Back In France


The title says it all really. We set off, from Waterlooville, yesterday afternoon. We had plenty of time and stopped off at Maidstone services for a bite to eat before continuing on to the Euro Shuttle. We were approximately an hour early but they transferred us to an earlier train. At no charge!!

As the train was boarding in a few minutes we drove straight round, no duty free shopping.

Arriving at the police checkpoint, the cop closed his window, got up and left. Was it something I said?  I drove forward to the next window where a rather dishevelled guy gave a perfunctory glance at our passports and pointed us to an area where we and three other vehicles were corralled and told to turn off our engines. Just a routine check we were told.
Then a uniformed person, no idea what sex, looking to be about twelve years of age, asked if the vehicle was mine, reached in and wiped the steering wheel and part of the dash.
As far as car valeting goes… well let’s say they missed a lot.
Another uniform, wearing white gloves, passed along the cars, running his hands along door handles and boot release buttons.
This bothered me a bit. Since he didn’t change gloves for each vehicle, what if there was some kind of cross contamination? Would I find myself surrounded, by a gun toting swat team, because of the BMW driving drug smuggler in front?
I needn’t have worried. A few minutes later the barrier was lifted, by the sexless twelve-year-old uniform, and we were on our way again. Well, on our way to the French passport control. They gave our passports even less of a glimpse than their English counterpart and we were ushered through. The waiting area was empty, so we literally drove straight thru and were ushered onto the shuttle.
Boarding the shuttle always elicits the same comment as you drive along inside the metallic tube, “Are we driving all the way to France?”
This time there was an additional comment, contributed by the satnag, which having lost contact with all satellites, sagely advised that “there was still a three minute delay on our route” and “that we were still on the fastest route to our destination”. No shit sherlock!!
A few minutes later and the train pulled out.  Bye bye England.
Arriving in France, we were soon driving off the shuttle and, on this occasion, heading into Calais.
Well that was our plan. The satnag had another. We, being strangers in a strange land, followed instructions blindly. And found ourselves, on exiting a roundabout,  heading back in shuttle world and heading back to the UK.  Or so the signs seemed to indicate.
Anyway, we spotted a sign “Sortie / Exit” and we were quickly back in the outside world, following another Brit. Their satnag must have been having a similar hissy fit. Good old TomTom.
Momentarily, Gerry and I broke into song, “I was lost in France”
The satnag, for a few minutes decided we had gone off piste but did eventually catch up with reality and guided us the five miles or so to our hotel for the night.
The Hotel de la Plage is exactly what it says it is. The hotel on the beach. We were given a room with a sea view. Far superior to that famous hotel room in Fawlty Towers, but still no herds of wildebeest. But in many ways just as worn and tired.
Did I mention the weather? Calais is currently being battered by gale force winds, blasting in off La Manche, the “English Channel”.
And that is why, at 04:52, I am posting this. The wind is howling like an express train, the windows are covered with salt spray and I can’t sleep.

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