Month: <span>June 2019</span>
Month: June 2019

Well, that was unexpected…

I was confiding that Heidi’s days with us are numbered, we had picked out our new van and that Mr Snail was taking her to Cognac to get a PX price…

Things did not go to plan.

Heidi was looking gorgeous, considering her age, and we both agreed that the fact that they had asked to see her meant that they would almost certainly make some kind of an offer – otherwise why put us to the trouble. Really, for a lass of 20 years age, she was looking in fine fettle. Why would they turn her down.

Well, it was very much a case of frowning, head-shaking and tutting. It was broken this and broken that (minor things that we had honestly not noticed in the last year) and this requires replacing and that requires replacing and her tyres are too old and… no, we won’t take her, it would be too costly to make her right. They suggested that we had been done when we bought her…

Were they speaking of the same Heidi that we know? Surely not.

My favourite Snail returned, with his tail betwixt his legs.

We talked about the options, which we believed to be few – given the fact that other dealers would not even look at her because of her age. The option that Mr Snail was coming down on was the one that goes “There’s nothing wrong with her and she suits us just fine let’s just keep her.” Nothing wrong with that course of action at all.

What were the other options?

  • We might try selling her privately but that was a course that we knew that we would rather not take. It is a process that is fraught and brings with it onerous responsibilities. Selling used vehicles privately in France is not something to be undertaken lightly. This reason was after all the driver behind seeking a PX in the first place.
  • We could seek a cheaper van that didn’t need us to top up with funds from disposing of Heidi but that wouldn’t work for us and she would have to go anyway, to make space for a new van. We just don’t have room for three vehicles.
  • A dealer that we visited in Naintré last week is having a fair of used vehicles this weekend and inviting owners to come and sell their own vans. We might book a spot there but that would still leave us with the legal requirements and responsibilities thing.
  • A little place outside Lussac Les Chateaux has, we have noticed, usually a few lower-end motorhomes outside, marked up with prices in their windows. Perhaps they might be open to buying Heidi from us. We wouldn’t make as much as from a private sale but would be free of the legal obligations.

We were dejected. I just clung on to the idea that none of this actually matters. We aren’t in need of a new van, it was just a flirting with some kind of desire…

We discussed returning to Naintré before the weekend, to remind ourselves of what they had for sale there and to try and firm up ideas about what our second choice van might be. We might book Heidi in on the DIY sales thing if it seemed a good idea and if there was a van that we might want to buy…

Mr Snail visited their website to remind himself of their stock and to check out the details of the used vehicle event. He noticed that in the earlier part of the week they had some reductions on new vehicles, including on some of the ones that we might be considering.

Thus it was that we got up out of our beds yesterday morning and took Heidi with us to Naintré. It was a very faint hope but perhaps, if they would consider a PX, it would be useful to have her there and not require a second journey.

We arrived, on a far better day than last week, to find many more units on display and the van conversions standing there with doors open ready for viewing. As we crossed the lot, I spotted a Hymermobil of very similar vintage to Heidi. we had some debate as to whether the dealer was selling the van or whether it was there for the weekend sell-your-own event. Then I saw another van, even older than Heidi. I dared to suggest that perhaps they might be up for a PX after all.

A very nice man, name of Christophe, appeared very quickly to see if he might help. He was going to leave us to it but soon realised that we knew what we were looking for and were proper buyers. He stuck with us and we may have tested his patience as we went back and forth between our three personal options (a Globecar, a Pilote and a Bavaria), checking this and checking that and making up our minds (or at least attempting to!)

We chose one: the Globecar. It was considerably cheaper than the Malibu that we had been going to purchase in Cognac. If we couldn’t get a PX then we would still be able to pay for it… but that would leave the issue of disposal in time for bringing a new van home.

We asked about the possibility of exchanging Heidi and told Christophe her age, we pointed her out in the car park. He didn’t flinch and simply got stuck into the paperwork, working out the figures with adjustments for discounts and additional options costed in. Mr Snail and I exchanged glances. He didn’t want to look at her before we agreed a sale? We asked if he wanted to see her and he said yes but he would fill all the papers in first. He went online and found the book price for Heidi. It was disappointingly low, even after Christophe generously topped the figure up with an additional 500 Euros but, you know, legalities, logistics etcetera… worth the loss to avoid the hassle…

…but he still hadn’t looked at her and after the previous day’s reception at Cognac, we were concerned for poor Heidi.

We need not have worried. Christophe walked in, looked around and remarked that Heidi was in excellent condition (which is what we had believed originally). Deal done.

Now, how on earth was this the same vehicle that was so broken and so in need of work on Tuesday?

We supplied the many signatures required in France when conducting any transaction, wrote the cheque for the deposit, fixed a date for delivery and, it being time to close for lunch, were ushered on our merry way and out of the front door.

Lunch at La Table de Bellefois followed shortly thereafter by way of a small celebration.

We wanted a 6m van, or smaller, but ended up with one longer than Heidi. It is however a matter of girth, not length, I suppose 🙂

The new van is intended to be our last van. We plan to stick with it now and expect it to see our wandering days out for us. It is a Globecar Summit 640. We are having an awning, a solar panel and a reversing camera/multimedia centre (radio, Bluetooth, SatNav etc.) installed and will collect it on the 19th July. That date is, coincidentally, the same date that we brought Heidi home last year. We are dumping the old girl on her birthday. Aren’t we awful.

