Well, what can I say? We’ve landed firmly on our feet once again. In my last blogpost we were in limbo in France with a dodgy gas system meaning no heating, hot water or fridge. I’m pleased to say that a motorhome dealer in Chinon came up trumps and, even though they were really busy, they took pity on ‘Les Anglais’ and booked us in the following day to take a look at the problem. In truth we probably both looked like we needed a good scrub. A cold shower or warm water in a bucket is no substitute for a proper shower. Of course we could have just gone to a campsite but we’re made of sterner stuff.
Fortunately my French came in handy although it’s not as easy as you would think understanding someone in a foreign language when they’re wearing a mask. But I managed. We dropped the van off first thing in the morning, killed a couple of hours in the supermarket over coffee and cake and returned two hours later to find a fully working fridge and boiler. Merveilleux.
Our next pressing concern was thinking about the timing of when to get back to the UK. Looking online and hearing from others in ‘the know’ it seemed that campsites in the UK were likely to be able to open again from the 4th July. With the new two week self isolation rule in place for anyone arriving in the UK from anywhere outside the Common Travel Area (Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) we were running out of time to get that done before starting work. (If we still had a job).
What to do.
In the end I sent an email to the owners of the campsite where we’d (hopefully) be working to see what their thoughts were. Like everybody else they were still waiting on the go-ahead from the government on the reopening date but were hopeful for the 4th July. They assured us we would still have a job but with less hours than last year. That gave us just a couple of days to decide on our options. Meanwhile my brother offered us a patch on his drive to park up for the two weeks we needed to (thanks Richard:). So that solved that problem. However he was in Suffolk and we needed to be in Cornwall so we asked the campsite owners if we’d be able to arrive two weeks early and self isolate on our staff pitch. It made more sense anyway as we’d have plenty of space and wouldn’t be coming into contact with anyone. Not that we felt we were any risk to anyone.
As soon as we got the confirmation that we were welcome to come back two weeks in advance of the proposed re-opening of the campsite we booked the ferry. DFDS ferries, as always, came up with a very good price for the four hour crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven which meant less driving than the Calais-Dover route and Brittany ferries weren’t operating their services for anything other than freight. We felt much happier once we made the decision to book the ferry as we felt like we’d been circling the airport the previous week procrastinating on our future!
It’s always a culture shock arriving back in the UK after an extended period away as all the roads feel like they’re super busy. Once we arrived on the outskirts of Salisbury we took a break for some lunch in the Tesco carpark. We really felt like we just wanted to be back in France. Although we didn’t get out of the van we could see a huge queue of people waiting to go into the supermarket. Throughout the whole of this pandemic we have been extraordinarily lucky to have never had to queue to get into a supermarket. Not in Spain or France. And we are extremely grateful for that. As I’ve said on the blog before we have been fortunate not to have felt completely restricted, isolated or frustrated during the last three months or so.
So here we are again at the campsite. As soon as we arrived it felt like we hadn’t been away.
The self isolation guidelines state that you can only go out in your garden and you aren’t allowed to leave the boundary of your property. We have taken that to mean that anywhere within the campsite is fair game for us to walk around.
It makes such a difference having that freedom and space, especially when you live in van.
So there we are, even though our plans for this summer haven’t worked out as we were expecting them to and we haven’t been able to spend time with family and friends yet we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome in the circumstances.
The government has now given the green light on the opening date of 4th July so we just have six more days to do before we can get on with the next chapter.
We did a big shop in France before we left to tide us over in our isolation period but you can be assured that Tim will be clearing the shelves of pork pies as soon as we’re free to go the supermarket here.
Let’s hope there isn’t a queue!