It’s 3.05am French time and sleep eludes me. We’re on a DFDS Ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven. Mind you the lights are on and there are other people chatting and snoring. Jen though is fast asleep.
The drive back to France from Slovenia
What an interesting few days we have had. The drive back from Slovenia, through Austria, Italy, Austria, Italy , Germany and finally France has had it’s challenges.
Why, in and out of Italy and Austria, I hear you wonder? The sat-nav took us that way, simple as that.
Before reaching the eastern part of France the alpine scenery was magnificent. Perfectly mown mountain meadows surrounding ‘chocolate box’ chalets framed by a blue sky and forests.
One section of a mountain pass climbed at 18%. 1s’t gear! My last drive crossing the Austrian alps was in 1967 in my very first Series 11 Land Rover, but there were no kilometres long tunnels to reduce the height of the passes, that are there now.
North eastern France is not so picturesque. Seemingly a mining/industrial area and lacking the charm of parts further west.
Will our Around the World travel continue??
Since having to return to New Zealand from Guatemala in 2020, the issue of continuing our travels has eaten us. Where to start again? When? Ship Poki back to Columbia and continue on as we were, or take the easy route and drive from the UK, down through Spain and across to Morocco, to the bottom of Africa?
Jen has been communicating with Adam, a South African who has been stuck in France during Covid, but wanting to return to South Africa via the Western route. However, he want’s to commence travelling in November/December this year. The advantage of this travel option is that Adam has already done the trip northwards from S.A and he drives a Land Rover.
So, today, after two months of email communication with Adam, we finally got to meet him in the flesh. A luncheon had been arranged in Belleme, Normandy and after spending another wonderful interlude and evening with special friends Mike and Wendy, in Bocqance, an enjoyable meal and picking and eating too many cherries from their overloaded trees. Saying our goodbyes to Mike & Wendy, we do so enjoy their company, we set off at 11am, bikes now reinstated on the rack, to meet with Adam.
After a lunch meeting we adjourned to Adam’s impressive residence just outside town. Adam is an interesting person, understated, but I’m sure, capable. Older than me by a couple of months and with a strong French accent. His main concerns I believe, are we ‘up-to-it’? Also, would we be compatible travel companions? I suspect we will get on just fine. In the next few days we will learn through email, if he has a positive opinion of us.
His Land Rover is well prepared. It’s a 2008 Puma engined 110 Defender with lots of extra’s fitted. I asked Jen what she thought of the meeting and she said, “it’s time to go”!! I’m excited too. There is much to consider and discuss but if we can come to an agreement on a departure date and travel duration, I think we’ll do it. All conditional on his acceptance of us.
With all the bike panniers cluttering our sleeping area, we decided to make a track to Dieppe and catch the midnight sailing, back to the UK. Rather than stop for the night and camp in the pouring rain.
The drive to the ferry port was mainly silent. We were both thinking deeply about the meeting, what we were about to undertake, and implications. Thinking there was only one Dieppe, we set the sat-nav and started the 61k’s from Adam’s place. On-route, Jen said, “I can’t find where we are on the map” and we seemed to be heading in a more north westerly direction. Rather than north east. It’s fortunate that we had plenty of time, as on stopping and reprogramming the sat-nav, The Dieppe we were wanting, was still 70+ k’s away!! The idea of stopping at a French supermarket to top up with goodies, never materialised as by the time we got to Dieppe, the last one had closed at 9pm, five minutes ago!
Jen mentioned in her last posting that the gearbox in ‘Poki” has started to make unnatural noises. How long before the noises become terminal? Well, she’s (Poki, not Jen), locked up in the vehicle section of the ship and the noises haven’t got much worse. Whew! Fortuitously, she is booked in at Gumtree 4×4 on Monday for surgery (Poki, not Jen: )
I can see the work on Poki is going to be considerable and expensive. However, forgoing a new Grenadier, it will be a much cheaper option..:). There is nothing that is more enjoyable to drive, than our TD5.