This is a long blog so I have headed up some sections that you may wish to skip.
Woke with a slight headache which I put down to anxiety because it went as I relaxed during the journey.
The range of patisseries in France is incredible. Imagination, variety and low price.
I had a couple of problems before I left Tourlaville and Camping Cotentin.
- Lowering the stands – the wheel brace is inserted into a hole in the fibreglass rim, but the fibreglass had risen above the actual screw so it had to be put on at an angle. This had worsened so I could not get the wheelbrace out. I eventually got it out and had to file the fibreglass to make sure it came out again. I had noticed this before and forgot to remind Newbridge caravans to fix it before I left Ireland.
- The jockey wheel came off in my hand after I had successfully put the trailer on the towbar of the car. I could see the handle to attach it but could not see the corresponding part. At this stage I just sat down on the grass and said Kathy you are an eejit to think you can do this. Then I saw that the metal part attaching to the trailer had just flopped out. I clamped it back in again and screwed it tight.
Off I went, not at all sure of myself. Then I saw the boot was open from the dashboard although it had not flopped up. I found the first parking bay and closed it. Forgot to mention that in France, the contacts to open barriers, tolls etc are all on the passenger’s side, so I had fun at the campsite swiping the card and dashing around to the driver’s side before the barrier came down. The tolls are similar although they give you enough time to get back to your side of the car.
My eyes were sore and watery and I felt tired after about 75km so I watched for somewhere to stop. At this point I was nearly in Caen, so I made for the centre and drove around there not finding anywhere decent to stop, I found myself coming back up on the main road and suddenly feeling much better. My eyes stopped hurting and I felt more sure of myself. I could see the direction I should be going as I had studied to map fairly well. I think it was also that the sun had risen in the sky and was not blinding me so much. Also the change in focus in the smaller street of Caen probably gave my eyes a rest.
I stopped at a small aire where I had a coffee and felt I was really beginning to enjoy the journey.
My destination La Chappelle Pres Sees (Sees) was 100 km beyond Caen and as I approached it, I felt like continuing driving.
Driving with a caravan:
While towing a caravan is daunting at first, you do get used to it.
I had a nasty experience going up to Dublin when a truck passing me caused a huge air surge and put me off course. The trailer started to sway and I veered into the outside lane trying to regain control. I dropped my speed immediately and it came back to normal.
This caused me to be nervous of trucks passing. However, the air surge will not cause swaying. It is your reaction that causes it. If you stay on course with a steady hand, the caravan will keep straight.
It is a bit like riding a horse, if you turn your head, the horse feels you want to change direction as your whole body follows your head. Only it is not anything as sensitive as that.
What I do know is that if you feel you are losing control at all, slow down. Like skiing, if you’re going too fast you will be out of control. The only way to regain it is to slow down.
My driving, even without the caravan has been transformed. I am more aware at corners and more vigilant in general. I am no expert but I am certainly learning.
I realise I can probably do more than 200 km a day. It took me 3 hours without stops and Three and a half with.
I passed a camping Aire on the way in to Sees which I did not use although it looked great. Camping in France is so well catered for. There is a whole world of possibilities
As I drove towards Sees, I noticed signs for the caravan site which took you on the perimeter of the town. It was incredibly easy to find and is within easy walking distance of the centre.
I parked at the train station before going to the caravan park and walked in to the town. What a treat was in store. It is a warren of ancient streets with every building preserved and ornamented from every angle. An enormous cathedral dominates the town.
The square at the centre is flanked by the Mairie and the museum, all beautifully preserved and decked with flowers.
The museum had an exhibition of photographs of a Buddhist temple in Java – Borobudur and its regular exhibition of religious artefacts dating back to the 12th century. Entrance was only €2 and well worth it.
I could hear organ music as I approached the cathedral. There is nothing nicer then relaxing in a stone church away from the bustle and heat of the afternoon. But I was not prepared for the vastness and antiquity of this structure. With the organ music billowing around me I was quite overwhelmed and emotional by the beauty of it all. A few other tourists had wandered in out of the heat and we all stood spellbound as the organ rolled and rose to a crescendo of lower and yet lower notes which thundered inside the echoing walls of the church. I thought it has to be over, but then I heard the turning of pages in the perfect acoustics of the church. The music began again and I understood the true meaning of the phrase ‘pulling out all the stops’.
Camping Le Clos Normand:
Getting here was so easy- leaving here will be the more difficult task. Grassy large pitches, with all the amenities you expect from a French campsite. Tariff was €11 including electricity. The weather is so balmy that the breeze blowing through the trees is very welcome.