Saturday, August 21, 2010

Far From The Madding Crowd

Sometimes I take a bit of time to think of a decent title for these blog posts but this one came to me as soon as the page came up. I know it's down to the one huge difference between my recent experiences in France and then returning yesterday to England........the land of madding crowds.

And their cars.

Yes after 17 days, 3 countries, 2680 miles, 8 bed and breakfasts, 2054 photos, 102 video clips, 2 boat trips and 214 comfort breaks, we got back to England yesterday at 1:30pm and by 2pm, boy, did we know it. Straight into a traffic jam for miles on the M20 from Dover and then a long long queue for the Dartford tunnel followed by more jams on the M25 and M1 and finally home to Leeds by 10:30pm.

9 hours to travel 289 miles !!

We have simply too small a country for so many cars and it's got to be the main complaint made by tourists as it ruins driving here. We obviously need to follow the example of Dubai and increase our land mass to provide more roads for the cars we seemingly can't do without. We could take land from Scotland - actually as it's there already, we could just rename Scotland as North England and move everything up a bit. Leeds would be in the Midlands and Oxford would be our new capital city. London could then be cut free and left as a huge island car park between this New England and France.

I like it. As Jean Luc would say...make it so.

A close second in the list of complaints for foreign drivers (and us too by the way) would be the food at our motorway services. It says it all that most now sport a fast food outlet (McD's, Burger King, KFC etc) but at least you know what to expect from them and sad to say, they've probably upped the quality of food at our motorway rest areas.

We stopped at the Toddington services on the M1 run by Moto. I'm being specific here as I'd advise anyone thinking of stopping there to avoid it or at least, eat at the Burger King if you do stop - as their food is usually edible at least. And their staff probably speak English too which helps !

Anyhoo, with so many photos and stories to share about our travels in the strange lands of Johnny Foreigner, I feel like it's a good time to return to blogging. I may well have to call upon my travelling companions to remind me about most of the stories as although I exclaimed many times "that'll make a great blog post", frequent readers will know my memory is like an English goalkeeper....it doesn't hold onto much.

Here is one to be going on with while I sort through all those photos.

We spent last Wednesday night at a French chateau, complete with huge spiral staircase and enough chandeliers to keep Del Boy in business for decades. Sadly it had seen better days and really shouldn't have been available even for b&b business but anyway, we were the only guests spending that night there and in the morning had breakfast in one of the huge dining rooms. As a result, I was able to do something I'd always wanted to do.......eat my meal at the far end of a long table with my companions at the other end.

Daphne took this photo and I've had to 'up' the brightness using Photoshop so you can see me as the camera flash wasn't powerful enough to light me up at the far end of the room !!


Another sign that the lady of the house wasn't really clued in to b&b services, when Stephen asked for hot chocolate (as he had all trip and had always been presented with a lovely mug of hot chocolate), she placed that box of 'Super Quick' chocolate powder on the table and told him he could use the nearby microwave to heat up the milk for it !

Well what can you expect from French aristocracy ? Off with their heads and then let them try and eat cake, I say.

Fear not as subsequent posts will be in trip order (Bruges up first) and yes, I know I STILL have to finish up posts about our Italian trip last summer.

I feel the stress levels rising again. I bet Alan Whicker never had these problems !!

8 comments:

Daphne said...

So pleased you're blogging again and back in vintage Silverback form. Your renaming of Scotland as North England is a fine idea and I'd be delighted to see the back of London (with apologies to Milo and other good people who live there).

Debby said...

Breathe dude. Just tell us what you saw and show us the pictures.

Jennyta said...

Your experiences after leaving Dover and heading home are almost identical to the sort of experiences we normally have when coming home from France, Ian. We too stopped at the dreaded Todington in July... enough said!

Ruth said...

Like Daphne, I am delighted you are blogging again, particularly when you supply such a comprehensive list of stats relating to your recent holiday. However, I am worried that you know there were 214 comfort breaks - really? I hope you weren't counting!

Also, I'm not sure I want Oxford to be the capital city. It gets clogged up enough as it is and the council might raise the council tax to even more ridiculous rates if we were the country's capital.

By the way, I love that many motorway service stations now feature M&S Simply Food shops. Great alternative to those fast food outlets.

rhymeswithplague said...

Also glad to see you blogging again. I never go anywhere or do anything and am reduced to blogging about American history.

Jay said...

Aaaah, that was lovely! I have missed your pithy style! You had me giggling a few times there, Silverback, my friend! Hard to pick out phrases for special mention, but I did like 'off with their heads and then let them try and eat cake' and 'my memory is like an English goalkeeper, it doesn't hold onto much'. Hey - mine's the same!

So, a quick scroll back up to pick up my favourite -

"We could take land from Scotland - actually as it's there already, we could just rename Scotland as North England and move everything up a bit'

You know, that's not a bad idea, except I've heard there are already quite a few (extremely expensive) people living up in that bit. Remote and chilly and full of midges as it is, they might possibly want to hang onto it!

Love the photo! I've always wanted to do that, too. ;)

Jay said...

Oh yeah, and I don't think I knew that you were a Star Trek fan. Still, my memory, as I think I just told you, is just like an English goalkeeper ...

Silverback said...

Thank you all. Comments much appreciated.

Daphne, yes I'm not a fan of London as you know and not a fan of it's ring road either.

Debby, as usual your command is actioned.

Jennyta, yes it's an awful way to end a holiday abroad. Toddington I mean !

Ruth, if Oxford was Caesar's choice, who am I to argue.

Bob, with American history as your chosen subject, you'll be done with blogging in a few weeks ;-)

Jay, you're not the first woman I've reduced to giggling ! It's their loss as I don't leave a tip.

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