In Britain

Good breakfast onboard, and the kids make themselves comfortable in the cabin windows to watch the ship arrive.

The ferry actually arrives at 9am, but it takes us at least another half hour to get off the ship. This means we’re a little late for our appointment with the ChargeYourCar team at a charging point nearby the terminal, but they waited patiently (or so it seemed). Some original photos by a photographer (which hopefully I’ll post here later), and a few questions/answers while the car charges at the charge point.

Afterwards we go for a nice walk along the beach, followed by a coffee/tea/milkshake in a typical British beach “tearoom”, and we’re off to the next stop: “Haggerston Castle Holiday Park”, where ChargeYourCar has actually installed a fast charger on a caravan park !

Not sure how often it really gets used, but it does mean you can easily drive from Newcastle to Edinburgh, as it is handly placed in the middle – a little over 100km (62 miles) each way. Also a good place for a good old pub lunch (its been ages since our last fish&chips 🙂 ) A second connection to the fast charger gets the battery to 100% (a normal fast charge always stops at 80%), and we continue to Edinburgh.

In Scotland !

Yet another fast charge (and the coffee that goes along with every fast charge 🙂 ), at the “new filling station” of the Alex F Noble Nissan garage in Edinburgh.

That’s 2 fast charges to 100% today (hope that’s OK for the battery – but there was no raise in battery temperature), and we’re ready for the last part of todays journey. An easy 70km ride to Lenzie, for a total distance of 287km (177 miles) in one day !

btw I would like this LEAF too 😉 :

So we’re at our destination,1465km (904 miles) since our departure ! (in 7 travel days)  I still intend to add a table with distances & charge points at some point, but now its bed time…

 

 

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To the ferry

Leaving for the ferry to Newcastle!

After the usual chaotic departure, we stop one last time at our favourite fast chargers in the Netherlands: ANWB. This time in Badhoevedorp, near to Amsterdam, and it’s the best one yet, with a picknick table, parasol, and a selection of drinks. There’s worse ways to travel! The lady at reception is a big fan of the electric cars, and we also get a free copy of an interesting book on the current state of electric cars in the Netherlands. Thanks !

Afterwards we head to the Nissan headquarters in Amsterdam-West (which is on the way to the ferry). A warm welcome, a few nice pictures, more coffee and drinks (we do well out of our stops 😉 ), and a top-up fast charge.

Only a few kilometers left to go to the ferry, where we arrive in plenty of time. No need for the chaos this morning, but the thing is, if one of the fast chargers malfunctioned, we’d have needed every minute… We’re not 100% sure of the reliability yet.

(now do you spell Walther with an h, or without ? 😉 )

 

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Visiting Leiden

So E-laad does have a large network of chargers, but you still need to find them…

A trip to the natural history museum in Leiden (since the one in Paris was shut). 4 charging points nearby are listed on the dutch site http://www.oplaadpalen.nl, so we were not expecting any difficulties. Helas:

1) charge point 1 turns out to be a private charging point inside the Opel garage (although listed as public “NewMotion” charging point – which we should be able to use with the E-laad card.

2) 2 actual E-laad points are no-where to be found. After a long chat at the police station across the road, it turns out that the chargers are actually inside the “Nuon” compound (the electricity company), and that it is shut on a saturday. They direct me to a public parking that should have a charge point (which was also on my list).

3) The parking is being re-vamped. Chargepoint out of service.

4) Another actual E-laad point. The GPS leads me to the exact adress listed on the site, but no charger to be found…

After spending an hour (and 2 bars of battery !) searching, we go back to the Opel garage.  They make me admit that I should really have bought an Ampera rather than a LEAF (no way 😉 ), before they let me borrow the cable from their car. But only for a couple of hours, since the garage shuts at 16:30… Also need to point out that the NewMotion points are no longer available to E-laad charge card holders, so I even had to borrow their card… 🙁 But thanks to Opel Leiden !!!

