Rushes in, posts, rushes out
The audit assessment was all day Friday. All. Day. Friday.
But we passed, and remain accredited, subject to provision of a few extra documents within the next month.
At 16:39 I shot out of work as if pursued by a large tarantula and raced across campus to meet my husband. Then the journey to the long-awaited weekend in Belgium began. We were fine until we reached the Kent border, at which point chaos took over. Because of the situation with the migrants and strikes in Calais, Operation Stack was in place. This involves closing parts of the M20 motorway and parking up HGVs/semis on it.
(Because, you see, this country doesn't think that the French unions are ever going to dare strike and inconvenience us British travelers. So we don't have large lorry parks dotted around the east of England for the use of all the drivers who pour into and out of this country on a daily basis. Nor do we have a decent freight rail network any more as that was cut decades ago.)
Anyway, after a lengthy diversion around rural Kent, we checked in with minutes to spare before boarding for our train was called. Le Shuttle, for those who don't know, is a car train to Calais, which allows a 35 minute crossing seated in your own car rather than having to hassle around parking it on a ferry, leaving it there and proceeding on foot several decks up, there to share your space with other people's badly behaved children for the next two hours. (No, I am not a fan of ferries.)
We made it across in one piece and then had to run the gauntlet of the wandering migrants to get out of Calais and onto the motorway. I just read that a large group of migrants broke into the EuroTunnnel overnight and caused delays. They are everywhere in Calais, trying to get to the UK because they think this place is the land of milk and honey. (Have I got news for them?!)
We successfully negotiated several large groups meandering in and along the roads on the way out of the town and headed without further incident towards the Belgian border. At about 2.30am we rolled into our hotel, where the manager had taped instructions to the foyer door on how to get hold of the key to our room.
And sleep swiftly followed.
Saturday we made our way to our friend's place and indulged in a large amount of multilingual banter with the group gathered there, much eating, some drinking and a lot of fun. And for me, a small mountain of writing, as I had several articles to get through this weekend. It also involved a barbecue , a heap of Belgian icecream and a stream from one of the digital arts parties in Norway. (Where beer costs about £8 a pint...hence why none of us go to that party!)
It was incredibly hot , about 35*C/95*F, so we all sought as much shade as we could and kept drinking non-alcoholic fruit punch until the early evening when the party stream started, running until the early hours of the morning.
After a few more hours' sleep, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to our friend's for the final goodbyes. Mid-afternoon we headed back to Calais, there to stay in a hotel overnight before indulging in some shopping at Cite Europe, where the food and wine is cheaper than here in the UK. This time, we were early arriving at the port, and were able to get a much earlier shuttle than we were originally booked on.
The return journey was much less hassle than the outward one, and we were back here in a couple of hours, allowing time to enjoy some of the wine we had brought back with us before falling into bed again.
Both Mr C and I have today off, so we're heading into town later to Deal With Life. He wants a discussion with his bank about his bank card, I need to go and see my bank and my phone provider plus drop my mother's birthday present and some eBay sales off at the Post Office.
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/outline-map-belgium-geography-322473/ by onestopmap