Friday, January 10, 2014

Heading North

Before it becomes an entirely different holiday season, let me show you around our Christmas vacation.
Yes, I know. My head must be tilted. I cannot for the life of me spontaneously take a photo with a level horizon, and even when I pay attention they come out a bit wonky.
This is Boulogne sur Mer, on the Channel coast where we stopped for the night, having driven across France in a drizzle. Right when we got off the freeway it started raining for real, and we considered ourselves quite brave to take a stroll up the boardwalk to the center of town.
So I took these in the morning, while Jean-Philippe strapped the table top back to the roof of the car. It is our mission to deliver this table to his son, who lives near London.
To cross the water, we took the shuttle through the tunnel. There's a huge parking lot & shopping center for your amusement as you wait for your train, but there weren't many people that morning, and the train before ours was far from full, so they let 'N' train people board the 'M' train. Just drive right on board.
You can get out of your car in the shuttle for the 20-odd minute trip, but why bother? Don't stand between cars, in case somebody didn't set their brake and there's a hic. There is nothing to see. You can't tell how fast you're moving, or how far you've gone. They tell us our average speed is more than 160 kph, which means our top speed must be quite a bit more. You don't feel it at all. Just eventually there's an announcement and they let you out, and you have to drive on the left. Fortunately, there are lots of directions and 'wrong way's painted on the ground.
Once in England, we have a GPS adventure. Typing in the address and not just the post code, JP's phone sends us toward London, fine, then through the heart of the city on surface streets which was a surprise, and finally to a destination in Chiswick or somewhere on the north side with nothing to do with the place we wanted. Idiot thing. We phone Philippe and are told to enter just the post code, which in the UK only refers to a handful of houses or even just one. That gets us to Kenley on the south side of London with no further problem.

The rain continues, and becomes quite serious overnight. By morning it clears up somewhat, but the countryside is so waterlogged you need rubber boots to go hiking at all. I don't really care about mud on my shoes, but JP is much more fastidious. 
Trees are down everywhere and there's a problem on the rail line to the city, so JP and I just wander around the next door town of Purley for the day. Not much to see in Purley, but we stretch things out until a decent time for lunch in a pub, having such classic English fare as bbq pork ribs and steak with peas, with pints of Guinness or cider. There is no bookstore in Purley, I notice, but we will be going to the City another day.

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