Boussois, La Sambre CanaliséeMarch 25 in France ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C
We're settled into the 2nd of our overnight stops since returning to France. Boussois's (Boussois'?) four place aire is directly adjacent to its school playground. The sounds from kids making the most of their free time ring out intermittently. From our gravel pitch, bordered by a thin Beech hedge, we overlook a grassy area leading to La Sambre Canalisée; a pretty, tree lined river with footpath.
The day we arrived was one of contrasts, the weather changing from sunny to stormy and back again just as quick. It even threw a few hailstones into one of the downpours! First on the agenda was lunch. While Vicky set up the table, Will nipped out to try and find a boulangerie, returning quicker than anticipated, having discovered a bread vending machine just up the road!
Despite the inclement conditions, the riverside called to Will and he spent most of the afternoon fishing. On our 2nd day Vicky's energy began to return and we took a stroll upstream, along the good quality cycle track. Many of the trees were still bare, their branches just beginning to bud, but the hawthorns provided blushes of pink and white blossom and the tall conifers a rich green backdrop.
When staying at free stopovers, we always like to spend at least a small amount of money in the area. Looking at the Maps.me app, there didn't seem to be much in the way of shops in town, but there was a friterie, so we decided to treat ourselves to a lunch. There were few cars or people moving about as we made our way along the mainstreet. Entering the building we thought was the friterie, we found ourselves in an upmarket american style diner with fixed bench seats. This wasn't what we expected but when we explained, the server helpfully ushered us through a connecting door to the takeaway. As everything apart from the frites contained meat, they threw together a nice little salad for Vicky, while Will had a Black Angus beefburger cooked to his specification. We walked back towards Martha and ate near a bandstand at a terraced area that lead down to the river, enjoying a bit of sun on our faces.
The afternoon was dedicated to wiring up our new solar panel.
To see a 6min video of its installation on VnW Travels You Tube channel, click here:
We'd already stuck the self adhesive, semi flexible array to the roof, so the next job was to drill holes in the ceiling, allowing the wires to be routed through to our two leisure batteries under the passenger seat. With Will inside and Vicky outside, we measured up to ensure we got the holes in the right place, then swallowed the nerves and began to drill. The positioning was perfect, but part way through, our hand drill seized up and refused to rotate! However, luck was on our side as our neighbour saw Vicky struggling and offered their portable electric drill! We very gratefully accepted and were soon feeding the cables through the roof.
The next spanner in the works came when we realised we'd majorly miscalculated the amount of cable needed to reach the batteries! Whoops! We were coming round to accepting a long delay in the installation process when a second act of kindness came along to save the day. A new motorhome had just pulled up and one of its occupants got chatting to Will, who explained what Vicky was doing sitting on top of the van. 5 minutes later, this wonderful couple produced two lengths of specialist solar cable, asking if they were suitable? YES! Yes they were perfect! They had recently bought their van and installed a hefty 500W of solar power, from which this cable was left going spare.
Of course we accepted their offering and got to work extending our cables and plugging them in to the special MPPT controller that we'd already attached to the batteries. A little while later we almost squealed with delight as the display lit up and showed a healthy 18volts coming in! Vicky applied 'Sikaflex' to bond the wires to the roof, then piped some along the leading edge of the panel for a stronger seal, while Will put everything back together inside the van. We were pretty knackered after this, so bought some more bread from the machine and had a simple tea of beans on toast and cheese on toast. We couldn't resist a cheap bottle of bubbly to 'toast' our new addition to the van!
The kindness of strangers saved the day! We felt so grateful for their help. Our travels take us away from our circle of friends and family, but through travel we are part of the vanlife community. Their willingness to help others really shone through and will stand out in our memories for a long time to come.Read more