We left home last night and that is just as well, in retrospect. At half past 1 in the afternoon we have to be at the boat in Dunkirk and otherwise we would have to wake up very early this morning. But we booked a cheap hotel halfway and Teije took me from my work at 9 o'clock in the evening where we arrived at 11:30. But this way we arrive a bit more rested in England.
Wednesday 23 August 2006, a long and tiring trip through EnglandFirst we have to tap the headlights, because tonight we will drive through the dark through Northern England and without the masking stickers we would blind our oncoming traffic. So quick to the kwik-fit. But unfortunately this branch was not quick and surely not fit! Three older men bent over the manual with 135 drawings of possible places where the stickers could be placed. In the end they only did something with some device, place the stickers and said they could not guarantee that it was allright.
By 10 o'clock we finally leave Tilburg and at half past 1 we arrive in Dunkirk where we have to wait a bit before we can embark. The weather is sunny and not too cold but the prospects are a bit colder and wetter for the coming days.
The coast never really disappears from sight, and when France's coast disappears in the distance, the chalk cliff coast of Dover appears before us. Funny, it has not been a year since we were on top of those rocks in the sun but then on our way home. It remains an impressive sight, the rocks and the castle above the harbor. Meanwhile, we have learned that a large part of the south coast of England consists of chalk rock that has been carved out by the sea up to and including steep walls. At half past 3 we disembark and drive towards London. It is a bit more cloudy here than in France.And soon we are in the first traffic jams on the ring road of London. Roadworks, the weather getting nasty when the rain quickly turns into torrential rains. If we are not in a traffic jam, we can not get too fast because of the bad weather.
It is reasonably easy to drive between London and Birmingham, especially on all those six-lane roads. But then it gets busy again and there are plenty of roadworks and long traffic jams again. A very few times the clouds break and we see a glimpse of the sun, but those moments are very short and in the end the sky darkens: it rains harder and harder and the sky is heavily clouded. Before 8 o'clock it it completely dark.
That our headlight stickers are not properly applied, we quickly find out with everyone flashing at us with their lights. Yes, we know, but we do not know what we can do about it. The fact is that we see almost nothing ourselves, as if our headlights are completely covered! Although Teije loves to drive, it is tiring on these dark, busy and rainy roads, especially since we have more than 500 kilometers to go. So we are happy when, 2 hours later than planned due to traffic jams, we are near Lancaster. But of course we can not find the hotel, we have forgotten the directions. We wander around and hen we ask in a pizzeria we are told that we are 45 miles (more than 70 kilometers) too far. The man checks it for us and yes, he knows for sure, we should have left at exit 23 and we are now at exit 33. But the hotel is really called Lancaster M6 ..., that should be here, shouldn't it!? No, we have to go all the way back to St. Helens.What can we do? We have already booked the hotel and do not feel like looking elsewhere. Fortunately the rain has stopped and this stretch of highway is well lit, so in 40 minutes we are standing in front of the Travelodge St. Helens. But when we step inside, we already know it, here we are completely wrong. And indeed, the hotel belongs to the same chain, but we have to go back to where we came from, we even stopped twice near the good hotel, only the signs there are very bad. So, after another 75 kilometers, we are completely exhausted and still a bit stressed when, finally arriving at the right place, we still have to look for it again. From exhaustion we can not even fall sleep easily. And when we finally sleep, we only dream of passing cars on rainy highways ... Not a nice and quiet start of the holiday. Imagine that we did not leave last night, but only this morning, around 7:30 ... We would not have been able to do today's ride!