Since 22 October, we are back home. 

The trip through France (where Pompes funebres is not a bad word), Germany and Austria was a slow one for our Big Fredi. 

No more than 80 km/h. Immediately after the ferry at Dunkirk there was a pitch that only had to serve to sleep. And Lisbeth could do so. Quiet, no music and only Wilfried heard the noise of the cars. Lisbeth is blessed either by filtering the noise or by being deaf. Like a sleeping doll that once it is laid down, her eyes close and she immediately falls asleep. 

The next morning a call at ÖAMTC helped us to find the nearest Iveco service station. We found it 15 km away and close to Calais. The noise which was heard by Wilfried so clearly could not be heared by the slightly older car mechanic. He probably was also blessed with weak hearing. But at least it was determined that the bearing on the right front wheel was in order. We should just not drive too fast, and when the wheel is hot, respond immediately. Since we are not French speaking people, and the French people could not speak English or German, a piece of paper and pencil helped to illustrate that there are  yet 1.500 km to go home to Austria. A French shrug, which means as much as: nothing will happen, just drive slowly and then  exactly at 12:00 the workshop scroll bar for lunch was lowered and we were on our way home. 

The French national roads led us partly through rural areas between „extinct villages“ and small towns who reminded us much of English architecture. The brick houses in beige or red were here and there interrupted by half-timbered houses. No such uniform style as in UK. 

At a parking lot, which we had all to ourselves there was a beautiful sunset. The sunrise next morning was behind a dense forest. Otherwise we felt at once so free and unrestricted in our view. Finally NO HEDGES any more. One can see the landscape everywhere. It’s a wonder the English are so friendly and gracious, boxed in as they are. And it is amazing that they love their country like that. They cannot see their country from the road! Everything is always hidden behind a hedge. Entrances into the fields (behind the hedges) always give brief glimpse into the landscape. 

In Germany Diesel is much cheaper than in France. Therefore we tried to get into Germany as fast as possible. In Saarbruecken we met heavy traffic and construction sites, which demanded a lot of concentration. We had already poured 30-liters of Diesel from our spare tank into thirsty Big Fredi but the price of diesel near the French border also was not cheap. 

Slowly we moved on through Germany, always on the main roads avoiding any Autobahn, but they were at least in good condition and were often interrupted by expressways. In Maulbronn our app found a „free of cost parking space“. The next morning the monastery Maulbronn attracted us magically. We just had to take a guided tour. Armed with one audio guide each, we explored the old walls. There we would like to be with Face Europe in the courtyard. There is plenty of room and even the „fat“ Fredi would have enough space. When we go back to Germany, we will contact the management and ask for a space there. 

At noon we moved on again. Our next camp was then in Neuburg an der Donau when we learned through our adorable neighbours that the whole evening and half the night a street party is announced: “30 years of our German Danube”. It was a mild evening and extremely busy. Theatre, stilt walkers, canoe propelled handball players who paddled very skillfully while playing ball. The castle was freely accessible and there were everywhere actions of artists at a high level. To have two cultural highlights a day was very exciting. It was just a pity that the theatre and music groups were set up far away from the castle and had very few visitors. 

Right on the banks of the Danube on a huge official parking space for campers we spent another quiet night. The next night should already be in Austria with our friends. Wilfried kept Lisbeth from announcing our arrival at our friends too early in Innerschwand am Mondsee. He was not sure when we could be there. And that was fine like that. The federal highway 20 had been diverted towards the Austrian border and was a complete disaster area. There were 50 km poorly signposted diversions, our stubborn Navi which wanted to bring us back again and again to the 20 highway. The road map could not be consulted, the scale showed only the larger towns. And we circled. When hunger and desperation were large enough, we decided to cook and eat. When we had parked the car we asked a local if we were still on the right path he redirected us back 20 km. But when we were about to take off and follow his directions, the man came back and told us he was wrong and he had to come back to tell us the proper way. That was very kind of him. In order to escape Germany we had to use the Autobahn, which we wanted to avoid, but we took the risk and continued without further incident. David was very surprised about our imminent turning up, next time he would like to know sooner that we come. He learned only after our arrival about our awful diversion experience. You just never know big Fredi’s mood and which incidents can occur before you really reach a goal. 

This night was the first frosty night, and just then we ran out of   gas for the heating in the morning at 4:00 am. Wilfried would have had to hook a new gas bottle, if we wanted to continue to heat. Somehow we survived without heating and the sun and the hospitality of Sonja and David quickly warmed us. 

