We go thro the Czech Republic and carry on thro Germany

Thursday, July 30, 2009
We have peaceful night at the campsite near Veverská Bítýska, when we arrived yesterday afternoon there were about 15 to 20 Dutch caravans and motor homes, with all of the couples sitting out the front of their RVs, none really appeared to be talking to each other, nor to the others camped alongside them, there were sitting under the awning so there were not sitting in the sunshine, but I guess it is different from home but they came a long way for that!

This morning as we left they were getting their chairs ready for another exciting day in the Czech Republic, we left them to the excitement and got on the Road towards Praha, I guess it must have been about 50 years ago or perhaps more that the trend for making the roads out of concrete slabs became popular, then of course did not work out and I'll leave the reasons for that join a friendly engineer that you know, but drive over them is somewhat like driving over a railway line with the click click click all the time, so this was the Road for about 200 km towards Praha, and now that we have left Prague we have the same Road once again, I guess it is better than some other potholes that we've experienced on this trip.

I went to Prague to visit a company called MapFactor a Czech company that makes a GPS roadmap that works on a laptop, I was hoping it would do all the things that I am currently doing on Microsoft auto route, but no it doesn't, and another factor stop me from buying it today was that there is 19% VAT which does not apply if I downloaded from New Zealand.  There were not really geared up for selling or displaying their product, it had been me selling the software, and a person said they were downloaded from New Zealand, I would have said find, made out the New Zealand invoice, taken the money, given and access code, instead of letting them walk away perhaps never to order, but we all know it is very hard to be sold anything in this world as most people don't try, and probably don't care.

We were going to stay the night at the campsite we've used before, so we went straight toCaravan Camping Praha”, they now have the gates locked and a sign asking you to ring and the porter will come, well after ringing three times and no porter we turned around and headed out towards another campsite 7 km away called “Camp Autoservis” this was a converted orchard with the gateway we managed to fit through and we drove around and realised there was really no level ground anywhere, so we drove on out and headed towards another campsite 16 km away called “Caravancamp (A)”, we found that okay except quite recently it has been closed as a campsite, somebody else is using it, and they had a notice on the gate that they were closed and suggested another campsite, we just opened the gate, drove in to turn round, and as we were coming out an English couple with their caravan attached arrived and I suggested a drive in to turn round, not quite sure where they went.

We decided to find a parking spot near the tram, which we did, then I wander away to get a thousand Crown note changed to something smaller and then to buy a tram ticket so I would not be finded 14 times the price of the fare like on our last visit, that was accomplished after walking about a kilometre, caught the tram, used the GPS to work out went to get off the tram and when I saw the software.  After that I caught the tram back, again using the GPS to find out where I got on and then we're on our way towards Trutnov the city where our friend Peter was born and we have pulled off into a parking spot on the motorway, the E67 near the city of Kostelní Lhota.

Listening to the traffic noise at the moment, it will not be a peaceful night!

Friday, July 31, 2009
We had a peaceful night on the parking area at the edge of the motorway, so was back on the Road towards Peters Turnov, we missed the turn off into the centre of the city but managed to find at Chateau type structure with beautiful gardens.  Just outside the city we visited an old 15th century castle on the top of two pinnacles of rock called Hrad Trosky, it is of course in ruins but it did make a wonderful photograph from a distance.

We then passed Liberec on our way to the border and Zittau, but before we crossed over we did look at a camping site on the Czech side of the border beside a Lake and of course it was totally packed being more or less on the border to Poland and Germany.  As they had WiFi on the campsite we download our e-mails and Luda did a Skype call to her father, then we were on our way.

So we drove across the border without a bump and on to an old town called Kurort Oybin which is famous for its hilltop ruins of a Gothic abbey, so on our arrival we parked in the bus parking area, did not notice the parking meter, so fortunately nobody noticed us, caught a tourist type tractor tram that took us to the top close to the ruins and I left Luda there for the best part of an hour whilst she wandered around taking photographs.

Having noticed the parking meter, we thought we really could not stay there the night, so drove to another parking area, that we had noticed on the tram, and here we are!

Saturday, August 01, 2009
We drove back through Zittau on the way to our first destination at Bautzen which was known for its top security jail for the political prisoners during the GDR era, but there were some beautiful old buildings in the city as well.

We then went on to Kamenz another beautiful old city before heading towards Moritzburg to view the Schloss Moritzburg a Castle like building and the 16th century loosely called a hunting lodge.  Is situated on a beautiful Lake making it very photogenic from many angles.  The last call for the day was the city of Meißen which is situated on the Elbe river and famous for its porcelain manufacture.

For the night we have found a parking lot next to a “Real” Supermarket, between the motorway and the railway which may be a mistake noticing the frequency of trains the last 15 minutes.

Sunday, August 02, 2009
It was a peaceful night despite the location, it was a very large car park and both last night and this morning it was totally deserted so I guess that serves a useful purpose during the week.

Our first destination for today was Pirna, to get there we had to go very close to Dresden, but with motorways all the way that was no problems. Pirna is an old town on the River Elbe with most of its houses untouched by time, apart from neglect during the Socialist times, and even that now has mostly been renovated.  The city is halfway along a beautiful river cruise on the River Elbe, we did not feel like doing half the cruise so we kept all of the timetables etc for next time when we will start the cruise at Seusslitz or Bad Schandau.

