Mercifully, hitching up Guillaume this morning went much more smoothly than had unhitching him yesterday afternoon. We were off and heading for the Newhaven ferry port by 06:30. It was a 30-mimute run and we arrived to join a few other early birds shortly before the port’s gates had been opened. Still, better early than late.
Not only was this a new route for us but it was also a new ferry operator: DFDS. Check-in went well and, after a few security questions featuring sharp objects and things that could go bang, Guillaume’s cupboards were given a brief inspection, during which a harmless bag of crisps fell on the inspector’s head followed shortly thereafter by Francine’s Tilley hat [it didn’t fit him]. We went to queue in the pre-loading lanes. The cutest baby vintage car, which turned out to be a Peugeot, joined the lines soon after and received some routine maintenance – radiator water, I suspect.
Eventually we were loaded and very nearly in pole position for disembarkation. Leaving Guillaume in the company of other caravans and lorries, we climbed to the stairs to the passenger decks where a sign indicated that we should exchange our boarding cards at reception for a cabin key. What appeared to be missing was the all important sign telling us where to find reception. Eventually we stumbled into it where a delightful young French lady gave Francine our cabin key.
After a lengthy queue, a second delightful young French lady served us with two full English breakfasts. DFDS clearly has an excellent recruiting policy.
The crossing was flat calm and we spent the majority of the remaining time hiding in our cabin. Once docked in Dieppe, our near pole position got us through immigration third and we were on the road by 14:15 heading for Neufchâtel-en-Bray just 40kms away. Guillaume was finally in France again.
Since the advent of the satanic ACSI organization, I’d made a reservation at our campsite, which is run by a very diligent man who ploughs money back into his site in the form of improvements. We admired three years worth of very neatly trimmed hedges now marking many of the pitches. No sooner had we pitched up, safely this time and but on slightly soggy grass, than a German opposite produced a guitar and began tuning it. Arghh! Never mind, he was very quiet.
Sun appeared and we had time for a visit to the local plan d’eau. One smaller water body was now heavily overgrown but the fast flowing river and larger lake produced six species of odonata:
- Beautiful Demoieselle (Calopteryx virgo)
- Common Bluetail (Ischnura elegans)
- Blue-eye (Erythromma lindenii)
- Blue Featherleg (Platycnemis pennipes)
- Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)
- Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Having topped up in Brighton and done just 40kms since disembarking, I didn’t need the Leclerc fuel station but we did buy our first load of supplies.