Packed with gifts from Sonja (freshly baked delicious bread, jams and compotes) we took the last part of our journey and at 4:00 pm we reached home. 

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Last hours in England

Blogeintrag 17. Oktober 2018

After all we have been at RDAvery for 10 days but finally we had to depart. Waited in vain for more people to get portrayed. Ray was so kind to ask his friends, but no one could decide. 

Tony was kind enough to take us into the town of Romsey, where we visited the Cathedral in which we saw an interesting sculpture exhibition. In his Renault Clio we have survived his “sporty” driving style.

He was also the one who took us to the mobile pizza man. There is actually a small company consisting of a couple that has built a charcoal stove into a bus and they bake the most delicious pizzas. They were even really hot when we ate at Big Fredi which was a 5 minutes drive away. 

These were, together with a small common walk (Wilfried and Lisbeth) the only highlights this weekend. 

On Monday morning we started our final part of the trip in the UK. Beginning midday we got sunshine and the closer we got to the sea, the warmer it got. Almost the kind of weather for T-shirts and shorts. We stopped quite early in the afternoon at the coast in Peace Heaven on top of the chalk cliffs and enjoyed a hunter’s chicken at the pub. Free parking space secured for the night. 

In the morning a short walk to the beach while paragliders whizzed around our ears. 

The last part of the trip was lead by our Navi on the narrowest roads. After a huge hole in the road Big Fredi subsequently gave this suspicious noise which made Wilfried crazy. While searching for a place to stay on the island once more – it was already getting dark – we were approaching the ferry terminal in Dover. Without any waiting time we entered the ferry to Dunkirk. It was a pleasant trip. No more than 20 cars on the ferry.

When we arrived in Dunkirk Wilfried was taking no chances that Big Fredi would get more break downs and therefore we moved with activated hazard warning lights almost at walking pace towards the first French parking space. The Navigation – as so often imprecise led us first into the wrong direction of the road and it took a lot of time and walking before we finally found the place to park in the dark.

With the time change, it was 1:00 am when we finally turned off the lights.

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If one breaks down, he has something to tell

Today, it is Thursday and our stay here next to Nomansland has been extremely successful. 

Who would have thought that when we were parked here on the lawn. 

Immediately after our arrival Tony helped us out with an extension cord, so we were supplied with electricity for the weekend. Who Tony is, you will learn later. For the water connection, our hose was too short, but we could do fine with our remaining water on board. 

On Sunday it was beautiful, Lisbeth explored the national park “New Forest” which starts just behind the meadow. An idyllic hilly moorland, countless grazing horses and they pretend there were not any human beings around. They graze and roam in the countryside, they are so nice and keep calm. Beaming sunshine also attracts many other walkers and dog owners. The hills all look kind of the same, and in spite of the lack of sense of direction, it is a wonder how targeted Lisbeth found the entrance back to the site by the company Avery by herself. 

Another trip, which was not planned so long originally, leads Lisbeth to a campsite which is about 400 meters named Green Hill Farm Camping. Once there, she asks if it would be possible in one exceptional case  to use the shower once, because we had a breakdown with our campervan and have to wait until tomorrow to get it repaired. This request was rejected straight away. 

working on Rays portrait

In the afternoon we get a visit from the senior boss and you never guess his name. When we found him, and he agreed to be portrayed by Wilfried, we were kept with enthusiasm. His name Raymond Douglas Avery. Finally, after weeks of searching we finally found Ray! And 2 days later he was sitting in glorious weather in front of Big Fredi and told us his life story and the history of his company while Wilfried drew his portrait. 

Nearly finished the portrait of Ray
after two hours the portrait of Ray is done

The repair on Monday was performed by Brian conscientiously, a new wheel bearing was already installed in the evening. The price was very fair. We hope now for a while this will really be the last thing to invest in Big Fredi.

During the waiting period of the repair we enjoyed a walk to Nomansland and dined in the pub “The Lamb”

The company RDAvery, a great operation with great working people you have to specially emphasize. A company that specializes in towing, repair, and testing of all vehicles, especially trucks. A workshop class by itself. All employees are extremely friendly, but also relaxed. Ray, the senior boss has transferred the agendas to his daughter and his nephew. The real boss though is Sue, his wife, but she will soon withdraw more and more from the business.

