Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Day 2

A good day. A gift. Right from waking up to realise I had no hangover and that by continuing on deserted roads the night before, I had cut about 4 hours off today's journey, things just got better.

Since the last time I was here, the Hotel had added sausage, bacon and eggs to their buffet breakfast and we lingered, savoured or pigged out if you prefer. It was self-service but the Frog enjoyed ferrying stuff from the hot plate and kept me in pork products for a good hour. I only discovered later that she had also stuffed her pockets with as many fruit yoghurts as they could reasonably hold. That's my girl.

Right, off to reception to check out the damage. Delightful morning receptionist speaks English. Halfway through our conversation I slip into Hungarian and tell family to get in the car ready for a quick getaway. No mention of the bar tab nor of my raid on the mini-bar. I do not correct the oversight.

So, a leisurely drive through the cow country that is Belgium. It may be famous for chocolate and Stella but going on olfactory evidence alone, it would appear that a large proportion of its gross national product is natural fertiliser and methane.

The ring road around Brusselles is almost deserted. I am blessed. Charmed.

We stop at the last petrol station before France to fill up on diesel and there is an argument in progress at the till. An HGV driver is being told in three languages, none of which he entirely understands, that there is no credit left on his fuel card and that the manager is duty bound to confiscate it. The driver finally realises his predicament and swears. Profusely. Colourfully. With feeling. In Hungarian.

I piss myself laughing and then spend the next hour helping him sort out his problem. Inbetween phone calls, he tells me he wants to go and work in the the time he was working for a company in England owned by an ex-pat Hungarian, hence his weakness in English...and the only way he could get in would be to marry an American citizen, current rate 10,000 US dollars.

Anyway, he buys the Frog a huge fluffy toy in gratitude and we head into France. We arrive at the ferry terminal five hours early, go straight to the check-in and they change my original, late night, cheapo booking to one for the next ferry at no extra charge. It is indeed, my day.

Off the ferry at Dover, quickly adjust wing mirrors and straight into town centre traffic. It is always a shock. I've just travelled across most of Europe and my first reaction on arriving in England is always, "Jesus Christ! Where did all these fucking cars come from?" It's the density, you see...we are indeed a small island.

Right then...onwards, ever onwards. problem. M25...seems to have temporarily given up its role as the largest car park in Europe, at least on the east bound section. M11...a breeze. A1(M)...likewise. Stamford to Boston...a stroll. Twenty minutes later and we arrive in West Keal. It is good to be home. Such days happen all too rarely and, cynic that I am, I fall asleep wondering when the bill will become due.

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