A marathon day of driving today, probably the longest single stretch we are going to do in one day. We set off in sunshine from Buckingham and the temperature and weather deteriorated from then on. It was not raining at the coast in the UK but soon started spitting on the other side of the Channel.
We made good time getting down to Folkestone and had enough time for a break and to stick the anti-glare stickers on the car headlights. No idea whether they are on in the right place but the guy behind us on the train was just gaffer-taping his up so we at least had the proper kit!
The train is super smooth and fast but very boring as there is nothing to see and you can't really get out. Dad did manage to get out to go and look for a toilet but six sets of doors later, it was out of order. Must have inherited it from British Rail! It did, however, spit us out straight onto a nearly deserted French motorway where almost all the other vehicles were British.
We pushed on past Boulogne and had our first stop in a
service station with a viewing area for the bay overlooking the Somme. To be honest it could have been anywhere because we couldn't see a thing beyond about 100ft due to the rain and fog. There were some enormous carp in the ponds around the services and plenty of happy ducks. We listened to them qoinking not quacking because they are French ducks. Everyone knows that animals make different sounds in different countries.
We decide to divert off the motorway at Abbeville to get a bit different driving done and to see the coast. This proved difficult because we couldn't actually see the coast even from the centre of Dieppe due to the weather. Back onto the motorway after this as time was ticking along and we needed to get to our hotel in Caen before they gave the room away.
Dad spotted a possible sightseeing opportunity at the Pont de Normandie and, slightly disturbingly, there seemed to be an aire (French services) right in the middle of the estuary. We came down the hill and saw the most spectacular sight of an enormous suspension bridge rising up over the Seine. It is a true feat of engineering
Driving in the train
First time I have driven down a train and it seemed like we drove most of the way through the tunnel before we found the front!
so we stopped off to take some photos despite the rain and managed to get some decent shots. Hope the scale comes across but look it up if not as it is worth seeing.
The Liber-t tag system we installed in the car for automatically doing the tolls was a brilliant success and even allowed us to drive through the toll booths at up to 30km/h in places. It just beeps as you get near the toll booth and opens up the barriers with the charges coming straight off the credit card afterwards. Couldn't get the petrol station to accept my Euro credit card though so not everything succeeded.
After this, we decided to blast straight on to Caen and made good time to arrive just after 6pm local time. A quick stop to check in and dump the bags then we went on to have a well-deserved steak at the Buffalo Grill next door.
We tried a few Skype calls to various people when we got back to the hotel but it kept dropping out. We eventually got through to Carine and the cats who were sunning themselves in Buckingham. Once she had boasted about how
The first kilometre in France
Straight off the train and onto the motorway. Couldn't be simpler.
good the weather was and told us that our hotel looked like a prison, we left her to it and started the blog for the first time on French soil.
Now off to test the bunk beds and explain all of French television to Dad. He is currently trying to guess what the actors are saying in a Harry Potter film and it is much more entertaining than the original. I just wish I could capture some of the pronunciation for the French place names that he comes up with but the phonetics system hasn't yet been invented that could cope. Tom, you'd love it. Having said that, neither of us could work out how to pronounce the place we came across called "Eu". Carine will have to explain this one when we get back.
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