We then did a minor side trip of 10 km to look at the Schloss Weesenstein, a large Chateau type building which makes a wonderful photograph from a distance.

It was then on to Freiberg, again skirting round the outskirts of Dresden, there are about six Freiberg’s in Germany so after trying most of them in the GPS, I decided to pick the one out on the map and that got us to the city.  The city is known for its old Silvermines and was granted town status in 1186, and having escaped with very little damage during Hitler's war it again is largely untouched by time, (if you ignore all the stupid new buildings).

Since travelling North to what we hoped would be an cooler climate with had fine weather with most days in the mid-to high 20s which is much more pleasant than days in the mid-to high 30s, (for me that is).

Photos finished in Freiberg we decided to move on to a motor camp near Gornau so fed the coordinates into the GPS, and 30 minutes later we were at the motor camp which probably was 80 % full, but we found a parking spot good and easy.

Monday, August 03, 2009
We woke up to heavy rain, so checked out the BBC and saw that there was heavy rain South of us so we must have been on the border of the wet weather.  This reinforced our plans to travel North so after stopping point was Chemnitz which was known as Karl Marx Platz and good old Soviet times to celebrate the birthplace of one of the writers of the beauties of the socialist system.  With the rain letting up we decided to move on with our itinerary and drove on towards Naumburg an old city was one of the most interesting baroque cathedral's in Europe.

The one thing with noticed about Germany, particularly East Germany is the lack of petrol stations on the motorways, you have to go off the motorway in most places to get petrol.  I also take back my comments about concrete roads, the latest version of concrete roads that we are driving on currently, and that we see still being made are as smooth as one could wish so evidentially progress has also made these much better.  Of course the method of construction of these new concrete roads has changed they now have a machine that is the width of two lanes of motorway and they pour the concrete in one continuous strip cutting the expansion slots later.

On our arrival we found a motorhome parking area where we have settled in for the night.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009
When we woke this morning there were about 12 motorhomes in the motorhome parking spot, we left them and went for a walk and of the old city, it was interesting as always to look at the day's on some of the buildings and it was not uncommon to find buildings that were on 200 to 400 years old and I guess that was the only way they knew how to build back then, where as the building I built for the colour lab will be lucky to last 50 years.

We went on to look at the Cathedral the first part of which had been built in the 12th century and it was a large impressive cathedral, one where they charge you €1 more to take photographs than they charge for admission, however unlike some cathedrals at least they allow you to take photographs.

We then drove on towards Merseburg where we drove through the centre of the city, photographed a few of the old buildings and then drove on the A14 where we inspected and photographed some more old buildings, it is always interesting driving around the old cities and see how they have converted them from a horse and cart to something that large bus or semitrailer can go through.

We kept on driving North until we found it was time to stop for the night and went off the motorway at Ebendorf and drove around in circles until we found a parking spot opposite a large block of allotments (gardens) something we have only noticed in the old Eastern Bloc.  Talking of the old Eastern Bloc as we drive through the old East Germany it is surprising to see how many of the old Trabants cars there are still on the Road, I guess if it is transport you need, and you Trabant is working fine, why change it?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
After a peaceful night beside the large block of allotments we got on the Road again this time towards Stendal are very old city with lots of beautiful old houses, churches and other public buildings, we tried parking in a special area for motorhomes but was packed full with at least 20 motorhomes so we parked on one of the main streets and whilst we are parked there three other motorhomes past us heading towards the special area, we wished them luck!

We carried on through the Saxony-Anhalt area and it was interesting going through the little villages with 80% of the houses probably over 150 years old and a after a short drive of 10 km we reached the village of Jerichow we stopped to look at the abbey that was built over 800 years ago, in an area that had no natural building materials, but had good clay so before the building began they first had to make the bricks and looking at the mass of the size of the building I would not like to be on the brick making team or for that matter the brick laying team.

We then decided to go North and started heading towards Lüneburg and after about 50 km I got tired driving so we found a very small village called Schnackenburg, with again very old houses, backed onto to a river where they had made a large parking area between the village and the water, where we are currently camped

Friday, August 07, 2009
We set off yesterday morning towards Slade a had about 12 noon I started feeling tired so pulled into a motorway parking area just before the turn off towards Winsen/Luhe and was so the traffic there, coming and going, we decided to stay there the rest of the day, and things remained constant so we spent a peaceful night on the spot.

Today we carried on towards Slade stopping twice once to fill up with water and once to do some shopping.  About 500 m from the centre of Slade we started seeing some motorhome signs and so we followed those, only losing them twice, and found this large camping lot with about 50 other motorhomes, all paying €8.50 a day with electricity extra and you paid for water, so who ever set this up is probably doing better than most camping grounds charging €30 a night and paying for staff to man the reception and to cut the lawns.

Ever since we have had this motorhome Luda has smelt what she describes as gas when the refrigerator is running on gas. When this was raised with Hans the salesman he said impossible, however I believe it was possibly Luda's choice of words to describe the smell and Hans knowledge of English.

