No working day ought to begin at 12.50am but mine did last Friday. The alarms were set for 1.30 but after sleeping very little, and that fitfully, I woke then and figured it was better to get up and go with the flow.
My boss picked me up at 2am to drive me to the coach depot. If I took our car, it means my husband is carless all weekend; he has on occasions driven me to the depot but my boss is a night person and is quite happy as it’s cheaper for her to do the drive than pay my petrol expenses. The coach was ready and waiting and before too long the two drivers also arrived and we embarked.
I tried to sleep but dozed a tiny bit on the way down to Surrey. The drivers took turns for naps. We got to the pickup point at around 6.30. No one was there but as it was cold and damp, that wasn’t surprising. The kids and the teachers all arrived in plenty of time and we set off at 7.30 as planned. The kids were pretty young, only 12/13 and all seemed very nice. The teachers were mixed ages, the oldest in her fifties and the youngest being 25. All seemed nice enough, though you always get a sense when someone doesn’t like you very much. I did my best to depersonalise this and since it seemed to be pretty much instant, before I did anything to deserve it, I suspect it was based on something entirely beyond me, such as reminding her of someone else she didn’t like at all. Whatever: not my problem.
Services stop in Kent, for a much needed coffee and then on to Dover. I’ve usually sailed P+O but this time we took the Sea France ferry. I’d rather do P+O in future. It’s hard to put your finger on why exactly, but one thing was certain: the food in the drivers’ lounge is better on P+O. I really didn’t fancy any of the rather greasy and unpleasant looking foods on offer and so I made do with the continental breakfast still available. Cheeses, hams, and bread rolls. The pork chops looked like you could use them to make car tyres with.
Disembarking in France, I felt a sense of adventure beginning. The usual bleak countryside of winter passed swiftly until we made our services stop somewhere in Belgium. The same lady was collecting our cents at the loos as last time I stopped there. Onwards. Germany at last. It seemed to take forever but finally we were in Cologne. The last time I entered the city, it was in thick freezing fog and temperatures of minus 4/5 so I didn’t see anything. This time we saw the Lindt chocolate factory and museum on the banks of the Rhine with the choccie fountain lit up as we passed.
We were running a bit late so I’d asked my boss in England to phone ahead to let the Youth Hostel know to hold dinner for us. It wasn’t a problem as the French group were eating dinner when we arrived and we’d have had to wait anyway. Swift trip to rooms to wash hands and then down for dinner. Not terribly sure I would ever choose to eat what I had but I was hungry and I am seldom fussy.
Finally, kids going to rooms, and I can go to mine. Bless German efficiency: a good hot powerful shower and a good bed. Hot chocolate in bed( thank you travel kettle) texts sent to husband to say good night, ten minutes reading to unwind and then finally, bliss- oblivion……