Our 12th 3-month trip didn’t get off to a great start. It started to go wrong just half an hour in when we suddenly came to a standstill in traffic on the M25 (Britain’s biggest car park). We sat there for 3 hours while the road ahead was being cleared after an accident. We thought we had allowed plenty of time to get down to Dover but unfortunately just missed our ferry by 30 minutes. Luckily, although we only had a standard (not flexi) ticket with P & O ferries, they allowed us on the boat at no extra charge. This was a bonus because another ticket would cost £130.
Mishap two happened on our second day. We drove over to Ile De Re which is opposite La Rochelle. We had read there was some great cycling to on the Island. Before finding a campsite, we decided to drive around the island to see what it had to offer.
There looked to be an interesting beach with parking so, we decided to park up for a cuppa and take a look. It was when I got out of the motorhome to guide Ray back into a spot overhanging a grass verge that I slipped and fell on the grass. I looked up and could see the motorhome getting nearer and panicked. I managed to get up but promptly fell back down again. Luckily, unbeknown to me, Ray had lost sight of me in the wing mirrors so stopped reversing. Quickly I managed to get up and stay standing on the second attempt and limped into the motorhome holding my wrist which was starting to swell up nicely. Thinking I had probably just sprained it we set off to find a campsite for the night, giving up on the idea of seeing the beach or any more of the island.
Next morning my wrist was still painful, swollen and I had limited movement so I rang the insurance company who gave us an address of a hospital in St Martin which was a 30 min drive away. We found a camping aire (stopover) nearby and headed for that. Just as we got within 100 yards of the entrance the road was blocked off – Oh blimey what now! Ray reversed the motorhome back down the road a short way and took a left-hand turning which then lead us into a very narrow road with cars parked both sides. We stopped and, Ray got out to push in the wing mirrors. The car behind us was honking his horn impatiently. Eventually, Ray managed to manoeuvre our motorhome out of the road, but every turning we went to take was either narrower than the previous one or no entry.
We were not the only ones we noticed another motorhome in the same predicament trying to find the aire. Luckily a man walked over to us and introduced himself as the Mayor of St Martin and asked us where we were trying to get to. I explained we wanted the aire so that we could park up and walk to the hospital. He informed us that the hospital was only for old people, but if we followed his car he would take us to the doctor, and there was a radiography department next door. He very kindly came in with us and explained our problem to the receptionist before wishing us well and leaving.
Unfortunately, we don’t speak very much French (only the very basics) which wasn’t a lot of help. The Doctor spoke no English, but with the help of the translate app on my phone (which at times made no sense) we got by. After examining my wrist, I could see by her face that she thought I had broken it. She sent me next door for an x-ray. As soon as we filled in a form and paid the 38 euros for the x-ray, I was lead straight through.
The x-ray confirmed my wrist was fractured, so the nurse advised I needed to take the x-ray and report to A&E on the mainland at La Rochelle hospital.
After checking our camping app, we headed to an aire just outside the town.
A quick sandwich and a cuppa before making our way to the bus stop. Luckily the bus went straight to the Hospital. After filling in the paperwork with insurance details and our ehic card, we went straight through to have the cast put on. The whole process was rapid and straight forward. The doctor advised me to come back in 21 days to get it checked. I explained we were on our way down to Spain and he said it would be ok to report to an A&E wherever we were in Spain.
We are impressed with the health service in France as they are so quick and efficient. Unlike the 6 hour wait, we had in the Harlow A&E a few weeks before we came away.
Mishap 3 happened two days later in a lovely tranquil spot on Lake Biscarrosse. We arrived at the campsite and were informed we could park anywhere. We found a beautiful pitch overlooking the lake. The sun was shining, and the lake looked so perfect until the front wheels sunk into the sand that is! Sand – what sand? The campsite had put tree bark down on the pitch which hid the fact that there was sand beneath.
The wheels were spinning. Sand was flying everywhere and the more we tried to get out the deeper the motorhome sank in. Lucky for us there was a family of 3 Frenchmen and an English woman who came to our rescue and towed us out, but not before the brand new tow rope snapped. Taking pity on us, the lovely family poured us a glass of wine which was very welcome. After finishing the drink and a chat, we found another pitch on the grass to settle down, relax and enjoy the view in the afternoon sun.