Nice museum, but I’m al the same a little worried about getting back… Luckily our friends from the ANWB have (fast) charging points on several locations beside the motorways, so we stop for another cup of coffee (oh, and a fast charge…) on the way back 🙂 (these pictures are all the same – but it is really a good service!)

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And it just gets easier…

In the Netherlands the association “e-Laad” has installed a nation-wide network of charging points. We don’t depend on having to charge at hotels, restaurants etc. This really gives us peace of mind!

Leaving the hotel around 10am, we took the “scenic” road  towards Veldhoven (near Eindhoven), to have lunch with friends. 110km on a single charge, with an estimated 50km left (its really flat, and I think it would actually be possible to get the anounced range of 175km with the LEAF here). We charged at one of the e-Laad stations at about 5 minutes walk from their house. (unfortunately no picture)

After a little over 2 hours of charging, the car was almost 80% charged (surprisingly quick), and we continued towards Breda, where the Dutch equivalent of the AA has installed a public quick-charger. A warm welcome with free coffee & biscuits while the car charged !

After the quick charge the final leg of the journey to my parents’ house in Oud-Beijerland (near Rotterdam). 226km today without any sweat 🙂

Here we’ll be taking a few days break. Next update hopefully on the 25th of July, when we’ll be sailing to Newcastle… Before that time I hope to add a page with details of distances (843km in total so far), and charges.

 

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An easier day!

After two days that were all the same a little stressful, we finally had an easy day today !

Leaving Chimay around 10am, we arrived at the Total fast charger in Namur at around 11:30, with about half a charge left after 75km. The charger was in fact working (after we had been warned that it has a tendency to malfunction…), and two 10 minute charging sessions (at 4 euros each) took us to rougly 80% charge.

The next planned stop was a public charging point in a parking garage in Liege. However when we got to Liege, we still had an estimated 90km range (even though we’d done 63km since the fast charge, but it was all downhill alongside the meuse river). And seeing that our destination was only 40km away we decided to skip the charge and go on directly. And even though the navigation sent us over very scenic (tiny) roads and many hills, we got to the hotel with around 30km range left, and they were prepared for us charging there ! (Hotel de la Frontiere – in Slenaken)

After a quick top-up charge we set off to the highest “mountain” in the Netherlands (yes we really call it a mountain); the vaals berg at 321m. This point is shared with Belgium and Germany, and is also known as the “drielandenpunt” (3 country point).

An enjoyable day, and we ended with a wonderful “South-African” dinner in the hotel.

Why was this day so much easier even though we covered 212km in total? Mostly because we learned our previous lessons:

  1. we had confirmed the fast charger in Namur worked by telephone
  2. we had an extra charging point planned in Liege (you really want charging points every 75-90km, even if you might not use all)
  3. we had definite confirmation that we could charge at the hotel.

 

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The adventure continues… (or the continuous adventure according to Rhona)

We didn’t charge during the night this time, but after having had breakfast on the square in Arras, our first appointment was in Brebieres (near Douai – 35km from Arras) for a fast charge in the workshop of the manufacturer of the fast chargers for Nissan. I have never seen so many fast charges in one place! Is this what service stations will look like in the future ? And if you see what is inside of these chargers, the price (10 000 euros) is easier to understand… One of the chargers was connected temporarily for us! 90% charge in 25 minutes. A big thank you !!!

