Monday 8 August

Wake around half past six and shower at seven. The button on the shower gives just three seconds of water, so I end up getting cold soaping myself down when the water cuts off. We eat breakfast in the van because it is not warm outside.

I have my first experience of emptying the van’s chemical toilet. It is a cassette system and very clean and easy compared to the old style Elsan bucket type, but I am surprised by the volume of liquid from just two nights!

I also refill the fresh water tank, but get soaked when the hose pipe repeatedly comes disconnected at the tap. We are finally away by nine.

Lady Garmin decides to take us on a cross-country route to Gray, following the D17 to Chalindrey and then the D136. It is narrow in places, and we’re not sure what she had against the more obvious N74/D67 route. But it is quite a nice drive through forest, even if we do get stuck behind two tractors for a while on one narrow section. I’m quite content to trundle but when one of the tractor drivers pulls over I feel compelled to pass, two wheels on the grass. R doesn’t like it.

We pass through Champlite and reach Gray, where we stop at the hypermarket but forget to buy fresh milk. Fresh milk doesn’t seem to have a very prominent position in French hypermarkets and is about twice the price of milk in Britain. We think the French must use up most of their milk for cheese making! I also fill up with diesel and calculate that each of the eight divisions on the fuel gauge corresponds to something like fifty miles (or eighty kilometers).

Past Dole we stop for lunch on the D475 with Arbois more or less due west of us.

After eating we decide to head for Arbois and find a campsite there. R has diarrhea, so we take our time before setting off again.

We arrive in Arbois early afternoon and park down a side street near the church. I go for bread and milk while R has a rest. I’m caught in a torrential downpour on the way back to the van and shelter under a shop canopy with the other people who also forgot their umbrellas.

Garmin suggests the Municipale Camping les Vignes just over a kilometer from the centre. We are invited to choose our own pitch and our first choice is a poor one. I can’t get the van onto the ramps to level it. We are on slightly damp grass and since the ramps are both on one side, the driving wheel on the other side just spins. R is hating the diesel fumes from the exhaust.

After too long I give up and we find a different pitch. This one has hard standing and to my surprise we achieve level with the back wheels on the top of the ramps; it looked too steeply sloping to manage that. Stress levels return to normal and we go back to the reception and pay for two nights.

Todays lessons:

  1. It really is very difficult indeed to get onto the ramps when they are both on the same side and the grass is wet
  2. The van has front wheel drive
  3. Taking a run at it is not a good idea
  4. You can get more levelling than you think at the top of the ramps. They are quite high.

Pasta and bolognese for dinner, and then we take a short walk into Arbois and back. We’ve both been told that there is live music tonight starting at nine – an Irish band. I hope it doesn’t finish too late and isn’t too loud. R is quite exhausted so we don’t want a late night.

We think we’ll leave the van on pitch tomorrow and take a lazy amble around Arbois. R is particularly keen to see Louis Pasteurs house.

The Irish band turns out to be one man who plays a variety of different instruments, often several at the same time. We are not sure about his Irish credentials, though he seems to do his best to play up the cheeky chappie Irish character he evidently thinks is appropriate to his act. We can’t hear him from the van, which is probably for the best.