Drama on the Drive Home

More than 1100 miles later and time to head north. Enough time has passed now to have got over the dramas we encountered.

We took the autoroute north, still in searing heat, ready to clock up many more kms on the way to our stopover in Beaune.

I collected some randomness in French along the way:

We paused to refresh and rehydrate

We stopped in a shady layby for a James Riddell.

We paid our tolls, and…

Suddenly needed this!

Here was the problem, occurring just beyond the péage south of Lyon. We managed to pull in to the tiniest layby to assess the situation.

Oh dear. Not ideal when you need to arrive at the campsite in a timely manner to maintain your reservation.

Luckily for us I was able to converse with the locals to remedy the situation.

After ensuring all four of us were suitably attired in a fetching gilet jaune, we rummaged amongst the paperwork and found the VW assist book which we didn’t know about when we had engine trouble in Le Tréport (always seems to be in France when we have a problem!) and phoned the anglophone lady who wasn’t aware that we were the vehicle owners since the van was new.

She advised me to call the motorway company who gave me a different number to call and eventually after several conversations in matter-of-fact-couldn’t-care-less kind of French a high vis man turned up with his flashing lights to protect the rear end of our vehicle from nosey nebbers getting side tracked from the business of driving.

I explained the scenario to the high vis man, and we waited kind of awkwardly for the dépanneur, who, to be fair didn’t take that long.

Rather worryingly, when he arrived, instead of decanting the 4 of us into his wagon, he wanted us to stay in the vehicle whilst he winched us up on the back 😰😰 it was a tad wobbly with one wheel down and we began to sweat even more when he took us over a bridge crossing the mighty and extremely wide Rhône, with a heck of a drop, smack bang at the side of my passenger window, which was rolled down due to the absence of air con.

I breathed a sigh of relief when he turned off pretty quickly and this place came in sight.

He lowered us back down, and we were able to assess the damage with a bit less mortal danger than at the side of the autoroute.

One tyre totally shredded and the dépanneur sucked his teeth when looking at the remaining wheels, commenting

On va changer tous les quatre? Ce sont foutus!

Following his advice, the lady at the desk quoted us to change all 4 tyres, fitting, balancing etc and gave me a figure of just over a thousand euro.

After discussing the bare faced cheek of wanting to replace one bad tyre with 4 new ones, we conceded that another such episode at the side of the road would not be welcome, and the severe heat and extensive kms travelled in said heat, had, in all fairness, hammered the bejeezus out of the tyres.

We knew that after making it to Beaune we had 2 further days on the road so yielded to the 4 tyre scenario and paid the money.

Just under 2 hours later we were on the road again with 4 of these bad boys:

We rejoined the autoroute gingerly, paying attention to the slightest rattle, judder or anomaly, and were gradually relieved as plain sailing resumed.

Just shy of 250 miles and several long hours later we made it.

I tried to call and email the campsite to make them aware we may be a bit late, and despite their inability to answer either attempt at communication we arrived with a reserved poggy waiting for us.

Beers were definitely warranted on this occasion!

The next morning we took a leisurely approach to packing up, watching the wood pigeons and hot air balloons overhead

We had a rather eccentric VW neighbour, with cows on his roof…

And we finally hit the road for Montreuil. It was clear we had now left the warm, sunny weather clearly behind us.

So no need for advice on surviving the canicule.

We paid our tolls (again)

And arrived in mizzle, to be parked up at the far end of the site, where the ankle biterz promptly made some friends and we relaxed.

No fireworks to disturb us this time, and I was ready, all ears for when the boulanger arrived next morning, giving it some klaxon.

I scuttled off down the site to discover I was his only customer, having coppered up to be able to afford deux baguettes tradition and was ambling back when the ruddy van passed me, only to park right outside our pog to scout for more custom.

I had to actually employ a J cloth to remove precipitation from the windscreen cover before departure, and despite some roadworks on the approach to Calais, we Brianned around the perimeter and arrived in plenty of time.

No chops were observed on the Manche and we enjoyed a smooth and speedy crossing.

The sun returned on the final leg home

and we pulled up having trekked just over 2000 miles in total, having learned a few more lessons and still ready for the next one.

#campervancapers 2019