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Something New

17 Sep
Our Kampa in deepest France earlier this year.

Recently I was contacted by Thomas, who lives locally in our village. He has just purchased an NV200 and has started an NV200 Group on Facebook. Facebook has taken over much of my scribings from the Blog in recent months and I have not been posting as much as in the past. But there is more to come. The Summer renovation, painting the exterior of our cottage is virtually completed and we will have more time for leisure  and subsequent Blogging again. The Kampa is here to stay for the longer term and we have not scratched the surface of our bucket list. Keep watching.
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Wilderness In the City Centre? Dash Cam benefits.

29 Aug

It has been almost two months since I last posted. I have a backlog of visit reports from myself and friends Martin and Libby to post but yesterday was so negative it drove me to post this.

Our nearby Newcastle under Lyme has relatively low crime rates but on my return from picking up paint materials for our current home update I was in for a shock. As I approached one of the roundabouts on the A34 near the new wood stove Pizza parlour, I spotted a couple of “hoodies” beyond the underpass railings immediately to my left. I glanced across and there were actually four in all, two of them apparently , young men. As I moved towards my left turn, there was a huge loud bang and the campervan was rocked , water was covering the passenger cab window and laughing faces could be seen close to the immediate barrier.

I completely lost it. I pulled up around the junction and leapt out to confront the vandals. They saw me running towards them as I came around the building on the corner and at first they ran off towards the next roundabout. I did not give up and got close to catching them. I was extremly angry and my fists were clenched. Then I realised that the two largest were actually probably nearer to 15 yo than 18 , so I calmed a little and turned back towards my campervan. They followed me shouting abuse and threatening to drag me into the underpass. They didn’t  and I do not think that they would actually risk taking me on , even with four of the little blighters.

I realised though that even inside town, I was in a a bit of a protection-less no mans land of dual carriageway pavement, underpasses and limited access. Back in the kampa and having seen the small dent on the door, I realised that they could easily have had a knife? They had probably thrown a plastic water bottle with a lot of force.

Hmmmmm ? Makes you think. I stored the dash cam and back home, it came up trumps. I had videoed the scum and had it safely on file. One call to 101 and it was reported. Crime number issued for insurance purposes , although it would not be worthwhile and a commitment by the Police to view the CCTV on that location.The chap taking the call shrugged off my apologies for taking up Police time. Crime is crime, his words. It could have been far worse.

What a sad world we have become. An underclass of losers ruining life for others for fun.

I intend posting much more pleasant material as soon as busy times allow. Trips to Wales, the South Downs and much more.

Zero Emission (???) campervans from Nissan Spain.

20 Jun

This web article appeared a short while ago on YouTube. It all looks great but I have to again challenge this Marketing hype about vehicles being ” Zero Emissions”. Total nonsense of course They have to receive battery charge from some source and unless it’s from purely solar, then emssions in generarting the electrical energy will result in emissions. Don’t think Nuclear power is clean either. Firstly consider the HUGE amounts of energy used in creating VAST amounts of concrete cement and then of course what can happen environmentally if things go wrong. For example Chernobyl and Fukishima to name but two incidents. Say that quickly, the consequences of such events are enormous and very, very long lived. Google nuclear half life for evidence. Pure science by the way, not opinion.

   Chernobyl 30 years ago.

   Fukishima Disaster. Mans foolishness again through poor judgement.

Still enjoying Pacific Tuna without any worries ? Was that veg that you ate today grown in a fallout zone created 30 years ago with hundreds of years left ticking away in nuclear half life degradation?

My Tribute to Two Dedicated VW Owners.

8 Jun

Just watched, in awe and admiration, the Channel 4 Program, Charles Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. As a confirmed Nissan NV200 supporter, I just have to honour this couple and their totally restored and modified VW Camper Van. MATILDA. The body was restored in the nearby Village of Audlem , close to where we live.

see https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/07/03/revamp-sees-camper-van-become-tv-star/

This has to be one of the best VW conversions that I have seen. Converted with great deep thought, it has a swivel cab seat to maximise space. A hob which folds up into one side door and a hidden, modern slide away TV.

I love everything about this Gem. The colour, the concours condition, the leather upholstery, the LOT !

