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The Camargue National Park to St-Martin-de-Crau, France

Waiting for Mail

Friday 23rd April

After some showers in the motorhome, as we had finally figured out the gas boiler properly, we headed off to the nearest big town in search of an Orange shop. When we found one though, no one spoke English and our French wasn’t good enough too explain the problem. We were then informed one member of staff did speak English, but she was on lunch so we would need to pop back in an hour or so. After a wait we headed back and spoke with the woman. She informed us though, that it would need a replacement sim card and she could only give out replacements for French phone numbers. As mine was an English number she wouldn’t be able to help us. She wasn’t even able to phone Orange UK, for us to speak with someone. All we managed to do was use her internet to find the number ourselves for us to ring them from a payphone.

So even though the company is Orange, it doesn’t seem to connect in any other way, but name, to any other countries companies called Orange! So one company is in fact many separate companies, with no ability it seems to communicate with each other. Seems strange, as I thought Orange was a business dealing with communication! It seems just a case of a brand name, wow it’s wonderful how this globalisation thing works, very helpful.

So still with a broken sim card and no public phone box in sight, we decided to head further east towards the Camargue area. On arriving in the Camargue National park, we headed to the coastal town of Stes-Maries-de-la-Mar. While driving through the marshlands we spotted the white horses, bulls and pink flamingos the area is famous for. The horses I had in my mind were wild, these though were on ranches and waiting to be saddled up for trekking rides. Arriving in the town we found it didn’t like motorhomes either, as signs were everywhere saying you couldn’t park at night. Still we managed to buy a phone card and I could still call in to my mobile’s answer phone system to check my messages. At least if someone wanted me for work, they could leave a message for me to check, I had no messages mind.

I have noticed in Europe, Morocco and England before we left, that public phone boxes no longer accept that standard financial tool of cash! Gone are the days that if you were stuck and needed to make a phone call, all you needed was some change. Now it seems you first need to actually find an establishment that sells phone cards(not always as easy as it sounds), to then part with a minimum of between £5 and £10 to then be able to make one call. Is it me, or is it a pretty silly way of doing things? It doesn’t really make it a useful tool, in times when you need to make a quick call. Still I suppose most people have mobiles now, but surely the old change way of public phone boxes was a lot easier and useful? I suppose though it’s better for the phone company and not the public. They get to not have to pay anyone to collect the money from the phone boxes and instead of someone paying only 20 pence for a call, they make at least £5 from the sale of a phone card, progress hey!

Anyway, we decided to head away from the coast and back again to the canal, this time in a town called St Gilles.

Saturday 24th April

Headed into the town to find a phone box and contact Orange to sort out my sim card problem, hopefully. I believe I went through to India, to then get put on hold till someone answered. So many companies these days out source their call centres to foreign countries. This way they are able to pay lower wages I suppose and make more profit. Only problem I find as a customer, is I’m not getting the best customer service. The person in the call centre is doing their job fine, I suppose, it’s just that you can tell they have scripts they are reading from. The company would have come up with some standard questions that would be asked and they have the replies. Most of the time though I find the questions I need to ask involve an exchange of idea’s with someone. Where you are trying to find out the best solution to the problem you have, I find that most of the scripted questions and answers don’t really meet this need. I find I’m paying for a call and being told simple things that don’t really relate to the problem. Also my explanation doesn’t seem to match the confines of their script. Most of the time a problem will in effect be resolved, but not really by the way you wanted it, just which ever fits close enough. I find it leaves you feeling rather frustrated at the lack of a fundamental conversation taking place, or is it me? Just don’t’ feel like companies anymore really care about their customers, although this is what we are led to believe by their constant advertising departments. Anyway, the resolution to my problem was just that a replacement sim card would be sent out to a UK address. This in the meantime used up about €5 of credit.

Anyway, enough of me moaning. We drove off to a quiet part by the canal in the countryside and went off for a lovely bike ride. Before spending the rest of the day reading and writing overlooking the canal in the sun, watching the wildlife, boats and fishermen.


Sunday 25th April

After a Sunday morning snooze, we got up to a hot sunny day. Relaxed in the sun reading and playing guitar while canal boats and cyclists passed by. Later in the afternoon we set off in search of water and somewhere to stop on the way to St-Martin-de-Crau. We were heading for this town to pick up some post we had got sent there, as well as looking for work we had heard may be available on the farms. We had no luck with the water, but we would have enough for the night. After driving down lanes, roads, over rivers and canals we found a small car park near a lake just outside St-Martin -de-Crau. Tomorrow I would go job hunting again around the farms and if no luck, back to the coast for campsites as we head slowly to Italy and Eastern Europe.

[b]Monday 26th April[/b]

Up early and straight to the post office to collect our parcels, we had got sent using the Poste Restante. This gets letters and parcels sent to a post office in most European countries. All we need to do is pick out a location we will be heading to and then if we need anything sent, get our kind family back in England to post it to the address. Part of what we were receiving today though would be the bill from ADAC for the windscreen we had sent to us in Morocco, so that wasn’t really anything to be looking forward to. Lorna on the other hand was receiving some books she had ordered online. I received my parcel and Lorna only received one of her two parcels.

