NZ to Germany to UK
5th April 2006
Well things got off to a bad start with the taxi arriving
15 minutes late, however fortunately I had made allowances
for this so created no problems. What did create a problem
however was on arrival at the check in counter and presenting
all of the bags I wanted to take a was told I was a little
bit overweight (20+kg), well I knew that and she did not
have to get personal, however she explained to me she
was talking about the luggage.
How much would it cost I asked, she replied $1786, well
I guess my total luggage excluding cameras and computers
would not amount to that so I decided to leave one suitcase
behind, so all of the luggage was pulled off the scales
and removed over to the corner and proceeded to unpack
the what I thought were necessary items out of the suitcase
we're leaving behind.
Next time I will give it a little bit more thought because
if I had removed the tools maybe it would have sneaked
through, I say this with hindsight because of the things
that I did not pull out and are now sitting in the suitcase
at Beverley Studios, Christchurch (sent by taxi), but
more about that later.
She weighed everything again and we were underweight and
so were allowed to proceed to the next department.
We were flying Singapore Airlines and as usual everything
about the service and the plane were superb. So it was
11 hours on to Singapore and the three-hour wait over
for the Lufthansa flight.
Both Luda and I commented that the Lufthansa plane and
service was not up to the Singapore airlines flight.
Thursday 6th April
12 1/2 hours later we were in Frankfurt at 5:30 a.m.,
here Luda and I parted with Luda flying onto Rostov, after
a six our waitover, and I went on through immigration
etc to the Hertz counter collecting a "Seat"
(a car made in Spain) small hatchback and about 45 minutes
later I was on my way out into a -2° spring morning,
with the sun just rising showing as a golden disk on the
horizon directly in front of me.
There's one thing I like about the German autobahns, that
is their posted top speed of 130KPH and I was averaging
between 120 and 130, and everybody was passing me, no
I do not mean the large BMWs or Mercedes, but little Volkswagen
Golf's that must have been cruising at between 140 and
150. I even clocked a little "Smart" car at
140. Heck, the last time I remember during 120 in New
Zealand cost me $700.
The must have been snow on Wednesday night because I saw
traces of it on the side of the road as I was driving.
I had my computer on the passenger seat showing the route
I had to take, the only problem was the GPS unit that
plugged into the computer wasn't recognised, which didn't
really matter most of the time except the times that I
got lost, going a considerable distance out of my way,
then when I arrived in Bielefeld wandering around in ever
decreasing circles trying to find motorhome dealer.
I took a break and had a hamburger at McDonald's while
I studied the map, neither of those things helped, so
was out into the city with German place names, trying
to follow the instructions that the computer was telling
me, and finally, purely by accident, I found myself exactly
where I want to be two hours earlier.
Of course the salesman was just going for an hour's lunch,
so he would see me in one hour's time, yes he was young,
a 28-year-old high-school dropout by the name of Julian.
Fortunately I convinced him before he left to unlock my
motorhome, and arrange transport so I could take the car
back to Hertz in the "Lunch" hour.
All that proceeded like clockwork, the Hertz depot was
100 metres down the road, and I was able to unpack all
of my luggage before Julian arrived back from his lunch.
It was at this time I started to miss the things in my
missing suitcase, like the New Zealand poster to go on
the rear window, the sheets, the towels, the tea towels
and the windscreen mounting for my GPS unit, half of which
I had, and the other half was in the missing suitcase.
So it was then on to taking delivery of the motorhome,
passing over the bank cheque, with a major problem in
communication, in Europe what we call a bank cheque is
called a bank draft, and fortunately the bottom half of
the cheque, that was there to be torn off, had the word
draft written on it so that made Julian happy.
Having bought several motorhomes in the past I made several
assumptions, which were very bad, and I've made a list
of things to check off if anyone is considering buying
a motorhome overseas of questions to ask etc.
