A Life in the Slow Lane

The end of the road

We woke up in our lovely quiet aire in Gravlines knowing today was essentially the last day of our trip. I had fantasised about a final day croissant fest and so trotted off into the pretty walled town.

Often in France Monday is closing day for boulangeries, but usually there is one open in each town. I don’t whether they rotate Monday opening or one baker is always the one which sacrifices his Monday off, but usually the French are not left without bread. It caused a revolution once, so this is important stuff.

Google maps showed three bakers in the town, but a trudge round Gravelines confirmed that this town is the exception that makes the rule: they were all shut. Not to be defeated I spied a Spar and nabbed their last three croissant (not France’s finest) and a couple of baguettes and beat a hasty retreat to Basil for breakfast.

Not much later an English man knocked on Basil’s door and explained he and his wift had just picked up a kitten which had been run over on the motorway, but somehow seemed to have used one of its seven lives as it appeared to be unhurt. He was looking for suggestions as to what to do with it. I got out my vet database and gave him the address of a vet in Gravelines.

As we were talking another English couple, who were parked next to us on the aire, joined in the conversation and so we had a chat with them while the cat man disappeared to find the vet. Before long he was back saying the vet had moved but he had the new number, which he had called and they had agreed to look after the kitten and find it a new home. Someone had done their good deed for the day.

We bade farewell to our compatriots and pointed Basil in the direction of Majestic wine merchants near Calais. I usually buy my wine at home from Majestic, so I am familiar with its range. Basil is already creaking under the weight of wine picked up in France, but Sarah re-arranged things so I was able to squeeze in 36 bottles of her and my favourites.

It was then just a short hop to the Eurotunnel terminal, where we arrived an hour early in the hope of getting an earlier train. We were not in luck, we were stuck with our original time. The dogs had to go through their own separate passport control, which Sarah took them into. All that happens is that an official scans their chip and then checks their passport to ensure all their vaccinations are up to date.

While Sarah was in the doggy passport building a Range Rover pulled up and out got what I would guess was a farmer’s wife. She opened the Range Rover’s boot and out jumped two black labradors, without leads and they obediently followed her into the passport buildings. Why can’t our two be so obedient?

The tunnel was as usual highly efficient although we were surprised, given the current security situation, nobody searched Basil. The tunnel spat us out into a drizzly grey Kent and it took all my concentration to stay on the left hand lane for the fifty miles to our Caravan Club site at Battle. We will be staying here for three days to see Sarah’s sister before we make our way home.

Tonight we are booked into the local pub to ensure we feel well and truly back on British soil.

This will be the last of the posts from this trip. I had considered ending the blog completely, but Sarah and I both agree that it is a great record of our trip and it appears other people enjoy reading it. So I will post if anything of motorhoming interest occurs before our next trip and my current intention is to record our next adventure, which I anticipate being to Spain and Portugal next spring. If people continue enjoying to read it, that’s great, if not it will still be a lovely record for us to look back on in our dotage, which I hope is many many years in the future.

18 thoughts on “The end of the road

  1. nsphillips

    Please keep blogging!!! Have so enjoyed reading them and look forward to your next trip. Because of you we have planned a trip to Norway next year but first we are going back to Switzerland to take a train journey that we chickened out of this year!

    1. Tim Higham

      I was in two minds about carrying on blogging, but I’ve enjoyed writing it and built up a loyal readership, so I will continue whenever we do a long trip in Basil. Enjoy Switzerland and I’m sure you will love Norway. It is a motorhoming dream, but expensive. Having said that, we actually spent about the same in Norway as elsewhere because there is so much free camping and we did not eat out!

      Tim and Sarah

  2. Jayne Parkinson Prev Jones

    Will miss the daily blog Tim! It’s usually waiting for me when I get home from work……you remember what this is?! I unwind with a cuppa and see what you’ve been up to and the things you’ve seen. Have really enjoyed it! Very envious!

    1. Tim Higham

      I’m really pleased you enjoyed it Jayne. It’s been a great experience. The only thing we’ve missed about work are the people. I hope you keep reading when we set off next spring to, probably, Portugal and Spain.

