Monday, 30 December 2013

The Adventure Begins – Day 1 Boxing Day 2013

We awoke fairly early, the plan was to stay on aires until we got to Spain so the opportunity to take showers in a house was taken advantage of.  We had booked a mid morning ferry so that we would be able to leave in the daylight and also to say our goodbyes.  Also with it being a VERY boring day for dogs we got up and made sure that the smelly one had a run on the beach before breakfast.

The weather for the last few days had been awful and today ………. It was as calm as a millpond. Of course there was another storm due in that evening but for this morning we would have a good crossing – we could not have picked a better day – was this a symbol for our trip to come.

As one of his leaving presents from work, Iain had been given a proper French beret (from the French contingent) along with a load of pictures of his work colleagues wearing it.  We thought this was a fantastic idea and he decided that he would rather like the beret to be a “trade mark” to his travels. I think that as he is no longer a “suit” there might just be a little eccentricity creeping in. So  the beret will go everywhere with us and I will be taking photos to prove it.
Showered and clean we bade our farewells and left for Dover – a short drive.  We had decided to travel flea-bag ferries (myferrylink) because they had the best time for us, although after our last crossing with them we weren’t very impressed.  We didn’t bother to try to brush off any crumbs from the seats in case we disappeared into a cloud of dust again.

Very smooth crossing and lovely sunny day we were soon on our way.  We had decided that we would only take a short drive on the first day – we (or was that I) got it wrong and expected it to be getting dark around 3pm (an hour earlier than in the uk) but of course it was 5pm (an hour later) so we could have gone a lot further on our first day. 

Our first stop was an aire  about 20 miles from Calais. This was just a dump stop as we were desperate.  We’d been away from campsites now for 6 days without any facilities and didn’t dare wait any longer – just in case the aire we were headed for didn’t have any facilities. There just is nowhere in England to dump – it’s about time we got our act together.  Actually we had planned to use the facilities at Cobham services and they charge you £5 just to dump – but that’s the only facility that we have ever seen in the UK.  Anyway as said before the weather was foul and we ran out of time – enough of the necessities, let’s move on.

We then moved on to stay at a very pleasant little town not far (inland) from Etaples called Montreuil.  We were pleasantly surprised.  It was high up and had been a walled town.  Having a walk around we decided to have a look at the ramparts, but Iain is not too good with heights – well actually it’s drops really and our walk around the ramparts was cut very short.  I must admit that I put the dog on a lead and didn’t walk too close to the edge.  There wasn’t even a railing. Evening fell and we retired to Jan for dinner and of course the compulsory bottle of red wine.  There was more rain and the wind picked up again so the storm had come in the evening as forecast, but I don’t mind being blown around when we’re not a the top of a cliff or near any large trees and at least I could sleep without the worry of getting on a ferry in the morning in that weather.

Of course having got it wrong about getting dark early, we also had it wrong about what time it got light. Having wanted to get an early start it didn’t get light until well after 8 am. 

Iain was still keen to do 400 miles a day to get to Spain quickly but I wasn’t.  1.  Iain had hurt his back and so I had to do all the driving. 2.  We have a maximum speed of 65mph (that’s quite fast enough) and 3.  I don’t like driving long distances or spending a long time in the van.

Have I mentioned that I HATE travelling – a strange thing to say I suppose from someone who has just committed to spending the foreseeable future living in a motorhome and travelling around Europe.  But I do HATE travelling.  The only thing I like about travelling is getting there. It doesn’t matter what mode of transport I use, I don’t like getting there, I just like being there.  I’ve flown to the States, South Africa and China and I know it’s worth it in the end but I HATE getting there.

So for me a maximum of 300 miles and 5 hours per day was agreed.  Of course in the days before HRT it would have been only  50 miles driving a day before I would fall asleep.  In fact in the past I was banned from driving the van for over a year because I couldn’t stay awake!!

We had hoped to get to Altea (near Benidorm) by our Wedding anniversary on 29th December and with only 300 miles per day we wouldn’t make it but at least we could be in Spain.

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