A Voluntary Night in a Motorhome Prison

A high chainlink fence surrounds us. We’ve voluntarily incarcerated our Hymer home for the night. The only way to escape is by parting with cash, or plastic in this case. On a nearby roundabout, two stone Roman columns point towards a grey sky. We’re at a Narbonne aire to give our batteries a little tender loving care.

We needed to connect to a mains supply. Constant recent cloud denied our single solar panel the opportunity to provide us with free electricity. Constant rain and strong winds have made using our Honda suitcase generator a challenge.

Our Hymer’s 12V supply failed yesterday when our two 90Ah batteries ran out of juice. Our generator doesn’t like getting wet. I need to shelter it from windblown rain with the Hymer’s high sides, and with the Hymer’s open garage door if rain is falling vertically. The wind couldn’t make up its mind yesterday. It switched direction, the generator drowned, I put it away, our electricity supply failed, so we moved to Narbonne.

We swapped a view of waves and sand for one of closely packed motorhomes tethered by electrical umbilical cords to the French national grid. Rather than falling asleep to the soothing crash of nearby waves, we endured the rumble of nighttime lorries, and an occasional brain-dead boy racer with his stereo cranked up an ear-bleeding volume.

Nearby McDonalds with its free WiFi compensated us for our unpleasant location. I enjoyed two productive hours downloading 2.5GB of data for out of date apps and my Mac’s operating system.

We left the aire this morning. We’re sitting in an expansive car park belonging to Narbonne’s largest bio store, waiting for staff to arrive for the shop’s afternoon shift. With the fridge full to bursting again, we’ll take the breathtakingly scenic route from Narbonne to Bages and then thread our way between lagoons teeming with exotic birds to our favourite aire at Peyriac-de-Mer.

Facilities there are hopeless, but there are acres of firm grass to park on, rarely any other motorhomes and no traffic noise. The icing on the cake for me is easy access to an endless network of trails looping around the nearby lagoons and through the surrounding rocky hills.

The thermometer will hover around freezing tonight. We don’t care. Cynthia has the dogs and me to keep her warm. I have Cynthia and a couple of bottles of Leffe Tripple 8.5% beer. I think we’ll survive.

The Hymer's motorhome prison. You can see other prisoners in the background.

The Hymer’s motorhome prison. You can see other prisoners in the background.

Hooked up to the mains at Narbonne aire

Hooked up to the mains at Narbonne aire

Our portable electrical supply. A Honda 2.0i suitcase generator

Our portable electrical supply. A Honda 2.0i suitcase generator

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Julie Swift - March 2, 2018

Hi Paul,

I don’t seem to receive emails alerting me to your blogs anymore, so a friend of mine sent me a link. I love your new look blog pages, and reading about your adventures.

I am considering buying a generator for wild camping; would you recommend the one you have?

Thank you so much for your funny, intelligent, enlightening stories. May love and luck be on your side.


    Paul Smith - March 3, 2018

    Hi Julie,

    You appear to have accidentally unsubscribed in December. I’ve added you to the list again.

    Yes, I am very happy with my generator. It’s a Honda 2.0i suitcase generator. It’s one of the quieter and lighter models on the market. However, it still weighs 20kg so make sure you are comfortable lifting something as heavy as this in and out of your motorhome garage. Please also note that other motorhome owners often object to the sound, so stay away from others when you use it.

    Thank you for your kind comment. I try to please.


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