Our journey commenced around 0930 on Friday 4 November. Robert and Judith have a big Renault Espace people carrier as they have to transport Maddie and Angus, their Boston Terriers, and to try and get them home to Blighty by any other means is ridiculously costly, highly stressful for both human and animal parts of the contingent and downright impractical.
For us this meant that their need to have a big vehicle, plus their big-hearted kindness, provided us with a means of getting to Dover. What made this all the more valuable was that we needed to bring our electric bicycles home for servicing and snag fixing. The bikes have been really great but had a few bugs to iron out and the company asked us to bring them back, so that they could bring them back up to top line for next year.
Soooo, the trip from Auxonne to Calais to Dover was easy, comfortable and with us sharing the costs, not very expensive at all. Thankyou Robert and Judith and Maddie and Angus, you are all stars.
The next bit of the trip was a bit of a’mare. It is amazing how a slight slip while booking on the internet can really mess up some arrangements. We had booked a coach from Dover Ferryport to Victoria. Robert got us to Calais to catch an earlier ferry, so when we arrived in Dover he dropped us at the coach station at the ferryport. Sadly the coach driver was a bit of a ‘jobsworth’ to start with, complaining that: our tickets were for pickup in the town (Steve’s error in booking – a button slip or something), our bikes were too big, too heavy toothisthat andtheother, even though their website small print allows for folding bikes in bags. After selling him the idea of taking us, despite our heinous crimes, he then admitted that he was fully booked, picking up 38 people from Canterbury on his way. We felt we were p1$$ing into the wind so we thanked him politely and caught a taxi into the town coach station, where we waited for our correct bus at 2000. Another coach (same number, same destination sign) arrived 10 minutes earlier than predicted, so we asked nicely if he was the coach for London. We were met with a monosyllabic grunt to the negative, so we backed off and sat down.
This is where the story improves. When our coach, the 2000 Dover to Victoria, arrived, the driver was courteous, helpful and pleasant. We had already decided that if this had not been the case we would have cancelled the tickets, booked a hotel and rented a car in the morning. Big relief and off we went.
Carrying the bikes just across from Arrivals to Departures at Victoria was a back aching nightmare – or at least it would have been except that a lovely gentleman from Liverpool, himself carrying a heavy bag, offered to carry one for us. Grateful thanks and stifled tears and we were in position for our coach to Southampton. We didn’t find out his name and he went off to catch his coach before we could give him ours. Unknown man from Liverpool who helped us that Friday night in Victoria, Thankyou.
last leg and we are on our way. It was now 2335 and apart from a self generated coach traffic queue trying to exit Victoria Coach Station, the journey was uneventful. The driver was, again, pleasant and helpful and we dozed most of the way. We had phoned Southampton Radio Taxis for a cab to take us up to Sarah’s house; we were texted the cab’s details and assured of his presence on our arrival. Imagine our surprise; we rounded the last turn and saw our cab, as described drive off!!!!!!!
A quick phone call to the cab company had another cab there in no time at all, so all ended well.
The moral to this story is that, with the weight of what we had to carry and the hassle associated with the coach travel, our current feeling is that we will take the car back with us – even if we return it to England prior to departing from Auxonne in Wight Mistress.