Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Are we really going home?

Well on our way home now, just two nights on aires and then a night in Hampshire visiting Iain’s daughter.
Decided to stay at an aire the Calais side of Rouen so programmed  the sat nag (with co-ordinates given to me by Mr Always Right) and headed off.

He was driving for a change so I was navigating.  I wasn’t happy about the route that the sat nag was taking us so I kept questioning where this aire was.  With very little help from the driver and not having my notebook or the aires book handy and Rouen looming I made an executive decision to head through Rouen towards Calais and worry about it when we got out the other side – fantastic decision though I say so myself.
Had a fun time driving through Rouen – doesn’t everyone – especially as the main road bridge across the river was closed so EVERYONE had to drive through the city centre.  It took ages and we started getting fraught about where exactly we were going.

Note here – not easy to get through Rouen when the signs say – “for Calais follow Boulogne” then you have a sign that says Calais left and Boulogne right.  Now when you are driving a 7+ tonne truck you have to plan ahead when you want to change lane, however a bit of bullying goes a long way – not many people argue with you.

Poor Iain, one of the few times he was driving. As soon as we were through Rouen we pulled over into a motorway aire and Iain rolled a cigarette – a proper one, not like the prison issue ones I’d been rolling along the route to help with his stress.  One was so bad that the filter fell out one end and the other end didn’t have any ‘baccy in it.  Rolling cigarettes is a practice for FT. Personally I gave up (again) at Christmas last so I’m a bit smug and tend to rub it in a bit about the need to smoke. Time to relax and calm down before moving on.

Now we  found that we were about 20 miles north of the aire that we had been heading for – and actually (not that I wanted to be smug about that, but I was really glad that it wasn’t my fault) and had I not overruled the sat nag we would have been miles away from where we wanted to be.   Settled on an aire about 20 miles further on in a village at Mesniere-en-Bray. Turned out it was a bit of a community centre in the village.  Dump facilities only but nice spot and FREE.  Only one other van around, shop and bar close by. Crib update 5/4 down.

Following morning left fairly early for and aire just south of LeTouquet – another freebie – what a result, park up on the side road by the sand dunes at the end of a (closed) campsite.  Not a bad spot, close to the beach  and probably very busy during the season.  With 40 miles to drive the next day for a morning ferry, we remembered to do our shopping before the day of our ferry as we’d had some very bad experiences in past trips of rushing to find a supermarket in Calais to buy our extensive stock of cheap wine to return to the uk with. One year we even ended up buying at the tunnel and paying their prices. Only bought 35 litres of wine as we would be returning………. Very soon hopefully.

Before bed it was time for a last game of crib – time to get even or lose miserably.  I’d gone from 1/0 down to 3/1 up now it was 5/4  down – that was a good run for Iain.  Time to save face or face defeat.  Yes EVEN’s and no time  for a re-match – final score 5 all. Not that I’m competitive at all!!!!
Early night (no telly for 3 weeks) and got up really early and left for Calais.

It’s the first time I’ve driven Jan in the dark and that was scary (that  seems to be my favourite word for driving, doesn’t matter who’se doing it) to say the least.  It was really difficult to see the kerb to the near-side and if I had to do that often I would want lights underneath the van to be able to see.  Yes I was driving again as Iain doesn’t like driving in the dark (no he’s not a woose, he’s been having some surgery on one eye and it’s difficult so see in the dark).  Luckily at 4 am there wasn’t much on the roads which was lucky, especially as I seemed to be driving on both sides at the same time. Ok when we got to the paeage though.
Totally uneventful crossing except that the seats on the ferry were absolutely filthy – not that we were very clean – two nights on aires we hadn’t bothered very much – but I mean they were filthy.  We attempted to brush off a few crumbs and if you banged your hand on the seat, once the cloud settled it left a dusty mark around where your hand was.  Disgusting.   So we decided to sit on the plastic seats.  Think I might write to customer services about that.

Drove up to Hampshire where we got a freebie night in a pub called The Three Horseshoes in Alton.  For those who like a freebie, they allow you to park your motorhome overnight as long as you eat with them.  The food is excellent and very good value for money.  Look them up if you wish but always let them know you are coming and book at table.  There were three vans in that night and all were pretty big ones.  Not much more space left. Desperate for a shower (had to be clean to go out for dinner, not to mention meeting up with Iain’s daughter and partner) used the facilities in the van and then very extravagantly of me, turned on the generator – just so that I could dry my hair – how wasteful is that?!!!! I was as quick as I could be.

In the morning I was chatting to the dog (as you do) and I said “Well Connie, we’re off home today” and suddenly realisation hit me............  

This might well be the LAST time we will be “Going Home”  – in just a few short weeks Jan WILL BE HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just a couple of quick pics of the smelly one - she likes a sunny spot - but what's all this stuff on the settee taking up her space?

She's becoming quite an expert at sleeping now that she's getting to be an old lady. Her bed fits rather nicely between the cab seats - but she sleeps in her travel kennel when we are driving along.

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