Well, I made it! I'm currently sitting in a McDonalds, using the free wifi, in a town Called Cambrai in northern France, the date is July 15th 2010 & it's around lunch time.
My journey began yesterday morning at around 7:00am, this is a painful time of day for me, I don't much like mornings, but I had to be in Dover by 9:15 to sail at 10:00, I actually got there soon after 8:15 & had to wait, but this I can handle.
I never did get round to doing my test run in England, all I managed was to take the tent out of the bag & make sure it was all there with no holes in it. The rest of my kit I just had to have faith in.
So, I boarded the ferry just before 10:00am, this is a first for me as well, I've been on ferries before plenty of times, but never in my own car & never on my own. The 2 hour crossing went well, weather was good & in no time at all I was driving off the other end in Dunkirk. The sun was shining, the roads were very good & I quickly got used to driving on the wrong side. I was happy to be there, driving along the long, straight, tree-lined roads. It was going so well I decided to re-program the sat-nav to take me on the motorway, but keep off the toll routes.
Well, then the heavens opened, the rain came down as bad as I've ever seen it. My car's getting on a bit now, the ventilation isn't up to modern standards & my heater was stuck on cold. The whole car soon fogged up & I couldn't see a thing! The cheapo sat-nav I borrowed off my parents is a bit slow keeping up & I missed a junction or two. So I pulled over, popped the bonnet & managed to get some heat into the heater matrix, put the blower on full & continued my journey.
Eventually I ended up in Cambrai, found the municipal camp site & picked a pitch. It was still pissing it down so I waited in the car for half an hour, listening to French radio & smoking roll-ups. I decided it was unlikely to stop raining & I'd better get on with it.
My tent pitches up inner first, so if it's raining the inside gets wet. I got the inner & poles up as quick as possible & threw the fly sheet over. I would say the whole pitching process took no longer than half an hour, pretty good for a first attempt. Just as I finished pegging the last guy rope, the rain stopped! That's just typical, & I sincerely hope this isn't the way the rest of my holiday is going to go!
I'm still learning my particular camping kit, but I'm learning fast. In no time at all I had the important stuff out & got the stove lit & the coffee pot on (no instant crap for me!).
I spent the rest of the afternoon giving the car a once over, checking fluids & pressures etc. Had some dinner, more coffee & a bottle of cheap red wine I bought from Tesco the previous day. There wasn't much to do as it was Bastille day & everything was closed. I also decided to change all my clocks & watch to French time so I would get used to it.
I must've been in bed for about 10:30pm, just before all the fireworks started, I read a few pages of murder mystery, had a last glass of red then put the light out & soon dropped off.