Everyone worried about our journey back to the UK. WE worried about our journey back to the UK. The news in France, England and throughout Europe was of snow, delay, disruption. TV images showed exhausted families sleeping on luggage conveyor belts at airports, crammed train stations, lines of immobile traffic on motorways. And we were planning to drive back to England, the best part of 1000 miles away from Laroque. Friends begged us to change our plans, or at least buy snow tyres.
But we decided the information on the internet was at variance with that provided on TV and radio bulletins, and far more positive. Our planned route, as far as http://www.meteo services were concerned, was pretty much fine, apart from some snow as we neared Pas de Calais.
And so it proved.
It did snow, mainly near Rouen. And I wouldn’t have wanted to be a lorry driver. Gendarmes on roundabouts rounded them up from Dreux onwards and sent them on different routes. Just after Rouen, they closed the fast lane of the motorway, and forced all the truckers to park up there, mile after mile of lorries from France, Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, the UK…. And there they all sat in their cabs, unfed, unwatered, puffing away at endless cigarettes, or occasionally jumping down to take a stroll along the not-so-fast-lane. I hope they’re not still there. For us, although driving was tricky for an hour or two, it was a chance to enjoy Winter Wonderland views across hills and forests, only animal tracks disturbing the perfect white landscape
The motorway snow petered out, and we picked up speed, and got to Calais just in time. But the ferry was late. It had become a refuge for those unable to fly, unable to travel Eurostar, but desperate to cross the Channel any way they could. Hard to believe we’d had it so easy. On the other side of the Channel, travelling through to London, we listened to Radio 4. The BBC was full of sad stories of those unable to get home to their families for Christmas. Politicians held forth about how Britain’s handling of the situation was ‘the laughing stock of Europe’. We don’t think so. Things were hardly better in France, to our certain knowledge, and Belgium and Germany weren’t having a good time either. Perhaps it’s quite simply that we humans aren’t quite so in charge as we like to think. Nature has her ways of humbling us after all, from time to time.