/ Europe2011

Last day

Yesterday was hot but today the forecast is for 37°C. Good job we decided on air con in the van. It's 180 miles, forecast at 3½ hours from here to Calais and we have plenty of time.

So firstly into Gulpen to pick up a card for Jens who's 13 tomorrow. A shock at the Post Office where we are informed that stamps come in sheets of 10, so postage costs considerably more than the card. Then back to Margraten to by those essentials we saw cheap yesterday: a new bread knife, oursi s blunt, tent pole to hack together a better quick tent, a window box and a few other bits'n'bobs.

I had a horrible feeling about the Brussels ring road and hoped it would be nowhere near as stationary as its counterpart in Antwerp. Road works nearly confirmed my worst fears with us being almost immobile for over 30 mins, with the temperature gauge rising to 90+ as the baking heat outside gives the radiator little chance to cool. For some reason, Tomtom live services hadn't pre-warned us of this delay otherwise I'm sure we would have been rerouted.

It's hot, it's sultry, it's thunderstorm weather and approaching Calais the familiar lightening zags are already illuminating the sky. Theres still 3 hours before the ferry so we head for the Channel Tunnel area where Cité d'Europe host a huge Carrefour hypermarket. So whilst selecting our ham, cheeses and bargain wines we hear the sound of the torrential rain drumming against the store roof. It's quite some store by the sound if it but time is on our side and we can sit(shop) it out and return to the van in the dry.

We pass immigration and at French customs, being used to the Swiss border control we crawl slowly though without stopping. Mistake! A couple of douaniers pull us back and start on the 3rd degree; destinations, tobacco, contraband etc? There follows a discussion where it is obvious one wants to conduct a van search (hopefully not accompanied by the snap of latex gloves and a personal search). Fortunately his partner decides I've got an honest face and after several worrying moments we're waved through.

After all that excitement the ferry and 2 hour drive back from Dover is thankfully uneventful.