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Monday, 14 November 2011

Orihuela Costa to Heighington

The suitcases, five to be precise, and an assortment of other bags and packages were stored in our faithful Hyundai Getz. 'Operation Hibernation' was complete with the result of our Spanish home resting in a semi-comatose state until our return in the New Year. Our departure at 08:08 hrs. on Thursday 10th November was the beginning of our three day journey to the United Kingdom. As usual on such excursions we normally have two nights stopovers in France.

Our target destination for Thursday night was the Ibis Hotel in Beziers. We have stopped there before as it is one of our three choices of hotels for first night accommodation in France; the other two being Perpignan and Narbonne. The days travelling went as planned, with us stopping, as usual on this route, for coffee at the services on the A7 Valencia ring-road, lunch at the L' Hospitalet services on the AP7, and afternoon tea at La Jonquera, before the final stage to Beziers, arriving at the hotel at 18:25 hrs. We always call into the gasolinera at La Jonquera, on the Spain/France border, to fill up the petrol tank with sin plomo 95 before entering France. The price increase of a litre of fuel from Spain to France is enormous. We paid €1.334 p/litre and then noted that just 20 kilometres into France the price was €1.625 p/litre. The saving we made by filling up in Spain paid for our afternoon tea!

The aim of our travel on day two is to get to within approximately three hours driving of 'Le tunnel sous la Manche' at Coquelles, Calais. This trip we decided, in consultation with Satnavratilova, to go the eastern route via Montpellier, Nimes, Lyon, Dijon, and Troyes, with our overnight stop at Reims in the Ibis Tinqueux. Having stopped for our three break periods during the day we arrived at 17:45 hrs.

Saturday the 12th November, the third day, saw our arrival in the UK. An early start at 07:30 hrs. was needed to arrive at the Channel Tunnel in time to catch our pre-booked train. We couldn't afford to miss that one as we had a busy schedule to deal with in the afternoon. Our satisfaction at reaching the terminal in good time was soon reduced when we read the notice, as we waited to register our arrival and pass through the French and British passport control, “Due to a stopped train in the tunnel there is a delay on some departure times”. With all the administration procedures completed, including the printing of our train allocation alphabetical ticket displaying the letter 'H', we proceeded to the terminal building to await to be called to board the 'H' train at some unknown time. But as luck would have it; no sooner had we purchased our latte coffees than the announcement we hoped for was displayed on the notice screens. Our train was to depart on the scheduled time with those travellers delayed from the 'F' and 'G' trains joining us. The thought came to mind, what if three into one won't go! A second thought came into mind. If a power failure was the cause of the delays, what if it happened again when we were in the tunnel.

The what ifs didn't happen and we arrived at the Folkestone terminal on time at 10:55 hrs.

Our next objective was to be at Heighington, near Lincoln, at 15:30 hrs. to check out our outgoing tenant from our future UK base home. The two major hurdles that had to be negotiated as we drove north were the Dartford Crossing and the M25.

The approaches to the Dartford toll booths were surprisingly clear. We chose a non-change lane and as we approached the urinal coin collector Natalie made sure she had the £1.50 toll ready and practised her throwing action. Window down, we crept towards the receptor at a steady very slow speed, she took aim and threw the two coins in with some force, both of us looking for the red stop light to change to green before we reached it, to confirm receipt of the correct fee. Why wasn't it changing? Had Natalie thrown the two coins with such force that they were still going round the urinal like two motorcyclists riding the wall of death, or like two balls bouncing round a roulette wheel, seemingly determined not to fall to the bottom of the shoot to be counted. At last we had green.

Our short journey on the M25 from the tunnel to the M11 was bliss. In fact I had difficulty in not getting too excited and keeping below the 50 mph limit through the variable speed control section.

We arrived at Heighington on time and within twenty minutes the check-out was completed satisfactorily and the tenant had departed. As we are refurbishing the house before we furnish it we then moved on to our holiday rental cottage for three weeks as we were due there for 16:30 hrs. A quick unload of the car and then off to Sainsburys in Lincoln for provisions, returning to the cottage at 19:10 hrs. Having been on the move for nearly thirteen hours we had completed all our aims for the day. If you are thinking my calculation of the total time is wrong don't forget we put our watches back one hour when we entered the UK.

When we finally got to bed and turned the lights out I thought "What a day this has been"!

1 comment:

  1. SatnavratilovaNovember 15, 2011

    Hey Babe,
    You haven't mentioned the valuable assistance I gave you on this trip. I did suggest part of the route through the rural parts of Lincolnshire you have not visited for some time.
    Are you cross with me; have I said something out of order; don't you love me any more?
    "What a difference a day made"!


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