A new motorhome
October 17th 2019 we have come to the day we can pick up our new motorhome: the “Frankia Titan”.
Early in the morning we leave home on our way to Raema Campers in Nederweert, our Frankia dealer. With our normal car. Our other motorhome is already in Nederweert at the dealer. The windshield has some ugly cracks and needs to be replaced before we finally can trade it in. Despite the fact that already mid-august we contacted Camperglass about the replacement of the windscreen, it is obvious that it takes time before a new window can be installed.
The traffic jam is enormous and on the road it’s a chaos so we arrive one and a half hour later than intended in Nederweert but after a delicious cup of coffee we are taken to the new motorhome and get a detailed explanation from John. Soon we are bewildered, all those buttons and functions and that with a limited explanation because we are already experienced RV’ers. There are some final administrative steps, as well as a final payment, and then we can really hit the road with our new motorhome. Unfortunately, the old motorhome is still ours because hail damage has been spotted on the roof so our insurance and an expert first must examine this problem.
I am always fascinated by license plates and I am hoping for a nice one. It is: G-667-JL. On the way home, driving behind the camper, I breed on a sentence made by this license plate and yes, I have it: “Geniet Je Leven”. Translated to English it means: “Enjoy Your Life”. How is that possible!
When we get home, after having been in endless traffic jams, I also converted the available numbers into letters of the alphabet and it becomes: “Geniet effe goed Je Leven”.
That means: “Enjoy your life well”. Dick give me a blurry look (the license plate has only 3 letters) and I explain how I get to it, so Dick says “OH”. Dick has nothing with license plates. But this nice motorhome with its particular license plate is already special to me.
Unfortunately, at this moment we do not have the time to hit the road or work on it, so we bring the motorhome directly to our storage. Fortunately in the coming weeks we can travel with it for a couple of days.
The route is determined by the things we need to buy such as: carpet, curtains, a toilet brush, bath mats, non-slip plastic, extra keys, alarm, suitable crates, a lashing rail and of course a merino woolen underblanket. And Dick, the handyman of us, turns this Frankia into our motorhome. The carpet gives some headaches. Crawling on his knees in the RV Dick makes a shape of carton. A huge effort because the floor has all sorts of corners and incisions. But finally the shape is ready and the carpet can be cut out.
When it’s ready we see that the carpet has a huge weaving error. Unfortunately, we have to return it to the store. Dick has cut the carpet in vain. Without grumbling, Hornbach gives us our money back, orders a new carpet roll and after a few weeks a nice fitting carpet covers the floor of our motorhome.
Staying in the motorhome is agreeable. There is more than enough led light, the cooking is pleasant, also because of the big counter, and showering in the separate shower is very comfortable. It is already running towards the winter and we are undergoing freezing temperatures, but the Alde heater keeps it pleasantly warm inside. Yet there is a downside (also in our previous motorhome) and that is that this pleasant heater also consumes a lot, really a lot, of propane.
After a few nights we come to the conclusion that an independent parking heater needs to be added. Connected to the diesel tank, this saves propane and in the early morning you can immediately give a heat boost. When we come back from a walk through Kevelaer in Germany, we are chilled to the bone by the icy temperatures, the need for such an extra heat boost is definitely great.
Just before Dick will undergo surgery on his knee (that will be on december 11th 2019), we manages to hit the road for another 10 days. The route is quickly made and after a detour via Winterswijk, Netherland, and Kevelaer, Germany, (again I want to light a candle at the “Candle Chapel”) we drive into the north of France. We are on our way to Normandy. This time we have a better possibility to test the motorhome. In this season we stay mainly at parking spots in the middle of towns because in colder weather it is more fun to walk around in a town than to stay somewhere outside on a cliff or in a meadow. The selected places also have geocaches (yes, I did my preparation) so after parking our motorhome we walk around town and search for geocaches and of course every morning (we are in France) I walk to a bakery and we enjoy a breakfast with fresh baguette.
The motorhome is comfortable and with two solar panels we have more than enough power. It is surprising to discover that the two bedside lights also have a connection for our mobiles so we can charge them during the night. As most of the time we don’t have a connection with electricity on the parking spot this is very convenient. When we arrive in Normandy, the sun breaks through the clouds. We decide to stay in Honfleur. One of our favorite places.
In Honfleur is still one geocache on top of the steep slope that towers above town. It is dry and freezing cold weather and therefore a good opportunity to climb up (and warmup).
The slope we have to climb is very long and steep and it is incomprehensible that Dick can handle this climb with his knee. But we succeed and almost at the top of the plateau we find the geocache and can enjoy the magnificent view over the coast, the port of Le Havre as well as the town of Honfleur.
Although we normally spend the evenings reading, we also want to try our TV so, when we return to the motorhome late afternoon, Dick turns on the satellite-dish. We do not have canal digital, so Dutch channels are not available, but there are hundreds of German and English channels, and we have plenty of choice to look at and a good opportunity to practice our foreign languages.
The last day of november we wake up with a some sunrays and after dumping our gray- and black water (yeah Riley, we have to remove our toilet to dump the black water) and filled our clean water tanks (even in winter this is possible at the parking in Honfleur), we drive further into Normandy and find a place next to the war museum in Bayeux.
