Having finally got our VISAs we headed off really early (5am) on Wed 1st June to catch the ferry at Dover. We had heard of problems at airports and ports because of staff shortages since Covid. There was not much of a queue when we got to Dover so we were, in fact, rather early. At french passport control we had to explain what our 6 month tourist visas were! But we got through even though the car bonnet wouldn’t open for security check and the back of our car was full full full (it always is somehow). Still we were put on the earlier Irish ferry and we didn’t even end up in Dublin!
We usually use the tunnel which takes 35 mins but had decided, for reasons of economy, to use the ferry (1.5 hrs). This obviously confused the sat nav.
But the crossing was delightful. Beautiful weather and a very calm sea. I prefer going by ferry, having our little picnic on board and taking a turn around the deck. Making it part of the adventure and not purely getting there.
So we arrived in Valenciennes earlier than expected and emptied the car – wondering yet again quite why / how we had brought so much stuff! Apart from being filthy Piedaleau was absolutely fine.
As we were setting up to fill the tank with water a lady came along the pontoon and stopped to talk to us. We soon realised we had met each other briefly on the Somme in 2019! Sue and Allan are from New Zealand so they haven’t been on board Suzette since then. She promptly invited us to their boat for ‘bubbles’ a little later. Mike and June, also from New Zealand on Contessa, also joined the get together! We had also met them on the Somme.
Bubbles on Suzette with June, Mike, Sue and Allan
It was just great to meet up with them all and to start as we mean to go on.
They were heading off in a ‘mini kiwi convoy’next morning so we waved them all a fond farewell.
Thursday & Friday were spent organising the boat & deploying the power washer for hours. Sure takes a while to get rid of 8 months worth of grime. We were also booking tickets for early next week (hopefully more about this exciting trip in next blog).
Saturday saw us working away but then we were invited along the pontoon for a BBQ chez Benoit. It was an interesting evening with 2 seasoned boaters (Benoit & Roberto) who are residents here – both living in what can only be described as basic boats. We were right back into french, complete with leg pulling, english and mysogenistic tongue in cheek jibes. Tried very hard to give as good as we got.
Lightning flashes started …. and thunder rumbled …. so we returned to the boat before the deluge came. The boat is well and truly washed now.