I’ve decided I’ll tackle my France trip in several posts…this one is about getting ready to go, and the moral of the tale is “Planning is all very well, but you have to remember to actually do the items on your check-list.”
So, back at the end of April, my cousin Lesley invited us to her wedding in Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, Brittany. Her (now) husband, Paskal, is a stalwart Bretton and wanted to get married on July 28th, which is both Lesley’s birthday and the anniversary of the 1488 Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier. That gave me about 13 weeks to plan our journey. At that point I didn’t have a passport or a camper, but just a few weeks later I’d put down a deposit on Old Red and was RSVPing to say that I’d be driving over to celebrate with them. It’s surprising that we made it across the channel at all, let alone that we got back home again!
In June I wrote about my plans for our initial itinerary, and then about our revised plan when I discovered I couldn’t get time off work before the wedding. I booked the outbound journey, sent off my passport application and made lists of the things I’d need to have and do in preparation for our foray onto the continent…
…sadly, I fell into the trap of thinking I had loads of time, and that was about as far as I got with ‘being organised’.
Four weeks before the wedding, I set out on my first proper trip with Old Red (and my good friend, Sarah), and that was when I realised that I needed a gas refill and that I had a bit of an oil issue. In usual Louisa-style I failed to do anything to rectify these two problems in a timely fashion, despite the ambitious adventure looming ahead of me.
With a week to go before the trip I was manically raiding Halfords (and violently abusing my bank balance) to get all the equipment needed to drive in France, whilst stressing about the fact that I had no idea where the paper part of my driving licence might be hiding!
It was far too late to apply for a new one, so in a mad fit of ‘I must do something productive!’ I decided I’d sort out the years-old paperwork that had been cluttering my Mom’s landing and spare room for the past 18 months. Karma must have been smiling on me, and I emerged from my task victorious (and slightly disbelieving of my luck) with my paper licence now safely in my possession!
On the day of the trip the plan was to wake up early, check the oil and water, drive to a garage to get fuel and check the tyre pressures, and set off for work. My Mom was going to bring my sister to meet me in Stratford after lunch and we were going to leave directly for Portsmouth to give us plenty of time to drive down slowly and have a meal along the way. I think it’s safe to say that things didn’t go to plan in the slightest…
First of all, I overslept. Then I discovered that Mom had tried to help by tidying up all the stuff I’d carefully laid out the night before. Then I may have slammed the front door so hard that a pane of glass shattered. Then I got to Stratford to discover that the roads were snarled up with Global Gathering traffic (and would be all day). It was not a good morning. I arrived at work resigned to the fact that I’d have to check the fluids, tyres and get fuel before we set off that afternoon.
3pm rolled around and (FINALLY) we were on our way…well, after we’d visited a camping store to pick up an electric hook-up cable and that gas refill that I’d continued to neglect.
So, 4pm rolled around and (FINALLY) we were on our way. This time it was for real!
Coming Soon: Driving in France Check-list…