I have not been able to smell a thing, until after we had the problem with the pressure reducing valve and now I can smell what I would describe as the exhaust from the gas heat exchanger of the refrigerator.  Perhaps the valve that I bought in Turkey is 50 mb and the refrigerator runs on 30 mb, time will tell, it also tell if this makes a substantial difference, and it does not cover the situation of Luda being able to smell the gas from day one.  This morning Luda smelt the gas from the stove and admits that is not the smell but that it is probably the Gas exhaust that she can smell.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
We decided to do something about the gas exhaust from the refrigerator, so the only realistic solution was to drive several hundred kilometres to Sulzmoos and get the dealer to fix it, so Saturday saw us driving half the distance and Sunday saw us completing the drive.  There was quite a lot of roadwork's on the way with often the left-hand lane been diverted to share the right-hand side and vice versa.  It was during one of these diversions we saw on the other side a reasonably large smash, two ambulances, and a first that would never seen before, and hopefully will not see again for a long time, a helicopter was parked on the other side of the motorway where the accident was obviously to take some critically injured to hospital.

When we saw the 20 km road jam caused by this accident was more being added to it every few seconds were reasonably relieved were heading in the direction that we were.

On Monday at the maintenance section bright and early and told them of the gas smell from day one, showed then the pressure reducing valve that had stopped working, showed them the television screen that had fallen apart, and the satellite tuner that was falling off the wall.

Yes they admitted there was gas exhaust being vented into the motorhome, and it took them about two hours to fix this, they replaced the faulty pressure reducing valve, glued to television get-together and screwed the tuner back to the wall.

They still claiming it was Carthago that made the mess up with our batteries at the beginning, but if they did why did Hofstetter not find this fault on one of the three times they worked on my D. C. power problem and Carthago found the problem in about 60 minutes.

Hofstetter’s salesman claimed that by me replacing the front springs with heavy duty springs this will give me better traction and will allow me to handle the hills that I currently chicken out on after the Turkey experience, he had no suggestions about the brakes and their suggestion about the generator that ceases working in the high 30°C is to obtain a non-Fiat generator that has a larger output, no discussion has been made as to whose expense this will be.

We replenished the water and dumped the waste and then we went on to the Peugeot agent under Hans from Hofstetter's instructions to have the brakes tested, after an hour we came away from the testing site with the verdict that there was nothing wrong with the brakes, It was interesting when he told me that he could find nothing wrong with the brakes and he asked what did I want him to do, he was quite surprised at my comment that I did not expect him to find any fault, so he sat there for a few minutes and then decided to take the motorhome for a test drive and again could find no fault! 

All of this reinforced my comment and my belief that the motorhome is too heavy for the braking system of the Fiat. 

We then decided to drive 160 km to Kirchheim unter Teck to visit the factory that sales and makes the motorhome called SilverDream.  It is at 6.7 m long motorhome on a Mercedes chassis with a delivered weight of under 3000 kg payload of 500 kg.  We were very impressed and the quality and the layout of this innovative motorhome and it is certainly a good option if we cannot get the Carthago problems sorted out.

We then drove on to a nearby city called Esslingen, it has a very ancient town in its centre and we found a small three places motorhome parking area 1.4 km from the centre.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
This morning we set off to our next destination, Schwäbisch Hall a city whose location has been occupied since 500 BC.  Before we left we fed into the Tom Tom that we wanted a supermarket on the way and like a good electronic machine we found one within 10 km.  Shopping done we carried on for another 50 km to we reached the destination and found as we arrived close to the centre of the city a very large car park with 25 locations for motorhomes.

Leaving the motorhome that there we walked the footpath for 800 m and were in the centre of the city which was extremely picturesque with all of its 15th and 16th century half timbered houses.  The river flowing through the centre of the city added to the photographic image although I would guess in the past and hasn't always been blessed.  We'll stay in the car park for the night and hope tomorrow's car park fee is acceptable as we were able to understand the German at the entrance.

Thursday, August 13, 2009
Well the parking fee for the night, or I should say 19 hours, was €8, which was quite acceptable, we purchased a book with all the overnight campings throughout Europe and I discovered I had them all, already in the Tom Tom, from something that I downloaded from the Internet, I knew they were overnight campings but I did not understand them as the language connected with them in every direction was German or Dutch, however now with the books, things fall into place and tables asked to go directly to a parking site in most towns, sometimes for free parking other times for €5 to €10, which is considerably less than the campground at €25 to €30.

We carried on our tour today towards the Swabian Alps with our destination being the city of Lichtenstein which should not be confused with the small country of the same name.  It is South of Stuttgart so we skirted around that city and carried on South to reach the city.  The Castle we were searching for was 9 km outside city so we stopped and the large car park 200 meters from the Castle and inspected the outside of the building, or I should say the wall's. 

We then carried on towards our next destination and chose to stop at Trochtelfingen that boasted a motorhome camping area and we are here for the night for €3 if we can work out how to pay the money, perhaps somebody will call to collect it as there are no machines to accept the fee.

We decided to stay on the camping spot for an extra day and wandered into the town that had a lot of the half timbered houses, we saw three with dates on them, 1679, 1727, 1747.  All looked in incredibly good condition, I wonder what some of our better houses all look like an over 300 years time, I'm sure they will not be as good as what we've seen today.

