Battle to Messac to St-Anne-Vilaine

Those that slept woke at 2am and we left by 2.30. I was in Darren & Lorna’s car with Sean and we had a rockin’ 80s party all the way to Dover, inventing along the way the chicken-duck and the Taliban hiding in the back of the car. Sean said he really wants a t-shirt that says ‘I am not Taliban’.

We were among the few unlucky cars called aside to be checked in the random way customs sometimes has and a jollier pair of customs officials I have never seen! Especially for 4 in the morning. They gave the car a cursory glance and waved us through. We parked in lane 45 and queued at Costa’s in the misnamed Food Village.

There was one person serving in Costa’s; there was a boat load of people in the queue. We queued until an announcement came for us to rejoin our cars and begin boarding the ferry. The queue vanished as we all returned to our cars, coffee-less.

Eventually we boarded the ferry. The guy stopped us, unsure whether the massive cavernous space before us had enough room – he checked with the captain, frantic on the phone – and, satisfied, waved us through. We parked and wandered upstairs.

I’m used to Brittany Ferries. The Dover Ferry is like an arcade, or a down market mall. It also rattles. And it’s very busy. I don’t think I’ll suggest we ever go to France this way.

We headed down for our cars and left the ferry, joining the French traffic, mostly made up of British cars and then the heavens opened and it poured down. The speed signs indicated we could drive at 170 in the dry and 110 in the rain. This was so heavy we’d be lucky to reach 15.

In Darren and Lorna’s car, Sean and I went to sleep very quickly and, so John says, everyone in his car went instantly into a group coma.

At our first motorway services, Carlee wanted to swap with me so she could sit with Sean, which meant I couldn’t sleep as I’d imagined I would, because I was next to the driver. It was also very warm in John’s car. This meant it was a constant battle to keep my eyes open.

This weekend is, apparently, a big thing in France (tomorrow is the feast of the assumption, which is popular) and everyone was out on the motorways. Interestingly, the French seem to like their motorway services a lot. They queue for everything; toilet, food, petrol, baby changing facilities, etc. The services are always packed solid. Actually more than solid. There is generally more people than there is room. I think quite a few had been there for a few days, waiting for the loo.

We eventually made it to Messac, having lost Darren and Lorna and then driving slowly so they could catch us up. We communicated by walkie talkie which managed to pick up other people on the same frequency, generally in French. Anyway, all was fine and the satnav managed to get us to the boatyard without many problems.

Our boat is very long. Rather than being a bigger boat all round, it’s like the makers had decided to stretch it out. It has many berths. It is very comfortable.

The HMS Weasel

Most special is that John and I, as the only singles, each have our own room. Tres luxurious.

We had a bit of argy bargy leaving the dock (hitting other boats, running aground, etc) but we eventually managed to head down the river.

We had dinner at the creperie at St-Anne Vilaine. Of course I had a galette complet and we all drank cidre. The creperie though small is very popular and it’s not difficult to see why. The food was excellent.

I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open and, eventually after we made the long trek back to the boat (about 100 feet) I collapsed onto my top bunk. I have no idea what time it was. I was instantly asleep. I woke up at 6:30 feeling more refreshed and awake than I have for a long time.

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