At the weekend I took the motorhome to Calais via the Eurotunnel with a friend of mine in order to do some shopping at the hypermarkets, and to give the motorhome another good test run.
It started off well with the engine starting first time early in the morning after I had the fuel filter replaced. I met my friend at a half way point, picked her up and then headed to Folkestone to board the Eurotunnel.
I’ve taken the tunnel before, and the ferry and I far prefer the tunnel because it’s simply so much faster and less hassle. And the beauty of the motorhome is that you are not confined to your seat and we were able to get up and make ourselves comfy in the back with a drink and some food.
Passport control either side was very quick and simple and we had no hassles and it seemed like we were in France in no time!
Our first stop was Carrefour. There’s two main hypermarkets in Calais – Carrefour and Auchan. I’d only ever been to Auchan before but I chose the other one as apparently it had reserved parking spots for motorhomes.
However, we didn’t actually find them and the car park was pretty empty anyway so we had no trouble parking.
The shop was huge and it sold just about everything including some very delicious cakes and pastries but I was a little disappointed with the selections from the deli. So we decided to head to Auchan after lunch.
We spent a few hours in Carrefour and bought ourselves some fresh bread, cheese and pate for lunch and we had this on the van right there in the car park! Thankfully the gas also worked so we had coffee as well. It was quite surreal to be sitting eating our lunch in the car park when it was raining out but it was pretty cool to be able to do that 🙂
After lunch we headed to Auchan, and stocked up on even more food and we also hit the booze isles in this shop! By the time we finished it was dark outside which meant that I had to drive to the campsite in the dark.
Camping at Wissant
Due to the recent problems in Calais, I looked for a place to stay a little outside of it, and I also specifically looked for somewhere that supplied electric hookup as I have not yet replaced the leisure batteries.
We went to a family run farm which provides services on their land which is in a very rural area. It was pitch black when we arrived and we weren’t sure if it would be open as Google Maps said it might be closed when we navigated there!
Thankfully a man came out to talk to us and yes they were still open. We had some difficulty understanding him as my French is not yet very good and he did not speak English. However, we got the general gist – park around the back of the building, on the hard surface, not the grass.
Keep off the grass!
We drove around the back and could see a field with a small gravel area backing onto the building. The first set of electric sockets were taken and there were a couple of other motorhomes already parked so we moved onto the other side.
As I tried to back up the van near the building I could make out that I was quite wonky and wanted to straighten up a bit so I drove forward and my wheels went onto the grass and…..
we were stuck!!
What I had interpreted from what he had told us was not to park on the grass; I did not realise that it was so boggy that just going onto it at all would cause us to basically sink!
I tried to get out but I couldn’t go backwards or further forwards in any way, the wheels just kept spinning. I could feel my heart start racing as I faced the realisation that we were going to need help getting out and were going to have to try to arrange that in French!!
The man heard me straining to move and he came out to see us. He said something along the lines of “I told you not to drive on the grass!” and I tried my best to explain what had happened but all I could really do at that point was apologise.
So next he asked us if we had something that he needed to help us. I had just bought a tow rope so I eagerly brought that out to show him but he shook his head, did some winding motion with his hands and tried again to explain in French that I didn’t understand.
I wondered if the winding motion meant a jack and I had one of those under the seats so I scurried back into the van, took up all the cushions and proudly pulled out my jack to show him. He shook his head again… I think I went back in one or two more times bringing out more tools and then ran out. Obviously I did not have what he needed and I guess I will never know what it was he was trying to explain!
He said he’s be back in 10 minutes so we waited and tried not to laugh too much! I felt terrible but it was also pretty funny. I’ve seen many YouTubers who get stuck in their motorhomes and vans and knew it would happen to me eventually but on my second trip out? oh dear lol!
True to his word he came back a few minutes later dressed in some kind of protective gear and driving a huge digger! He pulled out some massive rope and then spent about another 15 minutes presumably trying to attach it to the back of my motorhome. I’m not entirely sure how he managed it but a few minutes after that he was pulling us out of the mud!
I kept apologising again and we waited for him to undo the rope and move his digger. I reversed up to the electrics, now even wonkier than before but this time I just stopped and decided we’d just have to stay wonky! There was no way I’d risk accidentally driving onto the grass again!
A wine-fuelled evening
After being now settled on a hard surface our next task was to connect to the electricity and get the heater on. Seemed simple enough and I had even remembered to buy a European adapter for my electric cable. It connected fine and all the lights worked but the plug sockets did not.
Well, after about 20 minutes or so we discovered that they were controlled by some seemingly random switch in my wardrobe which had got knocked by one of our bags! Problem solved and something else learned.
With the heater on, I then checked if the gas would work and to my amazement it did! We had bought a lasagne in Auchan hoping that it would and so we cooked that and it was delicious 🙂
We broke out some of the wine and then we settled in for the night. Mel decided she would try out my luton bed (the one that goes over the cab) which is very easy to get into but not quite so easy to get out of! Now both of us somewhat tipsy, I was able to capture her hilarious dismount on film! One of the funniest things ever 🙂
Wine and chocolate
The next morning we decided to give the man a bottle of wine and a bar of chocolate as a way to say thank you for his help. It’s not much but I just wanted to show him that I was sorry and really very grateful! I think the gesture went down well. He said his wife really likes white chocolate and he seemed genuinely happy and friendly.
He also said there was no set time we had to leave which was just as well as the weather was pretty bad. It had started off with pretty heavy rain, and then that had morphed into snow! After a while though that cleared and we went for a walk.
In the morning light we could see the full extent of the damage to the grass! This is something I will be extremely wary of in future.
The campsite was situated in a lovely rural area and we had some very nice views on our little walk.
We had some lunch and then decided to head back to the tunnel super early just for peace of mind. We we got there 2 hours early and this time the passport control took much longer. Everybody we spoke to asked us a million questions and we even got searched!
However, it was all fine and it’s actually quite good to know that security going back into the UK is so tight! We were offered a trip half an hour earlier which we took and then we spent our waiting time having coffee and watching a movie on the van 🙂
Note that at no time did we need to spend money on typical convenience items. We bought our lunch from the shop and just make coffee on the van. Though we did spend the last of our change on a burger to eat on the train on the way back as it would still be several hours before getting home.
The train back seemed to go very fast, except for the part where we were questioned yet again – this time for ‘statistics’. They asked a lot of very personal questions which I found quite annoying. I was tempted to tell them to bugger off but went along with it anyway *sigh*.
Back in the UK it was a smooth drive back to our meeting point where we said our goodbyes and make our way back home separately.
All in all, an excellent trip 🙂
Here is the video I took throughout the weekend:
You can also click here to see the Flickr photo album or view them below.