The Lady owner was filled with emotion when she said that she could picture herself and partner still enjoying Matilda when they are in their seventies. So can I. Take a bow. Matilda is beautiful and deserves a useful , camping existence !

If we ever bump into you two, inspirational people on a camp site , we shall be asking for a selfie with our NV200 micro camper van ! Respect !

Security Issues in France. Be warned. Be careful. Be aware.

7 Jun

We left the Museum at Le Mans motor racing circuit and made our way along delightful “D” roads, avoiding the autoroute to enjoy the beautiful, numerous towns and villages that we passed through. We did endure a short but violent thunderstorm with heavy rain at one point  and our friends, in their motorhome had a worrying moment when they hit a badly signed low height barrier on a major ring road. We now know that there was no damage caused but distressing nonetheless. We also got caught up behind an elderly gent driving an almost new micro-car. Limited to around 30 mph , he was risking a long drive on fast “D” roads and nearly got sideswiped several times by lorries coming up behind him at high speed. We caught up and passed him a few times due to the delays awaiting our friends following their incident.

We arrived in plenty of time at Ouistreham, for the Brittany Ferry leaving next day from the Caen Ferry Port terminal. That’s it above on the Avenue du Grand Large, south of town.

We planned to stay overnight on the Ferry Terminal once the last Ferry of the night had departed. That’s what it said was possible on Brittany Ferries website. So it was to be about 10.30pm at the terminal before the office closed and the gates shut for the night. I did however turn off the D515 just before Ouistreham for a quick look at Camping Hautes Coutures, to judge if that was a better option. It was shut tight. Nobody about and a very difficult turnaround with the caravan behind the Kampa.

As we went to rejoin the road to Ouistreham, my wife and I spotted a large number of migrants, playing football in a depression in the fields.

   We did not see him, but our friends spotted three or four migrants in a bus shelter. One was openly waving a large knife about!  Not knowing this I pulled onto the adjacent Carrefour parking area to discuss our camping plan. There were not many cars on the car park, yet the supermarket was open. My friend and I jumped out to discuss the itinerary and we immediately spotted two migrants on both sides of the vehicles, two behind us and two in front. He told me of the knifeman and I suggested a quick departure to a layby I had spotted on a dual carriageway section of the D515, which is where we went. A good couple of miles out of Ouistreham and protected on one side by an enormous field of wheat stretching to the horizon, and the dual carriageway itself with crash barriers on the other. We felt much safer and I armed myself with a long socket bar in case the knifeman had followed us. In the dark  the ladies were quite nervous but we enjoyed a decent supper and hot drinks ready for our return to the ferry terminal. We got there just as the last minute passengers were loading. At first they did not want us to enter or stay overnight but I politely insisted that the website stated that this was in order and we were swiftly moved to “Lane 12” and locked in for the night. Gendarmes patrolled up and down the entire night in their vehicles, the other side of the security fence in a lorry access road between us and the canal. Next day we were put on board via strict security checks which included an armed Douanier (Customs Officer) and assault rifle toting French soldiers and sniffer dogs. This was repeated in the UK and the Customs guy who searched our caravan , again, knew of the activities in Ouistreham the previous night. He whispered a private warning about staying near the Ferry terminal ! MY NEPHEW WAS NOT SO LUCKY AS WE WERE.

About a week after we left France, my nephew and his wife had driven to Valencia in Spain for a wedding. They hired a motor home something like this one. A fixed bed, two plus one berth, rented from a company close to where we live. On their return trip, they overnighted on an Aire de Repos , I believe near the A9 (?) close to the city of Perpignan (?)

It was a typical , wooded, “service” area. Not an official campsite but it was legal to sleep overnight. Something like this one above. During the night, in the dark, my nephew’s wife woke him up. The motor home was rocking and someone was actually IN THE CAB ! My nephew is a fit, young man and, shall we say capable of handling himself, but he took great risk and investigated. The intruder (s?) had left and he immediately drove off to the next service area where he reported it to some Gendarmes. His was the fourth motor home burgled that night. Two doors had their locks damaged and a forced entry saw the loss of a bag, a purse, credit card, etc etc. The Gendarmes had arrested a group of people who they described as Romanians. Freaked out, my relatives cut short their holiday and returned home to England.

