The last few days I have been having a great time on my European road trip, and had several blog posts about the adventures ready to post, but on Friday 20th March my dream road trip came to a very abrupt and devastating end!
I was on the last part of the southern France trip, on the way to Perpignan before heading into Spain, when I pulled over to stop and fill up with petrol for the day’s journey. Once I had paid for the petrol, I got back into the camper, started up to head off. Unfortunately there was a loud bang, and as I looked in my mirrors I could see smoke and fire at the back of my camper!
I quickly got out of the cab and rushed to the back to see what had happened, only to be greeted by smoke and flames at the back of my camper! The garage staff rushed over with fire extinguishers to try to extinguish the flames. I grabbed my extinguisher to assist, but the fire kept spreading regardless of our combined efforts. At this point the burning camper (with a now full tank of petrol!) was still right next to the petrol pumps and I was worried about the fire spreading and causing an explosion. So with one of the staff members help, we managed to push the burning camper off the forecourt and away from the petrol pumps where they continued to try to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately the fire had really begun to take hold and the extinguishers were now empty!
Fortunately someone had called the Police and French fire brigade, but by the time they arrived, the fire had quickly spread through the camper and there was little left of it. I was left watching it all go up in flames, utterly devastated!
The beautiful original vintage Canterbury Pitt interior and all of my possessions inside were totally destroyed!
Words cannot express how sad I felt as I watched the camper burn, but at least no-one had been hurt! One of the purposes of the road trip was to ‘Make memories’ and although this was not how I wanted the road trip to end, I had some great memories to hold onto from my experiences at Ninove and the various adventures I had as I travelled down through Belgium and France.
On my trip I got to fulfil a life long ambition of seeing Le Corbusier’s stunning architectural masterpiece that is La Ronchamp (Notre Dame du Haut) in the flesh…
I also got to see and travel across the Millau viaduct. This holds the world record for the tallest bridge, culminating at 343 metres (higher than the Eiffel tower), 2460 metres long and touching the bottom of the Tarn valley in only 9 places.
Conceived by the French engineer Michel Virlogeux and designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster, it fits perfectly into the naturally intact and grandiose landscape: a very thin slightly curved steel roadway supported by stays gives it the appearance of a huge yacht and the ensemble rests on 7 very slender pillars.
I also had the pleasure of simple roadside stops for a quick brew up and cup of tea in the peace and tranquility of the French countryside – happy times, and memories made!
Right now though I’m back in the UK left feeling utterly devastated and just can’t really take it all in…