Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September will be travel days to get us back within easy driving distance of Calais and the Channel Tunnel. Or, as the French call it; Le Place from which Le Stoopide Brexit people come. (Zoot Allors!) You think I’m joking? They’ve already changed the signs at customs, as follows:
- EU Nationals ➡️
- Roast Beef Eating Foreign types ➡️
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Possibly because I am writing this in the tunnel between Calais and Folkestone.
So, dear reader, let’s go back in time, way way back to Saturday 31st August. We have a cunning plan. It’s a dreadful plan but, at this point it time, we are blissfully unaware of just how uncunning our cunning plan is.
It all starts well, a carefully plotted early morning flit from the campsite. No rations (read: breakfast and a cup of Rosie Lee), bypass the guards (read: ‘the people in the tent next door), avoid the searchlights and crash (read:,’raise‘) the barrier doing 98 (read: ‘quite slowly actually‘). Steve McQueen would’ve been proud (read: ‘ashamed‘).
By 05.30hrs we are on the road and by 06.30 we have negotiated the 4th longest road tunnel in the world.
The Arlberg Tunnel is 16km long. The sun wasn’t quite up when we entered the tunnel but it certainly was when we came out the other end. Weird!
All good so far, but did I mention that the sun came up? That’s where the trouble really began.
It got hot…
I should mention here that Gandalf has no air conditioning. His only concession to hot weather comfort is electric windows. There is also a thermometer inside the cab to rub your nose in the fact that we have no air conditioning.
The thermometer inside Gandalf reads 37.8 degrees C or, for our US readers, 100 degrees F.
“Open the windows!”
I hear you chorus.
This is not as good an idea as you might think. We are traveling on motorways and the noise with the windows when open is horrendous, besides that, any air that does rush by at deafening velocity is akin to that kicked out by your average hairdryer. So we opt for the stifling still heat as opposed to the deafeningly noisy heat.
To add to our woes we had decided to alternate 2 hour driving stints but, for some reason, had not considered any breaks. This was a mistake. It turns out that Mr P does not do well without his morning hot drink and a spot of food. In fact he can get quite grumpy so, when Mrs P misses the turn off the Autobahn adding a whole 15 minutes to the 6-7 hour journey, Mr P in his lack of hot drink, no breakfast and overheated state gets quite unnecessarily fractious.
Mrs P, being the saint that she is ignores him. Best way. He falls asleep.
Several million hours and a couple of driver changes later and the temperature in the van has at no point dropped below 6 billion degrees centigrade (about 42.8 billion degrees F for our US readers). We finally arrive on the outskirts of Verdun with just one simple task left before we can go to the campsite and break free of Gandalf’s searing, suffocatingly oppressive, oven like grip. Time to get fuel.
This is a mistake.
Fill up with fuel and pay. (Miraculous, since most French petrol stations refuse to employ human beings and then refuse to take our good old English bank card.)
Then, horror of horrors, Mr P fails to negotiate a carefully camouflaged bollard and does damage to our home, our friend, the van we all love, our very own Gandalf.
This has the effect of turning Mr Ps already dark mood to inky black.
To précis the rest of the afternoon and evening I will simply say that Mrs P was very patient.
The evening was rescued to some extent by Mrs P taking a very grumpy Mr P out to dinner (Mrs P: “Can you believe it, he even complained about having to eat late!”).
Well, enough of my failings as a loving husband for now. I shall catch up on Sunday and Monday in my next post.
Spoiler alert: Mrs P’s patience is less tested as Mr P cheers up.