Saturday, 30 June 2007

28th June


Arrival 54800 km.

Approaching Calais, I made attempts to get into a huge 'Carrefour' hypermarket in order to get fuel, booze and fags. There were 2 metre height barriers at every entrance to the car parks though, so I guess that they didn't want business from motorhome or caravan owners! As I left to try to find somewhere else, I got stuck behind an articulated lorry, the driver having lost his way off the beaten track, and was heading down a narrow road into a residential area. The driver tried to turn the lorry around at a mini roundabout, and more or less succeeded, only big fat Hermione was sitting at the entrance to the roundabout as he came back around! With a line of cars behind me, there wasn't a lot that I could do other than inch my way forward closer to the kerb and the railings, then reverse back a bit. Eventually, after much to-ing and fro-ing, he managed to squeeze the lorry trailer through the gap and we were clear, but with long traffic jams in both directions. I decided to just head for the camperstop area and do my shopping in town by bike.

The 'Aire de Stationment' at Calais is fairly large and just across from the navigation channel where the P & O car ferries from Dover come in to dock. It probably holds around 50 motorhomes or so and cost was 7 euro to park up for 24 hours. Stay longer than that and they will charge 13 euro a night, presumably to discourage people from using it like a campsite. I took the bike off the back and cycled in towards 'Centre Ville', past 'La Mairie' (town hall) and into the shopping area, where I found a Tabac to buy the cigarettes and packed them into my rucksack. Returning to the van, I ditched the rucky and 'de-hoodied' as it was a bit warm for cycling in, then returned again to the centre for a decent look around.

Calais, I'm afraid, wasn't very impressive. I soon got bored of the streets away from the town centre and it seemed to have more than it's fair share of 'wee ned types' with skinheads and sports gear, reminding me too much of home. Saltcoats was the vision that I had in fact. Scumsville-On-Sea. So, I headed back to Hermione and had some lunch with the French bread I'd bought, and relaxed for a bit. By 9pm I'd had enough; was bored and just wanted to be moving, so I thought I may as well chance my arm at the Eurotunnel terminal and see if I could maybe get an earlier train than the one that I was booked on at 6.50 the next morning.

As luck would have, when I arrived at the automatic check in, I was given the option of catching the 22.50 train that night at no extra charge, so I decided to go for that one instead. I actually ended up catching the slightly earlier train, as it was quiet, and we were off and moving by 10pm. Half an hour later (or earlier, since the clocks went back and we arrived in Folkestone at 9.30!) we had arrived.
The tunnel was fast, smooth and efficient; a really good quick way to get across the channel.

sitting behind the motorhome in front of me in the Eurotunnel train....

The next part of the journey was going to be long. The trip from Dover to Pembroke Dock in South Wales was 500km. The one plus point was that travelling through the night, there wasn't much traffic on the motorways. I stopped for one pee break and then one fuel stop where I stuck in £15 as diesel is very expensive in the U.K., as I wasn't going to have enough fuel to quite make it to Pembroke. I finally arrived at 4.10am at Pembroke, the rain having lashed down for the final 200km of the journey, and a fair old gusty crossing of the Severn Bridge. I parked up on the pavement at the Docks only to discover that the skylight above the bed in the back had blown open, and the duvet was half soaked! Grrrr.....
I set the alarm for 7am and settled down for a few hours kip, before moving the van in the daylight to a better parking spot.

At 7, i drove away from the Docks as things were starting to come alive, and I didn't want to be moved on, but I soon found a good parking spot down by the yacht haven in a car park and got about another 4 hours sleep there before getting some breakfast and showering. I headed back to the ferry terminal and once the booking office had opened at midday, I managed to get my booking changed to the 14.30 that afternoon, so I'll be home 12 hours earlier than expected and will give me a full day to recover.

So, journey just about over. Only the hop from Rosslare to home to go.

waiting on the Ferry to Rosslare

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