Category Archives: France 2008

Patrick’s Confessions

I have Liz’s permission not to tell you these stories but since I cannot keep a secret…
Last Friday we went to visit Julyan and Georgia in the Rue L’Orrillion in Paris. For those of you not familiar with this area of Paris, let us say that, as we were to discover, the taxi drivers won’t go there to pick up a fare – even at the request of the police – and security guards assured us that it was the most dangerous place in Paris to be.
We parked the buggy outside the police station and council gym. We left it there for about 4 hours. Then Julyan & Georgia went off to the Louvre because young people were being let in for free. It was then about 6pm. The buggy would not start. I checked the petrol. I had no means of checking the spark.
The security guards, all five of them from the gym, came and offered advice. We still hadn’t joined the RAC and at that time of night there seemed little prospect of calling out a mechanic.
One of the security guards went to the police station and invited us in for a conference on what to do. The police woman in charge made a phone call and told us that it would cost about 175 Euros to be taken back to the Bois de Boulogne campsite.
I decided that it would be cheaper for me to go back to the campsite in a taxi and fetch the van to recover the buggy. Much conversation by the senior policewoman and we were told that the taxi drivers refused to come to that part of town. They then offered to take me to the Place de la Republique for a taxi. We thanked them and, while Liz was escorted to the gym by the security guards and settled in a nice conference room overlooking the basket ball court, I was taken by police van by all three of the police staff at the station to the Place de la Republique. Once there, they asked a taxi driver to take me to the Allee Au Bord De L’Eau where the campsite is. He refused. As we were driving round the square a Merc cut us up fairly badly so we gave chase and he was cornered, spoken to severely but let go. At this point the policewoman tried to call a taxi from the taxi rank post. Eventually she told me to keep trying and they left me there.
Ten minutes of trying and I decided to flag one down on the street. The first one also refused because he said he didn’t know where it was! The second one was also about to refuse on the same basis but I forestalled him by getting in the taxi for the discussion. When I asked for Port Maillott he agreed and I tried to find the Allee Au Bord De L’Eau on first his map and then mine. Failed. Then I realised that I had my GPS (“Emily”) with me. I dialled the campsite, told her to speak and write in French and handed her to the driver.
He seemed much impressed with Emily, so much so that he spent more time looking at her on the passenger seat than looking at where he was going. Much to my amazement, when Emily warned him of speed restrictions, which she does very sweetly, he actually slowed down letting all the other traffic speed past us!!!
Once I had answered my taxi drivers questions about Emily’s make, model and price, he duly dropped me at the campsite and I was able to drive back to Liz.
The security guards seemed impressed with our tow bar and very shortly we were on our way with the non-running buggy.
We decided that it would be better to go on to Troyes before trying to get the buggy repaired and once there we went to Beltramelli’s garage with it. They examined her and tried various things before telling us to come back when they had fixed it – tomorrow.
Next day at 4pm we were duly asked to come and collect the working buggy. I had asked them to also fix the handbrake and improve the tow bar hitch so a bill for 300 Euros was not a great surprise. I paid and asked to be told what the problem was. The Chef de Mecanicien agreed willingly and pointed to a red button on the dash. “That button switches off the ignition, if you press it again, it will start. It wouldn’t start because the ignition was switched off!!!”
But there is more – and worse!
Now that I had the buggy, I wanted to go shopping and Liz wanted to stay home and read. Off I went, ably guided by Emily to my destination.
Sadly, on the way back, I think I was too intent on Emily’s display and I went through a red light. They are much smaller than English ones, you know. Bang! A car hit me sideways and I was thrown out of the buggy.
Police, ambulance and firemen all appeared in moments. I was ushered into the ambulance and asked what had happened. At this point I realised that I couldn’t remember anything. I knew my name and Liz’s name and even that we were staying at the municipal camp site. I even knew my birth date. I did not know which town I was in. I didn’t know where I had come from. In fact the last thing I could remember was living at Sowood. Nothing since.
At this point they took me off to the hospital.
The police contacted Liz and said that I had had an accident and was in hospital but that I was alright except for the memory.
The two policemen and two firemen left me at the hospital and a little while later Liz arrived. She was very good and didn’t seem cross but a little exasperated. I was duly examined by a doctor but by this time I had managed to bring back to mind most of the missing 6 weeks. He declared me fit to go and we went to pay the bill (our EH2 form still had not come). It came to just 22 Euros!
We then went to the police station where thay were very kind. Since I had had to send my licence in to the DVLA just before we left, I didn’t have it with me and we didn’t have the insurance documents either. They were at the campsite. I could see that we could be there for several days, if not weeks, for the case to be dealt with in court. How much would the fine be?
The policeman explained that because no-one was injured they did not need to make a report and we could go. He gave us the name and address of the lady who had been driving the car that hit me and said that it was for me to deal with her direct. We were free to go and collect the buggy. That’s it!
The buggy had some damage to the front wheel steering mechanism and a stud had fractured on the gear shift. We collected it this morning and returned to Betramelli’s. He greeted me like an old friend and promised to have the parts repaired by 11am tomorrow.
The other driver came to see us this afternoon with an estimate for the repairs to her car. We think it will be easier and better just to pay for her repairs rather than go through all the hassle of an insurance claim. To be honest, I am too ashamed to make the claim; they might decide that I am too senile to be allowed to drive anymore…
Comments about how unlike me this all is are welcome! Liz is being very understanding and has been quite abstemious on the jokes too. My count is no more that 10 so far but there is time…


