Well we set the alarm for 6.30 so that we’d be on the road and in Calais early enough to check in for the 8.30 ferry to England. The temperature overnight was almost 30 degrees Celsius but we were unable to open the windows due to mosquitoes and road noise. So the night was spent sweltering in sheets wet with sweat. French houses in this part of the country are not designed to deal with hot weather and retain the heat really well. Needless to say we didn’t need the alarm and were packing the bike by the time it sounded.
The ride down the coast was quite nice with a slight breeze blowing which dropped our temperatures back down again. The coastline around Dunkirk and Calais is quite industrial with lots of chemical plants. There’s also lots of farming country along the coast with huge of fields of wheat, barley and corn.
Arriving at Calais port we spotted police patrolling the high razor wire fences which surround the port. Off to the north of the port we spotted the white roofs of the refugee tents which seems to have now become a permanent refugee camp as no country seems to want to take responsibility to process them.
The border security had been beefed up since last time we visited. Long lines of vehicles queued as French Customs and Immigration checked documents and vehicles. After being processed we then joined an even longer line at the UK checkpoint. The border officials were a good cop, bad cop combination with one asking serious questions whilst the other (a fellow biker) was more impressed with all the stickers on the bike. After a series of questions we were eventually stamped through.
For some strange reason it always seems immigration officials are suspicious of us and there’s a huge feeling of relief getting past the border. If only they knew what it was like to come from a place where the weather was great for most of the year and barbecues at the beach was a weekly occurrence. Then they’d realise that our visit to the UK is just that, a visit. Working and living in the UK is just not on our agenda. Australia is the only place for us. However in the meantime we intend to explore as much as the UK as possible to find those places which are just hidden gems.
At the ticket office we showed our passports, then e-ticket and were directed to the DFDS port to await the ferry. It was here we met up with two Belgians on Honda Transalp. They were setting out on a two week trip through Scotland. It was interesting seeing how they set their bike up and talking to them about bike travelling.
Once the ferry had docked we were the first to embark and the crew waved us through to an area near the front ramp. The perfect spot when it’s time to leave. The crew directed us to tie down area and quickly strapped the bike down. They even used a rubber strip to cover the seat to prevent the tie down strap chaffing the seat. We headed to the cafe and discovered we were the first to arrive.
The English breakfast on the ferry was pretty industrial after the beautiful breakfasts we had in Belgium but it still hit the spot. It seems we’ve become old hands at the ferry crossing now and instead of enjoying the view played cards instead. The ferry across to Dover is always a nice and relaxing way to travel.
As the ferry docked we quickly unstrapped the bike and climbed on. They opened the door, lowered the ramp before waving us through and a few minutes later we were on the motorway heading north.
It’s nice to be back in England and seeing the changes since we’ve left 11 months ago. As we arrived at our friend’s place there was pandemonium as everyone was furiously packing for their summer holidays. Over the next month we’ll be looking after their dogs and exploring some more of Herefordshire’s curiosities.