Stressed much? Now relaxing in Dunkirk.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

On Monday evening I cycled to say goodbye to my family. On returning to the van I discovered I’d lost my keys. As Lisa and the kids instituted a search of the house, I retraced my route as darkness fell, arriving at the house empty handed and finding them similarly keyless. It was now dark, but I could only trust physics and the conservation of matter and retrace my return route. After all, the keys had to be somewhere. Reliant on street lights and those on my bike, amazingly I spotted my keys lying at a junction. All the scenarios of disaster mitigation evaporated. I do have a spare set stashed, but I did not want to be touring without backup.

Back on schedule, on Tuesday I traveled the 200 miles to overnight at a site near Denham, about 2 hours from Dover. When I parked up, a smell of rubber drew my attention to the new tyre I’d had Kwik Fit install two weeks earlier. It looked somewhat deflated, as was I when I checked the pressure – it was half what it should have been.

This morning, instead of the relaxed start I’d planned, I spent an hour calling eight Kwik Fits between Denham and Dover to find one with a replacement tyre, should I need it, and the physical height or time to fit me in. A long and frustrating story later, a diversion to Canterbury sorted the problem, replacing a leaking valve. It was an anxious time; the ferry was not going to wait.

These events reminded me that as Lisa and I were on our way to the Hull ferry last year, we stopped on pick up a part from a hardware store. The driver of the car we had parked behind, who had all the world’s roads in front of him, decided to reverse at speed and hit the van. I got out expecting to see a smashed grill, a leaking radiator and a cancelled trip, to find barely a scratch. Go figure. Perhaps there is an Oatey law that states that before any time critical travel there will be challenges that threaten all my good planning, just to keep me on my toes!

Having made the ferry, the only motorhome, I sat with a growing excitement as we slid through the thin sea mist over the flat calm.

Then France, sunlit by evening sun, grew on the horizon. As Big Al’s wheels hit the dock I had a big grin, and when I dropped onto the road to Dunkirk I had to let out a whoop! I’d had a great seven months with friends and family in the UK, but felt I was picking up where I’d left off on the last tour. Driving on the right felt perfectly natural and there was the buzz of being in another new country.

I’m parked up at Bray-Dunes up the coast from Dunkirk. It’s a holiday town out of season, which is the best time.

It’s a bit of a ‘pin in the map’ destination but that’s how I roll! I’ll get my bearings over the next couple of days but, I must say, while I think of and miss everyone back in the UK, I feel very much at home.

This has been a bit of a ‘housekeeping’ update but, as your European Ambassador, I shall try and provide an entertaining and informative blog going forward. Bonne nuit!

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