Can I Look At Your Fuse Box?
Blighted by Breakages, Technology & French Fusion Cuisine; a Trip To The Vet; THE Most Expensive Fish in the World and – A Road Trip to Nowhere!
It would be hard not to fall in love with Quiberon – shady, pine-scented woods; lanes fragranced with honeysuckle; chocolate–box villages of stone cottages, fringed with hydrangeas and hollyhocks and a Neolithic stone monument at every turn.
And what about our first view of Quiberon bay? Two steps from our caravan were mirror-flat waters, like a jewel-blue infinity pool, fringed by a dramatic, sweeping arc of white sand. Carnac to the left and Quiberon, at the far end of the peninsula, were like mystical, golden cities, picked out by the evening sunshine. But all this tranquil nature belied a technological trauma in the caravan.
The battery on the laptop stopped working, so we could only use the laptop if it was plugged into the mains in the caravan. This would have posed no problem had the mobile phone that we use as an internet hotspot not stopped working. We were sold the phone on the basis that we could use it for internet abroad and indeed we can – but only on the phone. When we bought the phone contract with huge amounts of data to use on a 3-month European trip, the salesperson omitted to mention that ‘tethering’ the phone to the computer as an internet hotspot doesn’t work abroad… It is in the small print of the contract, which the helpfully unhelpful helpdesk in India kept telling us. We kept telling THEM that this wasn’t the point! Try answering long emails and writing NWF blogs on a phone. Even the weather didn’t display properly, but we had no choice but to live with it!
The irony is that I think that our phone provider only rumbled that we were in France when we looked on a French website for a laptop battery. We only did that because Mr Bricolage advised via the medium of mime that laptop batteries are way beyond the remit of a local, village hardware store. Worse, we did a free upgrade to Windows 10. There is no such thing as a free upgrade; now NOTHING on the computer works properly offline!
With no battery, taking the laptop to a WiFi hotspot was not an option, although managing to buy a French mains adapter in Mr Bricolage did mean that we could take the laptop to L’ Auberge du Petit Matelot, plug into the mains and use their WiFi for the cost of a coffee. Phew! We need to file my Tax Return and we appear to have an outstanding water bill. We felt like Master Criminals on the run with Bournemouth Water on our tails, threatening legal action for an unpaid bill that we had never actually received!
One of the Seavets, Mike, came over to help us try to get our satellite dish working. We had tried ourselves, but the instructions are written in ‘English As She Is Spoke’ and make no sense whatsoever. Mike did suss that we had connected the satellite to the caravan, but not to the television! We still didn’t get it working but managed to download a Satellite Finder app onto the phone, which caused the phone, our only working piece of tech, to LOCK! Merde!
We have had much caravan-envy when people have come in to have a look at our new mobile home. Most admire the beautiful picture window at the front, the large fridge, the four-ring hob, oven and microwave or the dinky little bathroom at the back. My favourite so far, however, was Mike walking in and asking immediately “Can I look at your fuse box?” I wonder if ANYONE has EVER complimented a fuse box on a Bailey Vigo quite as comprehensively as Mike!
Poor Ruby sliced open her pad thon the beach, necessitating a trip to the vet and the deployment of French Language Skills that have been dormant for 40 years! Despite coping miraculously well with this, I am officially resigning from all shopping and cooking duties. Buoyed by the success of the fresh market mackerel with new potatoes, served with wild fennel that I foraged on our walk, I have since served the most expensive fish in the world (€38 for 2 fish! I nearly fainted!), an uncooked oven-baked Filet de Julienne with Onion and Coriander, an accidentally purchased horse rump steak and tonight, Galette de Bretagne with garlic mushrooms and a Greek salad. It would have been perfect; if only the pancakes had not been sweet…
Our vegetarian friends are disgusted that we ate horse. We didn’t tell them that we enjoyed it, although we didn’t give any to the dogs. It would have felt wrong to have two of our favourite creatures eating each other…
My other shopping success was a piece of hose that I bought for washing salt and sand off the dogs after playing on the beach. It didn’t seem to work at all. When we connected it up, we discovered that it was blocked. There was what appeared to be a bung in the end! Then, we thought that the sudden water pressure against the blockage had burst the hose since water also seemed to be leaking out all over. We cut it to try to salvage a length without any holes in. “Who puts a bung in a hosepipe?!” we were asking in our best “I don’t BELIEVE it!” voices. Then it dawned on us that what I had purchased was actually a garden irrigation system…
We are getting used to our new lifestyle and are coming to terms with having lots of plans for the day and then…. not doing any of them! Sometimes we have a lazy morning, an afternoon nap and a relaxing evening. It is funny, even having been off the work treadmill for 18 months, we still have this nagging work ethic that makes us feel that we should be achieving something all the time. We should be doing EXACTLY what we want to do. We have to keep telling ourselves – THAT is what we worked all those years to achieve!
We ordered a little rubber bootie for Ruby from the vet, as she has to keep her injured paw dry. She became a lot less depressed once she could go out a bit with her little boot on. Walking on her sore paw may delay recovery a little, but I can’t bear her not being our little ray of sunshine! She has started singing to us again in the morning and her tail has been wagging a bit. She even jumped up, squealed and chewed my nose. That is definitely more like our little Ruby!
We returned to the market in St Jean – we feel like we’re visiting the butcher in The League of Gentlemen, Hilary Briss for some of his ‘special stuff’ (the unspoken assumption in the comedy show is that ‘special stuff’ is of human origin!) We went to the horse butcher and bought a horse steak AND some horse skirt… Mark has taken over responsibility for cooking and went to Super U. He got stuck behind a lorry containing two lions and bought mackerel for 6 euros. We are slowly making up my €38 fish deficit!
With Mark cooking, I said that I would wash up. That was a bad idea. We were still copying everyone else and not using the facilities in the caravan. I took a bowl of pots to the washing up area, pre-rinsed everything, washed it all, rinsed the soap off – then dropped the whole bally lot on the concrete. Mark said he heard the crash. I just couldn’t believe I dropped it AFTER I had washed it all. If I had just broken it all straight away, I could have saved myself all that work!
Commenting later on the incident, Mark said; “I instantly knew it was you. As I heard the crash, the first thought that crossed my mind was, ‘Oh, I had better go and help Jackie clear up.’” I said that he is one to talk; I have only broken 2 plates, a pyrex and a cup. I know the plates were Wedgewood, but we are only using our best china in the caravan because he broke our whole ‘everyday’ dinner service going around a roundabout when we were packing up the house – it fell out of the back door of the van! “It’s going to take me a long time to live that down.” Yes Mark. It is!
Victoria Wood once said that she didn’t understand caravanning as a vacation concept. She referred to caravanners as “A bunch of people who can’t go on holiday without their own dish brush!” Well. We certainly don’t fall into THAT category. We have TWO dish brushes!
We have been here for 3 weeks; we had to wait a while for the delivery of our laptop battery from Amazon. The battery arrived, and we kept saying that we were going to leave, but with the sun, sand and good company (of both the human and canine kind) we keep putting it off. We were supposed to leave AGAIN on Tuesday until we saw the wind forecast for the week and decided that it would be rude.
Our trip seems to have become defined by not actually going anywhere!
In our next Postcard from Quiberon read about how we got lost at sea – twice – and find out whether our road trip actually did ever get on the road!
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For details of the campsite and things to do around Quiberon, click here
Featured photograph – One Man and his Dog. Kai and Mark on our morning beach walk, with Carnac in the background.
Vector image of computer courtesy of Pixabay.