We spoke to some Germans at the parking spot, they had been to New Zealand 19 years ago, we asked them about paying the €3 for the camping spot and they comment was, they expect you to go into town to do this, their comment was, we are not.  Well the good old saying when in Rome do as the Romans do, in this case we were in Germany so we followed the Germans thinking.  Oh! the electricity came free as well.

Saturday, August 15, 2009
Today it was a Castle tour day and our first destination was Hochberg, followed by Sigmaringen, and then Beuron and finally Burg Hohenzollern.  All magnificent castles, all in very defendable positions, all being lived in and all with magnificent views which of course goes without saying if you build on the top of a mountain.

We were parked briefly beside a German from Munich, one of the few that could speak English, and he spent all his free time wandering around Germany and the Czech Republic looking at castles, old churches, monasteries and Second World War bunkers, quite a wide variety of subjects, Norrie was not interested in coming to New Zealand because we have no old buildings!

Sunday, August 16, 2009
Sunday in Germany and all of the shops are closed and including large shopping malls, so it makes the town's quiet and usually parking is easy to find so only tourist destination for the day it isTübingen and we parked on one of its hills and walked down to the town for photographs, that been done we drove to a nearby city of Rottenburg where they had a camping Plaza for motorhomes and we joined the 10 other motorhomes for what appears to be free parking and free electricity.

Monday, August 17, 2009
Today we moved the fraction closer to our destination for Friday of Frankfurt, the first old city we visited was Marbach am Neckar this was a walled city and most of the houses inside the walls were the half timbered houses and the next city just a few kilometres away called Bad Wimpfen again was a walled city with half timbered houses but this one was more interesting in fact both cities were full of the half timbered houses and would be an ideal spots to visit if you wanted to view this ancient method of house construction.

We drove on a little bit further to Bad Rappenau where we found a parking Plaza for motorhomes and joined the other three there were already there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Today we visited Heidelberg drove up to the old castle, photographed it and views of the city then visited a nearby city of Schwabenheim went towards the Castle that was signposted and found was more like a Chateaux then start looking for somewhere to spend the night and after trying three settled on one near the river in a city called
Neckarhausen that has room for about 10 motorhomes. One of the motorhomes that was camped beside ours was from Italy, he had a trailer on the back on which he carried a beautiful Moto Guzzi motorbike which he used for getting around once he had stopped at a parking spot.

Saturday, August 22, 2009
The last few days we have been wandering around the Frankfurt area looking at overnight campings spots, we stayed at Oppenheim it was a good area and cost us €9 including electricity even of went off sometime in the night it was 34 km from Frankfurt airport, we camped beside a couple from Sweden in their 9.5 m motorhome which they live in all the year round having sold their house, they return to Sweden on even years to work for 12 months and then spent the next year wandering around Europe.  He is a Carpenter in his 50s and has a team of carpenters he can call on in his working year.

The next day we went out to Weilrod where we did our washing as there was ample water, it cost us €7 for the night electricity extra, it was 54 km from Frankfurt airport.

Friday we went into the Isbis hotel which is a bus ride from the airport and we stayed there the night with the motor home and their car park.

It did me good staying in the hotel for night, as it made me realise, just how impossible wandering the world like we do, if we stayed in hotels every night.  Okay the hotel we stayed in, was possibly three star, but in all my travels to America in the 70s and 80s, attending conferences, and they were always held in five-star hotels, and an almost every hotel I have stayed in the bedding has always been to hot with the modern  duvets so I cannot get to sleep and I end up just sleeping under the duvet cover halfway through the night, and wake up as the I've had two hours sleep, then of course there are the meals, and who can stand Hotel food for one month let alone five, I am pleased with this outcome as when one looks at the price of a motorhome and equates that to nights in a good hotel, you get a lot of nights, but you would not travel as far.

Well the purpose for the hotel for the night, was for Luda’s comfort this morning getting ready to fly to her father's residence in Kiev which is where she is now, later she will fly to Rostov to see her elder daughter (older by 20 minutes), she will then returned to Kiev and then fly to Minneapolis to see the younger daughter before returning home to New Zealand.

After getting Luda checked in and on through to the departure gate, I drove 268 km to Neumarkt where I visited the main shop for Frits Barber, they deal in camping accessories have about 49 shops throughout Germany.  Whilst they have overnight camping on their site, it had no facilities so I went on into Neumarkt and found a conventional car park for motorhomes and joined the other six or seven scattered through the area.

Sunday, August 23, 2009
Well we are getting close to autumn because the temperature this morning was 10° C, of course was a beautiful bright clear sunny morning with a beautiful clean blue sky, so was a pleasure to get driving South, and the Tom Tom took me on a roundabout way to get to the Munich motorway, and this was added to by the road being closed and one spot and the alternative Road was through a bit of the year to pull German countryside with a reasonably narrow Road which I guess very few tourists would get to see.

However that only lasted so long and then we are back on the busy German motorway with three lanes to have travelling at 120 kph and the lane I was in the doing a somewhat lesser speed, I, at 100 kph was passing most of the ones in my lane, so yes the traffic was really moving in all my time on the German motorways I can only recall two accidents in both of them were this year.

