So first things first, let's get a blog on the go. I would say this is so we can share our adventures from each day, but it's really only so my mum will know I'm still alive once every 24 hours (hello Mum!)
After over two year of planning, the day finally came today and for day zero (as I like to call it) we set off from the dry and almost sunny Somerset headed for the far south east and a big boat over to the continent. Once we'd spent an hour raiding Asda for a hard drive and sweets and filled ourselves with McDonalds that is, already leaving us on the back foot about 15 minutes behind schedule. And I'm supposed to be the organised one...
We carried on down the A303 with little traffic to cause any trouble and had an uneventful but pleasant trip down through Wiltshire and Hampshire. The end of the A303 saw a very quick driver change and Jez took the wheel for the next stint. At which point the sky darkened and we headed into a monsoon along the M3. Fleet services came just in time with a quick drive through to raise the lid (yes, I know, but trust me, this was heavy!)
As we reached the M25 nothing changed, the heavy rain affecting the visibility badly, combined with the usual slow M25 pace eventually putting us nearly half an hour behind our deadline and at 2:30 we eventually met the others at Maidstone services, Zoe and Ed in the Polo, Lee and Sean in the Clio and Steff and Davo in the 306 Cabrio with a soaked roof that blatantly hadn't been down all day. Poor show boys...
After already holding everyone up and quickly running out of time to get the ferry, we pressed on. No sooner had we got onto the M20 than we found a pretty bad accident which we later learned had closed the motorway, in the opposite direction at least. Four Ariel Atoms parked on the hard shoulder, followed by two parked in the main carriageway, and finally a rather mangled one stuck to a generic hatchback of some sort. Not good :-(
Still incredibly damp (although with the roof back down now) we calmed our pace for the conditions and only minutes later, a second casualty, this time in our direction and this time a new Maserati which had taken an expensive excursion into the central reservation. Also not good.
Nevertheless, we got to Dover problem free. The (obviously suspicious looking) Polo was pulled in for a customs check and as is always the way we were bundled onto the ferry in a completely random order.
There was nothing to see on the ferry. My wifi decided to work as we pulled into the port (#winning), the fog and drizzle meant there was no chance to even see the coast. The highlight was probably five minutes in the wind and general murkyness of the outside deck.
Once docked, the roof was lowered again, the rain having mostly dried up and it as time for the usual trip around the Total oil refinery and into Dunkerque centre to find our home for the night. The ferry shuffle had left the cab in front with the Clio close behind. I was last off and shortly found the Polo for a short mini convoy. On reaching the hotel we were glad to see the others had already made it there. It was time to unpack quickly and meet in the lobby to get some food.
A ten minute journey to the beach front found us outside a favourite pizzeria, usually the source of much fun ordering from a man who speaks not a word of english... Yet today the shutters were down so we settled for a wander along the beach for five minutes before returning on the route we came looking for somewhere to serve us food of some description.
Success! Head towards the lights (especially the Brasserie sign that was only illuminated as 'BRAS') and you're sure to find something. In this case, an empty looking shopping mall and a decent Italian style restaurant.
Suitably fed, final effort of the day was the make our way back to the hotel, agree on a plan of action for the morning and settle in for the night. And in my case, write the blog out. With that done, I'm about to get to bed, just hoping for a little more blue sky tomorrow as we're bound for Spa and Luxembourg. Til then, au revoir!