Ray is a truly good soul. He leaves the meadow to friends to camp. Tony came a few years ago with his huge bus for repair and chose the place as his new home. He lives in his bus, helps here and there and also guards the place. The staff call him the „friendly hippie“.

Tonys was a real challenge

I’m quite happy with the portrait

He also allowed Wilfried to draw him. It was an extraordinary hot summer day, the strongly gesturing of Tony’s language got Wilfried to sweat double. But yes, he loves the challenge, allowing even Bill, the sub-tenant of the Avery family to be drawn in the evening. Bill was thrilled by his vivid portrait. He, who is very localized, and even prefers to spend his holidays at home, wants to be part of the opening of Face Europe, and see his image displayed along with the other people of the EU.

The result was a real living portrait

Tomorrow we should then move on. Even if we feel here very comfortable and the hospitality has been extended to the next month, we do not want to wait until we get a nuisance to our hosts.

We are sure happy to return another time but hopefully without a breakdown!

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Ups what’s wrong with Big Fredi

Big Fredi has cooled his hot foot quickly

in Winchester and the car park in the town center which was specially reserved for RVs gave a good night’s sleep. Lisbeth, who wanted to see a little bit of the city Winchester – which after all was capital before London was. It is beautifully surrounded by forests and fertile fields. 

In the middle of the city a park is located at the River Itchen. It is very natural and wonderful for runners and walkers. 

The next morning we wanted to solve the problem of the hot tire and asked at the gas station for the nearest workshop. The information was too vague: third road left. There was nothing. So again we asked Mr. Google and then began an odyssey from service station to service station. Each sent us to someone else. Finally, a mechanic noted that the rear dual wheel had a „flat tire“. He referred us to a workshop, which should help us. However, arriviving there, it was Friday afternoon and the motivation at the workshop had arrived at the weekly low point, we were directed diagonally opposite to the tire dealer. 

When we asked for a new tire or its installation, we had to learn that Big Fredi was too large and the jack can only lift 2.5 tonnes. Wilfried’s help for offer was knocked out because of “security risk”. 

Just imagine this: you stand in front of the tire dealer and they tell you that they cannot mount tires. But this IS his actual business. Very weird.

From there we did not know what else to do and we ended up calling the ÖAMTC to get the problem solved. An hour later, AA, the English breakdown service changed the tire IN FRONT OF THE WIRE SHOP. 

The inner right dual tire was completely broken. This had rubbed on the front wire and generated heat and stench. We were pleased that the tire dealer sold us at least a spare tire, which he all of a sudden did have on stock. So we did not have to touch our spare tire. 

The two friendly AA technicians posted for a friendly goodbye foto and we were full of hope that the problem would now be solved and we could continue our journey. 

But immediately after we started Wilfried noticed the same sound he had heard a while ago before we had changed the tire. Thus, although we had solved a problem, we had not removed the cause. 

After 2 km on the highway: the total “OFF”. Just made it to the parking bay. ÖAMTC had to be called again. Another waiting time began. 

Then, some hours later the next AA employee raced in the lay-by with a tow truck. In the meantime it was  just before nightfall. Once more disassembly of the tire had to be done and found out that the bearing was broken. Continuing impossible. 

Big Fredi was too havy

We emptied Fredi’s precious water resources, took out all heavy stuff from the car, but the tow truck had not enough strength for such a bold Fredi. So a larger tow truck was ordered for the next morning. Everything always negotiated with ÖAMTC in Vienna. 

not dancing but waiting in the rain

On Saturday morning, as agreed, the supposedly bigger car appeared which should only tow us to the nearest garage.

From the outside it differed not from the one of the day before. However, he finally had enough power and a better lifter, Big Fredi could even ride on top of a car. I think it has given him a great deal of pleasure. In the narrow round about, he has pretty much leaned in the curve and danced for joy. Lisbeth could see his eyes light up in the rearview mirror. Herself was dizzy, but the driver only commented : „ firmly connected”

After Lisbeth’s last night dream where Fredi tipped over, the reality was now better. 

We arrived safely at the workshop. Behind there is a „big Wiesen“ (we have October, and Wiesenfeste are even in Salisbury) and Fredi will be restored, hopefully on Monday. 

It rained all day today, now the rain has given way to the storm and from tomorrow on it will be sunny again. 