The destination for today was Sulzemoos where I purchased the Carthago and tomorrow visit with the salesman to see what he will do about all of my problems I have had this year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009
I am in “Limburg an der Lahn” in a park and ride car park on the way to the Dusseldorf motorhome show where I will arrive 12ish tomorrow.

For last four days I have been in Sulzemoos where I arrived on Sunday, nine o'clock appointment with “my” salesman.  I had made this appointment some three to four weeks ago, in writing, confirmed with text messages, so he had a list of all of my problems, and I asked to speak to the person that has the authority to make decisions.  The text message came back saying that “he” was the person.

So that was good so at nine o'clock I arrived and we started discussing the problems, it soon became obvious he had neither contacted Carthago or his boss, because the answer to every question was that it have to either talk to Carthago or his boss!

I always remember Lisle Ramsey speaking on sales people and people that handle detail, this man was a sales person and salespeople are notorious for being unable to handle detail.

We are talking about my experience going up a hill and experiencing the wheels spinning and having to back down the hill in Turkey with busy traffic.  His comment was “this was impossible”!  He said that some of the larger Carthago's have frontwheel drive and NOBODY has ever complained to him of this problem.  It's interesting how often sales people tell you that you are the only one to ever experienced this problem and you know damn well that lying their teeth off!

In spite of me giving them 3 to 4 weeks notice he left me after 15 minutes to attend to a sale, I thought to hell with this and I did the unforgivable and interrupted him while he was talking to his client, I was told 10 to 15 minutes.  So I wandered next door and spoke to the sales person there about purchasing a motorhome, he was wanting to sell me a large one with a front wheel drive and I asked him if that would go up steep hills with a load in the back, he came straight out and said no way in fact he said going up a not so steep hill on a wet day you still may get spinning.  I thanked him very much and went back to “my salesman” and repeated this comment and was told the guy did not know what he was talking about.

He then went off to speak to his boss about some of my details and when he left his boss, I asked could I speak to him, well he couldn't say no, so I sat down and spoke to Marcus and found that he was most concerned, extremely practical, and tackle one of the problems at a time to see if it could be solved.

The first problem was the low voltage, their previous solution to this problem was to change the generators, and as soon as we got into temperatures of 36°C the generators stopped charging.  Into the motorhome there was a device called an electronic battery separator, is an electronic device that is controlled by the ignition and switches the batteries to parallel when the car battery voltage is over 13.5 V and switches off when the engine is off or the ball to each is lower than
12.2 V.

My problem all the time has been that the generator voltage has been less than 14 V and consequently when the performance drops due to hot weather there is not enough reserve to keep the generator charging.

They took the car away and looked at the wiring on the generator side, the replaced one wire that previously went to the battery charger via the starter motor and took the wire straight from the generator to the battery Charger, this gained them .6 V which is adequate and would solve all of my problems, in theory!

The next step was to weigh the motorhome and see what load was on the front wheels and what load was on the back wheel's.  There was none of the bullshit about the front wheels spinning, they said if you have too much weight in the back, of course the wheels will spin on a steep hill.

After doing the weighing and the calculations they decided that they would prefer to see a larger margin between the front and the back and they made the suggestion of moving one of the batteries from the rear to the front.

The director said “ really what you should do is get a different motorhome” I said okay, what?  He produced an illustration of a Carthago with a Mercedes motor which had been discontinued because they had of gone out of Mercedes, and he rang the factory to see if they had anything left, the answer was no, and his second thought then was the secondhand Concorde, 2008 model with a Mercedes motor which was the same size as my Carthago of course with a Mercedes it had a rear wheel drive.  We took into the weight station and found it had plenty of capacity, and as the director said “ it does not matter if you overloaded a bit with the rear wheel drive”.

I drove it, it was a manual gear change compared to my automatic, but you get used to anything after about three weeks, the inside was not quite as plush as a Carthago and of course all the extras I had on the Carthago would have to be shifted over and that would be my cost, but they would do a swap of the motorhome's with me paying the extras.

I spoke to Luda in Russia, and I knew what she would say because she does love the inside of the Carthago, and her other comment was it a new motorhome, and a whole new series of problems for us.

After sitting in the Concorde for a while I decided I'd prefer to have the Carthago so decided to spend some extra money, if I had to and get the Carthago up to my specifications.

I thought about this over night and decided to scrap the three existing 80 ampere making a total of 240 ampere and replace them with 2 160 ampere and place both of those behind the front seat.

The workshop manager was very pleased, and said your wheels now will never spin, of course I will believe that after several steep hills.

Another side effect was that they removed  21 metres of battery cable which was going backwards and forwards between the two sets of batteries and the generator and all the other electrical devices, this is to me defied all logic and engineer that did this design needs to finish his degree or perhaps start to study for the degree.

Because of all this extra wire the voltage converter that converts 12 V to 230v was never able to run the coffee machine because too much current was lost in the un -necessary wires, now Luda will be up to have coffee every morning, and use her hairdryer.

