In French France …

Two glorious weeks in France – rather a lot of it driving though it has to be said.  It was our first venture, with our new caravan and dogs, overseas.  We prepared with great care and set off nervously, pet passports at the ready and high hopes for a bit of sunshine.  We made good time travelling to Dover (yep, first mistake).  We wanted to visit Paris and decided the journey from Calais to the city was a shorter and more practical route to take.  Wrong!  Anyway back to the drive to Dover, which went well until the M25 (can you feel me shuddering?).  Three hours, I repeat three hours, we sat in a standstill traffic jam, but still with high hopes we pulled into our overnight stop at Ashford at 9 p.m.  It was a small site and served our purpose well being only half an hour from the ferry.

The next morning we had a new experience – the ferry dock!  We hadn’t a clue where we should go, what we should do and whether we were a car, a motorhome, a lorry or a coach, (clearly we weren’t any of those things), but every time we hesitated some kind person would wave us on into the correct place and Bob nearly fell out of the car window when the man in the booth greeted us as Mr. & Mrs. Etherington, with your two dogs … just by sticking our registration number into his computer.  Formalities were few on the outward trip – no passports for us or the dogs and no tickets, but a label to hang off our rear view mirror.  Aren’t we naiive?  Anyway trip went well and I took the first right hand driving experience when we reached Calais.

The journey to Paris was pretty uneventful, although when exhausted the last bit around the outskirts to our campsite seemed to last for ever.  Also at the last minute we missed the turning to our site and ended up in the next village, where there was a summer fayre happening.  We drove by the green bedecked with tents and bunting where we could smell barbecue and hear live music.  Realizing our mistake I had to reverse our 20ft caravan into a wide drive and turn around.  When we got back to the village green they had closed the road, but friendly locals moved the barriers and waved us through.  I thanked them and explained we were lost in broken french.  They gave us directions and eventually we arrived – only for Bob to try out his reverse polarity plug and blow our mains supply.  Much embarrassment and more practice for my schoolgirl french as we dragged the site supervisor out at 10 p.m. to reconnect us.  We fell into bed much relieved to know that we were staying for three nights so not too much driving over the next two days.  Really?  Well no …

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