The day started bright, clear and crisp. Just how crisp became apparent as we stood for about 45 minutes longer than expected, waiting for the bus to arrive. Still, there were no cases of hypothermia. At least not amongst the pupils. We’re not so sure about the parents: we’ll just wait for the medical reports. However, arrive the bus did. So we boarded and Brian, our driver to Newport Pagnell, briefed us on safety before setting off. We had breaks at Washington and Tibshelf – in motorway service stations – before moving on to Newport Pagnell (motorway service station) where Davie and Graeme were waiting to take us on our way. Guess what they did ? That’s right, briefed us on safety. We’re not complaining. Apparently it’s a legal obligation in France for everyone to know where the fire extinguisher and first aid kits are on the bus.
Cool runnings continued apace (guess what we were watching ?) on our way to Dover. We were just commenting on how well the journey was going – never a good move it seems – when we ground to a halt. Miles and miles of slow-moving lorries nose to tail; the cause – roadworks on the way into Dover docks. So we crept into Dover, arriving just before midnight.
It started with us sitting on the Sea France quay till 01:35 till we boarded the ferry. Almost immediately, with the exception of Stephen and Andrew who were exploring the intricacies of mastering a diabolo, little piles of sleeping PL pupils accumulated in various corners and on comfy chairs. Unfortunately for them, far too soon, the ferry landed in Calais and they had to be coaxed back on to the bus where, mercifully, they all fell asleep virtually immediately. So deeply did they fall asleep they never even stirred when the bus stopped to take on 300 litres of fuel.
Dawn broke quite early. We are definitely not taking the blame for that though. Hardly anyone saw the really dense white fog which gradually burned off by about 7:00 am leaving an amazing blue sky to view. One or two of us saw the balloonists making the most of the calm conditions. We had breakfast in a motorway service station near Reims. By now the sun was burning down from a clear blue sky and it was rather warm. Continuing down the road, we had lunch at yet another motorway service station. By now it was a positively balmy 29 degrees. Lunch was, for many, pommes frites. Some people even had something else with them – baguettes, fish, vegetables and – originally – more pommes frites.
Cruising on down the motorways of rural France the mountains came into view during the afternoon and we reached our hotel at about 5:30. Time to unpack for all and, for the energetic ones, some football outside the hotel. Evening meal at 19:30 went down well. Miss Angus and Miss McCredie offered an opportunity to explore but most opted out, missing out on the chance to explore the village and, instead, drifting off to their rooms fairly soon afterwards ready to start making those zzzzzzzzzzs. Got to catch up on those beauty sleeps and build up energy for tomorrow.
The weather is shaping to be more than fair. Ice caves and the luge are beckoning.
Quote of the Day
“Here Miss, you’ve got order things in French here.”
(In France ? Glad we found that out before we ran into difficulties!)
Miss Angus, the instant calculator
We had told them we would not tolerate “Are we there yet ?” during the journey. Naturally, our cherubs managed to come up with something different. “Miss Angus, when will we get there?” However, Miss Angus is never fazed by this. Computing the distance and speed of the bus, her answer was as quick as a flash (on Friday) “Tomorrow !”