Billy the Bus's Blog

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Big Billy Trip 1, Home to Seraucourt-le-Grande, France

Route - Home to Seraucourt-le-Grande, France
Distance - 362 km

Ok so this is the official Billy Blog for our holiday – three weeks of driving around in Europe in the blue camper that has had attention poured so lavishly upon him over the last year or so. The plan has changed a bit since the original itinerary discussed on here a few months back – the intention is now to bomb it as quickly as possible through France, and spend more time in Italy kicking back and relaxing. Billy's had a pretty good couple of weeks – made it to Hayley's wedding and back, and to rain-soaked Bestival – so I'm feeling good about what he can do!

Day 1, and the shlep down to Dover. We got there early, so went for a pub roast. The rain and wind were shocking, which meant a fairly choppy crossing, but we both slept for the first half hour or so, and by then the sea had calmed down quite a bit. My first experience driving on the French autoroutes, and it was in lashing rain and lateral winds. As it started to get dark, I started to realise that I'd probably fitted my headlamp adaptors wrongly, because my headlamps were beaming up into the sky, and not on the road in front of me. It was a bit scary. We came off the motorway much further north of Reims than I had planned, and drove to a campsite Freya'd found in our book, in the village of Seraucourt le Grand.

IMG_1449The first of many amusing 'it's not really camping season any more' stories now; the place was locked up, but there were lights on in the house, so we decided to have a knock. I was greeted by a fat red-haired woman with a mixing bowl and wooden spoon in her hand, with a face that looked like it spent most of the year chewing wasps. She was not pleased to see me, and my whimpering "le camping, pour ce soir?" GCSE french didn't impress her either. She shot back a stream of Francaise, and I had to whimper the ultimate defeat of "I'm sorry, my French is tres mal". She repeated her phrase, but this time in English: "Why couldn't you get here earlier, I've just locked up?". Thankfully there wasn't time to get into the tale of bad weather and failed headlights, before she relented with a tutt and a begrudging "OK, give me five minutes".

But at least we got in, and slept, and it was a good rest at the end of the first day.

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