J’aime l’autoroute française!

We checked out of our hotel at Reims around 10:00 and headed towards our final destination, Calais. The city was 274km away and A26 would take us there.

I must say, driving on the French motorway was a pleasure…

You see what I mean?

Especially, the landscape around Arras, was very flat and open. The scenery may have lacked the grandeur of the Alpine region with the rugged peaks and winding roads, but I preferred the calm and predictable vista on A26 after the continuous driving of the past nine days.

There was just a blue sky and golden crop fields on the both sides of the motorway…

Another thing I liked more about driving on the French motorway than on the German equivalent, was there was hardly no bullies behind their high-powered wheels. I really was fed up with those German drivers who tailgated my car and pressurised me to move to a slower lane despite my speed was nearly 90mph while we were in Bavaria.

The French autoroute was all calm and civilised…

As we got closer to Calais, we started to see more cars with the British number plates. ‘What shall we do at Calais?’ We would have more than six hours to kill before boarding a train home…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Road trip commences…

Ever since my mum has gone home, I am like a deflated balloon. Feeling flat and tired, the only thing I want to do is climbing into a bed and going to sleep. Obviously, the long distance driving did take its toll on me in some way and I am still feeling the effect of it. But also, my mum’s departure has taken all the excitement with it, and now, I am missing all those special moments I shared with her very badly. Hubbie is doing his best to cheer me up but he is not a giggly funny type of person like my mum. Even the weather since the road trip was over is not very great, cool and cloudy. Oh well, I have to accept that it will take sometime before I feel like my usual self again because I was looking forward to seeing her for a long time. Now, the most treasured event is over and this massive comedown is unavoidable…

Anyway, let’s focus on our road trip!

I had been planning this trip which was to visit Bavaria, southern Germany, for a long time. The holiday nearly materialised during the autumn of 2015. However, Mr.B’s condition suddenly worsened and the trip had to be cancelled at the last minute.

Why Bavaria, you may ask?

My late father was very fond of the area and often recounted to us how he was impressed with the beauty of those sweet medieval towns and villages found along the famed Romantische Straße – Romantic Road. I knew that he would have liked to treat my mum to the trip himself and to show her what moved him so much if he was still alive. So I decided to take her there and reminiscence about my lovely dad together.

During the previous planning, I was going to fly us to either Frankfurt or Munich and to use Romantic Road Bus to trace the route. However, mum’s knee and back weren’t so great this time round, therefore, I decided to take her by car.

‘Are you really sure you gonna drive all the way on your own?!’ Everyone who I confided about my ambitious plan gave me the same reaction. I knew it was going to be a long distance yet I also knew it would be doable as long as I limited the mileage to a realistic length everyday.

So our long dreamt mum & daughter road trip commenced…

Our Euro Tunnel ticket was booked for 8:20. So we left Shoreditch at 6:00 sharp. The traffic out of London was not as heavy as the one into London and we were at the terminal much earlier. The staff at the gate gave us a space on the train departing at 8:00 instead so we didn’t have to wait too long in their car park.

Mum posing with a French gendarmé…

I had driven on the other side of the road a few times in the past without any hitch. I hope it will be the same, I thought as I sipped a cup of mocha and nibbled on a pastry we bought at the Starbucks within the terminal building.

Romantic Road, here we come! Mum and I sang as we headed to the train…

The only drawback of travelling on Le Shuttle was the size of their windows…

As I was queuing to use the loo, fellow passengers and I joked how we were all a bit apprehensive about driving in the Continent. ‘”Centreline is on the co-driver’s side!” would be our new mantra!’ We all agreed as the announcement rang out that we would be arriving at Calais in 10 minutes.

Fingers crossed and touch wood!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bank holiday recap 1

Hope everyone had a fabulous bank holiday weekend. Even though the weather was on the chilly side, it didn’t rain (or snow!), and therefore, I say it was ok. During the holiday, we ended up not doing much other than driving to Greenwich and taking a walk around Shoreditch and Soho.

On Good Friday, we decided to visit Tall Ships Festival which was held around Greenwich and Woolwich. Despite my objection, Hubbie insisted on us driving there, rather than using public transport. ‘Woolwich Arsenal Pier is miles away from tube stations!’ Hubbie’s right index finger was firmly placed on a Google map on his Mac. Alright, alright, whatever. I was fine with the idea but Bella had another idea, so it turned out.

My pocket-rocket Bella is absolutely fine with travelling on tube or bus. However, she turns into an absolute nutcase if she is on my lap in a co-driver’s seat. I can’t tell you how many times she head-butted my chin while wriggling like a giant eel in my arms! Why, Bella? What is wrong? She was like in a state of panic, desparately wanting to run away. I should have moved to a back seat with her, but I had to assist Hubbie navigating London’s weekend traffic.

Into Blackwall Tunnel while holding threshing Bella in my arms…

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

No, it was not to be. We managed to find Woolwich Arsenal Pier alright. But we couldn’t find any parking space near the festival! After driving along the blocks lined with double yellow lines, I spotted a sign for NCP, ‘Look! There is a car park!!’ Then, another disappointment. The gate was firmly shut, despite sporting the sign “SPACE”, why?! We had to give up visiting Royal Arsenal in the end…

‘Shall we go home then?’, sighed Hubbie as he steered the car towards the main road. ‘Let’s go to Greenwich Park! Bella can stretch her legs.’ I suggested, hoping the walk may calm her down.

Again, we were disappointed. Car parks around the park were choking with cars! Hubbie started to get cranky because he hated driving in a jam. ‘Well, didn’t I tell you visiting Greenwich by car would be a bad idea?’ I reminded him while I held down equally cranky Bella on my lap.

After arriving home, Hubbie headed straight to bed because he was starting to have migraine. And I made myself a cup of tea because my entire body was so stiff from holding wriggly Bella all afternoon.

What a Good Friday it was….

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bavarian getaway

Before Bella managed to drench her face and paws at the Royal Academy, we visited Waterstones to buy some maps last Sunday.

I was planning a European holiday with my mom sometime this June, and needed large paper maps so I could plot possible route by car.

They will do, Bella.

Yes, I will be driving to Bavaria!

Don’t you worry because I am a seasoned long-distance driver. Enough mileage was clocked up while I was driving for away games, from London to Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff and so on. I also took Mr.B and mom as my passengers to Brittany and Paris in the past.

I want to show my mom Romantic Road and Garmisch-Partenkirchen as they are my late father’s favourite places…

I love to see the sceneries which my dad was so impressed and talked about countless times. Mom and I agree that we want to see what he saw so we can feel him closer.

Now, I haven’t decided if I should take Bella with us or not…

All depends on if Hubbie will be coming with us or not. I must start more detailed planning, however, there are still too many “if”s!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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