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Old 8 Jan 12, 06:20 PM  
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geoffa
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Coach Trip – “The Voyage of the Damned” - Day 1

Coach Trip – “The Voyage of the Damned”
(Formerly “Non toppo in vista”)
Day 1

We drag ourselves into Harrow town centre at around 8a.m. complete with enough luggage for a round the world trip. We are supposed to be picked up at 8:30 a.m. Our pick-up point is by the Post Office. They haven’t said if it’s the old Post Office, now boarded up or the new Post Office which used to be the Electricity Board showrooms.
Anyhow, a man pulls up in a cab and starts waving a laminated card in the air which says “Leger Holidays”. Having struggled to get all our bags in to the over compact boot of his car, we then head to Watford where we are to pick up two other people and their luggage. I’m sitting there wondering if they are to be strapped to the roof rack of the vehicle. We are joined by a Grandmother and her grumpy teenage grand-daughter and the remainder of the journey along the M25 becomes very cosy with 3 of us squashed on the back seat with a four foot holdall across our laps. Granny sits in comfort in the front. After 20 minutes of feeling like a slice of Co-op ham in a funeral sandwich I disembark with my OH, Darrin and said Grand-daughter. We have a little time to wait whilst the coaches start to appear. Leger don’t actually own any coaches. How it works is they say to a coach company: Buy a luxury coach, put our livery on it and we’ll supply you with constant business. So all these vehicles pour down from various regions of the country and some meet up at South Mimms services. It’s here that you join one of them to be taken down through Kent and to the port of Dover. (What a dump that place is. If I lived there I’d be heading for a swim across the channel). Mind you Calais ain’t much better! We whizz through Customs and Passport Control with a wave of a hand like they seem glad to get rid of us. We then depart the coach into an eatery / souvenir / rip off bureau de change “holding pen” whilst they sort out which coach is going where and ensure the luggage is transferred to the appropriate one. Eventually we board coach no 36 bound for Lake Como. A short drive and we are in the bowels of the Pride of Calais – one of P & O’s ferries.

We’ve booked the Club Lounge – those who know us will realise that Darrin doesn’t do steerage! A complimentary glass of champagne later and we sit and listen to a female passenger having a fit over being expected to pay for a small meal. Now, admittedly if you book an airport lounge the food is free but it doesn’t work like that on a ferry. We wait until the queue at the restaurant has slimmed down and go to have lunch. I opt for the fish and chips and “mooshy peeze” as the French chef calls them. Darrin opts for a child portion. Now let’s get things in proportion. (No pun intended.) Child meal = reduced price. So I’m not stealing anything from them. They insist they must see a child before they will serve a child meal. I try to explain that because of surgery my OH can’t eat a mountainous meal. No. They are not having it. So I ask if I can have a battered cod on its ownsome. Yes. That’s fine….until we get to the till. They want to charge us for the full meal. The lad on the register was happy to ring it up as a child meal but he is over-ruled by a supervisor. So, today Ladies & Gentleman I am awarding the yellow card to P & O Ferries.



The weather is kind to us and we rock and roll gently towards Calais across La Manche. When we arrive all the Sea France ferries are in darkness. Their staff have been on strike since about 1923 so there are no sailings with that company. Again we are waved through Customs and Immigration. Our driver must have some contacts! Or he has offended Theresa May! I should mention we have Big Al and Wee Al – both from Scotland -as our drivers and what a brilliant pair they turn out to be as you’ll find out later.

We then swerve into a petrol station. The coach hasn’t been filled since Edinburgh and is travelling on fumes. As our seat is alongside the pump we are able to watch the dials whizz round. I’ve never really considered what capacity the fuel tank is on a coach but now I can tell you. 450 litres at a cost of Euro 637 (£ 547 approx.) at time of filling. I proffer my Nectar Card but it seems they don’t accept them. We now have a three hour drive along the A26 towards Reims, the centre of the champagne region. Our hotel is the Ibis at Tinqueux and I have to say if I ever motor across France I would certainly choose it for an overnight stay. Clean, comfy, friendly and about £70 a night if you were paying cash or card. (Ours is included of course). Nice modern décor and a carpet that is like walking through a field of poppies. It has a little bar area and attached is a steakhouse where the meat is cooked over a massive wood fire. Pere Noel (Father Christmas) calls in each evening to hand out little gifts of sweets to any children in the restaurant.

We both choose a brochette which is steak cubed and served on a skewer – cooked EXACTLY as we requested ( a poignee – medium rare) as we don’t like it “bleu” which is too raw. Whilst I like my meat red I prefer it to be of the dead variety rather than still mooing on the plate! A comfy night under a lush warm duvet follows and we sleep like babies.

A seven hour trip faces us tomorrow as we make our way down through Switzerland and into Italy via the Gotthard tunnel under the Alps.
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Edited at 07:47 PM.
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Old 8 Jan 12, 06:23 PM  
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Mouse mess
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Loved it... I want to jump on that bed!

P&O should be ashamed of themselves!

Looking forward to more.
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Old 8 Jan 12, 06:41 PM  
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MrsBC
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I remember Leger well! One trip to DLP in 1997 - me with 3 stroppy teens, 1 sister who doesn't get out much and 1 mum who was a Guide captain for years and still treats us all like Girl Guides when we go anywhere! The journey there went on forever, and I'm sure the return one is still going on somewhere! - I'm hyperventilating thinking about it, it scarred me for years
Yours sounds fab in comparison!
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Old 8 Jan 12, 06:42 PM  
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geoffa
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Originally Posted by MrsBC View Post
I'm hyperventilating thinking about it, it scarred me for years
Yours sounds fab in comparison!
Oh! Just you wait...
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Old 8 Jan 12, 06:47 PM  
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highland lass
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this sounds an interesting trippie
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Old 8 Jan 12, 06:52 PM  
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MrsBC
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Originally Posted by geoffa View Post
Oh! Just you wait...
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Old 8 Jan 12, 07:15 PM  
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nickymouse66
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Looking forward to day 2!
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Old 9 Jan 12, 09:06 PM  
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Melanie R
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Just caught up with this Geoff - great start, off to read the rest
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Old 10 Jan 12, 12:02 AM  
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Gill H
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That Ibis looks nice. We have stayed in a couple in Germany and they're fine, but not as nice looking and sounding as yours!
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Old 10 Jan 12, 08:26 PM  
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Lisa-72
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Great start what looks a very interesting trip.
Poor service from P&O.
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