Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Will they arrive in time?

Today I leave the South of France to start my journey North.

In the last couple of weeks since getting here I have been on eBay and other websites ordering last-minute essentials, taking advantage of the fact that I had a fixed address to have them delivered to. These were namely:

- The new fuel gauge (of course)
- Second-hand hiking boots
- Foldable wellington boots
- Haynes manual for the campervan
- Travel SIM card
- Basic mobile phone to put the SIM card in

I did well at finding good prices and using gift vouchers to pay for the above - the only question was, would it all arrive in time for my departure?

Boots for £8.07 from eBay Germany
Well, as it happens, as of yesterday afternoon almost everything was here. We had four different couriers knocking at the window to give us parcels and packages... the only thing we still desperately needed was the bloomin' fuel gauge, now 5 weeks after ordering it from an agent.

The agent called. She told me that she now had the part in her hand. I asked where she was: "the UK" she replied. It seems that I had contacted a French company who had deferred me to their UK office, simply because that's where my bank account is registered... they had then proceeded to obtain the part from Germany and have it shipped at a snail's pace to England so that they could charge me a fortune in postage fees to get it back to France. And we were almost out of time.

It was supposed to take "11 days" to order online
However, she said that she had an express overnight service available. For an extra £7 on top of the already extortionate postal charge, I could have it delivered this morning guaranteed before midday. I agreed. And now we wait. There will be no opportunity to fit it, of course, but at least I can take it with me and perhaps meet a knowledgeable person who can help me wire it in.

Friends on a journey of their own

Back in London, when I was squatting in an old college there, I met two beautiful people who were staying in another room on my floor. Jenny was working in an office but was full of tales about travelling the world and working as crew on tall ships. Indeed I would count her as great inspiration for my own journey - she's such a lively and enthusiastic character that no-one could fail to be attracted to her description of the backpacker lifestyle. And Gauthier was working as a postman after his dream position in Ireland had collapsed. You see, he wanted to be a violin maker. He had travelled to Ireland to meet a man and become his apprentice but the man had sadly died before the training could begin.

Well, my parents came for a visit last Autumn and met these guys whilst cooking in the shared kitchen. My parents told them about an old violin maker who lives just down the road in their French village. Gauthier's eyes lit up on hearing this and soon it was arranged: he and Jenny would come to the South of France.

Unusually for an emigration, these two crazed adventurers decided to come by bicycle from London Luton, through Portsmouth and down the entire French countryside to the Mediterranean. They were very much out of contact during this time but we would occasionally hear a quick update online about how far they had travelled and what they had seen. And what a way to see things!

On Sunday we saw an update that they were in Toulouse, a city some 150 km from here. I sent a quick message to say 'hello' and to tell them I'd be leaving on Wednesday. I was thoroughly convinced that they would arrive after I left. But yesterday evening at about 8pm, just before the last of the sunlight could dip behind the mountains, two smiling faces appeared at the front window. They were here! We drank wine and ate pasta and shared stories all night long.
I really think that my adventure pales in comparison to theirs. They have already achieved so much! With their bicycles piled high and their spirits even higher, they look forward to starting a brand new lifestyle.

Off I go

As soon as the fuel gauge arrives, I'm off. I'll travel East and then North today and settle in a free service station for the night, then make the long push to Belgium tomorrow where I'll be meeting a Welsh friend who's flying in for the weekend. I have a new audio book to listen to and the campervan is tidied and (almost) packed.

I'm excited to be back on the road, of course, but I'll be sad to leave the home comforts my parents have provided. Is there anything more refreshing than staying with family? Where you know exactly how things are done and how to communicate, where you're 'at home' but with none of the responsibilities.

I do have a little something to take with me... I bought a small set of glass paints from a local craft shop:

Yoghurt pots with a little extra detail


  1. Replies
    1. Heheh thanks :-) I was thinking about doing customised versions at VW shows, but sadly I suspect it wouldn't be worth renting a plot...