I am just back after a long journey! We left the Dordogne at 6.00 a.m. UK time, drove in the van to Calais, took the tunnel to Dover, arrived back at Ian's at 7.30p.m (with fish and chips for supper) and then I drove back here! There will be more posts over the next few days regarding the visit but in the meantime I must catch up with my sleep!
The new van was great. It is a brand new medium wheelbase Ford Transit with many features such as air conditioning , IPOD player, cruise control, luxury seats etc that make a long journey bearable. Even I managed to drive it in France much to the horror of the HGV drivers (of various nationalities) on the road! I couldn't quite bring myself to adopt their habit of p*ssing by the side of the road when there is a perfectly decent toilet a few metres away so I guess I could never be a proper lorry driver!
We were worried that we would be held up by Eurotunnel as when we phoned to check the new requirement to have no more than 3 cubic metres in the van we were told emphatically that all vans are checked before being allowed on and the officers were expert at judging the size of the load. We arrived promptly for our crossing, hoping that we had not exceeded our dimensions. The port was quiet and we managed to swap to an earlier shuttle. No one even looked up as we drove the van through and the French customs officer did not even look at our passports. We had a similar experience coming back. On the shuttle our van was next to an even bigger one that was stacked from top to bottom with old furniture (I suspect bought from a French Vide Grenier (car boot sale) to be sold off at a profit in a trendy antique store). We asked the driver and several others who were pretty obviously taking commercial goods across if they had ever been stopped and had their van checked and they all stated that they had never been stopped.
I must say the service on Eurotunnel was back to normal; frequent crossings, no queues, very quiet and all together stress free.