Rugby to Dunkirk

Saturday, 3rd January 2015

The day began bright and fair. The ferry was booked for 16:00 but I had to be in Dover an hour earlier for check-in. That left me an hour or so free, so what better than to revisit Summersault and indulge in another slice of the famed lumberjack cake? This I duly did, and most enjoyable it was too. Very highly recommended if you’re in the area, though a tad expensive at £5.60 for the cake and a hot chocolate.

British cars on the continent have to carry a sticker with the letters “GB” on it. I’d bought one last year, a magnetic re-usable one, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, coming into Dover on the A20, there’s a BP service station which has a Spar shop. This shop has a good range of last-minute-before-the-ferry items as well as the usual groceries, and I was easily able to get the necessary GB plate. They have beam deflectors, too, if you happen to have forgotten those. The co-ordinates for your satnav are N 51.1184, E 1.3078.

Next stop proved to be the DFDS check-in as the security checkers were not interested in having a look around the car and my person – I was just waved on. Everything went smoothly and I was soon boarding as night descended. The transit time is just 2 hours but France is an hour in front of UK time so it was after 19:00 when we arrived. The ship had a different layout than the ones I’d previously used so it took me a little while to work out where I’d left the car. I’d really cut it fine as by the time I’d found it and climbed in the bow doors were opened and I drove straight off. It could have been embarrassing as I was in pole position and would have blocked one exit lane had I not moved in time.

The Dunkirk ferry terminal is starting to become familiar, so I was able to drive quite a way before stopping to ask Lori the SatNav Lady to get me to the Dunkirk ibis. Previously, I’ve stayed at the ibis Budget in Grande Synthe but this time the “proper” ibis in the town centre had a special offer so I’d decided to give it a try. It was easy enough to find but there is only on-street parking available at the hotel which made things tricky. The hotel is large, rambling and (shall we say) from a bygone era so all things considered it’ll be the ibis Budget from now on.

The last thing to do on this long and tiring day (hadn’t had much sleep the night before, which is absolutely no reflection on the Travelodge) was to drive over to the Auchan hypermarket and get something to eat at Flunch. This turned out to be Demi Coquelet à la Périgourdine (half a chicken in a truffle sauce) followed by Tarte au Citron Meringuée (lemon meringue pie) and very enjoyable it was, too, especially the ratatouille from the help-yourself accompaniments.

Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

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