I was greeted by a fine sunny day as I got up and I
didn't really have a great deal to do as I had packed most of my gear the
afternoon before. Jayne and I went into the town for coffee before coming back
to enable me to finish packing the last few items and go over my "checklist"
several more times. My son James had agreed to take me to Portsmouth to meet up
with "Le Mans James" and I said my goodbyes to Jayne and we loaded up the car to
leave at 11.45. Even with all the checking, I had forgotten something and James
came to the rescue with the question "Don't you usually take a chair?"
With my folding chair retrieved from the shed and loaded into James' car, we set
off for what would be my first ride in his recently acquired Clio RS Sport.
We made pretty good time to the ferry terminal arriving about 12.45.
It was while we're on the way that I had a call
from LM James. We were only just out of Lymington when he called to say
that he was having really bad traffic problems and was stuck in a nose to tail
jam. He phoned again just as we were arriving in Portsmouth to say that the
situation hadn't really improved and his detours had merely led him into further
traffic chaos Still, I wasn't worried, the ferry didn't leave until 2.45
and there was still plenty of time to check in. So I got my bags out of
James's car and set up to wait in the spot that I'd become very familiar with
over the previous seven years. Sure enough, James rolled into view into
the terminal at 1.35 and I soon had my bags stowed in the Laguna, which was
making his second trip to Le Mans.
We were quickly through the check in and after only
5 minutes or so in the first queue we proceeded into the port to the second one,
where we waited for about 10 minutes before driving on to the ferry. By 2.35 we
had already found our cabin and were up in the bar having ham, cheese and sun
dried tomato baguettes and coffee, exchanging the by now standard incredulities
that we were off to Le Mans again.
We whiled away the time between being on deck, the
cabin and checking out the standard items on offer in the on board shops (James
somehow managed to resist buying hats in both the pink and the sailor's
variety!), before heading to the self-service restaurant at around 7.30 where I
indulged in a surprisingly good dinner of fish and chips.
Before long the
French coast appeared and we started the familiar run into Caen (Ouistreham),
docking a minute or two after 9.30. As the ferry was very lightly loaded,
we were off pretty quickly although it took a little longer than usual to get
through Border Control, where the checks were a little more detailed this year.
But we were soon on the road out of Ouistreham and onto the autoroute heading
After an uneventful and largely traffic-free journey we arrived at our hotel in
about 10.55. We were lucky as the manager was just leaving but paused long
enough to give us our keys, so we were able to get into our rooms in a matter of
moments, with none of the fun and games we had two years ago. It had felt
like quite a long day and with the weather still very warm, it was a case of
retiring as soon as possible for some sleep.