We head back towards the Channel Coast via Le Mans

5 Jun

We allowed all day to cover the distance between Lac de Maine, Angers and Ouistreham, Caen Ferry Port. The Brittany Ferries website clearly stated that we could stay overnight at the Port once the last ferry of the day had departed. To save time in the morning and to avoid too early a start we planned to do just that. Sleep at the Ferry Port. More about this in tomorrow’s post, don’t miss that one !

We arrived at the Musuem of the 24 Hours of Le Mans just in time for lunch in the Kampa and Motorhome on the museum car park. We could hear, what sounded like F1 cars practicing very nearby on the circuit, just the other side of the Dunlop Stand by the museum. Were they shaking down before the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix I wonder?

As we lunched on French bread, cheese and sliced saucisson with fresh tomatoes and mustard (of course) a group of classic Minis appeared. Some were from Denmark and others from Portugal. The Danish chap spoke perfect English and we compared notes on previous Minis owned and abused by we fellow fanatics. They were impressed with my last Mini . A Clubman with  1410cc Cooper “S” engine, nitrided crank, twin 1 1/2 inch SUs, full LCB., straight through rally exhaust, Hi Lo suspension and adjustable Spax. We talked stage rallying and road rallying for classic Minis. Lost in France. Hell yes ! Lost in a nostalgic trip back in time ! This set the mood for the museum tour, which was marvellous.

We mooched through the exhibits, deep in awe of the tasty vehicles on display. The shear history of the circuit engulfed us and there was no shortage of topics to discuss.

  I especially liked this Maserati Engined Citroen SM.

    This promo van for the French automotive lighting company, Marchal, got me rabbiting on about my Rally Mini lighting system. Two Cibie Bi-Oscars , plumbed in via a caravan connecting socket with pre-set fixings for instant adjustment when fitted between stages. All relayed in. Then two Cibie headlight units with H4 bulbs which were leading edge then. Dip and main beam relayed together to all stay lit on main beam. Powered by a monster, for it’s time 95 amp hr alternator. Super diameter wiring. Turned night into day on that Mini. Also got me disqualified in my first quiet zone , first time out on a 12 car road rally. LOL.

Angers-Loire Air Passion Museum.

4 Jun

This place was our surprise find from the previous day. An aviation museum , based at the City Aeroport. The previous evening we had again done a couple of laps around the Lac de Maine to pay for our red wine and BBQ. Feeling fit we arrived in good time from the Peage to this Gem of a place.

One of the first exhibits was this marvellous model of a Concorde which operated until 2003. What a sad end to a superb aircraft.

  Early in our visit we were approached by an elderly French gentleman from a group of others. They were all pilots and were acting as guides at the museum. He spoke a liitle English and with my “schoolboy” French we got by. Treated like VIPs, we were introduced to this Gentleman Airman who was described as a famous pioneer from Paris. He took a Piper Grasshopper , which had been restored from a crash site in marshy ground ( Lac de Maine ? pre man made lake era?) and flew a couple of circuits around the Airfield. He was treated as a hero by the rest of his group. Do you recognise him? Please comment if you can identify him.

 

As we watched this famous pilot taking off, a bi-plane performed aerobatics above our heads ! For me, it was like the old days at Meir Aerodrome in Stoke-on-Trent, watching the ex RAF flyers in their gliders and Tiger Moth with Eric Clutton (now 90 yo and STILL flying from his US airport located home) Age to these guys is meaningless. These old pilots knew who you are Eric. Take a bow ! Key words for them were F.R.E.D., and Diesel Doctor !

  This Hybrid , partially solar powered lane ,(twin wing) ,had been flown in by the celebrated pioneer who had flown it across the Atlantic.

This l’Eclair, propellor driven car is somewhat older. I hope it slowed down for horses !!!

Almost as we were leaving, the original guide re-claimed my chum and I and we were given a rapid tour to make sure that we had not missed some key exhibits. taken up into the lofty heights on “fire-escapes” we saw heart churning reports of WWII deaths , one of a 19 yo American pilot who died at Angers , along with parts from his aircraft. The Frenchman was especially proud of the German wreckage, shot down locally. He did however praise the WWII German aircraft. He also praised the Hurricane almost as much as the Spitfire. What a reception we had from these people !

  France has an undisputed aviation pioneering past. I can highly recommend this place if you are within passing distance.

  A fantastic day out.