They finally find somebody to run through the things in
the motorhome, however the person with the good English
was busy and I was given a German engineer, along with
a student that could speak English so to cut a long story
short that night I could not get the heater working, nor
the refrigerator and of course if the heater did not work,
there was no hot water, so no shower was possible unless
one was used to water at about 5°
They lent me a car to go to get some food and gave me
directions to the closest supermarket which I took the
scenic route making the 4 Kilometre Drive into a 15 kilometre
I was hoping there to buy a duvet, but they stocked food
and crockery and very little else, so was extremely fortunate
that I had packed a large duvet to act as packing in the
large suitcase, so I spent the night huddled in a freezing
motorhome with his duvet wrapped around me, letting in
the cold air, with a motorhome sofa backrest as a piece
of concrete imitating a pillow. Not one of my best nights.
Friday 7th April
Well the morning by the did come, the sun did come up,
and the day slowly got warmer, so that the temperature
in Julian's office as I started describing to him the
shortcomings of dealing with foreign company whose native
language is not English and how he did not communicate
clearly what he considered went with the motorhome I was
buying. He told me how sometimes he gets 300 e-mails a
day and how difficult it was, at that moment it was certainly
like the tropics in his office.
He made undertakings to get several things sorted out
for me, gave me some extension cord adapters, two gas
bottles, and the rest I will just have to accept.
He then gave me directions to another supermarket, loan
of a small Fiat car, so then it was off to do some more
shopping, at the supermarket I should have been directed
to last night. I got loaded up with provisions, duvet,
towels, tools, computer printer, paper, and lots of other
That all took about two hours, so when I returned the
numberplates are on the motorhome, and jetlag was starting
to creep up on me, so at that point I decided to stay
on-site for another night.
Whilst I was in Julian's office, a guy barged in and started
talking with an Irish accent, Julian told me that he was
one of the Irish gypsies that wanders in from time to
time with a pocketful of cash and buys several motorhomes.
I was talking to the Gypsy later in the want to know all
about my background, which gave me an excuse to ask them
what he did, he said he did "Ground Work" and
when I looked dumb, he said he was in building, and I
went on to tell him, making the assumption he was a carpenter,
just how well the carpenters were paid in New Zealand.
He then let on that his speciality was putting in asphalt
driveways and then the penny dropped, that is a speciality
that the gypsies are known for putting in substandard
driveways at Buckingham Palace prices.
Later I got my new printer working, this meant having
to uninstall the older model that I had at home, so a
20 minute job turned into 90 minutes. That done I was
able to print out the Russian translation of a German
letter that hopefully would allow me to drive the motorhome
Then it was a matter of making up a new shopping list,
and a new questions list for tomorrow, to hopefully answer
all of my final questions. So that was time for my second
nights sleep in the motorhome, this time I had hot air,
hot water, refrigerator working, so I look forward to
a pleasant nights sleep.
Saturday 8th April
Light rain and cold
Yes the heater worked well, the water was hot, and I started
getting prepared for the final details before I leave,
then I discovered that Saturday's the open one hour later,
which is giving me a chance to bring the newsletter up-to-date.
Eventually the office was open, I had a few more queries
answered, then I went back to last night's supermarket
to collect a few more things on my ever-growing list and
about 12 o'clock started heading towards Holland.
Whenever I visit Holland I am always continually amazed
at the amount of water you see everywhere, in fact the
destination that I was heading for, Hank Buycks house,
is an area called Castricum which has about 10 square
kilometres of its 49 square kilometres being water.
I've noticed daffodils out everywhere as I drive through
Holland, there's no traces of green yet on the trees and
they tell me that spring is at least two weeks late.
before I got to Hanks Place, I found the normal road closed
so I then spent the next hour driving in an extended circle
until I lucked the street that turned into this area.
Both Hank and Yvonne are well and were caught up with
each other's events over the last six months. At about
10 p.m. jetlag really hit me so I headed off to bed.
Sunday 9th April
Clear blue skies, but very, very cold, Hank tells me that
spring is running at least two weeks late, which of course
is affecting all the tulip growth, and consequently all
of the tulip shows.
sorted out my problem with the computer and the GPS sensor.
Monday 10th - 16th April
Very cold, some rain, some sunshine, most afternoons hang
took me to visit various camping store is, so I was either
shopping, looking at motorhome accessories, working on
the motorhome or working on my web site.
The 14th of course was Easter Friday, and all the shops
open in Holland, and on Saturday, but were closed on Sunday
and most were on Monday. On the Saturday I went to the
small shopping centre at Castricum, it was packed, and
people are lining up at the tills to purchase goods, a
situation that would be most appreciated in many places
in New Zealand.
