Luckily I meet a writing friend June on the coach and she was able to recommend a fabulous place to eat in the sprawling Cite de Europe. “Flunch”. Had great boeuf au saignant, but lousy ice cream. Recovering from outward journey, I purchased two Amelie Nothomb novels written in French with ongoing dreams of being able to read and understand. Plus survival copies of Clairefontaine notebooks with grid lines inside, which don’t remind me of school.
Soon…we are running to the coach as rain hammers with promise of an approaching storm.
We assemble at prompted UK time of 5.15pm. One male is missing. Everyone soon starts getting worked up as we sit and sit…and sit. We try – I try – to push the driver to leave. We dearly don’t want to miss our appointed Ferry slot. Soon discover the missing guy had put some packages in the hold of the coach. The guy who appeared to be travelling with missing fella, says he wasn’t with him and “doesn’t know him”. Yet whispers run round the coach from regular travellers who say they’ve seen them travelling together on a previous trip. We eventually leave in pouring rain. Fear spreads about what is in the hold below. Who leaves their baggages? Is it a bomb? Why does the Turkish guy at the back deny knowledge of his friend?
We pass tent city and can see immigrants running to catch trucks in the distance. It is beyond understanding that society brings this about. Sadness seeps into moi along with the coach which seems to be leaking.
At the Docks, French customs go mad. Hold us back. Take the parcels and bag off the coach. Thunder around. We get soaked not being allowed back on the suspicious coach. After much time and interviewing of suspicious other guy, we file back on. French customs refuse to take the packages which have about £600 of tobacco in them. Why? Eventually trundle on later ferry, all tired, wet and weary.
Boat rocks over the channel in near storm.
Home at last. Almost. English customs have been warned and we are yanked over, yards from the exit. More thumping around by short officious officers. More looking at this guys passport with a spotlight. How threatening? Suspicious packages off and then I believe back on again. Still talk about the two guys having been seen together before. Mysterious. Seems tobacco running is a regular thing. Anyway, no action, massive delays, all weary, driver frantic, nothing changes – we set off. Home. No. I discover the coach is going all round Thanet before coming to Ramsgate. Nearly pass out from low blood sugar. Some kind woman finds me something to eat.
Arrive home at midnight. Wake up this morning with usual swellings and pain. Passing quite quickly though and perking up.
Luckily nothing serious happened to us and I do have the Amelie Nothomb novels to amuse me and enough notebooks to last the year.