Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Friday, April 23, 2010

Was in Brittany last week, no problems travelling home at all

Unlike all the other unlucky people stuck at various holiday destinations around the world, I had absolutely no problem at all getting home last Saturday from a week's holiday in our Brittany Gite.

I went out the preceding Saturday lunchtime with Jack, our youngest, having only booked the ferry at 1am that morning. P&O Ferries was "down for maintenance", SeaFrance wanted to charge me an "on the day booking" rate of £120 for the single outbound journey, EuroTunnel wanted £143, EuroFerries still show no sign of starting service - "no available sailings" (no surprise there), so I ended up on LDLines for just £50 for the outbound crossing.

The LD Lines boat turned out to be the rather elderly Norman Bridge which I have to admit to being underwhelmed by. There was one lounge/bar to sit in, some reclining seats, and a restaurant and that was it. The shop was tichy and was not much more than a counter alongside the restaurant, and whilst we were lucky enough to buy lunch in the restaurant as soon as we sailed, the restaurant then closed shortly into the voyage for the staff to count up the takings! Why they didn't do that when they were in dock, I don't know.

Anyway, a good drive down to the Gite, a great week's holiday although I hardly watched any TV at all. Jack on the other hand was glued to Pop TV all the time apart from meal breaks and when he decided to bravely go swimming in the pool. The pool was recording 16 degrees C on one day he went in, and 14 on another, but I drew the line at that and opted to go with him to Loudeac's AquaTides pool where they have a wave machine, a big pool, an outdoor slide and it was a far more acceptable 28 degrees C water temperature.

We drove back through the night on Friday night and arrived with over an hour to go before the SeaFrance crossing from Calais to Dover - a bargain €28 for the one way trip. Seeing as we were so early we parked up in the queue and I thought I'd just catch a brief sleep before the 7:05 departure time.

Fool !

I forgot to set the alarm clock on my phone and quite by accident woke up with a start to find we were the only car on the dockside. No-one in front, no-one behind, and no-one in any other lane.

My watch said 7:00am. Panic! Started the car, stalled the car, started it again and rapidly drove down to the front where a man waved us onto the boat. I wonder if he'd have come and knocked on the window to wake us up or not, or just left us there to catch the next sailing?

Anyway we were pretty much the last ones on board and the ferry wasn't really at all full. This was the day that the UK newspapers and TV were full of stories of flotillas of boats trying to get the Brit's home, and terrible delays at the ports, but the boat had plenty of room and we saw no signs of any weary travellers that had been stuck on the continent by Volcanic Ash grounding all the flights.

This boat was much nicer and had loads of room but for some reason the restaurants, kids play area and the shop didn't open on the crossing at all. We had a coffee and a drink from the bar and ended up stopping off enroute at McDonalds for a snack on the journey home.

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