My plan for the 28th July was to spend the morning in Blois before heading north. The reality, sadly, was a lot different. After having breakfast and packing up to leave, I went to start the camper and yet again, nothing happened. Lights, power but no starter motor. Since I knew where it was and knew that it was the problem this time, I went about trying to knock the starter into gear to get going again. But I didn't really have the right tools for the job - I used the metal end of the emergency triangle that you have to buy when driving in France but it wasn't heavy enough to get anywhere. That, coupled with the fact that I couldn't both hit it and turn the key at the same time meant I had no luck. So, for the third time, I had to call for help. I first called the camper hire people but was disgusted when it went straight to message bank so hung up and tried the RAC. A mechanic came out in about an hour - he spoke no English but motioned to me that the camper was in trouble. By this time I'd decided that I would drive back to Calais that day and take the ferry back to England on the 29th, thus cutting my holiday short by 4 days. He managed to get it started by giving it a swift whack with a hammer while I turned the key.
With a heavy heart I set off for Calais. I was so disappointed to have to cut my amazing trip short, but couldn't risk being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a camper that had broken down - I had very little phone reception while in France so that prospect was quite scary. I looked at the map though and made a decision - I would drive the 7 hours to Calais that day, but I would make a short detour to Le Jardin Plume, as it was basically on the way. I'm so glad I did, regardless of the risk - it definitely improved my mostly miserable day spent driving and grumbling about the crappy camper.
Le Jardin Plume was another garden that had been on Monty Don's TV show about French Gardens. It looked pretty on that show but it was nothing compared to what it looked like in real life. I also think it was improved by the sound the wind was making through the various grasses, plants and flowers. It was such a beautiful place. And the drive from there to Calais along the small National roads of Normandy was another really good drive. So it definitely helped make the most of what was not the best day of my trip! I got to the campsite in Calais about 8pm, settled down for the night and prepared to leave my beloved France the next day.