      Tim and Sarah

  3. Helen Inglis

    I can’t believe it’s all over, it seems to have gone so quickly! Like Jayne I’ve been loving seeing your posts each day, I’ve really looked forward to it every evening! I shall look forward to your next trip with great anticipation. 🙂

    1. Tim Higham

      It seems to have flown past for everyone except us. Seven and a half months really feels like seven and a half months when you’re seeing and experiencing new things everyday. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog Helen.

      Tim and Sarah

  4. Cathy emms

    We’ve enjoyed your blog Tim and Sarah, look forward to the next trip and hopefully we’ll be touring early next year too. Cathy and Dave

    1. Tim Higham

      Thanks for reading the blog and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it Cathy and Dave. Enjoy your travels.

      Tim and Sarah

  5. Doug Shield

    We have really enjoyed following you around Europe this year. Your posts are a bit of escapism until we do the same next year. Look forward to your next trip. Maybe we’ll cross paths in Spain next year. Best wishes Doug and Lynne

    1. Tim Higham

      It’s good to know you enjoyed it Doug and Lynne. I read so many motorhoming blogs planning for this trip, partly for the purpose of planning but mostly for escapism. Enjoy your trip and I hope our paths do cross.

      Tim and Sarah

  6. Tracey Holmes

    i have throughly loved your blogs and have saved many of your maps and choices for when we hope we will be able to the same thing in approx 4 years time.

    Look forward to following your next trip in the spring.

    Many thanks
    Tracey

    1. Tim Higham

      Thanks for getting in touch Tracey. The maps will remain online as long as the blog stays on line and they will develop over time. Before our next trip I will be scouring blogs to add further stopping places on the the map with the most stops. Of the apps we find Park4night to be the best. It is french but you don’t need French to use it although a bit of French will help reading the reviews.

      That 4 years will fly by.

      Thanks for reading.

      Tim and Sarah

  7. Ian Green

    Just caught up with the blog and sorry to read it has come to an end!
    I have enjoyed the reads on a weekend and given some ideas for what I would like to do when retirement arrives

    Hope you post further adventures soon

    Ian

    1. Tim Higham

      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog Ian. I certainly recommend retirement!! We will be posting again next spring I hope.

      Tim

  8. Bronte

    Hello Tim

    I really enjoy your blog and our Scandinavian trip Is coming up fast but we are in a quandary about our route. Months of pondering maps and we are still changing our minds. Could I ask your opinion please? We now have 14 weeks from early April to mid July and can’t decide whether to travel through the Baltic states into Finland (Helsinki) then across to Sweden (Stockholm) then Norway or just go up through Denmark. We travelled a bit
    in Norway in 2016 and fell in love with it but wonder if 10 or 11 weeks of fjords and mountains may be too much, I’m aware that sounds vacuous but reading several blogs which all allude to travel fatigue if in the same place too long makes me cautious of over estimating the appeal of free camping and isolation. I’m also aware now of how huge Norway is and easy to underestimate. I love the idea of the Baltic capitals but would only allow 2 weeks for this part of the journey – would that be a rush? Also we don’t know much about Sweden as most bloggers seem to travel through Finland which we aren’t really considering. My only definite request is to be in the arctic circle at midsummer so we are very flexible.
    In short would 2 weeks be too much of a rush from northern Germany to Stockholm via Baltic capitals or should we just pootle through Denmark with a quick detour to Gdańsk?
    I hope you don’t mind me asking and thanks very much for the information and entertainment given by your blog that we re read constantly whilst planning.
    Jan

    1. Tim Higham

      Hi,

      We didn’t spend much time in Sweden but from previous travel know that Stockholm is worth two or three days.

      I think 2 weeks to do the Baltic states through to Stockholm will make it a rush.

      Why don’t you go through Germany, Poland (see Torun), the Baltic States and Finland to get to Nordkapp by late May (when it will already be 24 hour daylight) and then you have six weeks or so to travel down through Norway? I think 10 weeks may be too much in Norway in particular if the weather is not good.

      1. Bronte

        Thanks Tim
        More pondering needed I think – we definitely want to travel through Sweden over Finland and have allocated. 5 days fir Stockholm even if a few are rest days. It will be interesting not to have to go back to a base everyday and make progress as before we hardly seemed to see much of the country in 2 weeks. We get a surprise every time we check the map as to how huge Scandinavia is. Thanks for your advice – you certainly seemed to have a great trip. We hadn’t ever considered a Motorhome until we went to Norway and saw so many. Thanks jan