We’re going Home
So, as usual the Gulls have had us awake since around 04.30. We still try to catch another hours sleep but it’s almost impossible…… as soon as the first rays of sun appear in the sky they squeal and screech, circling around the sky outside our window. The 3 youngsters are still trying to laze about and not fend for themselves but they are all flying now… they are still squawking for their Mother like spoiled brats.
The Mr, who is usually very sympathetic to wildlife is now wishing he had a gun! He is only joking of course but the lack of sleep is getting to us both! We stayed in Brixham recently and I’m sure we didn’t have so much Gull trouble…… oh well we’re up now so we may as well get on with it.
So after paying the bill, handing in the keys and trundling down in the tiny lift with our bags, we are once again on board our trusty Cilla for the homeward leg of our adventure.
Sally Sat Nav says 12 miles and 22 minutes to the Car Ferry, should be a breeze. It was. .. Until 5 miles out when there was a diversion. Thanks to the Gulls, we had left earlier than planned and have time to spare because this looks confusing! We followed all the other vehicles who were also following the diversion signs for about 2 miles. Sally Sat Nav was saying “make a ‘U’ turn! ……where?! So we went all the way around a roundabout and sure enough, good old Sally redirected us toward the car ferry.
We went through French Border Control, produced our passports, then further on they stopped every car and opened the boot. A bit further on we went through British Passport Control all ok, then we were stopped a second time and asked to open the boot. The security is much tighter than when we have travelled before. This is a good thing and we don’t mind the waiting, better safe than sorry but some people become very frustrated by all the stops.
At last, Cilla is in line 30 and we can sit and wait to board. There is a bit of confusion as boarding started surprisingly early and some people hadn’t returned to their cars. This caused a slight hold up but a after about 15 minutes we were all packed like Sardines on Deck 5. We clock our position so we know where to return to. “Red stairs, Deck 5b, come down the stairs and turn left” …… now we get up the stairs as quickly as possible to grab a window seat and the Mr is almost first in the breakfast queue! ….. Result! Full English and now we are set up for the long drive from Dover to home. Mind you in comparison to some of our long trips on this adventure, 250 or so miles should be easy and we will be driving on the right side of the road!
The driving is tiring but well worth it as you get to experience things you would otherwise miss, like the Belgian Petrol Station, where you have to go in and pay (even though you don’t yet know how much you will need). So for instance, you go in and give them €40, then you fill up and if it’s only €33 you go back in again for your change? Seems odd but I bet no one drives away without paying….the pump doesn’t work until you go in and pay or your card is authorised. I just wish they would explain this to us before we have spent 10 minutes trying to work out why the pump isn’t working!
Anyway, on the Ferry, breakfast finished I go and look at the Duty Free. Bargains are hard to find these days as you can buy most things cheaper in our supermarkets. I had a bottle of perfume reduced and also, Bombardier Sapphire Gin and a bottle of Prosecco Ice which I’ve never seen before and for £4.99 I thought I’d give it a go! Just hope it isn’t like vinegar!
Finally after around an hour and a half, the White Cliffs of Dover appear on the horizon…. I always think about how the soldiers must have felt, coming back from the trenches, it must have been such a welcome sight after the horror and devastation of war and they would be thinking of their families and those who didn’t make it home. It makes me feel so emotional…..
We left the Port at 11.20, so Sally Sat Nav says ETA at home is 15.05. It’s 250 miles or so and this is obviously dependant on being able to travel at the national speed limit the entire time …… you must be kidding! The Mr was driving the first stint and after 100 miles we decided to stop for a coffee and a bathroom stop. We don’t want to push it, we have hardly slept for 3 days and travelling is always tiring so we will take our time. I have done a fair bit of driving this holiday but the Mr is a bit of a car hog and will only allow me to drive the car (my car incidentally) when he is absolutely knackered! So now we are back in the UK I have reclaimed my car and I am determined to drive the Lion’s share of the journey home today. So when we stopped I said “my turn”… amazingly he agreed immediately, “he’s more tired than I thought”(I said under my breath).
So, with 155 miles to go to home, we set off back into the queue of traffic on the M25. We should have been home by 17.00 at the latest and I want to call in and surprise my Mother.
BBC Radio 2 traffic warnings were not sounding good for our route. We heard reports of a Hay lorry on fire, an accident further on with 2 lanes closed. So we turned the music up on Steve Wrights Big show and sang along with the music…. loudly! No good getting crotchety about it, we are on our way home and the people who are involved in the accidents are far worse off than us.
Stop-start-stop-start….. Oh… after 2 hours it was still no better. Occasionally we got up to 40mph but then before long it was at a standstill again. Sally Sat Nav was trying to re-route us via Southampton and Basingstoke but I was having none of it, we stayed on the M4. Then we heard that there was another huge queue between Chippenham and Bath…. they weren’t exaggerating it went on and on and on. My Daughter and Son in law are travelling to my Son’s today, so they are on the M4 too, going down to Portsmouth. We text them to say we were stuck in traffic. They told us they were just passing Bath and the queues on our side of the M4 went on for miles. BUGGER! That’s all we need. About 10 minutes later, we spotted them on the other side and we both blew our horns as they hurtled by and we just sat there in the queue! Seems ridiculous that we are both on the same motorway!
At 17.00 we were still plodding along at a ridiculously slow speed and we had text Simon Mayo to see if we could get a mention on his Drive Time request show. More loud singing and listening to the requests. As we were singing and playing the drums on the steering wheel… so other cars went by doing the same thing and smiling at us. Funny how you share brief moments with people you don’t know in these situations! We never did get a mention from Simon!
Finally, just past Bristol the sign said ‘END’…… We still only managed 40mph but at least we were moving at last…… the next queue was for the Bridge and then it was pretty plain sailing all the way to Mams. We finally arrived at her house at 19.25… it took five and a half hours to travel 155 miles and I did it without a bathroom stop.. Not bad for a Granny…….
So after catching up with Mother, shopping for basics as we have no food or milk etc… We finally arrived home at 20.30…. Phew what a day!
We are now sat on the patio, with a log fire, relaxing….. Home sweet home!
To summarise the holiday would be difficult but I’ll try…
2,396 miles in 22 days….. 8 hotels, some good, some bad….. 13 languages or dialects we tried to deal with but not very well…… 6 Tram journeys…. 6 Castles…. High Alpine roads….. Funicular Railways….. Almost €400 in fuel….. €247 in parking fees …..The Lipizzaner Horses…… Hop on, hop off buses….. Over 22 days the average we walked was 7 miles per day … total 154 miles.
We ate Greek, Indian, German, Italian, Chinese, Austrian and traditional food in 4 countries and as we passed through the Netherlands we actually travelled through 5 countries.
Spatzle. .. Sachertorte. ..Strudel…. Kren… Pumpkin seed oil or Kernol…. Salami…. Bratwurst….. Spinach dumplings…..Omelette. … Crevettes. ….Continental breakfasts…..
Snow…Rain….Wind….Heat….Sunburn…..Mozzie-bites….Hay-fever….Jippy Stomach and glorious sunsets.
Seagulls… thunderstorms….traffic jams… Road works… oh I could go on and on…. all in all, it was absolutely amazing and me and the Mr didn’t have a cross word, even when he wanted to shoot Gary the Gull!
This is Granny ranting for the last time this holiday, thanks for taking time out to read…. bye for now xx 😉