Monday, 27 September 2010

Leaking in Lot-et-Garrone

From Bergerac we followed the river upstream. It was ten years ago when we last stopped in this part of France. Then we were in a 2CV with our two teenage daughters, all our camping gear and an inflatable dinghy, packing it was a work of art. We had a fortnight in France, staying on Isle d’Oleron for the first week followed by a lovely peaceful site right on the edge of the Dordogne for the second. We couldn’t remember what it was called but we remembered more or less where it was. On Tuesday afternoon as we drove over the bridge at La Buisson-de-Cadouin we both said “That’s it!”and pointed behind us. Dave turned the van round and after ten years we drove back into Camping du Pont de Vicq. It was just as we remembered it; pine trees, grassy bank leading down to a gravel beach and a pitch looking out over the big Dordogne with a high arched bridge to complete the view.
We only meant to stay for one night but a quick look under the front of the van confirmed Dave’s increasing suspicions. We’d been losing coolant for a few days and now we knew why; an alarmingly fast drip was coming from the base of the radiator where the rusty fringe that used to be the bottom seam had finally given up. A quick search of the van for something to bodge it with turned up a cartridge of silicone sealant, so we drained what was left of the coolant, took the radiator out and applied a goodly dose of white goo into and around the hole. On Wednesday morning it still hadn’t set so we booked ourselves in for another night. Apart from cycling into the town and posting some cards, our time was mainly spent floating down the river in our new inflatable dinghy (the old one didn’t last ten years :( ) and then towing it back up to have another go. On Thursday morning Dave put some aluminium tape over the bodge and with fingers crossed, put it all back together. It dripped. Not a lot, so we decided to press on. We filled everything capable of holding water and headed upstream again to explore some more of the region. 20km and a litre of water up the road we got to Beynac-et-Cazenac and parked in the campervan car park. We were just going to have a look round but it was level and quiet and there were no restrictions so we decided to stop for the night and go sightseeing on foot. Beynac and its surrounding area is one of many jewels in the sparkling crown of the Dordogne; the road clinging to the steep river bank, no pavement, just houses built into the rock under towering cliffs dotted with caves and the odd fortified Chateaux perched on top.
The views are spectacular.

We got the bikes out and cycled the 7km to Le Roque de Gageac, the next town along the river. We clambered up the narrow alleyways through the impossibly perched houses and looked up at a wooden staircase hanging off the sheer cliff-face leading to a series of caves. It looks as if it might fall down at any moment and it’s all closed off, but it made us wonder how bad it got before somebody shut it!

Back in Beynac we had another climb, first to push the bikes back up to the van, then up to the fortified Chateau; a very impressive and almost intact 13th century castle with a small town surrounding it. It’s a hike up to the top (well everything around here is a hike!) but the view is worth it.
On Friday morning we had a re-assessment. Silicone sealant was never designed to hold hot water under pressure and a little white volcano was spraying the inside of the front bumper at the rate of two litres an hour. It was becoming very obvious that a new radiator was the only solution. The next place where we would be stopping long enough to have any hope of that happening was at Jacqui & Al’s in Tarn et Garonne. So, after an hour in a village car park where Dave took it all apart again and re-did the bodge, we picked the most direct route to their house. This time he used Caravan Seam Sealer (chewing gum on a roll) to plug the hole. A lot better, should have done that first time! Unfortunately it means we didn’t get to revisit Sarlat or see Rocamadour and some other lovely places but needs must...

Keeping a close eye on the temperature gauge and checking the water level every half hour revealed that this time the bodge had been fairly successful and we got to Cotures around 3pm to be met by lots of animals, but no Jacqui or Al. By the time they came home we’d made friends with the geese and were sitting in deck chairs on their front lawn with cups of tea and a book each. We’re going to be here for a while; obtaining a new radiator locally was going to be extortionate even if it were possible, which it isn’t, so we’ve ordered one online for a quarter of the price. While we’re waiting for it we might borrow a car and go back to see the bits of the Dordogne we missed. Also these guys would quite like to go for a visit to the UK to see family so we’ve agreed to house sit for them while they do. They really had to twist our arms...Not!

Next week we will be mostly learning all about goats, geese, guinea fowls, chucks & ducks.

1 comment:

Keith said...

Breaking New's from Lincolnshire
Its Dull, Its Wet, And You Made The Right Decision
have fun
Keith

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