Susan, as she usually is, was correct. We left at 07:30, I had rather forgotten the other road users at this time of
the day and it was busy, but we were at Folkestone within the two hours. We escaped with minimal duty free excess baggage but did have a bit of a queue on to the train and we do not like queuing at all. And the bloomin sun was shining all the time! Where’s the cloud and rain when you want it? Fans kick in sweetly and the car cools but it all makes me very twitchy.
And then, inevitably, it came to get off the train and I could not start the car. I have a new starter motor and it is a lot fiercer then the original. I’m not sure if it was the new starter, if it was the standing around before loading, if it was too much right pedal, not enough right pedal, but it would not catch. The train was emptying in front of me and was full of perfectly firing modern vehicles sitting patiently(ish) behind. As I was turning the ignition key I could see the nice bright yellow ignition light getting dimmer and dimmer, I was just about ready for the battery to die when it finally spluttered into life. Then plenty of right foot and as quick an exit from a Eurotunnel train as is possible. Ooh I was sweating.
We were off the train about midday, local time and rather than the south western route we normally take via Reims we headed up the cost towards Dunkirk, the A16 towards Bruges, then Gent, skirt Antwerp and then up to Oisterwijk and our hotel. I have the route highlighted on a map, which Susan keeps handy then I mark down the road numbers and main towns on a post-it note and stick that to the steering wheel. I have a pretty good picture in my head of the route and we might refer to the map occasionally or give the sat-nav a whizz every now and then. I have only recently started using a sat-nav but I really don’t like driving unless I have a good idea of the route. Sat-nav lady did a pretty good job actually, she was off our route once but adjusted as we went and got us the hotel in the back of beyond perfectly. I am warming to her.
I must say it was not a great route unless you like lorries, lots of lorries. We were skirting Antwerp and then on the main road for Rotterdam, I suppose these qualify as pretty significant ports and I have never seen so many lorries. Goodness knows what happens when they all arrive, must be chaos.
And the driving in Belgium is nuts, France is all calm and regulated the Dutch are sweetness personified but in
between the Belgium’s drive like loons. It was really quite scary at times.
The only really nice part of the drive was the last few miles as we approached our hotel, a perfect bit of Holland, all those push-bikes and there was even a windmill!
Our hotel is the slightly oddly named Bos & Ven. The website states:
Mansion Hotel Bos & Ven has a glorious past. In 1919 decided "some gentlemen to start a big hotel in the extensive woods of Oisterwijk 1,000 ha." A year later, on June 15, 1920, became the first officially received guests.
Can’t say fairer than that! The hotel and its grounds look lovely, much nicer than on the website but then the opposite is true of the rooms. Functional it may be, inspiring it is not. But I am pretty knackered after a reasonable day at the wheel and the bed looks fine, there is a massive squidgy pillow, huge it is.
From the hotel it is a short 20-30 minute drive to Den Bosch where we take the train on Friday afternoon down to Alessandria in North Western Italy, pretty much due North of Genoa. Now I can enjoy a day or so worrying about getting the car off another train! I think I may need to practice my re-starts!
Mileage at the end of the day: 57,382
Distance covered: 285 miles, 456 KM
One stop for petrol at EUR 1.785 per litre, I had to pre-pay, got very confused, got accused of pushing in and ended up with a measly EUR 50 of petrol. That’s enough for one dodgy re-start in a Daytona!
Highlight of the Day: Getting off the bloody train!
Lowlight of the Day: Very nearly getting stuck on the bloody train!