With a full battery (or almost), second stop was in Douai at our sponsor (who provided the necessary charging material for the journey). We received a warm welcome but because we were late for our next stop (as usual) we decided to continue after a quick photograph…

Oops! Our next stop turned out to be 102 km away  instead of 50km !!! (3rd lesson; make sure that you plan using exact addresses!!!) Estimated range at this point 110km… possible? 40 km from our destination a nice little voice from the car informed us “Vous risquez de ne pas pouvoir atteindre votre destination” (you might not get to your destination) Thanks! It’s not really what we wanted to hear… So, “super eco drive mode” – 70km/h on roads with a 110km/h speed limit (double lanes, so at least we didn’t annoy too many people). Every time we went up a hill the range was a few kilometres less than the remaining distance and on every downhill drive we gained the few kilometres that we had lost. Fortunately the last 10km didn’t seem to follow the same scale and we got there with 7km remaining !!! (and 2 hours late…)

We enjoyed a tasty lunch chez Gabriel, a member of the French electric car forum (http://vehiculeselectriques.fr/) while the car was charging. After that he showed us his  electric cars: a Peugeot 106, and especially a wooden “Milde Krieger” from 1942!

Here’s the 3 generations of electric cars together:

After a few hours charging, the last stage of the day’s journey was to Chimay.  This was now only 13km instead of the 60km originally planned. Unfortunately the hotel at the Chimay brewery refused to let us charge (inspite of 2 calls in advance – I never really got a confirmation). The manager was quite hostile to electric cars: “Do you know what it costs to charge a car!!?” (yes – about 3 euros), and “If everyone drives electric, there will be no more electricity!!”. So we quickly left. Pity, but better to avoid the Chimay brewery! (4th lesson: you really need to be sure you can charge at a hotel before driving to it…)

Only 20km range left, but luckily we found a charming bed & breakfast right in the centre of Chimay (Le Petit Chapitre), where we could charge without any problem. And we managed to taste the Chimay beer in all the dishes in the excellent restaurant on the square.

All is well that ends well, and this was another nice day!

ps. another charge at 6A to avoid problems with an unknown electricity installation, and we had the time anyway. A charge control box that allows selecting 6, 10, or 16A should really be included with the car!

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Douai …or almost :-(

After visiting Compiègne we headed in the direction Douai. The new Nissan route-planner web site tells us to go through Amiens (a 40km detour), for a rapid charge at Nissan Amiens. The direct route (133km) would be too risky. This wasn’t what we had planned (133km should be do-able), but Nissan should know, so we followed the advice.

When we arrived at  Nissan Amiens around14h, they did indeed have a quick charger ! …but not yet installed… 🙁 Only option is a normal charge (16A) until 19h… This has taught us what we had already been told; you really need to phone ahead if you want to do a quick charge anywhere… (Thanks to Nissan Amiens for the charge all the same !)

We had 2 appointments in Douai in the afternoon (one for a quick charge, and the other a visit to the sponsor), but that would obviously not be possible anymore. Same for the reservation at the hotel in Chimay, it would be impossible to arrive there today.. In fact, this has delayed our journey by a day. On top of all this our new gadget (a tablet) would no longer connect to the internet, so no way of notifying any of our contacts. 🙁 (second lesson: we should really carry a list of phone numbers…)

But on the positive side: Amiens is a really nice town. There’s a superb cathedral, it was sunny, and the river side cafes were very pleasant 🙂

In the evening we finally headed towards Douai, and we’re currently in Arras (about 25km from Douai), which is another very nice town ! (see below). All in all it was a very enjoyable day !

 

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Compiègne

We needed to improvise a little for charging at the hotel in Compiegne. An extra slow charge (at 6A) since I did not have confidence in the electrical installation in the hotel room… But the charge finished just after breakfast – perfect timing!

In the morning we visited Compiègne: the Palais gardens, and a small walk around the town of Jeanne d’Arc. The Palais very much reminded us of Versailles.

And we weren’t the only electric vehicle in Compiègne… 😉

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Paris

So where do we park in Paris ? In front of the Louvre maybe ? For free, and with free charge too 🙂 Thanks to the City of Paris and http://www.espacemobelec.fr/ for the charge card.

And after our visit to the Louvre, a litte tour of Paris with the fully charged car, before setting of for Compiegne…

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Car Train

OK, so we didn’t drive from Nice to Paris, but the car train and night train was a relaxing experience!

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