As I mentioned towards the end of my last blog we have been planning an exciting trip for some time. This involved travelling back to UK by public transport, meeting up with Helen and Chris Hanley and then crossing the channel to Calais with them on their boat, Vrouwe Olive, when the weather was suitably favourable.
So we bought tickets for trains and the Flixbus and prepared to leave on Friday 6th June. We were ready …… all packed, sandwiches made and were about to leave to catch the train when I checked my emails – only to find that the Flixbus had been cancelled! We tried to find an alternative means of going that day without success. So having rung Chris & Helen we ‘stood down’ and had sandwiches for lunch and tea!! We later learnt that the cancellation was due to tube strikes in London.
We carried on doing some work on the boat for a few days altho the weather was pretty variable so we couldn’t do the painting …… but the upper deck table and chairs now look great!
Chris kept checking the weather forecasts and our trip was rescheduled for Friday 10th June. This time the trip went without a hitch…..
- walk to la gare at Valenciennes(15 mins)
- train from Valenciennes to Lille (40 mins)
- walk round to Flixbus area to await bus
- Flixus to Victria coach station – included getting off at Euro tunnel for french customs – all luggage checked and passports and then again at Uk side for passports to be checked again (about 6 hour trip)
- no 11 bus from Victoria bus station to Liverpool St train station – used our OAPs bus passes for this leg! (45 mins but free)
- train to Ipswich – involved a bit of sweet talking the conductor so that we could go on an earlier train than booked! (1.5 hrs)
- picked up at Ipswich by Helen and taken to their mooring at Pin Mill (30 mins)
- all in all about 12 hours so quite an adventure just in itself!
- on Flixbus we chatted with a lady beside us who works as a tutor for young offenders at a prison near Milton Keynes. Fascinating but very tiring and stressful job. She had gone to stay with her sister in Brussels in order to have a tooth extracted – much quicker and cheaper for her than in UK!
Then we waited for the right weather window and for Chris to complete some jobs on his boat. He planned to cross the channel on Monday.
So we had Saturday free and Helen took us to visit Woodbridge which was very pleasant with harbour and shops.
In the afternoon we walked around Pin Mill. It really is a one off – lots of houseboats in various states of repair – but a real community feel to it. It is a tidal along here so you may go to bed with Vrouwe Olive sitting on the mud and wake to feel her floating. Along the shore there is a real boat’s graveyard!
And, of course , there is an excellent Adnam’s pub on the shoreline serving excellent fish and chips. Dinner sorted.