The other problem we had was the Truma SecuMotion which is a gas regulator that has to be fitted to all motorhomes build after January 2007, it is a device that if you have a smash and the gas starts flowing will automatically switch the gas off.  The people of Hofstetter told me that gas in Turkey, Greece or Russia, (I'm sure that they meant to add the Ukraine, Belarus and all the Russian Stan's) for some reason, which they tried to explain, will not work through this valve, and the vehicle is not legal, they said, with out this type of valve.

After a lot of discussion for about 30 to 45 minutes looking at all the options that I had if I had a failure and again with this valve in a place like Russia or Turkey they decided to give me a dual control pressure reducing valves then I could screw on in the place of the existing one and it did not have the SecuMotion valve, that had to be added but I could use the valve without adding the SecuMotion to get me out of my problems.

However reading the information that arrived with a emergency valve they gave me, gave may be a generous word because I'm sure I will pay for it, states with the heaters directive 2001/56/EC, which looks like a law that has been passed by the EEC giving all those politicians something to do, says that if you do not have this valve you need to close all gas cylinders while driving in enclosed some special stickers on the cylinder box.  This incidentally is something we did the first year with the Hymer and then found we were the only ones doing it, and when a gas hose burst because of the opening and closing of the cylinder box, we stopped doing this, which of course we were entitled to do as the car was older than 2007.

They solved all of the other problems that I had been having and the end result is a motorhome with the weight proportion and wiring the way it should have been instead of being wired by a five-year-old from kindergarten.

We were discussing burglar alarms and England and one of the Germans was telling me that is the last thing I would need in England because they are so honest and honourable!  I'm not quite sure which Englishman he was talking about but I have yet to meet him in England, and I'm sure when I get there and wander around a camping ground every caravan will have either a wheel clamp or a hitch lock and a lot will have both saw a lot in of English people are also looking for the honourable honest person!

Driving through today it almost looks like every Dutchman that left Holland is returning today it must be close to the end of the school holidays because I am absolutely amazed at the number of NL numberplates I'm seeing, also I am seeing more GB numberplates today announce seen on the total trip.

I came across a rather sorry-looking slight as I was leaving a parking area, it was fairly full and a Audi TT white beautiful looking convertible was parked at the exit behind a large multi wheel semitrailer from France, it looks like the French driver wanted to stop, but missed the entry, and decided to back in at the exit, and smashed the front of the German owned Audi, looking at the face of the German driver, he quite rightly was not impressed, and I'm sure this episode will put the German French relationship back several decades in his eyes.

Friday, August 28, 2009
This morning was an early start as I was parked in a park and ride area which was very small and when the cars started arriving at 6:30 a.m. of other was time for me to think about leaving which I did an hour later and when I felt tired about 9:30 a.m. pulled over into a parking area and had a snooze for an hour so and then carried on to Düsseldorf.

Arrived at the Dusseldorf fair, or I should say the parking area, there are already hundreds if not thousands of motorhomes here at 12 noon.  Drove on to the designated area, paid my money for two days parking, €15 a day which is quite expensive, and that was without electricity or why did have the option of going to a parking area with electricity which with the new batteries I chose not to.

Friday is the day that a lot of people wander around checking out the motorhomes, so I joined in the parade around doing a few photographs of interesting set-ups, sitting back in my Carthago a couple people stopped by on a bicycle with an American accent, there were Don and Kim Greene from Prescott Arizona, they had their motorhome built on Mitsubishi Canter four-wheel-drive, the built their own living section on the chassis and since 2002 have travelled through central and south America, New Zealand and Australia, Africa and now doing Europe.  Their e-mail address is kdgreene58@gmail.com  and they write their travels on http://www.questconnect.org/index.htmlI also met an Englishman that had had three Truma SecuMotion pressure reducing valves and they have all failed, he now travels with out a motion detector and turns the gas off each time before he travels.

Whenever I have the garage open and people are wandering by, somebody always stops to look at the washing machine and think (along with Luda) it's a wonderful idea!

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Being on the flight path to the main airport I woke up with the first Jet flying what seemed just a few meters above the motorhome at 6am so I got up and was ready to depart at 9:30 a.m. when I caught the bus to the exhibition hall and there were hundreds of people waiting to go through, the doors open at 10 o'clock and it took 17 minutes to get through the entry gate after they were opened.

I found that if I had been buying a Carthago motorhome this year I had had a better chance of getting the size and the weight that I really wanted, but isn't that always the way.

On the Truma stand I was told that the failure of the SecuMotion valve was due to oil in the gas which often happens, they tell me outside Europe.  On another stand that sellsLPG tanks they had a brass oil filter that you can put on your bottle and that supposed to remove the oil from the gas, if indeed that is the cause of the problem!

I called on the Perestroika stand in collected their latest brochure, the woman we spoke to last year remembered me by name, so one cannot help but be impressed!

By 3 p.m. my feet were totally exhausted so I went back to the motorhome, soughted out all of the brochures, tearing out the pages that I wanted and throwing the rest out, of all of the travel brochures I had, cutting out the maps of the routes that the travel companies showed there were doing along with the numbers of days it took, photocopied them on to one large sheet and it will serve as a useful guide as to where to go and come along to allow.

