Saturday, 23 May 2009

Crossing The Chanel

This is a post that I started on the first night of our trip while we were staying in the IBIS hotel in place called Alencon. (The 'c' should have a cedilla under it but I can't work out how to do it on blogger!) Supreme tiredness meant I couldn't finish it at the time, so I am trying again tonight now were are home, and will incorporate tales of our return journey as well. I always find traveling interesting even when it is at its worst, as you see such a mixture of people all together in one place, and as we had decided to travel at half term certainly met lots of people! (I must remember next time why we try to avoid half term like the plague!)

So as not to be caught out this time we arrived at the port with what we thought was time to spare only to see traffic jams and queues as we approached Dover! We were 10 minutes late checking in this time through no fault of our own. We had prepared our answer to the question 'what do you have in the van?' carefully and said 'just some insulation and a few tools'. "Insulation" said the lady behind the window, "Well, that's freight isn't it?" I could sense that we had not got our answer quite right and in my impatience I snapped at her. "Freight! No its not freight! We are building a house and it's for our personal use!" My annoyance (and the queues behind us) must have done the trick and she waved us through. We drove to our lane and waited to embark, at which point Ian said, "I really need a pee". Grumpier than ever, I replied, "can't you wait until we are on the ferry? We'll be going on soon"
"No, I really must go!" and with that he got out of the van and sprinted to the terminal buildings. After a few minutes the inevitable happened and I was beckoned forth to drive onto the ferry. I called the man over, "I'm so sorry, my boyfriend has just gone off to the loo"
"Drive the van over there then and wait for him", came the reply. And that was how it happened that the first time I drove the van (a medium wheelbase transit with a fully loaded 16 foot trailer with 2 tons of plasterboard on it) was to manoeuvre it out of our narrow parking lane and turn it round along side a row of park cars! I was not amused but quite impressed that I stayed calm and didn't hit anything!

The boat was packed and the queues for the cafeteria were long. We eventually managed to get in and treated ourselves to a proper breakfast. One thing that we both noticed was that those who were sitting eating bacon, egg, sausage, beans and fried bread were, on the whole of average size, whereas those not eating breakfast but sitting in the lounge having crisps and fizzy drinks were the larger passengers!

Coming back our embarkation was less eventful except Ian went off to the loo again just as the port security came round and asked me to open the van. The man smiled when he saw the leopard print wellies and the dirty washing strewn across the back and decided to investigate no further! As it was supper time we decided to eat in the Langhams Brasserie on the boat; an expensive treat but the respite from fellow passengers justified it in out eyes! The restaurant was busy but we were in a quiet spot with two other couples either side. They were respectable looking but we were a bit shocked to see that they both downed a bottle of wine with dinner. Now as it was a car ferry and they didn't look like foot passengers I was a bit more wary of other drivers as we got off the boat! Interestingly the table of four surfers who looked like they were going to be loud and irritating drank soft drinks!

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