We didn’t linger travelling north through Spain and France. It was mid November and, although it was warm enough during the day, at night the temperature plummeted to 0°. And Europe was an hour ahead of GMT so it was dark by 6pm which discouraged us from taking our long evening walks into town. We found ourselves eating our main meal in the middle of the day and spending the evenings watching DVDs or reading and, of course, early to bed!
In Spain many camp sites stayed open throughout the year, especially along the coast but in France (the home of “camping cars”) sites were closing for the winter like sleepy eyes after dark. Our planned site at Le Mans advertised a closing date of the 19th but when we rocked up on the 16th the gates were already locked and the site deserted. We parked up outside for the night but I was disappointed that I couldn’t have a shower or a fresh baguette in the morning. A better overnight stop out of season would have been at one of the larger Aires next to a fuel station where truckers took their obligatory rest. We always found those Aires safe enough overnight – although a bit noisy with lorries coming and going
As we approached Calais we stopped to fill up with diesel. Driving out from the fuel station we noticed cars overtaking us had put on their hazard warning lights and were indicating that we should slow down. Assuming there was something amiss with the van, we pulled on to the hard shoulder and a couple of the cars stopped too. We were careful as we could have been victims of a scam but it turned out there was a man – an asylum seeker, we assume – hanging off our rear, clinging to the bike rack as we sped along at 50mph. As we stopped he jumped down and ran off. It looked as if he had been trying to conceal himself under our bike covers. He could so easily have fallen off and been killed and maybe we would have been none the wiser.
We had had a similar problem in Tanger in stop/start traffic where groups of youngsters were continually running beside our vehicle, trying to climb on the back I don’t think they had any sinister intentions but were just joyriding. Tony reckons our new van will have all round camera surveillance and a big klaxon to frighten off any boarders!