30 – 31 March 2017
Lying awake when the church bell started ringing out the village 8am wake-up call. Lovely sunny spring day. We used the facilities which, it has to be said had seen better days, and headed of for Polch, the home of Niesmann & Bischoff.
Because of the time constraints we used autobahn’s – busy 3-laners with no speed limit. Pulled off for a break around 2pm due to hunger and I made bacon baguettes on a Lidl carpark. Exotic.
Back on the autobahn’s we made it to Polch around 5.30pm. The satnav did try to make us do a huge 4-mile loop through the narrow streets of a town, but we worked it out and doubled back to park on the Stellplatz (german version of an aire de camping car) outside the factory. With typical german efficiency N&B had rung us earlier in the day and so we knew to go to reception next morning at 9.30. Hooked up to the electric, put up the satellite dish and settled down to the BBC!!
The N&B factory is a modern affair on a greenfield site situated between an autobahn and Polch village. Conveniently there is a small supermarket, a boulangerie and a couple of camping/caravan shops opposite, and large Aldi, Lidl and (my favourite) Rewe:XL stores a short drive/cycle away. All that is needed to keep anoraks like us happy.
Thousands of daffodils at the front of the factory brightened it up, our reception was warm, and the waiting area delightful. Having met the delightful Anja with whom Danny had been exchanging emails and been given the welcome news that they would also do our April vehicle checks whilst there, we were introduced to the highly competent and efficient Stefan. He had excellent english, appeared to understand the issue immediately, and we drove our van in round the back and left it in their capable hands. Amazingly, it was done by 12.30 – they had identified and replaced a faulty switch on the door. And replaced the door lock mechanisms for good measure and lubricated the door seals replaced missing lugs on the gas hob and aded multiple safety stickers to numerous items. Travelworld eat your heart out.
We had been told by Stefan that if we waited at parking area at the front of the factory between 2pm and 3.30pm, a nice man would sell us an emissions badge for german cities. We went grocery shopping – something we were finding fascinating given the array of strange items on offer – and returned to the parking area where we had lunch accompanied by a bottle of “Waterloo” Belgian beer from the previous day’s Lidl. And waited.
Gave up just before 4pm as we needed to make progress, and made use of the Stellplatz automated motorhome point which allows the dumping of toilet waste and grey water, and filling up with fresh water, once you have fed the post with the required coins. See below for the uninitiated, It was our first automated one and were really impressed.
Headed off on the autobahn to our next destination. I had identified a likely looking ACSI site (a discount scheme for selected sites across Europe out of season) and the satnav would, I am sure, have directed us brilliantly if I had put the co-ordinates in right. However, we appeared to be heading in the wrong direction, down a narrow road, down a steep hillside with too many hairpins for comfort. Danny did an impressive about-turn on a hairpin and we re-input the location in various formats until the satnav appeared to be taking us in the right direction. Lesson – check the route overview on the satnav before following it, duh!
About 6pm we pulled in to the correct location – Dockweiler, a tiny village in the Vulcaneifel Nature Reserve/National Park, some 500m above sea level. A quaint reception with a couple of fishing lakes and a water wheel, and a nice receptionist with fluent english. The site is terraced into the hillside rising up from the fishing lakes which are on a natural stream, and he directed us to a double pitch not far from the sanitary block. Completely private. Nice views. Satellite reception. Free internet. 16A electricity hook-up – vitally important to hairdryer users. What more can you ask!
Set up and heaved a sigh of relief. The van was fixed, our trip was properly begun.