Monday, 27 April 2009

Joys of travelling

After a mad week in France working on the house we are now back and caught up in work before we get a chance to take a breath. It really does feel like I live in parallel existences at times; not sure whether I am in London, the South Coast or France when I wake up!

As usual, our journeys were eventful. We had an early start on Saturday and realised that we were a little tight for time as we approached Dover with minutes to spare before the final check-in time for our crossing. Still, the traffic Gods were on our side and we arrived at the check in with 3 minutes in hand.

"What do you have in the van?" asked the check in girl.

"Tools, plasterboard, plywood.." volunteered Ian

"Do you have any oil based paint? Any aerosols or pressurised containers?"

Ian thought a moment. "I do have a couple of sealed cans of expanding foam filler"

"Well, you can't take them on the boat..let me have a look at them (Ian gets them out of the van)..oh yes, look, they're marked as hazardous and you can't take them on.. I can't take them from you either as they are hazardous..you'll have to go over to.... " (with that my eyes glazed over and I knew we had missed the ferry!)

In the customer services department the man looked perplexed. "Well. I can't really take them off you either"

"What, you mean my sealed, fire-rated tubes of foam filler are so dangerous you can't take them?" said Ian.

"What about a can of hairspray? Can I take that?" I asked "not that I have any anyway".

"Hmmm, hairspray is a bit of a grey area.."

After some smiles and a few more negotiations the four cans of filler were disappeared and we got on the later ferry. I suspect the involvement of health and safety man for this and suspect that we were a little too honest for our own good!

The rest of the journey down was uneventful although very long and we finally arrived at 2.30a.m and went straight to bed!

Coming back we split the journey in two, planning to stop overnight when we dropped off Ian's friend Mike at his house in the Somme. We planned to leave at a civilised time but unfortunately Mike came down with an upset stomach over night and Ian followed on a few hours later, so the trip back was a rather agonizing dash between toilet stops. Sitting between the two of meant that inevitably I came down with the same thing the following morning and thus the journey up to Eurotunnel was more of the same, this time with me being the one suffering!

We did notice two good things. On the way over on P&O ferries (The Pride of Kent) the staff had definitely undergone a make over in terms of enthusiasm and friendliness (and also looked a lot smarter and cleaner than I remember)! Our crossing with Eurotunnel was also pretty effortless with no one asking about our 3 cubic metres of contents.

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