As if the fitba our journey of the thousand odd miles south was one of two halves.
The removal men arrived to take our stuff to storage early – the swines – which led to some scurrying about as we finished getting everything ready. They cleared the house rapidly while Mitzy sat in her cat carrier no doubt wondering what the heck was going on now. Then Liz from the pet transporter people came and collected her, no doubt adding significantly to her stress and aggravation.
That meant we were more or less ready. The hoover was run around the hoose and I made another trip to the recycling centre/tip. I now fear that the men who work there are considering reporting my conspicuous absence to the Police so regular had my visits become over the last couple of weeks.
At 12:30 with the house locked, top box loaded and the car stuffed with what we hope is a year’s worth of stuff we sat ready to go. I innocently asked about extra strong mints and we realised that the cupboard they contained along with coffee, tea etc., hadn’t been dealt with… Sweeties grabbed and more stuff put with the things for Susan’s sister, Debra, to collect we sat in the car again at 12.32. I started the engine and we were off.
(Imagine a picture of a car and a winding road – until we are properly connected to the interweb you’re gonna have to work for your updates!)
We left Fife and crossed the border largely without incident. We stopped at Berwick at the Morrison’s at the top of the town – my knowledge from trips to away games being utilised. The obvious steps were taken and off we went again. Years ago we had a long weekend in York and at various points found ourselves on the way to Leeds against our will… All was going reasonably well down the country until our very own version of the Bermuda Triangle the Leeds Rhombus got us again. Our plot to get petrol at services and continue was thrown asunder by the split of the A1 and M1. This caught us somewhat unawares and sudden frenzied consultation of notes was only finished after the point of no return – we were on the M1. Suffice to say after finding that Pontifact has a large Asda where near as damn it a full tank of petrol was bought. The preceding half hour of re-arranged route planning, petrol lights going on and my accosting an old couple in a Home Bargains car park (for travel advice) all kept us on our toes.
Fuelled up and more relaxed we set off realising that due to road works, the detour and the UK’s long term under investment in infrastructure we had a bloody long way still to go…
(Big unhappy face gif)
Onwards and southwards we continued. Being later than hoped the M25 was traffic free and we went over the Dartmouth crossing and headed across Kent. We stopped and re-fuelled again near Maidstone paying a fortune for petrol and had something to eat at the back of ten. We arrived at our hotel and got to bed at midnight with the alarm horrifyingly set for 4:30am!
The latest check in for the EuroTunnel drive your car onto the train that goes under the sea thing – which sounds odd – was 5:50. At 4:30 this seemed ok, as we reloaded the car at 5:28 this seemed fine, as we hit fog, effing fog on the short drive it didn’t seem good. A thick fogbank made a short, unfamiliar drive look much more time consuming, caused some concern and several rude words. Thankfully it was a small patch and at 5:46 we were welcomed by a touch screen that accused me of being Susan Mainland, S was driving, but I was tired and it was dark. Despite this gender identification faux par we were able go thru the stages and remembering the top box join the oversized lane. Then we drive down onto the platform and into a wagon/carriage/big trainy thing the exact term for which I am not sure of.
The 21 minute trip under the Manche was perfect and we soon swung out onto the correct (wrong) side of the road. We stopped for S to get a fortifying coffee and showed up the Brits who preceded us in the queue by speaking French while doing so. The pained, hand to head, mumbled, immediate lapse into English performance from the guy in front was not going to win him any prizes or friends…
(Can you get a despairing shaking of head thingy? Let’s pretend you can)
Driving through France appears to be a breeze. There are numerous places to stop, the A roads we were on were excellent and it’s a long way from our nemesis Leeds. S did the first bit then I took over – having never driven abroad – however it was easy on the motorway. The kilometres flew by as we whizzed along the 275k’s to Paris without incident. Due to bad planning on my part I remained behind the wheel as we went into through, under and across the French capital. Various famous sights may be visible from the route we took however our concentration was 100% focused on the road and signs. To our amazement and in equal measure joy we made it across the city without any problems – there was a hairy couple of minutes when there were no signs at all following a junction but eventually we were able to confirm we were still on the correct road. Who needs Sat Nav?!?
The rest of the trip was easy and SO different from the UK. Weather wise it was a gorgeous sunny day – more Scottish August than October – the AC had to be on in the car. (Sorry folks but I can’t lie).
We got to Limoges and I lost my French roundabout virginity as we found the D704. Nowadays people can look at Google Earth*/Streetview* and see places across the world which is brilliant. However, it appears that some trees have been cut down since the Google* car went past the turn off for La Ribiere du Nord – so after a quick turn 50 metres up the road – and pulling out onto the correct wrong side of the road we were on the final stretch of the journey. It only being six o’clock the scene was just like on the Googleness* and then we were at La Ribiere. I guessed the right road in avoiding any embarrassing turns in some ones farmyard which may not have been the best first impression and we had arrived.
*Other sites are available however if there are any sponsorship deals available I’ll take offers in foldable denominations.
Jan and Keith heard the car and came out to welcome us and give us a wee tour. La Porcherie did not disappoint actually being bigger than we thought but more on this to follow.
Two other quick updates – Mitzy was delivered by the lovely Liz and we have many, many UK TV channels tho no French that I have found so far. This will not aid our immersion in the language but will mean I can see the Raith Rovers/Queen of the South game next week. (Super massive smiley face).
During our trip down the UK various people were waved in the general direction of as we drove tortuously along, namely Condie’s, Fyfe’s, Grant’s, Motley’s & Mackenzie’s. Thanks folks for giving us something to do. J