By Land & Sea

Last year I had a dilemma. I needed to get to a town on the north-west coast of France for one of my bessie’s Stag Do, so set about doing the usual – checking for flights.

A bit of research revealed that I could indeed make the journey by air, with a bit of faffing, but it wasn’t floating my boat. The reason for this is that I’m bored of airports and the daft amounts of time it takes to actually get in the air, even if you’re travelling a short distance. So I decided to check out my other options and within no time had come up with an alternative plan.

Were I to ride, it would mean and interesting journey across the coast of France for 2-3 hours maximum, and even less if I took motorway routes. Now, quite often we use the Channel Tunnel because it gets you there in twenty minutes. However, my other problem was that I needed to be at the hotel for the start of proceedings by 10AM at the latest, the day after I had gotten off deadline. Point being, the tunnel would have me a couple of hundred miles further up the coast and therefore I would be late. So I had a look at Brittany Ferries, who we’ve travelled with before, and realised that my new plan fitted like the proverbial glove.


I could leave work when we were done, go home and relax for an hour or two, then head down to Portsmouth for a 10PM sailing. The boat docks at 6AM, giving me 3-4 hours to do my journey without a sodding check-in queue in sight. Love it!

So on the right evening I packed and jumped on my trusty ‘termer last year, the Benelli Tornado and headed for Portsmouth. Now, one thing that didn’t quite work in my favour was that it was the Easter holidays that Friday, and the boat was rammed with families and screaming children, so there were no cabins available. Still, I was able to get some rest after watching practice from a MotoGP round on the Boat’s TVs. Enough so, that when I rolled off the boat I wasn’t too tired, though tired enough to somehow lose my directions. Drat!


Now, I’d packed my satnav anyway and had the hotel post-code, and set about jury-rigging it up by the French road-side. It was all going so well until my travel screwdriver snapped, connecting with both points, blowing me back in a huge cloud of sparks and terrifying passing traffic, all of whom slewed onto the other side of the road in terror, creating more terror for those coming in the opposite direction! Sorry about that! Anyhoo, screwdriver broken I managed to plumb it in with the rather inventive use of chewing gum (not kidding), and hurrah, it worked all the way to my destination. I even got there in time, too, to dress up like Robin Hood, or the gay version, rather. Teaches me for not taking my own outfit!


The Stag Do was a great success, and the next morning I headed off at 9AM, chewing-gum’d up my satnav again and headed for Caen and the returning ferry. The Benelli was ace over the whole trip, behaved impeccably and was a lot of fun, too. On the sailing back there were few kids and plenty of cabins, so I spent a peaceful six hours to relax and recuperate and felt great on the last ride back home.

Which in a round-about way leads me to my point – that travelling by boat rocks, and not just when it’s stormy! It’s like slow-eating, but on the travelling front. If you are doing a trip to Europe, quick or otherwise, I’d really suggest giving it some thought. Time to chill can be imperative if you’ve a long journey ahead of you, out or inbound. Have a look at Brittany Ferries schedule next time you’re thinking of going abroad, even if it’s for something quick as when you wake up, you’re there and feeling refreshed. As long as you can drag yourself away from the bar, of course!



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