry himself – he hates getting wet! Eventually we tried to dry off a bit (we’d take a towel fortunately) and set off again, the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful except for the other 2 major rapids and some others that were not quite as bad but again pretty difficult to cross. Lots of people capsized, some more than once, so it wasn’t just us that got wet. I was annoyed with the canoe trip people as they had said the rapids weren’t difficult, they bl**dy well were!!! It was frightening to see some people with dogs without life jackets and even more total lunatics who had their kids with them without life jackets as well! It makes you wonder what their definition of difficult is! The gorge itself was lovely from the other perspective, ie bottom to top, but it was a very long paddle indeed, it took us until 5.30 pm to get back to St Martin, a total of 8 hours!!! My, were we glad to get back to the camper – every time we saw another rapid we thought … “oh no, here we go again …”.

Now, you may think that that was the worst part of the holiday, but oh no … that was yet to come!!! We knew we had a bit of sunburn as the man from the canoeing outlet mentioned it “Cour de Soleil” (‘cut of the sun’) but we don’t usually have a problem so didn’t worry, just slapped on the after sun. When Sunday came we were a bit sore from the sunburn but no muscle aches or pains at all from the canoeing, so after buying bread and having breakfast we drove off down the Gorges du Tarn and onto Millau, stopping at the Millau aire for the night. Chris had been sunburn on the front of his thighs, knees, shins and ankles, whilst mine was mainly my thighs, knees and shins. Chris wasn’t very comfortable so he soaked his feet in a bowl of cold water as they has swollen up a bit. By the following morning (Monday) things had got worse, the sunburn was really painful and sore so we eventually got up after liberal amounts of cream had been applied and went into Millau to find a Chemist, but they don’t open at normal times like here! Eventually found one that was open and they told Chris to go to a see the doctor as they could only sell basic stuff, we needed a prescription, couldn’t find a doctor open so drove on to Rodez (crossing the Millau bridge for the hell of it – very nice!), found a Chemist who exclaimed “Oh, la, la” (yes really!) in Rodez and told us where a doctor was that would be open. Went straight away and she wasn’t happy as we hadn’t an appointment but as soon as she saw our sunburn she ushered us straight in. Chris had a full exam (heart, breathing etc) as a complication of severe sunburn is heart and breathing problems. The doctor told us that our being on the river had intensified the effect of the sun by reflecting more onto us, and our getting constantly wet had also combined with this to make it even worse, hence why we were suddenly being affected when normally we don’t have a problem at all. By now Chris has some lovely blisters and his legs, ankles and feet were very swollen, my legs were going the same way but fortunately not quite as badly. We were immediately put on cortisone tablets and cream. I won’t bore you with the details of the further blistering, swelling, pain etc that we both suffered, but suffice to say that this happened on Saturday 19 May and I’m still quite sore and puffy and Chris can only now hobble around and still has dressings on his ankles and swelling and will do for a while yet – he’s had ‘intermediate’ burns, which means that the deeper levels of skin have been burnt, not just the usual top layer - I’ve renamed him ‘Shrek feet’!!! He’s been in a lot of pain and couldn’t walk at all for a few days, just getting out of bed was pure agony for him, all we could do for the last week was rest up and drive on a little when I was able to do so with the main bulk of the driving being later in the week when we had a trip of 500km in one day, mostly on motorway to reduce the amount of ‘stop-starts’, cost a bit but it was worth it. Romy had also drunk some seawater a few days earlier and had made herself ‘ill’ and had also got a small cut on one of her pads and had scratched her lower eye-lid so by now I was paranoid … surely nothing else can go wrong ….

We thought we were fairly home and dry by now so when we eventually got to Boulogne Sur Mer on Friday ready to go to the vets on Saturday morning, as I was feeling a little less sore, I took the dogs for a quick potter on the beach as they’d been going stir crazy because we hadn’t been able to take them out for walks etc. After they’d had a nice play and paddle in the sea we turned to go back to the camper and then disaster … Midge must’ve turned too quickly and there was a yelp … then a hobble … he’d twisted his leg. As Victor would say “I don’t believe it!” Midge has got funny joints and occasionally gets odd problems like this which usually rectify themselves after a day, so I carried the heavy dumpling all the way back to the van, my goodness the camping neighbours must’ve been feeding him too many titbits! At the vets on the Saturday morning he confirmed that it was his normal problem and pointed out that he was a bit plump! We were now all ‘damaged’ in some way … and this was supposed to be a holiday!

We managed to get a ferry on Sunday morning instead of Sunday evening (long story ... and expensive) but at least I could then drive during the day rather than at night.

So, the question is … did we have a good holiday … well, yes actually! It was very unfortunate what happened to us and not the holiday we had planned but we met some lovely people in the process, both French and English; thank goodness we had taken those French lessons! We had to travel to places we wouldn’t have normally in order to gradually ‘creep’ back up north from Rodez. Fortunately the weather was glorious whilst we were poorly which at least meant that we could sit and enjoy the scenery and chat, if we’d been cooped up in the van with bad weather we’d really have been thoroughly miserable.

The camper has been wonderful, we really appreciated the extra space and having the dinnete bed was a real boon - Chris slept on that for 4 nights as he couldn't get up to the normal bed and he also used it as a day bed whilst travelling. Everything performed as it should the only disappointment was not being able to use the shower - neither of us could bear the water on our sunburn!!! The only small negative about the van is that you have to step over a 6 inch lip to get into the toilet compartment and lifing our legs over that to use the loo was quite painful at times but normaly is okay! Oh, the bike rack rails got a bit bent and the underneath of the bumper on the nearside corner had a little 'indiscretion' ... (no, not my fault - he was watching both times ... I think he needs new glasses - needless to say after that I didn't trust him! )

The Ford base was a dream to drive and very stable, lots of power when needed and the noise level has improved quite a bit now that it's covered over 3,000 miles, although it wasn't bad to begin with. The floor mounted gear lever is actually very nice to use, and feels much more ergonomically friendly than the Fiats' dash mounted levers. Fuel consumption has been just shy of 23mpg which, seeing as we were doing a lot of slow and bendy, up hill, down dale, stop/start driving and motorway driving, up to 70 mph for a lot of it, isn't really that bad, certainly better than I expected.

Once incident I forgot to mention. During the first week of the holiday we stopped at a lovely viewing spot at the side of a mountain looking out at the wonderful scenery whilst having lunch, when a Frenchman drove in with a trailer in tow, got out of his car with a shovel and proceeded to dig up the gravel from the parking area and put it in the trailer! When he'd got enough he drove off!!! Now, I know that it's sometimes quite a drive to get materials etc due to the remoteness of some villages etc but this was totally ridiculous! We could see that he'd been there before form the marks on other parts of the parking area. So, if you go to a nice parking area and sink into the mud you know why .. .the French have been pinching the gravel again!
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