Friday 4 October 2019

Les machines de l'île

Located on an island in the Loire River right in the centre of Nantes is 'Les machines de l'île' project. The exhibition, show, concept is the vision of two artists and according to Wikipedia: "The projects aim to promote the city's image and intend to build an identity for it as a creative metropolis of dream and of fantasy"

The Great Elephant is a moving mechanical model, 12m high and 8m wide. It is made from 45 tons of wood and steel. It can take up to 49 passengers

There are several versions of these humming birds in varying colours. They are brilliantly animated with one approaching a flower

The design and detail is inspired

This enormous spider climbs from a hole in the exhibition floor

The Heron is controlled by 2 people on its back and carries 2 more in baskets at its feet

Subjects chosen for the structures are the strange and macabre in nature and have a steampunk element

Definitely worth a visit - Genny often stands out in the crowd but didn't get a look in here


Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is the small French town where pilgrimage routes from across North Western Europe converge, prior to crossing the Pyrenean foothills into Spain on route to Santiago de Compostela. Both the French Way (Camino Francés) and the Routes of Northern Spain are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites

This small town is on the river Nive and is only 8km from the Spanish border. It is the gateway to the Roncevaux Pass and the last stop before the arduous mountain crossing at over 1,000m

Pilgrims across the centuries have entered through La Porte Notre-Dame before crossing the river to the rue de d'Espagne. There has been a bridge here since at lease the 14th century

Initial steps from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port cross this bridge

Genny at La Porte Notre-Dame immediately before the bridge

Wednesday 2 October 2019


This trip seems to have turned into a medieval tour of Europe. Today I visited Carcassonne

Carcassonne is another UNESCO world heritage site with its roots in neolithic times

There are buildings from many periods making up this citadel but I particularly enjoyed the gargoyles on the 11th century church, the Basilique des Saints Nazaire et Celse. Apparently it is a gothic development of the 6th century Visigoth building

The inner walled town is lovely with fine buildings

In true commercial tourist style there are shops dedicated for all your present day crusading requirements

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Étang de Montady

How cool is that?

I first discovered this looking around on Google Earth and today I visited the Étang de Montady. This was originally a wetland that was drained by monks in the 13th century. I tried to get to the very middle but was completely defeated by a train line and the Canal du Midi which can both be seen in the bottom right of the image

This is also the site of the Tunnel de Malpas which I had heard about but didn't realise I was going to find as well

The Tunnel was excavated in 1679 and was Europe's first navigable tunnel. It is 165m long and passes through the same hill that was tunneled by the monks in order to drain the Étang de Montady. In the nineteenth century, a third tunnel was excavated, passing through the Hill d'Ensérune beneath the Malpas tunnel to house the railway.

Charging Genny from 12 volt DC

If you travel with your Genny Mobility chair you have the issue of potentially different mains voltages or even no mains at all. Genny has the capacity to charge with between 100 - 240 V Ac 50 or 60hz, so as long as you have the appropriate adaptor to cope with differing sockets, it should charge. This post is about my experiences with charging from a vehicle battery

Charging with DC to AC inverter plugged into 12 cigarette lighter socket

I have a VW van with a rear hoist that can carry my wheels. Although not kitted out as a camper van it is big enough to take a small mattress and other bits to travel as I wish. Having my wheels with me enables me to do much more active holidays

My wheels have above 4,500 miles on the clock and I notice I am not getting the range I got when it was new. I am more conscious of how much life I have in the batteries and I would hate to run flat

In considering power options for my camper van I was not sure where to go with charging my wheels. Most camper vans would have an additional dedicated leisure battery that would power your fridge, TV etc. usually mounted under one of the front seats. It would be setup to charge from the vehicles alternator with maybe the addition of a solar panel. People use various charge splitting systems that ensure the main vehicle battery is always fully charged to avoid flat batteries when starting the vehicle

To turn 12vdc into something that will charge a Genny you need a DC to AC inverter which come in different sizes and qualities. I purchased the following inverter which I think is beyond the requirments but it was small and quoted to be about 90% efficient (LINK)

Genny is powered by 2 main batteries of 5.8Ah at 73.6vdc and a small 5Ah at 12vdc. I have read a number of forum posts on the charge consumption and I understand that a Segway requires about 180w to charge. I have assumed that Genny will require a maximum of 200w to charge for about 6 hours for a substantial charge

There are equations to work out the theoretical requirement for a vehicle battery that will deliver this level of charge rate. Unfortunately I don't know how to come up with the answer but I have some experience of getting it wrong

I did 2 charge sessions on my wheels, each of about 2 1/2 hours over 2 days with a run of about 10 miles to recharge the vehicle. This was done just using my main and only 95Ahr vehicle battery. When I came to start the van later it didn't have the power to start

I have not made up my mind what to do about an additional leisure battery for my van. There are various considerations like where it will live in the van as I have swivelling front seats that mean I can only use a short battery. Do I go for a standard or deep-cycle battery, how about lithium etc.

How I am coping is I only charge Genny when the van motor and therefore alternator, is running. I have also discovered you can get a very small but high capacity lithium jump start power pack something like the following (Link) I was rescued by a fellow camper with one of these packs and I couldn't believe that it worked. His pack was half the capacity of the one I have linked too
Lithium jump start power pack