Monday 17th April
I drove to a very large camping store in Schijndel to
find the carpark packed, with traffic parked on the road
some distance either side of store, to change the 12v
to 220v inverter for a larger wattage, found some other
necessary accessories for the motorhome, and then a hightailed
out of there for Calais, checked in explaining I was early,
they did not mind, just charged me an extra £55,
and I was on the 8:30 p.m. sailing.
As always the Channel crossing was uneventful, however
I must admit walking through one of the lounges I wondered
whether I was on my way to Asia somewhere, but no it was
just the people born in England talking with strong local
I bought some duty-free wine and Bourbon, and the guy
that was doing the packing put all the glass bottles into
one plastic bag together. I was not terribly amused and
told the supervisor who was doing the packing, that is
wonderful to be back in England and experience the superb
service! He explained that they did not have time to put
plastic packing around all of the bottles because they
had thousands to serve every day! As far as I was concerned
it was just another poor excuse for not doing his job
properly, and any further comments I made would be totally
wasted on him.
So we arrived in Dover, which is not surprising as that
is where the Ferry was sailing for, off out to a parking
spot, fired up the GPS, found the camping ground in Dover
and let the GPS guide me to the site.
Following day I started heading towards Peterborough and
at one point I got tired so pulled off at the Duxford
exit and as I was there went through the RAF Museum, it
is very interesting looking at the collection planes,
the collection of Spitfires, I was probably there on an
off day because as you had to move from one hangar to
another hangar, and like any airfield there was a large
distance between them, and there was a shuttle type of
transport moving around with sufficient intervals between
them, that people would get sick of waiting and walk back
by themselves, well it was good exercise any how!
the "Gift Shop" I bought a tin of "Ration
tea" similar to the wartime allowance and bought
a flight jacket that had a "Polar" rating which
I was extremely grateful for in Peterborough.
to Peterborough, and the campsite that I had booked in
for, found it again thanks to the GPS, found the people
who I had recently met on a motorhome Forum, that one
of them was a portrait photographer, so I spent a few
hours chatting to him and sharing a bottle of New Zealand
wine over a delightful meal that he had cooked. So far
the weather in England has been beautiful!
Wednesday morning 19th , never talk about the weather
in England, today it is blowing in raining.
Thursday the 20th and about the 11 a.m. we move off in
convoy to be motorhome show and on to the Motorhome Facts
space that had been allocated to those that had booked
in early, they told me to come there would be room, so
I ended up camping at the motor show with a group of people
that regularly talk to each other on the Internet on the
Motorhome Fact Forum.
The show opened on Friday and I spent the next three days
sorting out things that would be helpful in surviving
in a motorhome with a living space of about 140 sq ft.
I managed to get the satellite television working, the
English agents, RoadPro, were kind in lending me an English
instruction manual, which through the inkjet printer I
have with me, that has a built-in scanner, I was able
to duplicate, and following the instructions for first-time
I turned it on after that I had most of the English programs
I could wish for, except of course the sky Channels which
are scrambled. Thank you RoadPro.
I organised to have a security system into the motorhome
on Tuesday, I bought what appears to be a good water filtering
system, and sorted out one or two other items, bought
a secondhand bicycle for £20, and have flown the
New Zealand flag or through the show.
I also installed a single "Gas Flow" cylinder
(a LPG cylingder that you can fill up like a LPG car)
and the necessary fittings for my travels through Russia
and the Ukraine, I am unreasonably certain that the type
of cylinders we use in the motorhome will not be available
either as refills or purchase. I am aware that there is
LPG in both of these countries and now it is a matter
of hoping to find the outlets that sell the LPG and that
I have the right fittings.
I now just had to have a deadlock fitted to the entry
door and that should cover the security of the vehicle,
this makes me disappointed that the salesman that sold
me the motorhome, was too busy looking for the next sale
to deal with the sale he had just made.
The "leisure" batteries lasted six nights whilst
I was camping without power, I was reasonably careful
with the usage, so I think the solar panels which a lot
of people had fitted to their motorhomes are unnecessary
with the type of travelling we are about to do.
