February 5th 2019
We had a need to visit our French house as due to multi reasons, commitments etc we hadn’t paid a visit since the end of September last year.
We had a two week time slot starting yesterday so booked a break away travelling in the car and not Homer as the 540 mile trip each way takes a while when you leisurely motorhoming. All seemed well, Michelle, Matt and myself along with Layla were booked into a pet friendly cabin aboard the Brittany Ferries “Etretat” sailing late yesterday evening. Then we received a message to say the French dockers were on strike at Le Havre and we needed to transfer to the Amorique sailing to Caen, no dog friendly cabins so Layla would have to sleep overnight in the car, as there was no other choice we had to agree to it.
We set off for Portsmouth with plenty of time to spare and took a route through the Cotswolds to Oxford, bad idea, the road past Broadway was closed, no clear diversion signs so I took to the country lanes and eventually emerged past the closure and then made good time down to the A34 round Oxford where we joined a 5 mile queue caused by a large lorry that had burst its tyre and blocked one lane. Eventually we cleared the hold up and spent the rest of the journey driving in and out of thick fog, my eyes were on stalks by the time we arrived in Portsmouth.
Here we were chosen by customs to have the car checked which on this occasion consisted of looking under the bonnet and using a mirror under the car, the lady actually smiled when I asked if my exhaust was in good condition, they don’t normally appreciate humour. We went more or less straight on board the ferry which has a large capacity, bars, restaurants, cafes, shops etc but was eerily quiet with very few passengers. After a quick drink we had an early night.
Thankfully Layla seemed non the worst for her experience and we rolled off the ferry at 7 am French time and although we hit the rush hour we made good time out of the built up areas and onto the motorway, it was very grey with a fine drizzle now and again but the roads were quiet and even though there were many lane closures for road works we weren’t held up and cruised along where legal at 130km per hour.
Slowly the temperature rose from 2 degrees to 9 degrees and the grey lifted and there was a hint of sunshine, when we arrived at Angouleme we found the road south we take was closed and again surprise no obvious diversion signs, thankfully I had an idea of how to proceed and a short while later we were on a good parallel A road heading south with very little traffic making up for the longer distance. Then 10 miles north of our town the road was closed for repairs !! if I swore there would have been lots of ***** ******* ******** words, thankfully again local knowledge came to the good and I took to the narrow country lanes and succeeded in getting here only about 30 minutes later than I thought.
Everything at the house was in fine order which was good considering the time we’ve been away and within 30 minutes we had 3 log fires roaring away and the car unpacked. Whilst Michelle made the beds Matt and I took a quick trip to Intermarche and filled the trolley with beer, wine and a little food, now at 8 pm we are toasting our toes in front of the fire Layla curled up next to us with drinks beckoning.
So not the smoothest of journeys, but not disastrous, thankfully years of experience help us to overcome the hiccups thrown at us and we look forward to our time here.