Monday, August 31, 2009
With the “Jet alarm” going off at 6 a.m. when the first Jet went over, I didn't fancy lying in bed listening to the Jets, so I got up and got on the Road after one or two minor false starts tried a get out of the parking area, I wonder how many motorhomes were parked there, some body said 3000, hard to know what 3000 motorhomes in one group looked like.

In any case I got on the Road which was almost empty at that hour, set the Tom Tom for Calais, and just started driving in that direction, quite surprised when I saw a sign saying you are now entering Netherlands, evidently you cut across one corner, and I thought for a moment and it was early so I decided to visit Hank and Yvonne and say hi to the couple of Aussies that we travelled across Russia with last year, about an hour out of Castricum I thought I'd better ring Hank and yes he would be home, so I got there at about 10:30 a.m., I unloaded the batteries and the other bits and pieces that we bought and are not using including the two GPS as I bought that stopped working and of course the pioneer GPS, CD, DVD etc etc etc, a costly about €3800 and so will be interesting to see how much it features on eBay.

Have a good chat with John and Linda who are getting ready to depart on Monday, they going down through Turkey and Syria this year and would like to drive the motorhome back to Australia via China etc but don't want to do it by themselves, so if anyone that is reading this field like an overland trip next year drop me a line and I will put them in contact with you.

Linda told me about the new telephone system for roaming it works out in a fraction of the cost of normal roaming charges and looks like it covers most of the world, in see more information on their website at http://www.travelsim.com.au/ .  John also told me about their new four-wheel-drive go anywhere motorhome this being built in Australia is planning in 2011 to go through South America so if you would like to go along on that trip again I can put you in contact, see the type of vehicle they are having built at the website http://www.slrcaravans.com.au/

I did some quick work on the web finding some addresses in England and then set off for Calais getting there about 7 p.m. and went across to the ticket office and booked a sailing for 9 a.m. this morning, the return ticket, by selecting the correct time and day, but only during daylight time so I have no problems driving on the other side of the road with the headlights set the wrong way, the cost was €153.26 which I thought was reasonable, and went back to cook dinner.

When I got back I saw some flashing lights on the Carthago control panel which told me the house batteries were low on voltage, and then I start up the motor and saw that the battery charger once again was not working.  I thought about it recently extensively overnight and decided to put off the sailing until Tuesday morning and spent Monday morning trying to get the problem sorted out. 

So first thing this morning I went to the ticket office and put off my sailing for 24 hours and then had 8:30 a.m. got on the phone to Hofstetter and over the next two hours and seven phone calls, by eliminating the variables it came down to a set of fuses in front of the driver's seat under the floor, in a remote place that you'd never think of looking for, for fuses!  Yes one of them, was burnt out, thank goodness for the good volt meter I bought at the beginning of the trip because of all of the other problems.

We in the computer age, and the age of integrated circuits, the age of by pushing a button you can do a diagnosis of many things, why can't they have on an expensive motorhome like the Carthago, and sensing system that tells you when fuses blown and where to find it, and of course supply you a complete set of fuses used in your motorhome, I guess that would be too easy eliminate all the fun.

As it happened the 50 amp fuse that was blown is not a normal fuse but I did have a 50 amp fuse of a different sort from the Hymer and with the aid of a pair of pliers that worked.  Looking at the fuse once I had removed it I noticed one side was a fraction loose which makes me wonder if it received some damage during installation because it is most unusual for a 50 amp fuse to blow for no reason.

I started up the motorhome and got all sorts of weird noises, then I found out were caused by the battery being so low in charge and the motor not being up to decide what to do, but started charging and so another bit of drama has been solved, and looking at it positively, I now know we of the fuses I kept, how the find it, of course be buying two or three as spares.  It is however, a little bit of a Mickey Mouse outfit in so much that unless you watch a control panel that is 2 m behind the driver's seat you'll never know when you have a problem like just experienced, I am going to see what I can do to do something about this.

Now I decided I really needed to put the motorhome on 230 V for the rest of the day so I looked at the camp ground list and found one that was close for 30 to €40 a night which I thought was damn expensive, so looked up the German book on camping places and found the one at Escalles, in which is costing €12 with electricity, it overlooks the sea and in fact you see the white cliffs of Dover very clearly and looking out from here it is hard to imagine that that little bit of water kept England invasion free for about a thousand years.

With the clarity that you can see the White Cliffs of Dover just how close they appeared to be, you can almost imagine the frustration that Napoleon and Hitler experienced standing on these cliffs and being told they could not take their armies across that little bit of water!

I guess this campsite will be very popular amongst the British don't want to put a toe into Europe, they can come here and still see England!

I was able to clean out and restock the motorhome with water etc, and I was intending to visit a laundromat in England, the little washing machine we have finds the towels and little bit of a struggle so full-size washing machine will give them a bit of a fright, so being up to do so much today will in actual fact possibly save me time later.

Just heard on the news the today in UK is a bank holiday so I am lucky to miss THAT!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Woke up early and left about 7:45 a.m. and decided to wander on to check in, and whilst I'm in the queue waiting to go on the boat at nine o'clock I can have breakfast!  Well I got there in good time, so good that they put me on an earlier sailing!  So no breakfast in the queue but an English breakfast on board the boat.  Uneventful crossing, uneventful driving on the other side of the road, steering wheel beside the gutter I keep telling myself!

