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Friday, 7 June 2013

Lille Tour - Day 1

Well I'm back in France again and the first day has been slightly stressful at times to say the least!

I'm away for a long weekend with a group of mostly retired, if not, OAP farmers from Warwickshire. They are a nice crowd and I hit it off with them straight away, talking about how to keep a muck heap! We left Stratford this morning, 20 mins late due to one of the old lady's oversleeping! So we merrily set off for Dover down the M40 to be greeted by flashing gantry signs warning of long delays on the M25. Just what I need when I'm running for a ferry and am already slightly pushed for time. So we stopped at services to check information boards and for a 'brief' comfort stop. "15 mins only please, we are chasing this ferry!" So 1/2hr later we leave the services! I had made the decision to go the opposite way round the M25, it was the only chance I had of arriving in Dover on time. We still got held up and finally checked in just 10mins before sailing but we luckily still got on. We drove up the ramp, the back doors closed behind us and we were sailing before the hand break went on. Phew! Now I can relax and enjoy this weekend until its time to run for the ferry home. :-) She says......!

Back on the coach and we're in Calais heading for Vimy Ridge, the Canadian War Memorial, just outside of Arras.
We stopped at the visitor centre and the organiser, Jim, told the group to be back on board in 1 1/2hrs and let them loose. 10 mins later he came and asked me if I could drive them to the memorial after an hour, because the walk would be too much for most and that he would track them all down to tell them the new plan. Surprise, surprise, he couldn't find them all! So after an hour I drove a handful to the memorial and Jim stayed put to look out for people he hadn't been able to find. At this point I had visions of driving round in circles at the time we were due to leave, looking for all my people, who would be running around the memorial park like headless chickens, in a panic that the coach had left without them! But I found them all at the memorial, went back for Jim and left for our hotel in the centre of Lille.

When we arrived at the hotel, I went in and collected the keys and asked them to confirm the time of our dinner to be 1930hrs. The reply I got was not at all what I expected to hear and was certainly one I could have done without. 'You're not booked in with us for dinner. Breakfast only'! Did I hear that right??? So out came all the paperwork and the hotel were insisting that our dinner, for three nights, had been cancelled. It was right that nights 2 & 3, the dinner wasn't required. But somewhere along the line, lost in translation or just someone's major cock up, our dinner had been cancelled. AAAAARGH! So long story short, we have all been fed. But it is yet unknown who is to fit the bill!

So after a good meal accompanied by plenty of French wine, everyone is happy, has a full tummy, and is tired and gone to bed. Surely that is the worst of what is to come? Famous last words! Goodnight x