Filed under France 2008

Leaving England at last


Whilst at Bexhill, we set up our Skype account (phillips.ingleton) complete with a Leeds telephone number (01138151518) so friends and family can call us without spending vast amounts of call charges. We also set up a Europe free call facility for £3.38 for 3 months. This allows us to call any landline in Europe for free! It works well but, because it is satellite based, you have to get used to the delays. You feel more like a radio call than a telephone call and we keep wanting to say “over” after each sentence. At this cost, we will cope!

    Ferry across the Channel

We duly arrived at Newhaven ferry terminal in plenty of time for the advertised 1400 hr sailing. Sadly there isn’t one. The next sailing was 2230 hrs. We paid our single fare of £130 and went off to explore. Late afternoon we came back to the terminal and were very happy to have somewhere to park up in the loading lines and get a few repairs done.

This included the towing electrics. The buggy lights worked fine except the right indicators. The tow board (brand new from Halfords) didn’t work at all. There was some light on the rear lights but only when the left indicator was used. Nothing at all otherwise. Still haven’t really bottomed this but fairly sure it is the tow bar electrics on the van. Guess there is a high-resistance joint which is causing the problem.

The trip to Dieppe was very sparsly attended. It appeared that the car decks were only half full and there seemed to be very few passengers. The ship is good and clean with plenty of facilities including 4 cinemas with reclining seats.

    What a welcome!

At Dieppe, we came off feeling rather tired so were just looking for somewher to park and sleep. I missed the first car park which was full of motorhomes and we decided to acrry on through the town at 0330 hrs in the morning. We spotted a little row of motorhomes parked up and decided to join them.

On waking in the morning, we became aware that we were almost on the beach. Across a grass field there were even more motorhomes parked up. Fine, we are obviously OK here – breakfast! Then coach loads of primary school kids started to arrive. Six or seven within half an hour. Where were they all going? The we saw it… Kites! Hundreds of kites.

Kites over Dieppe

Kites over Dieppe

More kites over Dieppe

More kites over Dieppe

It seems that there is a world kite flyers gathering every two years and this year it was Dieppe’s turn to play host. We had arrived on day two of a five day festival. Further, we were right on the edge of the festival site with a grand-stand view of it all.
Even this one got off the ground - mostly...

Even this one got off the ground - mostly...

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Filed under France 2008