The new van is going to be needing a name. Any ideas? Alliterative name perhaps to follow Heidi Hymer? Gloria Globecar has been considered, as has Gladys Pugh (Heidi Hymer reference inclusive!) Maybe Sam Summit? I’m thinking though, as it’s a van and not a Eurobox moho, to follow Vincent Van Go (the Roadtrek), we might name it Van Morrison.. or Van the Van!

Can you do better?


I am just dreadful aren’t I? Promises to update, partial updates, long, long absences. I can only apologise for having a rich and full life, I guess.

Acknowledged that I have to complete the tale of our last trip and the one before that and the one before that etcetera. Maybe one day I will catch up with myself. However, today I have Big News; Current News.

Farewell to Heidi

Heidi Hymer has not been with us long but she has served us well and one day soon you might read about some of the many places that she has taken us in her year as part of our family but the time has come to bid her goodbye.

An unexpected boost to our finances means that Mr Snail may now secure a new motorhome that is a little more driver-friendly. He has elected to swap to a van-conversion type and has picked out one that has an automatic box. He is looking forward to having a more nimble vehicle that is more easily parked in towns. It also improves considerably on Heidi’s Crit’Air rating of 5, meaning that we will be more able to access towns where Heidi would not be permitted.

Now, this plan may not work completely to our satisfaction and much depends on the trip that Mr Snail is taking today: Heidi is to be inspected by a dealership in Cognac to see if they might offer us a PX value on her. Whether or not we can have the chosen new vehicle depends on the size of the price on Heidi’s head and we may have to return to the van-viewing and selection process again. I do hope not, we have seen much of France in our recent research mode and I do not particularly want to do that again any time soon.

Realistically, it is quite likely that we will have to select a different van and during that process we probably will not be using Heidi to go away in. She has been emptied, cleaned and primped and that’s another process that we probably would not enjoy going through again soon.

A large snag is that, if we do not secure a trade-in today, we have found that other dealers will not begin to consider Heidi for exchange. She is too old for them, having first hit the Snail Trail in 1999. At least this dealer is willing to take a look at her.

I am sitting here, twiddling my thumbs and hoping for the best. It would be really nice, in that passenger seat, not to feel as though we are lurching sideways around every roundabout.

Updates forthcoming. Really. Truly. Well, I hope… Also Plans: A short trip to Italy in late Summer, Girona next May, possibly over-wintering in between in either Spain/Portugal again or possibly Sardinia. Or somewhere else. Or not at all. As always, plans are fluid. Should we get the new van there will be some short local trips prior to the Italy venture for the purposes of familiarisation and de-snagging.

Now, the big question is, where do the cats go in a van conversion?

Travelling with cats

Dusty, in a moment of calm

Long ago and far away in a land elsewhere, we travelled with a cat. When we originally bought a motorhome we went away only for two or three nights at a time. We had two indoor cats and would leave them at home to keep each other company. They had many litter trays, an automatic feeder and lots of water bowls. All was fine. It never occurred to us that we might take them travelling.

Then one of them died. We could not leave the other alone and by then we were planning longer trips anyway, having got the hang of this motorhoming lark. Thus began Teddy’s travelling life.

It worried us. He was 15 years old. How would he take to it at his age? Well, the answer to that was “like a duck to water”. He travelled for two years and seemingly loved every moment. Then he too died and left us with a cat-shaped hole in our hearts.

We agreed. No more cats. Just Nell. As we downsized the van, it seemed the correct decision. No room for a litter tray in the Roadtrek…

Chloé however had other ideas. She simply moved in with us when we bought the new house.

As time moved on, we had to replace the Roadtrek with another van. The Hymer is smaller than the RT but more spacious and just about offers room for a litter tray. We had hoped that Chloé would travel with us and we tried to familiarise her with the motorhome by leaving the door open on fine days and hoping that she would let herself in. In the evenings we would have our meal in the van and take her in with us. She demanded to be let out. We kept on trying. She made it clear that she was an Outdoor Cat and not to be confined against her will.

A Outdoor Cat

Then Dusty came into our lives. We did not mean to keep him. He was half dead, a tiny runty kitten with eyes glued shut. I picked him up, took him home and started to find a rescue organisation to take him in. He survived, I did not find a rescue willing to take him and he remains with us to this day.

Chloé was outraged. She took an instant dislike to the kitten and much of the progress that we had made with her went out of the window.

When it came time to make our first trip away in the new van it was clear that Chloé was not ready to join us. We simply left her at home and took the kitten with us. Chloé had been living independently before we came along and we knew that she would be fine on her own. The weather was good. She was used to living in our outbuildings, we had a neighbour come to check her water and she had a 99 day automatic feeder. All would be fine.

Except for the fact that it wasn’t. It turned out that little Chloé had actually become attached to us and she missed us.

She still wasn’t getting on with little Dusty.

He didn’t really offer much of a threat…

We continued working on the issues but realised that Chloé needed a new home. I tried hard to find her one but was unsuccessful so when it was time to leave for an extended trip over the Winter, there was nothing to do but to bundle both cats up, shove them into the van and hope for the best (whilst expecting the worst.)

With its U-shaped rear lounge layout, the Hymer has plenty of room to place a travel cage in safety. Our cage can be divided into two, for two cats but we rightly thought it far too early to stress the cats by confining them so closely. Dusty went into the cage and Chloé into a travel carrier placed next to it. We sprayed the air liberally with Feliway, took a deep breath and drove off into the unknown.

Ten minutes later we pulled into a lay-by as Chloé had escaped her carrier. It was going to be a long journey.

To be continued…