Week 355

11th October, 2015

The day has broken under a soft, blue sky with hazy sun. The temperature is only 12C/54F but it doesn’t feel cold. I’m still in short sleeved shirts and the duvet is still too warm.

After orange juice and tea with the political knockabout of the Andrew Marr programme, we began to pack for France. Next we will be having the car cleaned and doing our oil and tyre check. We’re leaving for the Tunnel at 8.00 am tomorrow.

The Sunday papers aren’t grabbing me today. Most articles are re-runs of last week’s stories. The most pressing headlines are the strength of the ‘Out’ campaign to persuade the British people to vote to leave Europe and the effect the migrant crisis is having on that argument and the massive – £2 Billion – overspend by the NHS in the first six months of the financial year which may well lead to serious rationing of treatments, drugs and operations. Of course, these two stories are effectively combined in the argument that immigration and Health Tourism are prime causes of stress on NHS services.

12th October, 2015

The morning was still dark when we got up at 6.00 am and light was only in its early stages of the sky as we left at 7.00 am. We left early in anticipation of heavy, rush hour traffic on the M25 but it didn’t materialise. We arrived early, were offered an earlier crossing which we accepted but were immediately told that there was a ‘two hour delay because of migrant activity on the French arrival platform. Coffee and iPad newspapers saw us through an hour and then we were called to drive on to the train.

The day by now was blue sky, strong sun and Autumn warmth. Adding an hour to our watches, we were driving off in Coquelles at 12.30 pm. By 1.00 pm, we were in our hotel Suite with a cup of coffee. In the afternoon, we drove down to Auchan hypermarket to buy some bottles of wine and delicatessen snacks for our meal. We have found that to be the best way to control the proportion and content of our meal. If you’ve ever tried eating out in France, you will know how difficult it is to control a diet. This way, we can.

13th October, 2015

A bright and sunny day but undercut by a sharp edged breeze that brings thoughts of winter into autumn. After breakfast, we drove out along the coast road through Sangatte, Wissant and Wimereaux, stopping just short of Boulogne sur Mer. The strong sun lit the sweeping agricultural lands edging the sea shore and the wind driven waves, highlighting and defining the contours with colours and shadows.


Driving back in the early afternoon, we visited Cite Europe where we bought things for our meal – crevettes, prawns, celeriac remoulade, tomatoes and cucumber. We also researched kitchen products for our new home in Sussex. As we were driving back, Pauline took a call from the hotel to say someone had handed in my necklace. Before you express amazement, I’m not accustomed to wearing jewellery but this is a medical ‘aid’. I take warfarin which is an anticoagulant – a treatment for my condition of Atrial Fibrillation – which means any serious cut could lead to my bleeding to death. I had a necklace message made so, in case of a serious car accident, emergency services would know how to treat me. It had obviously fallen out inthe hotel car park and was handed in. It is inscribed with Pauline’s mobile number which was how they contacted us.

14th October, 2015

Quite a cold morning. Actually, the temperature was nominally 11C/52F but felt much more raw in a sharp edged breeze. After breakfast and the newspapers, we drove down to the beach at Sangatte and walked along the coastal fringe towards Calais.


It certainly blew any sense of comfort out of us as we walked towards what looked like rain clouds over the port. What looked like rain clouds suddenly started to deliver over our heads and we ran faster back down the coastal path than I’ve run for a few years. It did me good. Must do more of it. We drove back for coffee and  watched PMQs on BBC2 which we can still get here. Later we drove out to Cite Europe and Pauline did a bit of ‘clothes shopping’. We also filled up with petrol at £0.98/€1.33 a litre. This is considerably better than UK but rather a long way to come to fill up!

15th October, 2015

A cold day that never got above 9C/48F and felt really raw in the morning. We drove out towards Calais market but immediately found the motorway blocked by queues of parked lorries in a ‘stack’ and slip roads on to the motorway blocked by police. Twitter feed reported ‘migrant trouble’ and delays in the tunnel. Fortunately, our sat.nav. allows us to program it to avoid motorways and we meandered through the suburbs and back streets to the town. As you can see from the Town Hall shot, it was distinctly cold and grey.


Later, we went to the wine store to stock up with Phyllis’ favourite Sauvignon Blanc and then on to Auchan for shell fish for this evening’s snack. The evening closed with long, low rays of sun across the hotel lawns out on to which small, brown rabbits emerged from from the shrubbery to enjoy a rich grass Dinner before hunkering down for a chilly night.

Today would have been my Dad’s 100th birthday.


He only missed it by 51 years. What a loss of life and experiences to him and to Mum who spent many lonely years without him. Dad had quite a Victorian upbringing and outlook on life. I wonder if he would ever have embraced the digital age.

16th October, 2015

Tired this morning as we got up for breakfast. We return to Surrey today and, as yet, there is no migrant trouble at the tunnel. Spoke too soon. We checked out of our hotel after breakfast and bought some fish for our meal  tonight from Auchan en route to the tunnel where we were told that there had been a migrant problem early this morning although things were getting back to normal. To be honest, we saw less evidence of illegal migrants around the area than we have for a number of years. What was obvious was the amount of new, security fencing going up.

fence1 fence2

Even so, we managed to get on to an earlier train than we’d booked and we settled down to coffee and our iPad newspapers to wait for departure.

Back in Surrey by mid-afternoon, we spent the afternoon planning our next trip. We leave on Sunday for a flying visit to Yorkshire. Often, we indulge ourselves with an extended stay but we just don’t have the time this Autumn. It is timed to coincide with the anniversary of Pauline’s Mum’s death. We always mark that by visiting the crematorium and reading her entry in the book. We will also visit my Mum’s grave in Repton. Neither of us believe in god or life-after-death but we use these anniversaries to focus our thoughts, however fleetingly, on their lives and contributions to ours.

17th October, 2015

We are hurtling down the month of October and, yesterday, I received a reminder that I am also hurtling down the years from a ‘Friend in the North’ and a photo of 1973/4. I hardly recognised this hairy monster myself.


The sweet age of 23! Where did those achingly gauche days go? Maybe we will rediscover them one day soon.

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