There are about 4000 Motorhomes, at least, at this show,
and I would suggest at least every second motorhome has
at least two dogs with them, confirming the reputation
the English have for their love of dogs.
It again I find interesting, that a number of people that
I speak to a considering selling up in England and moving
to Europe for a better lifestyle.
The photographer that I met, that was camped beside me,
specialises in photographing people in council houses,
photographing their children, often they are single parents,
he has salespeople knocking on the door on Monday, they
get photographed on Tuesday, and have print delivered
to them on Friday, a 20 x 16 canvas textured print that
he gets £150 for, he collected deposit when it is
delivered, and a finance company handles the balance,
they evidently specialise in this type of clientele, (the
finance company) as they have people calling each week
to the collect money for their purchases.
Is also interesting the number of people that are aged
probably 50 plus, that in the fifties or sixties considered
moving to New Zealand or Australia but for some reason
didn't, but most of them had either relations or friends
living in either country.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Here I am in the south of England, I am on a camping site
on a farm, waiting for the security alarm to be fitted
to my motorhome, I see sheep in the field next door with
little lambs, blossoms are out on the trees, the camping
site is one of the better ones I have been on, it belongs
to the owner of Van Blitz, the security alarm people,
they run it in conjunction with their alarm business which
is accessed through the camping site, they call it Cornish
The amenities are very nice and clean, I just been up
to put some washing in, it is one of these European drum
washers which are not very common in New Zealand, and
I put the soap in the conditioner tray, and the woman
that came in could not understand why I did this, she
been made the profound statement, that "every woman
in the world" would know I had done wrong and then
took offense when I questioned the accuracy of her statement.
Wednesday, 26 April 2006
I'm writing this, I am still at Taulton, the VanBlitz
security system was installed
yesterday, unfortunately was not to my satisfaction. First
problem was that they had placed the magnet for a micro
switch in the recess that is designed for the additional
security lock on the entry door of the Hymer, and as well
the motion detector could not detect movement at the back
of the van.
Now personally £720+ (with a gas alarm) to me is
a lot of it is money, and when you go to a person that
is reputedly the best I expect a job to be done that falls
in line with the reputation of the company and the price
But to start at the beginning, I was looked after by the
salesman (whos name I can not remember) that it is a little
short, a let us call him BB. BB walked me over the motorhome
discussing what they were going to do with the clipboard
and his hand, I was always under the impression that I
spoke quite clearly, but I had to repeat a couple of items
because he did not understand me, or was not listening.
We went into the reception area, I told them I wanted
a headlight bulb set added to the account, he said he
would check up which set was required, and when he saw
me later in the day told me he had it all in hand and
he knew which one it was..... it of course was never delivered
and I had to ask for it again!!!!
was taken into the city, where I obtained some money from
Lloyds bank, tried to find an Internet cafe and the only
one, the library, was closed for the day.
Eddie was taking me and to town he was telling me about
all the things that went missing at the motorhome show
from various stalls. Evidently some quite valuable items
went missing, this I believe is called the "English
disease" that is people taking things that don't
belong to them, fortunately like all diseases not everybody
course Eddie should be grateful, if he lived in Scandinavia,
(Norway 13.6 people per sq Km) where they leave outboard
motors on boats, he would have to find another business.
Unfortunately this is one disease the English brought
with them to New Zealand.
more on the positive side, look at the thousands of people
employed in the security business because of this "disease"
course with 390 people per sq Km England is one of the
most crowded countries in Europe, and they have been many
studies done with rats etc that shows overcrowding does
lead to a breakdown of social standards. However Holland
with 382 people per sq Km as far as I am aware does not
have the same problems!
was then over to me to find my way back to the campsite
and is probably better if I do not bore you with the details
that leave it to your imagination and the fact that would
probably take 10,000 words to cover my exploits before
in desperation I got a taxi from some remote part of the
So when I went back at 4:30 p.m. BB proudly showed the
over what they had done, and I could not beleive my eyes
when I saw that they had placed the magnet of the sensor
on the entry door in the location that Hymer have made
for the deadlock. He told me they always fit it there
on the Hymer's, and then went on to blame me for not telling
him that there was a deadlock to be fitted!