We then went off and found the farms we had been told about might have work. All I found though was that they were already full for staff. This was the same story for the other farms I tried.

After we headed back to the town to check the tracking of Lorna’s un received parcel on the internet. The post office website was telling us the other parcel was still in Britain being processed for delivery. This despite the fact it had been sent the same
time as the other one, over a week ago! We would have to now wait around the area for Lorna’s parcel and there weren’t really any more places for me to ask for work. We decided to head 20 miles away down to the coast, hopefully there would be more campsites I could ask at. Also Lorna’s hay fever was getting bad and normally the coastal air is better for it.

We arrived in the town of Port-saint-Louis-du Rhone, to find it was more of a working port town than a tourist destination. This meant there were no campsites for me to ask for work at. Still we headed off a couple of miles further to a large stretch of beach with cars and other motorhomes parked right on a sandy car park, virtually on the beach. It wasn’t the prettiest of beaches, as all we could really see was huge tankers and cargo ships docked just out at sea awaiting loading or unloading. We were going to stay on the beach for the night but decided against it as it was swarming with insects trying to get in the motorhome. Instead we headed back towards the town and found some parking with other motorhomes along the old docks by the river.

[b]Tuesday 27th April[/b]

Lorna spent the morning getting on top of the washing by hand. After hanging it up around the outside of the motorhome, we took a walk into town with the laptop in search of internet to track the parcel. After a walk around we found the library, we had found that we could use their internet or pick up their wifi for free. Rather than paying an internet café or buying drinks in a bar with wifi. The French though had other ideas, as we were told we weren’t allowed to use the computers, as we didn’t have a library card. Not a problem we had found in any other country, but then again the French seem to love their paperwork. Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, is I suppose the best way I can put it. After another walk around we found a bar with wifi and ordered two beers. The parcel was apparently still in the UK, according to the post office’s website! We were now really in limbo, as we needed to stay close to St-Martin-de-Crau to pick it up when it came, but there was not really much about in the way of campsites or work, and we didn’t want to spend money going further a field to then have to drive back. All we really wanted was to get out of expensive France and get over to Eastern Europe. I though still needed to find work, as my pennies were getting very very low. This meant really going further along the coast asking at campsites. For the present moment we were a little stuck and unsure what to do, with ourselves.

Later on Lorna made a call back home to wish her mum a Happy Birthday and ask Steven to contact Royal Mail to find out what was happening with the parcel.

Wednesday 28th April

Decided to head away from the port town, back near St martin-de-Crau and the city of Arles. A city made famous for it’s Roman ruins and the fact Vincent Van Gogh lived there and painted many famous pictures of the town, including the café at night painting. Before getting into the city we took a wrong turn and ended up at a lovely old bridge over the river made famous by Van Gogh. It was a lovely setting and we decided we would probably head back here to stop the night. We carried on into the city and found some parking by the coaches. The sun was out as we wondered around the old part of town. Through the lovely streets and past the roman amphitheatre, which still looks like they use it for bull fights. We headed around famous Van Gogh areas and the scene of his café painting, although now it was a very touristy square full of lots of cafes. The old town was pretty small so it didn’t take too long to see, before we headed back to the river we filled up with water. Then settled ourselves by the river for the night.

[b]Thursday 29th April[/b]

Headed around the out of town shopping complex’s trying to get internet from the fast food chains, but with no luck. We also had no luck in managing to get fuel from the cheaper supermarket garage’s as they all had height barriers. These were too small for us, something we have found occasionally on our travels! Our kayaks on top making us 3.4m. We decided to head back to St-martin –de Crau with the hope the parcel was now there, but no such luck. We bought another phone card and Lorna contacted Steven and we found the reason we hadn’t had the parcel was that the post office hadn’t sent this one air mail, even though that’s what we had paid for. They had told him though that it would most likely be here tomorrow. So we would stay around here for another night. I also made a call to ADAC, as all the invoices and forms they had sent me were in German and I hadn’t got a clue what I needed to fill in. After being passed over to several different departments and given different numbers to call, I finally spoke with someone who could help me a little. By then though most of the 5 Euro credit had been used up. We then headed off back to the original parking by the lake.

Friday 30th April

Headed back to the post office, to find the parcel still hadn’t arrived. By this point we decided we had had enough of waiting around, so Lorna contacted home to get them to get the parcel returned to sender. By this point we had a sneaking suspicion that they had probably lost it, as the website still said it was in the UK being processed for delivery abroad! We drove off in the direction of Marseille, with the intention of spending the weekend by the coast on the other side of the city. On Monday I would start again job-hunting at the campsites. The journey ended up a long one, as we went down a long country road that suddenly had a bridge that was too low for us, so we turned back around and drove all the way back. When we arrived at the coast it was the same old story for the south of France, they didn’t like Motorhomes and we couldn’t find anywhere to park near the sea. After much driving around we ended up finding a small aire by a roundabout and settled down for the night.

Posted by marklorna 16:16 Archived in France

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