I’m not sure a motorhomer is even a word but language evolves, new words appear and it’s pretty exciting to think that this particular new word -Motorhomer- first appeared in the pages of this humble blog. After a few weeks of living in our motorhome I thought I’d try and give you a flavour of just what motorhome life is like. OK, here we go.
It takes me a while to get used to sleeping in our motorhome. It’s only small and there is a little dip in the bed just at the point of my lower back which has given me some backache in the past but lately I’ve learnt to either avoid it or just live with it. Another issue that affects our sleep is the way the van is parked but I’ll come back to that later. My place on the bed is over by the window and there is no way out for me except by climbing over Liz so one of my rules is to not have beer prior to going to bed. Otherwise I’ll be waking in the night wanting to wee and struggling to get out. Even so, I’m usually the first one up so I’ll shuffle over to the small bathroom for a wash and a shave.
On summer mornings I can handle a wash in cold water but as summer has come to a close I’m less inclined to do that. I can switch on the water heater but usually I just put a pan of water on the hob.
Despite the bathroom being small, actually very small, there is a basin, toilet and even a shower in there. To shower it’s important to switch on the water heater first, pull out the panels that keep the water away from the toilet and basin and then switch on the water. In a motorhome I’m always aware that there isn’t an endless supply of water so a good idea is to apply shower gel liberally to the body, switch on the water and get washed as quickly as possible using as little water as you can.
Note to self: Don’t drop the soap as it’s pretty difficult to bend down and pick it up in these cramped conditions.
Shower over, towel yourself down, get dressed and get the kettle on before hanging your towel out in the sun on the bike carrier to the rear of the van.
Next I’ll check my emails while the van chef, Liz, gets herself ready too.
I’m a big lover of breakfast. In fact I’m even tempted to say it’s my favourite meal of the day and I love a standard English breakfast. Bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes and eggs, preferably poached, served with toast. That can be a little difficult on the cramped three ring stove in the van so lately we’ve been having a bacon omelette with some French bread. I’ll either walk to a bakery if there is one nearby or we usually have some bread in our little freezer which always keeps pretty well.
Another option is to not have breakfast at all but to save ourselves for lunch. In France there are many places that serve a cheap lunchtime menu which will consist of a buffet starter, a simple main meal, a cheese course and a dessert.
We found an excellent restaurant near to Parçay Les Pins called the Restaurant De La Gare, the Station Restaurant. The buffet starter is always my favourite and I fill my plate with pâté, cold meats, coleslaw and various salad items. A basket of French bread will appear and is usually topped up when it gets low. Vin de table is provided as well as some chilled water and on this occasion, a large bottle of cider as well. Not bad for 12.50 euros each!
OK, breakfast (or lunch) over it’s time to head off.
We will usually be parked in an aire in France and these special parking places, reserved for motor homes tend to have all the important things we might need. A very important thing is a place to empty the van toilet. It’s not a pleasant task but I tend to empty it whenever we get the opportunity. A lot of French aires have a water pipe to help you rinse your toilet cassette but many require a token, a jeton that is usually available from nearby local shops although there are many aire de camping cars that are completely free.
The van navigator (Liz) will usually have perused google maps for a plan d’eau, a French swimming lake and we’ll be off to find it. We usually factor in a stop for some French bread and some more French cheese as well as a box of wine.
It’s important of course to keep a check on our fuel. We usually fill up with diesel at French supermarkets as they tend to be cheaper than the usual petrol stations. What can be a bit of a pain is that many of them are unmanned. That’s not really a problem except I tend to use a travel card that I preload with Euros and it’s not accepted at unmanned petrol stations. Then I have to pull out my credit card and pay the foreign currency fee.
Our fridge and cooker are powered by LPG, liquid petroleum gas and we always keep a look out for stations that provide gas. The big problem when we first came to France was finding a petrol station with LPG. There didn’t seem to be any until eventually, we realised that in France it’s called GPL! Duh!
In the French alps this year we found a fabulous lake. It was in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains. It had a parking place for camping cars, the French name for motorhomes and it wasn’t too busy.
Various French people arrived around 12 noon with picnic baskets for lunch and few had a pre lunch swim. The water in the lake was lovely and cool and it was wonderful to have a swim and then lie back on our towels and dry off in the sun.
Over on the other side a couple of fishermen dipped their rods in the water and waited patiently for the fish to bite. We read our books, competed against each other to finish that day’s sudoku and swam some more.
Later it’s time to find somewhere to stop for the night. Usually, we will stop by the lake or if we are trying to make our way to somewhere in particular, we might get a few miles under our belt before stopping again.
On our last trip we had planned one evening to visit a restaurant where we have stopped before. The restaurant, Micheline’s in the village of Berny Rivière, is not far from a large camping and holiday spot. Sadly, when we arrived we found it was closed and the owners had gone on holiday after the camp site, presumably the source of most of their customers, had closed at the end of the summer. We were very disappointed. We found a place to park, not far from another restaurant but then the heavens opened and an almighty downpour began. Oh well. I decanted some wine and Liz made us some food and just as it was time to serve, the rain cleared and the evening sun came out.
The downpours in France always make me think of something that happened to me years ago when I was hitch hiking in France. I was making my way to Paris in order to get the train back home and it began to rain. It was pretty heavy and I was sheltering under a small porch but then I noticed a bus top on the other side of the road. I ran across but just then the rain came down, or so it seemed, in one almighty whoosh and it was if I’d decided to run under a waterfall. I got to the bus stop completely soaked. The rain cleared and the sun began to beat down again and as I walked along, steam began to rise off me!
On summer evenings I will usually get out our table and chairs and our little gas barbecue and we’ll have some salad with sausages and whatever meat we have bought cooked on the barbecue. We might finish with some cheese washed down with a glass of wine. Lovely.
Later we’ll be off to sleep but making sure the van is parked properly is very important. A tilt to the left and Liz will be rolling over and crowding me. Over to the right and I’ll be crowding her. A slight tilt forward and we tend to slide off our pillows and down the bed. If we have to have a tilt its better to tilt back toward our pillows but we do have chocks which we can slip under the wheels to level us up.
We usually relax in the evenings with a book or an iPad but looking around I’ve seen some fabulous motorhomes this year, some with impressive satellite dishes so the occupants can watch TV. We’ve even seen some vehicles with a trailer towing a small car so they can park up and then drive off into town.
Personally, I’m happy with a good book.