Entente Discordiale

Besançon Lidl has a working charger. Free, of course, for your 30 minutes. Or so we thought.

We plugged in, went inside the shop to get food for the next day or so, and came back after 21 minutes to find a Zoe parked up next to us and its owner determined to kick us off ASAP.

In fact that’s just what he did. Without so much as a sorry, he said, “I’ll disconnect you now. I’m on zero charge” and he stopped the charger leaving us speechless.

Hey mate just because you can’t manage your consumption and you’re driving a glorified pilchard tin, that doesn’t give you the right to pull rank.

Working Lidl chargers are great because they’re free. But that in itself has drawbacks over the charge card bornes, because any old arse can disconnect you and you can’t stop them.

At least today’s arrogant git waited until we got back to the i3 before doing that, but boy could he learn some manners.

Aire de Rely

Not for the first time does the name of the motorway service station confuse us. Once before, we actually sailed straight past this one because it’s also called Aire de St. Hilaire Cottes on the BMW nav system.

Wise to it this time, we did stop and bar some driving the wrong way within the complex because of – inevitably – poor signage and building, we found the charger and tried to plug in.

Except. The screen showed a massive red knob (fnarr). No instructions but it suggested it was well and truly en panne.

Luckily we’re quite wise now and spotting an actual massive red knob (fnarr) just below and an arrow on it suggesting you can turn it, we did just that and a few moments later it accepted our Sodétrel card and we could charge.

Bit heart in the mouth for a short while as we had 10% charge left and 60 miles on the rEx.

Now we have 85% after half an hour and are back on the road with gulp one hour 50 minutes of driving before we can charge again. We’ll have to stop for petrol. The A26 is an utter desert for chargers in this part of France.

Radio Silence

Where did we leave things? Oh yes. Getting exceptionally cross on the way to the UK when the Folkestone services didn’t have any working chargers and it was pissing down.

A couple of weeks later there followed another 1200 mile round trip in the – gulp – venerable diesel 2008 Ford Galaxy with nearly 120,000 miles on the clock and whose boot not only fitted a bedside table, but also a massive (if ugly) chest of drawers liberated from an ageing relative’s former home.

Good though the i3 is, its cubic metres just can’t compete. Hopefully the moving furniture from GB to CH saga is nearly done and when the diesel wagon dies, we won’t miss it.*

Dragging this post kicking and screaming to relevancy, we are off in the i3 again. We have NEW winter tyres. We have NEW snow chains (of which more later). We have the TRUSTY CREW up front.

And we leave in 6 hours.

More anon.

*we will.

Ecotricity Fail

We drive off the Shuttle and into the Stop 24 services to charge. Ecotricity tells us only one of the charge posts has a working CCS.

Wrong. Neither of them is working.

So petrol goes into the REx (first top up in a week) and we’re heading to Clacket Lane.

Ecotricity better not have f**ked up there as well.

Best laid plans

We had hoped to be here, at the Tunnel, by 1900, if everything had worked out. But a longer than planned stay at the Laon Lidl charger (dodgy internet/work hassle), endless single carriageways with restricted speed limits (roadworks) and general laziness I suppose, meant we didn’t get here until 1930. That left just 15 minutes for a charge before heading round to boarding.

The train has left bang on time which is a plus. We need to stop with on the M20 for more juice though, or may Clacket Lane on the M25. Can’t decide. Neither is particularly appealing.

After a long day, we just want to be with our actual kids in the UK, not hanging about umbilically attached to a metal charge post in the dark.

Last orders

We’ve just done our penultimate charge before the Tunnel at the Aire de St Hilaire Cottes.

We’re tired but thrilled we’ve only had to use the REx for 20km put of 500+ today. So far.

We’re considering not bothering to charge at Eurotunnel itself but going straight onto a train and heading for the Ecotricity outlet on the M20. Yes, some more REx will be needed.

No photos this time. Frankly who needs yet another image of yet another Sodétrel charger. We’re sick of the sight of them too.

ChargeMap fail

We’d plumbed an intermediate charge into the system at the delightfully named* rest area, Wancourt, on the A1.

Just after taking the exit from the A26, we checked ChargeMap. The charger at Wancourt had disappeared. It simply did not exist.

Some minutes of stress and shouting later, we worked out that ChargeMap was down. Luckily we also have the Sodétrel, PlugSurfing and New Motion apps. All of them showed that the charger had not been wiped off the face of the earth in a targeted strike. Phew.

Just as well, because we were stuck in a very long set of roadworks reducing the road to one carriageway with no way to get off.

The Wancourt charger behaved well although the attached service station was pretty grim.

* use your best French accent to get the most out of this juvenility.