Drive from Nottingham to Dover took just over four hours with only a few wrong turns on the way. Arrive finally at the docks to find an enormous great Czech lorry has rear-ended a tiny little car, and in the process almost totally blocked off vehicular access to the ferry port. I’m still in the first hour of the long possible check-in time, so there’s no problem.
Queueing on the tarmac waiting for the ferry gives me the opportunity to fix my headlights. The ferry itself, SpeedFerries One is tiny. Driving on is a bit of an endeavour: it’s like a multistory carpark only tighter than the Nottingham Arndale! And not only that, but the staff want me to reverse into a spot. Happily, they’re used to helping useless manoeuverers into tight spots and give detailed instructions on how to do. Full lock right, mate, no, not that much full lock. Don’t worry about the noise, it’s just your ariel scraping on the roof.
The crossing is quick and uneventful, and before you know it, you’re disembarked onto the roads of Boulogne. French border police have an office in Dover, so there’s no need to stop again. There’s barely a minute between leaving the ferry and and hitting the centre-ville.
A few fraught minutes later and I’m more or less used to the new rules of the road. Erm, but actually, still haven’t made any plans about where to overnight. So I pull off into the carpark of a supermarket and choose Camping le Chateau d’Hardelot as not being too far away. Whilst I’m at the supermarket, I stock up on provisions: reduced BBQ stuff and a lettuce. There’s a hardware shop next door, Bricomarche, so I go round to try and find some bbq charcoal and a rubber mallet (camping on sand at Shell Island, you can stamp on tent pegs to get them into the ground, but on baked soil strewn with stones, you need a real mallet).
In my mind, I’m trying to sort out a translation of mallet, so that if I have to, I can ask the staff where to find one, and dredging my memory for vocabulary I come up with ‘marteau en cuir’. Happily I found what I was looking for almost immediately, labelled ‘un maillet en caoutchouc pour les piquets de camping.’ It wasn’t til I was leaving the shop that I remembered my initial stab at it made ‘leather hammer’ when I was aiming for ‘rubber hammer’…
Vive la difference
Even cheap French barbecue charcoal tells you what wood it was initially made from (oak, in this case) and the instructions tell you not only how to set it on fire, but include useful tips like “Don’t forget the bay leaf and thyme when grilling fish.’ The picture includes a jolly chap grilling away, and in the background there’s a bikini-clad beauty reclining on a sun-lounger just waiting for her portion of sausage.
After grilling up my turkey kebabs with various different coloured turkey sausage (un pack mini-grill de M. Coq) I went for a wander around Condette. The campsite details included a suggested walk taking in the village high street, the mediaeval castle and the Mirrored Lake. All very pretty. In amongst the suburbs, I was a bit taken aback suddenly to find a cow poking its head out of a grill. And it’s interesting to see that nearly everyone had large stocks of wood around their houses. You can certainly smell the wood burning.
NB, French words etc in posts have to be stripped of accents, because Blogger doesn’t like them.