Now I know some of you are thinking, "Is that annoying woman always on holiday?". Well not really but I always find a few days away are the source of plenty of blogging material, whether it's arguing with a French satnav in Canada or flirting with hotel managers in Barcelona to get a decent room.
As a change from the usual stress of a cheap far-too-early-in-the-morning flight from Stansted or East Midlands, we decided for our half-term break to let the train take the strain. So this morning we leave the house at a much more reasonable 9.30am to drive to Ebbsfleet to pick up the Eurostar. Ebbsfleet is in the middle of nowhere just off the M25 near Dartford and must be the quietest train station I've ever been to. A huge car-park with too many free spaces initiates the usual inability to make a quick decision from my better half. Eventually we settle on a spot miles away from anyone else and still can't get between the white lines without a bit of extra shuffling. Ravenous at this point, we unpack the bacon rolls I made up before we left and start scoffing. Two minutes later a car pulls up and parks right next to us. How dare he! I imagine he is probably more embarrassed than we are, especially as his wife is looking at him with a face that says, "Of all the spaces in the whole car park, and you have to park next to a car full of picnickers!".
Have a fine time people watching in the departure lounge. A beautiful leggy blonde takes my hubby's eye and most of the male populus in the vicinity, including a cluster of priests who tussle with each other as to who's sitting where. Eventually one who looks very like Ernie Wise, complete with outrageous comb-over which begins at the back of his collar and ends just above his eyebrows, bags the seat next to the blonde. Head honcho Priest, extremely handsome and somewhat malevolent in a Da Vinci Code kind of way, has the job of getting snacks from Caffe Nero for his godly posse, and returns with an assortment of trendy crisps a la Kettle style, a few bars of Green & Black's chocolate and a tray of cappuccinos. The sight of a dozen priests, head to toe in traditional black garb, immersing themselves in modern day cafe culture, brings a broad smile to my face.
A very quick Eurostar journey ends in Lille, our stop for the night before we get the TGV train to the South of France in the morning. Dougie goes walkabout as soon as we arrive to find somewhere for dinner. It's cold and raining when he returns so our brisk walk into town en famille finishes abruptly at a restaurant quaintly named "Hippopotamus". There's nothing like authentic French cuisine to make you feel you're on your holidays....and this is nothing like authentic French cuisine. But we can't complain as the steak, chips and Ben & Jerry's ice cream go down a treat!