The sun comes again
behind the garage we are waiting for Monday

We have enough stock of food to eat, we get electricity from the workshop and then we’ll see what happens on Monday. 

Anyway, we have now been towed from Winchester to Southampton and stand at the entrance to the “New Forest National Park.” Between Plaitford and Nomansland. Yes, that’s really the village’s name, and it promises to be a quiet weekend. 

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Farewell Oxford

A sunny autumn day comes to an end and we really enjoyed it.

A late-summer trip to Winchester after yesterday Michele was painted and we could enjoy a delicious three-course supper made by Tony and Michele. Their historical building – it is 250 years old and can tell many stories – as well as the delicious French red wine were responsible for the excellent mood. 

In the Studio of Michelle: in the foreground on of her last work on “refugees”

We could have gone on talking all night. There was so much to tell and to hear from Michele and Tony. 

It was a great working in Michelle’s studio
Interesting discussions helped the portrait to develop
when it got dark we were ready soon

Wilfried is quite satisfied with the outcome of the portrait of Michele, it approaches more and more to his own ideas of what a life portrait should be able to: it is to represent the essence of a person. 

We hope to make contact and to collect portraits with son Daniel, who lives in Spain. Daniel is forewarned in any case, and so we have a goal that we can approach between Granada and Málaga. 

We could stay in front of the house in Islip and also fill our water tanks. 

We hugged each other goodbye, such lovely people, but we hope that we will meet again in Spain, France or Austria.  

When getting out of Big Fredi in Winchester we made a terrible discovery: the right rear tire was terribly hot, it even smoked, spread a smell of burning rubber. Now Big Fredi cools his hot leg and tomorrow we have to see how we can go on. On the highway, we have inadvertently hit a huge hole, its noise hurt in the soul. Again and again, totally unexpectedly huge holes that you cannot see in time to be able to avoid them appear on the English highways. And for our old fellow such tricks do no good. In this way a part of the car can be damaged easily. 

We hope that it does not need expensive repairs to bring Fredi home safely. 

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More of Oxford

The place at the end of the road was great. No sound. Only the different bird sounds were heard. 

Wilfried photographed the fog over the Thames and the picture reminded him here to the Hitchcock movie “The Birds”. 

After that our breakfast began. 

And then suddenly – out of nowhere – a complete herd of a loud thumping herd of cows around Big Fredi appeared. Some of the cows got to the Thames, where they could drink. The others crowded close together in a confined space. The excrement shot on the floor and to the next standing animal. It was a mooing and sh …. You do not want to be outside of the car in the midst of the herd. 

So somehow a safari experience. 

Look at that in the movie!

After that the ground in the parking area looked like a giant toilet. After a few minutes and mutual gaze at each other the herd closed again and we were able to have breakfast confidently. A few minutes later the farmer raced by on his squad, turned a loop and dissapeared again. Apparently, he wanted to be confident that none of his animals had stayed with Big Fredi. 

Some walks from the parking lot in different directions were rewarded with picking sloes. Now there is a full kilo of sloes in the freezer. They are going to be made into sloe gin this week. Gin has already been purchased. I look forward to the special drink. If it is set, it must stay in a closed jar for 45 days and should be shaken once a day. That should not be too hard in Big Fredi. 

On Monday Wilfried painted Karima. She is a very lovely and interesting person. Her commitment to help people in need, whether immigrants or dyslexic persons has also accompanied her life as well as her artistic work and she never stops learning new stuff out of curiosity. 

Especially for her portrait she appeared with blue hair, blue eye shadow and blue turquoise earrings and an equally tasteful necklace. It was an entertaining afternoon and Karima was very happy with the result. Mid portrait session Steve, Karima’s husband, came home from work. He is head of the gardeners of the Oxford college. Several years ago, he was life portrayed by Sullivan. It was an “Artist in Residence” project, which had lasted for 18 months and in which the craftsmen – from the gardeners to the cooks were placed with their commodities casually in a group. A great work. Steve showed us a photo of it. The original hangs in the college where he can observe it every once in a while. 

One more night we spent in our preferred place in the wood next to the Thames. Next morning was used for shopping and then we got a pitch in Diamond camp to get our batteries reloaded and have fast Internet for a full day.

Today, October 3, 2018: Michele’s portrait in Islip, a suburb of Oxford could be the last one in England for a while. Whoever wants to be portraited we kindly ask to get in contact with us.

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