Having retired early, to bed, I mean, with great expectation, we were rudely awoken at 2:15 AM by high winds and lashing rain. Eventually we managed to return to sleep only to be awoken, as planned, by the alarm at 4:30 AM. We drank tea, finished loading the car and set off for Dover at 5:30 AM. Our ferry was at 9:15AM and it should be a drive of about 2 hours 15 minutes but I wanted to allow spare time for the grossly unpredictable (ja)M25 on a weekday commute morning.
We needn’t have bothered. after a dream of a journey, just three miles out of Dover we joined a stationary string of vehicles, mostly lorries (trucks, in Amerispeak). The queue did begin moving and we crawled our way into the port of Dover only to join another queue. This queue didn’t move. Actually there were several separate queues for the individual ferry operators. Our P&O queue continued not to move for about 30 minutes. Eventually a radio travel news broadcast explained all: the overnight storms which had rudely awoken us were severe enough to have rudely stopped all ferry services and we were now sitting in the resultant backlog.
The weather having abated, life slowly began to return to normal and we were checked in to embark upon the next ferry, “whenever it can leave”. It did so at 10:55 AM. The crossing was much better than my weak stomach expected and we disembarked in Calais about two hours behind our original schedule. Not bad, considering the severe conditions and disruption.
Our second glitch came at Rouen. The two hour delay appeared to put us smack bang into Rouen’s rush hour. Well, I assume it was rush hour though it was only 4:30 PM. Either way it took us almost 30 minutes to get through and on to open roads again.
We covered the rest of our route without further mishap and finally checked into our B&B Hotel at Orléans at about 7:30 PM very grateful to be there.
There was, however, one final sting in the day’s tail. Access to the rooms at B&B Hotels is controlled by a code number for a key pad. Gasping for my first glass of vino, I entered the code. A red light flashed. Red is usually not good. This was not good; the door failed to open. I tried again. More red flashing lights. I tried a third time to the same result. Back to reception where I was assured that the code was good and that I must wait for a green light. I returned to the room to try again. Still red. A passing B&B-experienced stranger tried for me and got the same red light. Much head scratching. I returned again to reception and eventual prevailed upon the manager to try. Much head scratching. “Go back to reception – it’s warmer.”
After about 15 minutes of effort using some magic gizmo which, as far as we were concerned, might have been a fireman’s axe, the manager managed to gain entrance to our room and let us in. We’ve no idea what the problem was but we didn’t care. The wine didn’t touch the sides.
After a trying day, we slept well.