We are leaving on the overnight ferry to Hull – the aim is at arrive at the ferry terminal with everything we planned on bringing and leaving nothing behind. I’m not good at travelling, or rather I’m not good at getting out of the door. Once I’m on the way I thoroughly enjoy it.
If we travel to the UK to see parents and friends we have several options to choose from. In theory.
We can drive down to Calais and head over to Dover on the cross Channel ferry. Never done it, not tempted as we then have an awful journey north the other side. If we do the Calais route we go via the Eurotunnel which has its own issues.
It’s a three-hour drive to Calais from The Hague, on a good run, and you have to be there well before departure. If there are no problems it’s all wonderfully easy. However, a slight glitch – broken train in the tunnel, fire or numerous other reasons – then you’re screwed. The son of my friend L was caught in the mayhem of a broken down train and had to spend two nights sleeping in a van on the M25 outside London, the County of Kent was grid locked for several days.
Assuming we get on the train through the tunnel in a timely fashion, we can while away the 35 minute journey relaxing. And trying not to think about the huge weight, volume and freezing nature of the water above in the English Channel, and what acts of terrorism may result in that water cascading in on top of us.
Leaving the Eurotunnel we head north-west to skirt London via the Dartford tunnel where lines for the toll booths can stretch back miles. Clear those and we head towards the infamous MI which is another unknown – road works abound, well, traffic cones to be exact, all over the place and for no apparent reason to the frustrated motorists trying to get round them.
The whole journey door to door takes ten hours with one bathroom stop. It’s not an option we choose often.
We could also fly from Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) which is fun. It’s only a 45 minute flight to the local airport where our families live, unfortunately we have to fly with one of the economy airlines which is always hysterically funny after the event, but quite tense while we’re doing it. We don’t do cattle pens awfully well, or being treated as if we’ve never seen a plane before, let alone flown in one.
Then there’s the issue of flying with hand luggage only. Great idea so long as you have no fluids and your bag fits into the correctly sized bag-frame. Our local carrier, BMI Baby, was recently exposed for having a wrongly sized bag-frame at the gates. People were about to board the flight, had bags checked for size and then told they were larger than the measurements allowed and the bags would have to go into the hold, at eye watering cost to the passenger.
After having run the gauntlet of check-in, passport control (there are 15 kiosks and only two are ever open, even when the lines snake outside the airport), security (which country are we in and what clothes do we have to take off?), the cattle pens and finally the 400 yard dash to board the plane, we are ready for a nice cup of tea only to have to take out a mortgage to buy one.
We save flights for emergency or hit-and-run visits only.
Our first choice mode of travel is the overnight ferry from Rotterdam Europort to Hull. Neither are destinations you would aspire to visit at any point in your life, but it gets us to where we need to be and it’s relatively relaxing. We have a meal on board and a good nights sleep.
This will be the first time we have not had a cabin en famille. Missy and Harry refused to go on the trip if they had to share a cabin with us – again.
Our last trip together was rather eventful. I occasionally have a recurring dream which involves sitting bolt upright and screaming the place down. In bed with the Captain he can usually grab me as I sit up and the screaming phase can be averted. On this occasion it failed. Being in a confined space I lashed out hitting the wall with arms and feet, waking the people in the next cabin who thought murder was being committed.
This trip we have we have decided to treat ourselves and upgrade to a suite, making the crossing part of the break. The children have their own onboard cell which they are thrilled about. They can spend an evening in the karaoke bar, assuming the licensing laws on this sailing are Dutch, otherwise Harry will be very disappointed.
Must dash, there seems an endless amount of things to do before I can get out of the door.