When this sort of thing happens I become very annoyed
and upset about the job that has not been done to professional
standards, particularly when they try to blame me for
the inferior job that has been done. I was told that I
had not told them I was going to have a security lock
fitted to the door. Hello!
.is that any excuse to
place it in that position and thereby preventing me from
ever fitting a security lock, particularly in England
with their problems of theft?
So they took the van back into the workshop leaving me
to sit in the reception area, and after about 15 minutes
or so, I decided to go out to see what they were doing
As I walked into the workshop Eddies wife Lynn told me
I was not supposed to be in the workshop because of the
pit, I am not sure if she thought I was going to throw
myself into the pit and sue them for millions!
told her I was here to see what sort of mess they were
making of my motorhome. With that comment she attacked
me for talking to her like that! (And she looked so nice).
Fortunately at that point she walked away and then the
boys had a discussion on the best way to tackle the
problem. They were still wanting to blame me for not telling
them about the deadlock!
I know I had discussed it with Eddie, asking him with
all of the deadlocks I had on my van why should I have
his alarm, and he dealt with those questions, but he had
spoken to so many people at the show he did not remember!
...perhaps it is time he started making notes of his discussions!
Consequently I had to stay overnight for these problems
to be rectified the following morning. In the morning
they were not keen to discuss what they were going to
do and I had the feeling they wanted me to leave it to
the experts, yes, like I did yesterday! I suggested to
the young engineer that they could put a slim magnet in
the position that they were going to put a radio transmitter
the previous night. He told me there were none made that
were smaller than what he had in his hand, I commented
that there was smaller ones in New Zealand, his comment
was well we better get one from New Zealand, (yes he was
So I sat in the reception area, dictating this newsletter,
and eventually BB came in all beaming and said we have
solved all of the problems!
I inspected the motorhome and somehow they had made a
quick trip to New Zealand because they had a smaller magnet
for the sensor and now it was working like it should have
They had the inside motion detector working as well, and
I was told that the engineer that installed it yesterday
had received a good ticking off for not doing the job
properly yesterday. I guess he had had a bad hair day!
So was back into reception and Lynn brought the account
out smiling sweetly, as she can, and I inspected it saw
there were no bulbs on it and asked about them, I told
them that BB had it all organised, so she turned to him
and asked, and yes he had forgotten! Yes just like he
had forgotten that I mentioned the security lock's yesterday,
and I mentioned this, and Lynn again got upset and said
"you don't have to be so aggressive"! My comment
was I'm not when people do their job properly!
I also find it interesting that they are about five kilometres
from the local town, yes they will take you in there,
but you have to find your own way back through a maze
of side streets and country Road's to the campsite. This
is after you have driven a very long distance to have
your alarm fitted, I would have expected a little better!
when I arrived another motorhome arrived and they asked
me if I had had a problem finding the place, I said no
I have a GPS, they said well it was not easy, looking
at the map I could believe that!
While the campsite is very new and clean, and it is also
interesting for a campsite that deals almost exclusively
with motorhomes, that they have no grey water dumping
site suitable for a motorhome, well I guess they will
learn! ( Eddie sent me a letter, a guy of his age should know to sit on letters, like he wrote, for 12 hours)
So I paid them the money and got on my way some 12 plus
hours late. Drove through some very interesting countryside,
real interesting narrow roads, the width of the motorhome,
with large hedgerows on either side, fortunately nothing
was coming towards me, and before my luck ran out on this
aspect I found the main road and headed towards the Crystal
Palace camping ground, where I booked in for two nights.
I'm working with GPS on my computer and will collect my
NavMan when I get back to Holland and that may work a
little bit better, even though the Microsoft Auto Route
has vocal instructions, it is possible to make the wrong
turning which I did several times to be told I was "
off Route" So then I had to get back " on route"
But I have four more day's in England before a head back
to the continent and Dusseldorf where I will say if I
can get my Russian and Ukrainian visas for the motorhome
tour through those countries.
Luda is having a good time in Russia, spending time with
her grandson, and all of her girlfriends of the last 25
to 35 years. I collect Luda from Frankfurt on the seventh
of May, where she will be flying in from Kiev after visiting
with her parents.