It’s coming…

We are getting ever closer to our new van. It is supposedly 13 days away. I say “supposedly” because we have been here before and I shall not quickly forget the horrors of last year when Mr Snail had to stay near Paris for several nights after travelling up on the train at 6am and finding Heidi Hymer not yet CT’d or ready when he arrived on collection day.

At least Naintré is a bit closer to home.

The funds have been transferred for the balance of the payment. It hurt a bit, the Exchange Rate being what it is. A good job that we didn’t actually buy the more expensive van from Cognac.

Anyway, all that we have to do now is to sit and wait.

With under two weeks to go perhaps I should be doing more than just waiting. Perhaps I should be organising some packing? We have invested in some of those colourful plastic skips with handles. They are flexible and durable and we think/hope that they will be just the thing for organising the luggage space under the bed. I could at least be sorting items into the skips (we got all the colours so that we can identify what is where. Also, with great regret, I feel it may well be time to be laundering, ironing and filling packing cubes with clothing in readiness.

We want to go away with more or less immediate effect, in order to test all systems and fittings. We will most likely just pop out to one of the many nearby free Aires for our first trip but we have found a local English-style brewery that has an event on; with ale, bikers, music, and the fish and chip van in attendance. Motorhomes may stay overnight at no charge. It is most tempting but it happens the day after we are supposed to be collecting the van so would require a very fast turnaround. That and the fear of not getting the van on the 19th leads us towards not making a booking, alas. It is, however, exactly the kind of escapade that we hope the nippier new van will facilitate – and frequently. We believe that using the van conversion will change the way that we approach our motorhoming. More frequent but shorter trips would seem to be the way to go.

Lunch in Montmorillon this week leads us towards going there for the second stage of van-testing – for which we shall be needing a campsite and hook-up. The Municipal campsite is a very short stroll from Le Lucullus, where we lunched in the Bistro and now fancy dining in the restaurant. It feels like A Plan. That said, Airvault offers many temptations too (and better dog-walking.)

The Plan for a late Summer foray to Modena remains in place, so long as no problems emerge with the van before then.

Plans are also firming up on what to do this coming winter. Initially we were tending towards Sicily but are now thinking about returning to Portugal and Spain again (trying to do new places rather than just the ones that we know and love) and thinking hard about going on to Morocco. Mr Snail is conducting research.

The Cat Contingent may well screw any or all of this up. It remains to be seen how they manage to cohabit in the smaller space. We may be needing a House Sitter. A free (long) holiday in France, anybody?


This blog is flying south for the winter.

The packing of the van has begun, subject as ever to great indecision and panic about which clothes to take and what kitchen equipment is needed.

The one item that was not questioned is this one:

A little light entertainment

It will help to pass those long evenings until the Pablo’s ATH begins. We have purchased vol 2 of these puzzles but think that one hefty book should see us okay for this trip and, after all, I am supposed to be keeping the payload down. If I leave the second book behind I can take another jumper… Will we need jumpers? Not if last winter’s weather is anything to go by, at least not after the snow and the rain ran out. I think we need to pack for three seasons. 

We shall be heading to known territory initially and hope to be in Arcachon the day after leaving home. If I remember correctly, it was warm and sunny in Arcachon last year and we were eating ice cream on the prom.

Night one will be on an Aire somewhere between here and the coast.

See you soon.

Poste Restante

When we contacted our solicitor to advise him that we have a property sale in the offing, we told him that we are going to France, possibly before the sale completes. He took this news in his stride and indicated that we could do most of our signing before we go and then deal by  post with anything that arises later.

Of course we shall be travelling and we will not have a postal address.

I had a hazy idea about what to do but I think Mr Snail was a little more concerned. I glibly shrugged my shoulders and said we could just use a Poste Restante address. 

Did I really know what that meant – perhaps not but my vague notions turned out to be good enough. I had said that I believed that Poste Restante, being a French term, was probably something more readily achieved in France than here at home. It proved to be so.

Briefly, your mail is addressed to your name, with “Poste Restante” on the second line of the address, followed by the postal address of the Post Office where you intend to collect your mail. A small charge is levied, of course. Mail is held for  a limited time.

Not all services use the term Poste Restante (the USA calls their service General Delivery, for example) this and other details vary by country but Wikipedia has a useful reference list.

Post Restante in France

In France there is no requirement to do any setup, unlike here in the UK.

The service is offered by Le Poste and is available at any Post Office.

The name on the envelope should match the name on whatever form of ID one is using to collect the mail – typically a passport when travelling abroad. The collection charge in France is €0.85 per letter, more for a package.  In France mail is kept  for 15 days before returning to sender.

That should do us nicely, I think.


Further preparations

Vincent has his new fog lights fitted and working and the top bumper cover and number plate have been replaced. He is looking very smart indeed. His GB plate has also arrived.

Mr Snail’s thoughts are turning to the MOT, due in August but which we shall probably have done earlier –  in good time to address any issues before going to France. He believes that new shock absorbers will be required and is considering getting on and fitting them pre-test.

I have been busy pruning my wardrobe down to a volume that I hope will squish into Vincent’s nook and crannies.

No passports yet.

Preparing for departure

It might seem like early days yet but we don’t want to be unprepared when the time comes. The passport applications are in the post. Today our EHIC cards arrived.

Mr Snail has been working through the intricacies of what is and is not Law regarding motor vehicles in France. His checklist is looking good – we have Triangle, Fluorescent Jackets, First Aid Kit etc. 

There is much misinformation regarding what is required to travel abroad. For instance, many people will say that a First Aid Kit is a requirement but apparently it is not. As for the Breathalysers… well, we have ordered a set as they appear to be a sensible idea. We still need a GB sticker as we lack Euro-style number plates and we need a bulb set for Vincent. It is not a legal requirement to carry one, as is often suggested, however it is a legal requirement to instantly change a faulty bulb for a good one.

The Awning has finally been tested. It works, though is dirty, tatty in places and doesn’t not fit back in properly after being wound out. It will no doubt do us though as we are not really awning-type people.

The biggest news that we have to report at this stage is that we appear to have buyers for our house. Our pan to go away to France for six months and then to return and prepare the house and put it on the market in the spring of next year is now in need of updating.

We are unsure at this point whether we will fully embrace the full-time lifestyle or if we will buy a new, smaller, house. We are keeping one eye on the property market and have some likely candidates here on the island, in Aberdeenshire and down in the Southern Uplands. At the same time, we are researching the French property market too.

Of course the fact that we might be selling the house means that our departure date is now in question. That is not a problem as the Shuttle tickets can easily be changed. Everything is very much up in the air and all the cards are currently face down. Only time will tell what is what,

Still to do: Nell’s immunisation boosters, Vincent’s MOT, all the things that have not yet been thought of, and French lessons.

There are no excuses

Will I ever get this blog up to date? I doubt it.  There is much to tell and events keep overtaking me.

Let us begin with today, as there is Big News, then I shall backtrack and introduce some recent events in pots to come over the next few days.

Today we exchanged our Tesco vouchers for Shuttle ticket vouchers, which we then immediately spent on our crossing tickets. We now have a booking in September to cross to France, with a return journey booked at the end of March next year.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in filling in passport forms. We have found somebody to both take our photos and sign them for us and this we will do early next week.

Next up: a post about Vincent and some of the work that has been carried out since we last came home.