Thursday, 16 October 2014

Anybody reading this speak Italian?

Thursday 16th October.

Firstly I'd like to apologise for suggesting in my last post that I was experiencing déjà vu, "in reverse". Obviously that statement makes no sense at all and what I meant to imply was that we were retracing our footsteps, or tyre tracks, so to speak. Having cleared that up I can tell you that we are parked up tonight in Bellac, the third time we have stopped here and I have no sense of déjà vu at all, just recollections that it has rained every time we have stopped here before and, you've guessed it, it's raining again. We hadn't planned to stop here until tomorrow but our first choice, a vineyard just north of Poitiers, didn't open for business until 5pm which meant we would have sat in the middle of nowhere for several hours waiting for the shop to open so we decided to push on for another hour or so. Well, it would have been an hour or so were it not for roadworks in Lussac-les-Chateaux. We were travelling on the N147 which is possibly the longest straight road ever built, it goes up and down a bit and when you go up you can see the road in front of you for miles and miles. As we left Poitiers there were signs saying the road was closed further south, we consulted the map but couldn't really see an alternative route so we carried on assuming there would be detour signs at some stage, maybe through Montmorillon and Le Dorat. Anyway we arrived at Lussac and sure enough the road was closed with an arrow pointing to the left. We turned left. After a couple of minutes we realised we were heading north again so we turned round, back to Lussac, a roundabout with all exits blocked! Back north again, another look at the map, another u turn and back we go. This time at the roundabout we ignored the blocked road, squeezed past the sign and drove through the narrow streets on the edge of town finally finding our way back to the N147. Now, I don't have a problem with roadworks; I like to see my euros spent on improvements but I do have a problem with a complete absence of "detour" signs. You know, the ones that tell you where to go when a road is blocked? The ones that avoid you wasting the best part of an hour driving up and down country lanes spewing diesel fumes unnecessarily. The ones with arrows saying "Limoges-This Way". Anyway, we're here now and I'm calm after a small pastis.

Well, I would be calm were it not for the problems I'm having with my Europa SIM card. To explain briefly:- whilst we are travelling in order to check/send emails, pay bills, post this rubbish and generally keep in touch with the wider world we need some kind of Internet access. If we can find WiFi, preferably free, then that's great but if not we rely on a 3G SIM card which gives unlimited access for a 24hour period for €3; we pay nothing on the days we don't use it and I top it up with €20 as and when required. Problem is that the credit balance has been reducing at an alarming rate, far more than the amount it should have been. So I contacted the support team at rechargemysim (in Germany) who offered to contact Vodafone (in Italy) on my behalf. A very nice person said they would phone Vodafone to find out what was going on and send me a transcript of the conversation. Which they have done. "Google Translate" is great, isn't it? Well, it's funny anyway. It's no help at all but it's funny. So I've copied the transcript below for you to look at and maybe while you're having your early morning coffee (Anne-Lise?), or thinking I'm too wordy (Mo?) or shaking your heads and frowning (everybody else?) I'm hoping you know someone who can translate this for me and tell me what the heck is going on.

Trascrizione della chat
info: Per favore attendi un operatore collegato.
info: Benvenuto nella chat di Vodafone. Come posso aiutarti? :-)
Pat: ciao ho ricaricato di 20 euro e dovrei avere 20,84 invece ne ho 19,84... perchè 1 euro meno?
Valentina: Effettua il login e consulta il tuo Dettaglio Costi e Traffico, nell’area “Fai da te” del sito.
Valentina: Il Dettaglio Costi e Traffico riporta durata e costi di chiamate, messaggi, connessione Internet e Acquisto Contenuti.
Valentina: Puoi consultare online il Dettaglio Costi e Traffico degli ultimi 6 mesi, fino alle 24 ore precedenti la data di consultazione (48 ore per il traffico effettuato all'estero).
Pat: fatto ma non mi spiego l'euro meno...
Valentina: Attendi un attimo per favore, il tempo di una verifica :)
Pat: grazie
Valentina: grazie per l'attesa, risulta attivo un servizio a pagamento con la società NOATEL che si chiama esattamente CRAZY NEWS
Valentina: se lo desideri ti blocco la possibilita' di attivare ulteriori servizi a pagamento sul tuo numero
Pat: si grazie
Pat: mai attivata opzine simile
Valentina: capisco, ti invito allora tra qualche minuto a spegnere e riaccendere il telefono in modo che la rete riconosca il blocco
Pat: ok
Valentina: Ti ringrazio per aver utilizzato il nostro servizio di chat. Premendo il tasto Chiudi avrai la possibilita' di inviarci il tuo giudizio sul servizio di Web Chat.
Valentina: Ci teniamo ad avere la tua opinione perche’ ci aiutera’ a migliorare sempre di piu’ il nostro servizio.
Valentina: Grazie :)
Valentina: Buona serata
Pat: grazie

By the way, "Pat" is the lass from Germany and "Valentina" is the Italian lass.

Tomorrow we head for Perigueux, the guide book tells us if we can ignore the suburban sprawl and confusing traffic system we will be rewarded with a thoroughly charming old town dotted with Medieval buildings and Renaissance mansions. The cathedral also has the same chimes as Big Ben. I just hope it's stopped raining by the time we get there.

Meanwhile, a couple of pics:

Barge anyone?


Pastry anyone?




  1. Chris says that when we meet up on Saturday at the first mention of SIM cards or internet access she will invite Phil to join her in our van and go off and do a Thelma and Louise. Best we just whisper eh!

  2. Phil says she always wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Just wants to know whether she's Thelma or Louise. I take it Chris doesn't speak Italian? See you tomorrow 😉

  3. Ooh they made those on great British bake off, 'little nuns' I can't remember the French name. Look yum!
    Back to catching up everyday, looking forward to hearing all about the adventures xx