Posted by: britgirl82 | August 9, 2010

6th January 2010 – The First Day of a New Life

OK, there is no easy way to write this….the day felt like it would go on forever…(so this entry tries to be as brief as possible!)

4am – BritGirl was up and dressed, in case it was all a dream (nightmare?) and a flight to Bordeaux in the snow would be reality.

4.15am – No chance, with the TV and internet on it was clear that Luton airport was CLOSED – No flights whatsoever due to heavy snow – this was Britain after all – BritGirl’s home country of greatness???

4.30am – BritGirl and her boyfriend made a trip from Stevenage BACK to the now empty flat…..hairy in the snow but we made it – a friend deserves a BIG pat on the back for that trip. And the purpose of a journey back to the empty “home”? Here the parents of Brit Girl waited, with the full white van, planning a trip through the channel tunnel and to Bordeaux….the new plan was for BritGirl and her boyfriend to stow away in the van to France…after that was anyones guess.

5.15am – Once again,  we left the empty flat….4 people squashed into a white transit van, in the snow, bound for France. There are probably lots of rules/laws broken in the next few hours but here goes….

7.00am – Arrival at the Channel Tunnel after a fairly eventless drive by Mr White Van Man….just squashed, dark, cold, nervous – lest we forget this was a move from home to France for a fair number of years. A lot of time was spent worrying/wondering where our earlier chauffeur had got to …. yes, that good friend who was up at 4am to drive us to rendez vous Mr White Van Man, had not confirmed he was home safe and sound out of the snow……..pointless worry it turns out, he was all fine, just a little forgetful!

7.30am – Coffee at the tunnel – Brit Girl now felt VERY sick – we crept through security, no questions asked, all passports present and correct, even for the two additional (and somewhat uncomfortable) passengers…we boarded the train….France truly was going to be the next stop – there was no going back – this was IT.

9.00am – Now on French time and in Calais – Mr White Van Man had a plan – we could not carry on throughout the length of France four people strong….so two of us, Brit Girl and her boyfriend would be dropped off at la Gare (train station) with a view to reaching Bordeaux, however long that would take and via whatever destinations….not forgetting the additional cost.

9.45am – So abandoned at Calais Gare – not the most attractive first stop of the adventure -Calais in the snow was far from picturesque (yes, France too had the white stuff!). Mais oui, from Calais a train ticket to Bordeaux was feasible – if we went back up ‘norf’, to go down ‘sarth’ again (Brit Girl wondered whether the french train system would be much different from the good ol’ British train service…would we find the wrong sort of leaves or dare we joke, snow on the lines here?!), according to the helpful french lady at the station we should arrive in Bordeaux at 6.30pm – a full 8.5 hours after the intended “landing”.

10am – Yes!! The right train was boarded…going to Lilles, where with a quick change onto the TGV Brit Girl would be heading to Bordeaux. Obstacle two completed (first obstacle of course was the lack of aeroplane) and only at a cost of E200 (! – gulp).

So, the sick feeling? Still there! The nerves? Still there? The worry? Yep, still there – lets face it Mr White Van Man and the entire life of Brit Girl may still not make it to Bordeaux – snow was now causing trouble across the main routes in France…..who knew what the next day or so would hold- but the definite answer was, it probably wouldn’t be simple. And that, has become an everlasting strapline for life en France- it might not all be as simple as you first imagined!

A call to the letting agent was made – along the lines of – we won’t be making the 2pm appointment – stuck in snow – only just in the country and at the very wrong end of it- great apologies….the response was typical (Brit Girl was to learn) – “but you have an appointment at 2pm?”

Yes….but clearly being in Calais and with lack of a helicopter or train faster than the speed of sound 2pm was just unrealistic. Ah to then find out that snow had played havoc with the trams in Bordeaux made the trek thus far seem worth it (!) Brit Girl did remember someone assuring her that Bordeaux rarely saw snow – too far South! Clearly this was not true and later in January would again be confirmed as a mistruth if ever there was one…..whoever said moving further south assured better weather?

12pm -Arrival in Lille – pretty station but what felt like the worlds coldest – not expecting a snowy journey or vast periods of time outside, the outfit and shoes were not particularly suitable, scrap that, they were just a BAD BAD decision.

1pm – At 1pm on the 6th January 2010 Brit Girl made her first trip on the TGV – not nearly as exciting as you may imagine. It was just a normal train, with seats like a plane (!) and on this line it only went very fast in select destinations, which from what Brit Girl could make out were few and far between! So….. only 5.5 hours to fill! Letters were written to friends – making light of the adventure’s of day one and starting the many letters of “I miss you”, “our banter isnt the same across the channel” and “do you miss me?”

4pm – News from Mr White Van Man…progress was being made – the white van – and the life and history of Brit Girl was not that far behind the TGV. Point made that the TGV was not all that, a battered and fairly full english white van still made good progress in comparison on the french snow filled roads. We were all aiming for Bordeaux between 6.30pm – 8.00pm…what a day – or really what a night and a day.

6.30pm – Gare St Jean, Bordeaux – this is it, the new home for 2 years. Feelings? Completely numb, probably something to do with the earlier nervousness and definite tiredness -mentally and physically, travelling with worry is not simple…..but the trek across town was made – trams were all functioning normally now and it was just cold, no snow to be seen! Accomodation for the night found, things were looking up.

To cut the day short….the adventure is pretty much over as far as the 6th January goes. Mr White Van Man arrived at about 8pm, stories of travel mishaps were told, hot showers were had, lots of red wine and pasta was consumed at a restaurant we found and that was it day done. It was not as easy as it should have been, it aged all of us by about a year and Brit Girl has never really got over the feelings of that day….was it a sign? What a journey……..

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