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Just follow the signs.

Posted by Big John on April 25, 2008

Not much time for blogging this week as I’ve been having a few computer problems and some tasks are taking a lot longer to perform than usual.

Wednesday was Saint George’s Day, and being the patriot that I am, I buggered off to France for the day to do some shopping.


(click on all images to enlarge)

The day did not start well, for as I arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal and  pulled into the auto check-in lane I was ‘blinded’ by a huge shower of seagull shit hitting the windscreen of my car. In fact the whole front of the vehicle looked as if someone had thrown a bucket of whitewash all over it. Still, it gave the security guard a good laugh as he checked the car for explosives.

Rainy Calais

The weather was bloody awful with fog on the motorway between Coquelles and Boulogne, but I wasn’t there for the weather, I was there to load up with French goodies, which despite the fall in the value of the pound are still a ‘good buy’.

Not enough signs

I drove back to Le Tunnel sous La Manche in the pissing rain (Well at least it washed off the seagull crap), and was astonished to find the approach roads and the terminal itself almost deserted. Even the McDonald’s ‘Quick’ take-away was closed.  “Sacre Bléu” ! … Do you suppose that the French really eat ‘Le Grand Mac’ ?

After having my car checked again for explosives; this time by a cute little douanier mademoiselle, I proceeded to the UK ‘frontier’, which although still in France is now part of the new United Kingdom Border Agency, which as far as I could tell just means new uniforms and new signs. All the cars were queueing at the sign under the green arrow on the right hand side of the booth where passports are checked. The sign had the usual blue EU flag on it with the words UK and EU citizens. To the left of the booth was another green arrow, but no sign. The only car at that window had a Swiss registration number plate.

Although the French frontier police expect British drivers to be sitting on the right hand side of their cars and direct them to a convenient widow, when my turn came at our own border control I had to get out of the car in the rain, and walk around it to hand my passport to the immigration official. I remarked that … “It would have been easier for me (and the other drivers of British cars) if I could have pulled in at the left hand window” … “Why didn’t you ? ” he asked “My mate is sitting there doing nothing” … “Because the sign directed me here” I replied almost adding .. “you stupid sod”. He looked bemused.

It seems incredible that he hadn’t wondered why there was such a long line of cars waiting to be checked by him while ‘his mate’ only had to check the passports of the occupants of the only non-European Union vehicle to be seen.

Blimey ! …With people like him guarding out borders; what must it be like …

…   at Heathrow’s Terminal Five ?  😦


5 Responses to “Just follow the signs.”

  1. frisby said

    According to the film Pulp Fiction, a Big Mac in France is ‘le Big-Mac’…
    Vincent Vega: “And you know what they call a … a … a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?”
    Jules: “They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?”
    Vincent Vega: “No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the f*ck a Quarter Pounder is.”
    Jules: “Then what do they call it?”
    Vincent Vega: “They call it a “Royale” with cheese.”
    Jules: “A “Royale” with cheese! What do they call a Big Mac?”
    Vincent Vega: “A Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it “le Big-Mac”.”

  2. Ginnie said

    From where I sit “popping over to France for a day of shopping” sounds like heaven…despite all the dummies you encounter.

  3. We have the newly refurbished “St Pancras International” literally within walking distance (though the 214 bus takes us to the door), home of the Eurostar, so I would never dream of taking the car to France. Even if I had a car.

    The Eurostar takes you to Paris in little more than the time it takes to find your seat and have breakfast. And the service is like service on the railways used to be in the “good old days”.

    Without a car it’s harder to bring back “French goodies” but, what the heck, just go more often. Anyway, I believe in bringing the goodies back inside me rather than on my back.

    This autumn we are going to Cornuaille, the “French Cornwall”, but I am sure that in the meantime we shall find an opportunity for a Eurostar dash to Paris.

    We did spend a long weekend in Calais and it’s a pretty little town but too full of British people these days. One barman didn’t understand me until I twigged I had to speak to him in English…

  4. I’ve had that, Tiger: he could understand you perfectly: he was just being French and telling you ‘don’t speak your crap French to me, you English type person, I can speak your ugly language perfectly well…’

  5. Terri said

    First of all….poor you, having to jog over to France to get some goodies. Hey, somebody has to do it, right? (and YESSSS, I’m jealous….lol)
    I chuckled at your commentary….kinda scary, isn’t it? And I loved your photos. Really enjoyed this post.

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