After a three year absence, we are finally bound for France once again . We had planned to go in September 2017 but that didn’t work out. Now we are finally using that ferry booking, rescheduled, of course.
We are trying something new, forsaking our usual Dover-Calais crossing with frequent sailings from which to choose and instead going on the Newhaven-Dieppe route now run by DFDS. There are three sailings a day only one of which was attractive to us; the 09:00 departure from Newhaven would take four hours and get us into Dieppe at 14:00 local time, so we’d be on the road by 14:30 with luck. With a mere 40 kms to drive to get to our favourite inbound campsite at Neufchâtel-en-Bray, we’d have plenty of time to top up with both fuel and supplies at the nearby Leclerc.
An 09:00 departure means checking in at 07:30. We could have left home at 04:30 I suppose but that really wasn’t an appealing prospect so we booked into the Brighton Caravan Club campsite [sorry, it’s now called the Caravan and Motorhome Club campsite] which is just 30 minutes away from Newhaven. We could leave there at 07:00. Better.
That was our plan. Everything went swimmingly, barring the usual clag-ups on the jaM25 to get to the M23/A23 past Gatwick to Brighton. I still cannot believe the traffic on our roads at 11:00 on a Wednesday; four lanes of traffic solid in both directions and occasionally stationary. Where in the name of Satan is everyone going at 11:00 midweek? Anyway, we got to Brighton at ~13:00 and checked in. The site is at the east end of Brighton. Salubrious, the area is not but the campsite was fine; busy but fine.
Swimmingly went out of the window as I began pitching up. Guillaume needed levelling so I towed him up our ramp. Francine wedged him and I began unhitching. Sadly I didn’t complete unhitching. I’d disconnected the power cables but, for some unaccountable reason I’d forgotten to detach the breakaway cable. A graunching noise alerted me to my error as I tried to drive the car away forwards. Panic struck and like an idiot I reversed a little, stuffing Guillaume’s drawbar, which had followed me part way before the breakaway cable broke, through the rear bumper of the car. “Bother!”, said Pooh, crossly. Egg all over face together with a broken breakaway cable. Oops! I’d better exchange my 30-year membership window sticker for a “Complete Bloody Novice” sticker.
Long story short: I found a supplier with a new breakaway cable for a stonking £2.99 but could not, for the life of me, see how one managed to fit it without special equipment. I’ve Jerry-rigged the old one. Fortunately the damage to the car was less than it might have been: I had pushed in a black plastic panel which was push-fit. After a struggle I finally managed to push-fit it back into place. What a dampener that put on proceedings, and after such a good start, too.
Maybe a photographic excursion would lift our mood. Some years ago one of Brighton’s two piers, the West Pier, was sadly destroyed by fire. The framework wreckage still sits in the sea and is, perhaps, more iconic now as a photographic subject than it ever was before. Naturally the tide tables were against us with low tide being at 19:00 but Francine fancied a go anyway so we headed out sooner rather than later. We arrived at 16:45. I bought a parking ticket as Francine set off with camera , filters and tripod.
Conditions were not great, either: fog banks were drifting around. As he arrived, the pier was clear but fairly soon it all but disappeared into one of the moving fog banks. It was all very ethereal.
A Carte d’Or ice cream each didn’t go amiss, either. £2.50 each. Damn, almost as much as my replacement breakaway cable which needed engineering.