There's a large Tesco on the Canterbury Road so I stopped off there and got some provisions and some Sterling then carried on to Weymouth to check out an electronic voltage gauge for the motorhome, the guy was operating an Internet business out of this house, the house was in the process of being painted, and Weymouth is an old town so to imagine that I would find parking anywhere close to the house is like winning a lottery, I finally found the house, I was shown into the foyer and was allowed to stand amongst the open paint tins and I did venture through the door to his kitchen and that was almost as bad, in fact was worse because there was no reason for it to be in a mess.

He showed me the gauge and said “this is it” I said how much, he said £145, I said can I read the instructions, he said that will take too long, I said thank you very much and realised driven 300 km for nothing, but to be truthful I realised that the gauge, possibly it was not going to do what I wanted or expected!

So then it is a matter of finding somewhere to stop the night so I drove into the new Forest area, some of the trees look several years old but I guess new is measured a different way in this country.

I found a parking area just off the Road halfway through the new Forest area and with some luck I won't be asked to move on.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009
A peaceful night, however there was rain during the night and this morning as I left the parking area.  Drove back through the New Forest area to the motorway passing quite a large number of the wild horses of the New Forest, not sure how wild they are!  The roads of course, like most of England a quite narrow with the undergrowth almost up to the Road, and of course with all the rain there is plenty of undergrowth and everything of course it is always green.

I drove about 90 km to the Bognor Regis area where there was a Gaslow distributor and I wanted to buy a plain pressure reducing valve in case the fancy Truma valves give me trouble again, they didn't have quite the one I wanted my bought one that was attached to a non-electric switchover valve like I had on the Hymer selected as the another back up if I had gas problems again.

I did some shopping at a superstore close by and then headed off another 90 km towards the town of Battle, so called because of the site of the 1066 skirmish. The drive over the last that of the route to the campsite was through a winding road Bealey wide enough for two English cars to pass, and was just a nice width for the motorhome, and of course each side of the road had a dirt bank about a metre high and on top of that of course was the hedgerow.   

The campground was in amongst trees, not very well laid out, no place to dump the water in at £10 a night not exactly cheap.

Sunday, September 06, 2009
I just spent the last three days at the Silk Road club English division get-together at Battle.  There were 14 motorhomes in all there with the Greens from Arizona, people from Norway, myself, and the rest from England.  Some other travels that some other people have been doing in the last 12 months are extremely adventurous, and I often talk of seeing no GB numberplates as I travel, perhaps I don't travel far enough afield to see these folks!

Besides crossing Russia to Lake Baikal they have travelled Africa, South America, the top section of Africa including Egypt, and most of the Middle East.

The English section of the silk Road club now have 57 members which is not many when you compare it to the host club in France having about 300.

Better means of communication was discussed and members were urged to add to the already extensive information section on the club website which gives information about almost every country and every other thing that is often needed by individual travellers to such places as previously mentioned.

Today I drove into Abbey Wood Caravan club site on the edge of London, fortunately outside the exclusion zone so I did not have to worry as to whether my motorhome would qualify or if I would have to pay special fees.  The whole weekend has been fine with showers and the late evening and early morning which of course it has to rain that is a good time.

I considered the primitive camping site that we stayed on for the silk Road club meeting where we paid a discounted price of £10 instead of the normal £14 and the beautiful Abbey Wood Caravan site with all amenities only paying £9.40, of course I am a club member so it is a discounted price but for a group price was 14 motorhomes I still believe the price was excessive.

I spent a day in London and visited Stanfords bookshop and bought some travel guides for whole list of countries, about 8 kg of books which I am pleased I did not have too carry from New Zealand.  That should give us enough travel guides for all of the greater Europe.

In the evening I visited friends and then got a taxi back to Abbey Wood, the taxi driver was from Afghanistan, and that country he was a civil engineer, in England a taxi driver, yes he would go back to Afghanistan if the politicians could work out what was going to happen to that country, his words, yes the Taliban were extremely bad for the country and the people very just hoped that one day they would be able to return to a peaceful country as before.

The following day I headed south to Dover, eventually arriving at the port, went in with my ticket for a sailing in three days time, asked if I could go now, he said yes but it may cost you more, I said no problems I can stay in the motor camp in my motorhome, he checked my ticket, said you can go on the next sailing if you wish, so then I was in Calais.  I stayed the night in the car park and then headed the following day to Cologne where I checked up on potential airbags for the motorhome to make the extremely rough roads of some of the country's that we travelled through a little bit more pleasant.

The price he gave me, which has to be confirmed, was not pleasant so I'll just have to work out just how bad these roads are.  One of the guys at the silk Road meeting it was travelled on ordinary motorhome through China and parts of Africa, talks of his engine mounts collapsing after several years of bad roads.

I stopped the night at a campground just inside Holland, and after a peaceful night gave the motorhome and good clean out, dumping all water and cleaning everything.  Was then on to Hanks, where I had to clean the outside of the motor home then place it into storage, climb on a jet in Amsterdam, pass through Frankfurt and Singapore and arrived home in Christchurch on Saturday.

That's all for this year......