Guillaume dans la Forêt

On a previous trip to the New Forest in 2010 (?), we bought Guillaume his first porch awning.  As the man tasked with their erection, I disagree with awnings on caravans, period. For me, one of the main advantages of a caravan is to avoid the heartache (heart attack?) caused by tent pegs. Pegs are particularly difficult on Guillaume’s favourite site in the New Forest, Setthorns, where only 9”/23cm rock pegs stand a chance, and then only if you have an industrial pile driver to pound them in. Francine, however, wants an awning “for storage and to help keep the wet mud out”. [My solution to mud would be to live in a dry climate.]

That first dirt-stopping porch awning was dirt cheap (~£90). Aside from the pile driver and countless rock pegs, it was pretty easy to put up with just three bendy fibreglass poles, two cross-over support poles and a hoopy job to hold them out and up. The lightweight material wasn’t totally waterproof – a fine mist could be felt in heavy rain – but it served Guillaume well. Until recently, that is. When the wind gusted up towards 30mph on our recent wet trip to The Lakes, the hoopy fibreglass pole kept tap-tap-tapping on Guillaume’s side panel as the whole contraption shook and flexed in the wind. Guillaume sustained several dents. A small patch of Guillaume’s paint was also worn off. Merde alors! The damaging cheap awning has been consigned to the bin.

In readiness for Guillaume’s return to La Forêt Nouvelle, we purchased for him a better porch awning; one of those half tunnel jobs. That is, we hope it turns out to be better. It’s certainly more expensive at £219. It’s also much heavier and looks considerably more involved to erect. This seems like a popular design these days, though.

This morning, with the car groaning under all the weight, we hit the road at 10:15 AM. “At least we’re heading in the right direction,” i.e. south, “this time”, I remarked. Shortly afterwards, half way down our third of four motorways, we drove into heavy rain. Wonderful! Seriously, I am beginning to wonder why we ever bothered crawling out of the oceans. We’d be better served by gills than by lungs.

Guillaume pulled in to Setthorns at 1:00 PM after a painless though wet journey. The forest is utterly saturated. Mr. Reception told us that it thrashed down all last night. We set about installing Guillaume, trying to find a pitch with few overhanging trees – constant drips can drive one insane. Fortunately, we had a huge choice of pitches ‘cos there are strangely few people here. Maybe the others had read the weather forecast. Worrying thought.

Despite meteorology, we enjoyed a few bright spells later in the afternoon so set about the amusing task of erecting a new awning for the very first time. This awning has more poles. There are still the familiar three bendy fibreglass jobs, though they are used very differently, but there are also four aluminium jobs. Is there a diagram to help one position the poles? No. Apparently the Dutch (it’s a Doréma) think that diagrams are superfluous. It must be as obvious as the idea of carving shoes from wood. Actually, since none of these poles fix in ways with which we’ve become familiar, even as users of a full sized awning, it’s far from obvious. Being experienced, however, we had studied it beforehand, developed our suspicions and confirmed them over the phone with the helpful supplier (Anglia Awnings, who also thought that a diagram would be a useful adjunct and would save him hours on the phone). We got the poles in where we thought they were supposed to go. I extracted my 9”/23cm rock pegs and portable pile driver, and set about pegging Guillaume’s new awning in place.

J14_0425 Guillaume dans la foretThis awning is more expensive partly ‘cos it’s more complex. It’s also made of better materials, of course. The doors even have separately zipped fly screens, as if les mouches aren’t just going to fly in around the gaps in the base sod cloths. Ludicrous! [I can see the fly screens getting cut off to save weight and complexity.] Over-engineered it may be but it’s certainly a more useable space so let’s hope Guillaume likes it.

It’s raining again.

Correction: it’s thrashing again.

I haven’t detected any fine mist inside Guillaume’s new awning.

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Posted in 2014 New Forest

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