EEC 15, 4th May 2005

I took a couple of days to drive north. Not quite as slow as my preferred rate of progress, but way better than hurtling up the autoroute.

At one time going past roadworks, early in the trip, there was a queue of traffic in front of me coming my way so being polite I backed up, totally forgetting I had a trailer on behind, and it jack-knifed. When I got going again there was some really weird noises coming from under the van, assorted random crashes and bangs. I couldn't see anything wrong so continued on to the Claud Peres house, where I had been invited for lunch. After a rather good lunch I called by the local garage, the garage owner took a drive with me, and remarked the noise was bizarre. When he put it on the lift though we could see the problem. Part of the silencer shroud was hitting the prop shaft from time to time. Easily fixed. I had obviously hit the exhaust pipe when I jack-knifed the trailer.

I asked if they had time to do an oil change. The garage owner said he was too busy, but his son had the time. Seems I carry bad luck around with me. They noticed the waste oil collector was full, so they set up to transfer into the waste oil tank. The transfer is made by running compressed air into the collector. Then the son yelled. The transfer pipe had blown out of the oil tank and dirty black oil was spraying everywhere, over him, even over the lovely clean white huge garage doors. Father finished my oil change while son cleaned up. Then there was another yell. The pipe carrying the water from the pressure washer had burst, now water was spraying everywhere. I paid my remarkably low bill and scuttled away as quick as I could.

I was still travelling with too much speed to look at all the views I wanted but there was the odd nice picture.

I found a loop of road that had been cut off when the main road was re-routed, and spent a very quiet night there. Arriving at Barbara's all was action, the next morning she was leaving for a 2 week hike, along the canal from Nantes to Brest, with her donkey in tow to carry everything. Sunday morning they left, pulling the newly obtained horse box with relatively newly obtained camping car. Of course neither are brand spanking new, not only do they have 2 balloons and a donkey to support, but also a glider, a small plane, and an MGB.

Monday I left after loading a few more items from Marie's barn.

You may notice that now that my minute trailer includes not only obligatory basket, burner, envelope and 3 tanks, but also garden table, 6 garden chairs, 2 sun loungers, wine bottle corking machine, snow chains, chimney cleaning brushes, a set of bookshelves, a folding table, several large cans of paint, a large aluminium sheet, a sack truck, a combination disk and belt sanding machine, and, whilst I do not have the kitchen sink, I do have a full size cement mixer loaded up. Eat you heart out, those Americans I read about, who pull a trailer about the size of my new house, and wonder if there is enough room inside for a balloon and a porta potty.

Again there is not a lot of spare room inside the van. I have been taking such things as towels and sheets out of boxes and bags, and stuffing them in any spare space I could find.

I think maybe I should paint the trailer blue. Now I look at it, it does not match very well. And only now I notice! I have owned that trailer over 20 years, I painted it green about 20 years ago, and I have owned Mazda vans in the same colour blue for the past 15 years. I suppose if it's worked OK for as long as that maybe I could leave it a while longer..............But what's happening to me? I never cared before that it was the wrong colour. Too long in the US I think. I'll be back there next year!

But now I'm staying in a hotel in the chain Formule 1 in Montauban. Formule 1 is guaranteed to be the lowest price in the area. It's clean, there is hand basin and TV in the room, clean communal showers and WC, 28 for 1, 2, or 3 people. There's not a lot of spare room for 3, but heck, who can complain at 28?

So, now, it's next evening. First I had a phone call from the estate agent. There is a major problem with the measurements for the boundary. The surveyor only got around to coming to check on the boundaries the day before we were due to sign. Duh! Anyway the boundary is 2 metres out in some places. I am happy with the suggested compromises but everyone has to agree. There is a meeting in a weeks time on the property to make the agreements. This means the signing will be about 3 weeks time.

I was not very happy about this. I have a lot of work to do on the house before I leave for another US tour next year. Tiling floors, converting workshop to spare bedroom, repairing facade, not to mention building a garage. Patrick, who is selling the house, was not happy either. Of course it was he who constructed the fence, by mistake, so far away from the correct line. He has found an apartment he wants to rent, and does not have the money to pay the deposit until he has sold the house.

He only needed 1000. Now, I am running out of money, rapidly, but I can manage 1000 for a month. So I lent Patrick 1000 and last I heard he was heading off to do the paperwork for his apartment. I can hardly wait for my next instalment of this chronicle. Did he get the apartment?

Best regards

David Barker

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