Last spring this parking was filled with RV’s and we could not park there with our motorhome (a shorter one then this new 26th feet RV) but now we are alone on the parking lot. We will stay here for two nights because we want to visit the famous “Bayeux Tapisserie”.
But first we walk around the old center, which miraculously remained undamaged during the invasion in Normandy. It is nice to stroll through the narrow streets around the old Cathedral. We have put on a second coat over our down jacket, our hats are pulled over our ears and we are wearing winter gloves. Not a superfluous measure because it’s icy cold, partly due to the strong wind. Fortunately, France has many bakeries with excellent coffee and delicious cakes, so we regularly visit one and warm ourselves. Saturday evening it starts raining, but then we sit inside and enjoy, after a delicious, home-cooked meal, our exciting books. Reading is more fun than watching TV.
Sunday morning December 1st 2019 we enter the war museum at 10 am.
Even though we have visited quite a few museums in Normandy in recent years, each museum offers a different view of the events that took place 75 years ago. In the museum a film, consisting of original material, is shown about the battle in Normandy, starting with the invasion on 6 June 1944 but continuing until the summer of 1944. The images are shocking and the film impresses us more than walking around the war memorabilia. We walk almost alone in the museum and 2.5 hours later we leave. After a coffee with a piece of cake we walk back to the center of Bayeux. Before we will visit the Tapisserie we want to find a few geocaches. Unfortunately we only find one geocache. The other has disappeared, but because we meet the cache owner at the hiding place, we get a message later that evening that we can log this (lost) geocache.
The building with the famous 11th century carpet is nearby and when the French lunchbreak ends at 2 pm we enter the museum.
We have no idea what awaits us, but it is a special experience to walk along this centuries old, 229 feet long, carpet. It shows the battle of Hastings, England, in embroidered performances. This battle took place in the year 1066 and after winning, William the Conqueror took over the throne of England. Fortunately, during our walk along the carpet, an audio device gives an explanation so the embroidered carpet comes to life. Just like the early Middle Ages when this carpet, hanging in the Bayeux Cathedral, informed the people what was going on in the world. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take photos, but we can take pictures in the museum halls next door where parts of this carpet have been reproduced and certain performances are explained in detail. We don’t leave the museum until 3.30 pm.
End of the afternoon we will attend a geocache Event of Normandy Geocachers (that event is about the Game of Thrones) but first we want to warm up at a bakery; the temperature feels far below zero. It is good that we have some coffee because when we meet the Normandy geocachers, an hour later, we stay outside for quite a long time. It is nice to meet French geocachers and get to know them, although we are confronted with a certain language barrier, especially when the French speak to us in rattling French. But we know how to make ourselves understood and socialize with each other until it is time to watch the carpet of the “Game of Thrones” in another museum.
This carpet has temporarily come to Bayeux from Northern Ireland and hangs in the Reine Mathilde room. And again we pass along a hanging carpet. This time a woven carpet, embroidered by hand in various places and made in 2017.
Vivid scenes from the famous “Game of Thrones” series can be seen over a length of 295 feet. Unfortunately we have never seen an episode of this series so the pictures don’t tell us much but it is all made artfully. It is clear that there is a lot of violence and sex in the series. After a while we walk back in the dark at 6 pm, lit by the beautifully Bayeux Cathedral. It is freezing now. The next morning, monday december 2nd 2019, we leave Bayeux with freezing cold but nice weather. In the town of Rots, near Caen, is a huge Cora hypermarket, where we get baguettes and some other groceries. We have breakfast on the large parking lot, then dump our gray- and black water and fill it with clean water (for free at this supermarket) and drive on, back to the north.
In the center of Fecamp, along the French coast, we find a pleasant parking at the harbor, where we will spend the night. We take advantage of the wonderful sunny weather and walk pleasantly through town and along the harbor with fishing boats. As soon as the sun sinks behind the row of dunes, it immediately becomes colder so we head back in the dark to the motorhome. Tuesday morning, after breakfast, we drive further north and stop in Boulogne sur Mer. The parking next to the casino is not one of the most uplifting places but when walking across the bridge you are in the middle of the center.
We walk around a bit, enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in this city and get Turkish food in the evening, which tastes great. Tomorrow we can visit the Matratex workshop in Gent, Belgium. Merino woolen blankets are made here. We don’t want arrive late so we get up at 7 am on Thursday. It’s still dark outside but after a good shower the first morning light appears.
At 1 pm we are in Gent. We are surprised to hear that the merino woolen under blankets can be made immediately.
After the size has been cut, using our mattresses, the sewing starts and we leave one hour later with two new woolen under blankets. This will sleep great.
We do not drive straight home but stay another night in Bergen op Zoom, just over the border with Holland, where we arrive at 6 pm, after endless traffic jams around Antwerp, Belgium.
There is a parking on the boulevard. It’s not quiet here because the presence of Mc Donald’s and other food pavilions gives a continuous row of cars. But we sleep like roses on our new merino wool blankets. It is so comfortable. Thursday december 4thwe are back home at 11am. We unload the motorhome and clean it. No luxury because both the inside and outside are nasty.
At 3 pm we can drive the motorhome to the shop where a Webasto parking heater will be built in the coming days. And in the meantime Dick can sew our curtains as well as all kind of bags, for towing bracket, maps and other stuff.