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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Off again...France in February

Off again. February. FEBRUARY!!!! Must be mad.

Obviously, I had severe misgivings. Ice. Snow. Baltic type temperatures. COLD!
We thought of going to see our friends Sue and Dave Pepper who live in the Vendee, but, in the end, sanity fear prevailed and we cautiously planned to mooch around part of Brittany instead. Easy-peasy: Guernsey is only two hours by ferry from St Malo with the one and only Channel Islands ferry service, Condor Ferries.
Ha. Our journey over would take over seven hours, with a five hour change of boat and stop in our sister island of Jersey.

However, there were SEVERAL brilliant things about our eventual departure date, the Saturday of half term.

  1. The weather. What a relief. It was the most beautiful, spring-like, sunny day. The sun blazed from early morning, a welcome change from the previous two days: there had been fog so thick that it was literally a pea souper. Even cycling slowly down the road was an adventure, as familiar landmarks three loomed slowly into existence. Car headlights had done almost nothing to pierce the gloom. And, of course, it was eerie quiet as the fog not only muffled the normal sounds, but the birds fell silent and the planes refused to fly.
  2. Around a thousand air travellers, trying to escape the island for half term – some of them sneaking off early – were unable to leave by air. Fortunately, Condor was able to come to the rescue and so most were able to make if over to the mainland, while others waited – some for days – for space on the next available flight.
  3. Space on the boat! We travelled to Jersey on the new Condor flagship, the Liberation. We’d booked seats in the forward lounge and found, to our delight, that we had been allocated seats on the very front row, with a panoramic view over the bow of the boat. Even if we had been sitting further back, there were so few passengers that most of the prime viewing seats were empty anyway. What a treat.

4. The fourth reason was that Pickle would have a break. She loves being in the motorhome but becomes incredibly impatient once we have started. She begins to whine and whinge at every slowing of the engine, so bends, road junctions and traffic lights are accompanied by a musical doggy song. She doesn’t really get the concept of travelling... and being left in the vehicle while on the ferry completely disgusts her. Our reunion when we come back down to the car deck looks as if we are returning Antarctic explorers.

5. Our enforced stay in Jersey meant that we could catch up with our friends Alan and Clare. They live in a beautiful Jersey manor house, up a narrow road with a manorial stone arched entrance, so we’d arranged to meet them down on the front in St Helier instead. Dual carriageway on both sides and lots of parking by the wide bay. We were early, so we drove the length of the bay first before retracing our steps. (Actually, we decided the first set of parking – which was empty – wasn’t scenic enough but everything else in the middle of the bay was full as it was nearer the cafes, and by that time there was no chance of turning round. One learns.)

And meeting up was so lovely. The Christmas newsletters and cards work, but there is no substitute for a good chat over coffee and chocolate cake. (Gluten-free, of course. Made from kidney beans and almonds. Somewhat dense. #bestwithcreaminmyopinion

All very relaxed and stress-free as we pootled back to the port, edged our way on to the smaller Rapide and set off for St Malo. Off the boat and round the corner to the aire next to the harbour, views of the lovely old town of St Servan opposite.

Settled down for the night. And it was cold. Cold enough for me to wish for slippers in the took Pickle a long time to warm up. She spent most of the time lying in her kennel, gazing mournfully out of the window.

It takes her a while to get back into the actuality of a motorhoming safari.

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