Chasing the sun

Sunday 11th February 2024

Our next adventure, “finding the sun” starts today, but though our ferry is not until tomorrow, we have taken the opportunity to visit family and friends around Portsmouth. 

Packing a quart into a pint pot always takes more time than anticipated but eventually we were away an hour or so later than planned.   The car was stacked so high with everything compressed down so that we could get the dog basket in, in fact Tom-Tom and a Rosie probably had more space than we did!!!  They were isolated by a wall of cases, duvet and pillows but they didn’t care, they were in the car.

Firstly we stopped at Pat’s (Christine’s sister) for a lovely hearty lunch then headed to Kathleen (another sister) and Tom”s for afternoon tea with homemade cake 😁😁.  We  then headed to Bill and Jenny’s for dinner and a bed for the night.   Up ‘till this point we had in our minds a leisurely drive to Newhaven arriving around an hour or less before sailing but to our horror, after checking they wanted us to arrive two hours before sailing.   Never having travelled on the Newhaven – Dieppe route, we wondered if there were was something different in the Newhaven dockyard.  The bottom line meant we had to set our alarm for 0600hrs and leave soon after to compensate for the Monday morning rush hour!!!

We had a very jolly evening and enjoyed an Indian takeaway, “more food”, still we did it justice!!!!!!

Monday 12th February 2024

Awoken at 0600hrs by an unwelcome alarm, (we’re not used to this!!!!!) we gathered everything up, sorted the dogs and out and away by 0630hrs.

A straightforward drive with less traffic than we expected, even the Chichester bypass was reasonable; too many people working from home we expect!!! Whatever is the country becoming??

On the Newhaven ferry port web site it stated there was a cafe so we looked forward to having some breakfast on arrival, hence no stops.   Arriving at the ferry port around 0800hrs we were first!!!!   Still we had sufficient space to let the dogs have a run-a-round chasing the ball hoping the cafe would soon open.   Eventually a person from the ferry port walked our way and after enquiring, we were informed the cafe closed during Covid and hasn’t re-opened since; great!!!!   The nearest and only place for breakfast was the local McDonald’s just down the road, nothing else until we board around 1030hrs; why did we leave so early???  McDonalds it is then.

We couldn’t miss the place, a big sign on the local trading estate, so parked up and in we went, along with many others!!!  To be fair the service was good, the breakfast menu was acceptable and we filled up a hole; strangely no complaints😂🤣😁

Back at the port to join a queue allowing us enough time to walk the dogs, along with several others round and round before boarding.    At the point of boarding we were a little concerned because last time we were in Spain with them, we got. them Spanish Passports.   Our concern was simple, when we returned last time we had to return on the short term U.K. passports so there was no record of these dogs arriving on Spanish Passports; no need to worry, we got through!!!

Once boarded we headed up to the seating area by the cafe, got some drinks and settled down playing crib etc., for this four hour crossing whilst Tom-Tom and Rosie slept 🤞🤞 in the back of the car.

After a smooth crossing and a lunch to while away the time, we arrived.  Once called, we got to the car expecting great things being in the front row and ready for the “off”, but we were held back, we were the fourth car off, couldn’t understand the logic there but never mind, we were straight through French border control and hit the road heading for Orleans, about 4-hours away.

Dieppe to Orleans is not a straight forward route unless you use the Peage route and that takes you via Paris, we elected the cross country route.  Most roads were fine but there was one section where there was a diversion and poor Waze couldn’t cope, we seemed to wind our way around several very small villages on narrow roads eventually arriving at the Seine, no road, only a local ferry!!!   We couldn’t go back so took the ferry knowing we “did” have to cross the river Seine sometime!!!  This busy ferry, two cars boarded only, didn’t mess about, no sooner were we on, the ferry went on it’s way, and after a “smooth” crossing taking all of 4-minutes, and “free” to-boot, we were driving off the other side.   After winding our way up some steep hills with numerous hairpin bends, we found a “proper” road where we could “put the foot down”.     By now it was getting dark, just as well we were on a decent road.   Today we watched the dawn break, and now we were watching the sun go down; can’t remember when we last did both of these things in the same day!!!

The unusual ferry!

We arrived at Mike and Catriona’s around 2030hrs and were greeted as long lost relatives, wonderful, swiftly followed by some alcohol🤣🤣🤣 and a well thought out light meal, as we caught up with events.

Tuesday 13th February

After a not-too-early breakfast and bearing in mind today is a work and school day, Christine and I had to make ourselves scarce so headed to a local park set in several acres where the dogs could have their freedom, unlike yesterday, cooped up in the car with moments of freedom.   Adjacent to the park was a Portuguese restaurant where we arranged to meet Catriona for lunch.  This park being a little too far for my knee to cope, I  took to my scooter.   

Lovely park

The dogs had a “field day” running, sniffing and chasing the ball for over an hour in this park; at least they will be worn out during lunch.

As planned we met up with Catriona and enjoyed the “Plat de Jour” accompanied of course with proper French Wine, the sort the local drink, all very nice and compared to England, very reasonable!

We didn’t manage the complete park

After lunch, whilst Catriona headed back to work, we headed back to the park for a final session.  Those poor dogs had two days exercise in one day!!!

Doggies just kept running and running!

In the evening the six of us settled down for a nice meal with much chatter before heading to bed.

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