The Road (and Ocean) to Hell…

…are we nearly there yet?


Mid June:

Time again to think about the annual family pilgrimage to somewhere that isn’t home.

This year it’s a rare chance to educate the natives with a trip to foreign climes, in the shape of La Belle France.  I must practice speaking slowly and shouting which, given that I normally speak to the kids in that fashion, shouldn’t be hard.  Having booked very late (as usual) we couldn’t get the sailing we wanted so our 2014 road trip begins with a 200 plus mile drive to Plymouth on the first Saturday of the school holidays. This is followed by the 10pm overnighter to Roscoff.  The whole thing should be a breeze, what could go wrong?

Late June:

Received paperwork from holiday company (Brittany Ferries).  Ring them to find out why the car reg number (an important thing) isn’t on the travel documents.  Find out that they have no passenger names recorded either.  What are these people on?

The RAC want an extra £96 to cover the car in Europe.  I suspect it would be cheaper to join the French AA.  Actually given the stress in the run up the AA might be necessary and I don’t mean the automotive version.

As usual in the run up to summer holidays numerous people say the exact same thing.  “Are you going away?” and “Going anywhere nice?”  To which I reply “Yes” and “No, France”.

Mid July and It’s time for the off:

We decided to set out at 10ish to take a leisurely crawl along the A303 (That’s after getting past the M3 and the Farnborough Air Show).  So promptly at 11.45 herself was finally ready for the off and off we finally went.  The leisurely crawl turned into a nice drive so clearly many schools were still in residence!  I also cannot claim the credit for the overnight ferry decision (actually I was against it) but what a great idea, so relaxing.  Thomas and I shared a cabin and we were kept awake for a while by noise from the next cabin.  Despite what I told him the moaning was not related to sea sickness.  I nearly gave them a round of applause at the end…

I had planned for the (very commendable) fact that finding an open shop in france on sunday afternoon is rare, so food for the day was in the car.  I had however not planned for seeing a note in the Gite telling us that the tap water was not suitable for drinking…  An afternoon of boiling and cooling water ensued.

I clearly don’t know my gauche from my droit:  Driving on French roads is generally much nicer than English roads and driving on the wrong side is fine.  However my brain clearly cannot cope with giving verbal instructions when herself is driving.  I know that we need to take the first exit at the roundabout and I know that it is a right turn.   However my English driving brain insisted on saying left EACH time causing annoyance to herself and, I think, a number of French drivers…  Désolé

It is noticable that most car parks in France don’t charge.  But for those that do two things stick out.  They are cheap and (Epsom Council take note) they give change.

Thomas on the beach is an interesting exercise.  He hates going topless in public and it was well into the second week before the t-shirt came off, even in the sea.  I suspect he just doesn’t want sun cream on.  But the aggravation when we have to remove his wet trunks and put dry clothes on is unbelievable, involving two shielding towels, two parents and much whingeing from all.  France hasn’t seen such a well planned operation since the 1940’s.

We had generally lovely gites but both had no WiFi so the children actually discovered a games compendium and learned to play, among other things, backgammon.  Will that continue now we’re home?  Amusing to read the “visitors book” in the second gite.  One entry complimented the cottage etc but complained that the kitchen clock was an hour slow (English time) and therefore confusing.  The visitors a week later were equally complimentary and ended their comments with “PS. We put the clock right”.

Big thanks to Mark for constant text updates on the test matches although I discovered (too late for the cricket) that the car still picked up Radio 5!

So after 2 lovely weeks of sun, sea, BBQ and booze in what I must admit is a beautiful part of the world we are now home again.   Back to doormat status for me then.

And finally:  I returned to 49 emails in the junk folder.  42 of which were offering me the chance to enlarge a certain part of my anatomy… How did they know?


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