June 2015 - France: Friday 12th
All in order and ready for take-off. A mid morning ferry crossing meant that we could have a fairly relaxed breakfast before bidding farewell to our most loved and respected wrinkly hosts. The M25 was a curve of kindness, with heavier traffic going West on the other side. One small highlight before reaching Dover; the carefully printed words taped to the rear end of a heavy truck - LEFT HANDED DRIVER. The Victorians would never have allowed that to happen!
The ferry is my first chance to revisit conversational French. I usually cement the entente cordiale with a condemnation of the quality of coffee being served but this time I simply teased a steward who was handing out the company's magazine. She went to great pains to assure me that its title was 'Traversée' and not the mischievous 'Travesti' which I suggested. My search for a publication on cross-dressing continues!
Calais needs exploring properly to reveal its charms. However, we simply made for the A16 and headed towards Rouen and then Chartres. I always marvel at the familiarity of road signs, landmarks and the names of motorway services. We have travelled in France each year for more than twenty years. Whatever our route, something seems to ring a bell.
Our last taste of home was eaten at lunchtime. Mrs. Cheoff had made splendid filled buns. I'm sure they would have been almost as good without my homemade chutneys! Along the autoroute we made deposits in one well-appointed Villeroy and Boch toilet and in one daunting 'Tunnel of doom' squatter before negotiating the one-way streets of medieval Chartres first time and arriving at 'Maison Ailleurs'.
Valérie presented a delightful afternoon tea table. More of her talents were to come.
Mrs. Cheoff is the sine qua non of holiday researchers and planners. She has a sixth sense for quality which discards swathes of possible B&Bs and gites on seeing a single untoward website photo. This does mean that we end up in some rather smashing accommodation so I just go with the flow and tag along. It's possible that my wife is ne plus ultra in this respect but that would be giving my English rose a little too much Latin temperament, methinks! ;)
We ate out. I won't dwell on our meal. Perhaps a review of our disappointment might appear in time. The evening ended well with a stroll around the darkening streets, stopping to view lighting effects on buildings and landmarks, including the cathedral.
We were guaranteed a restful night in our lovely room. See you in the morning!