I thought I’d give you an idea of how the journey back to Spain is organised. It’s not rocket science but it does need to be done carefully to keep problems to a minimum. The big difference this year is that I have to drive most of the way on my own as Mary has already flown back so she could start her  training yesterday.

Greg & Karen got married up in Edzell on Friday 2 September. We had a great day and everything went really well. We stayed at the wedding hotel that night along with the happy couple and George, Fiona and Ben. The following morning we all had breakfast together then said goodbye to each other and went our respective ways.

For Mary and I, that meant driving straight down to Newcastle so she could catch a flight to Barcelona on the Sunday morning. It also meant we had already packed the Audi with all the stuff we were taking back to Spain so room was at a premium. When we made our usual comfort stop in Lauder just south of Edinburgh, I asked Mary to drive for a bit to let me have 40 winks, but she got right in the spirit and drove the rest of the way to Cullercoats north of Newcastle where her sister and family live.

The next morning I dropped Mary at the airport then had lunch with my Auntie Pat who lives close by in Ponteland. We had a lovely catch-up and she served up a delicious salad just as I had suggested. This tells you it’s back to healthy eating after one too many onion bridies, chicken curries and fish suppers over the summer! After lunch, I drove a further 100 miles down to Leeds to spend the night with Uncle Terry and Auntie Ellen.

They as always made me more than welcome but I was able to treat them to tea in a pub as it would be their 57th wedding anniversary the next day. I also caught up on all their news and was delighted that they are both well and looking forward to moving in to their new bungalow (which they’ve had built in their garden!)

Up with the lark on Monday, Ellen served me up a cooked breakfast before we hugged each other farewell and I headed south in the Audi. But only as far as Doncaster where, with the help of Victoria the SatNav girl, I found the house of the person from whom we had won a new awning in an eBay auction. I chucked it in the back seat, paid up and hit the A1M south. My journey was incident-free and I cruised around the M25, over the Dartford Crossing, down the M20 and into the Channel Tunnel terminus.

Indeed I got on a train 30 minutes earlier than the one I’d booked which you can do if there’s room (which there usually is). I think I nodded off during the crossing but in the blink of an eye I was in Sangatte on the edge of Calais. Yes, that’s the Calais which was being brought to a standstill by protesters moaning about the refugee camps. There were lorries and tractors everywhere and normal movement was impossible but the police sneaked us down wee roads and the wrong way along one-way streets until we could use the further parts of the motorways.

I arrived at my hotel in Laon just after nine in the evening, had the food I’d bought en route and went to bed just after ten-thirty. After a brief chat with Mary to find out how her first day back had gone, it was lights out and Hello Sandman. I slept quite well, waking at six then turning over until eight. Breakfast was a bowl of Cheerios I’d brought with me and I’d even remembered to buy milk in a motorway shop.

By ten o’clock, I’d been to Carrefour supermarket, bought my lunch and tea and filled the tank again. The weather continued to be very poor with a thick shroud of mist hanging over the entire north of France but I was hoping it would improve the further south I drove. The actual route I had perused the previous night in bed was a choice between south-west to Paris, around the edge of the capital then due south via Orleans or south to Rheims, through the Champagne region to Troyes (not the wooden horse one!) over to Auxerre then the Bourges road before taking the free motorway south to Clermont-Ferrand.

I opted for the latter just to stay off the motorways lest I die of boredom. In the end it was a good choice, although it did get complicated and I did get lost twice. But no harm done. I wasn’t in a great hurry and I saw some brilliant French countryside and villages, the strangest of which were called “Billy Le Grand” and “Les Archies”. How strange!

Eight hours after leaving Laon I arrived at the Ibis hotel in Aubière a suburb of Clermont-Ferrand. I checked in, had my tea and I’ve settled down to watch the Belorussia v France World Cup qualifier on TF1. Mary has called to update me on how things are in Vilanova and I can’t wait to get there tomorrow evening. It’s a journey of 415 miles, south to the Millau Viaduct, further south to Béziers, along the south coast of France to the Spanish border in the  Pyrenees then down through Cataluña, around the back of Barcelona and finally back to the coast and Vilanova. Phheeew!

What else could I leave you with but a photo of the newlyweds. All my love guys!

Congratulations to you both

Congratulations to you both