As you may or may not know, I have horrible anxiety. I am working towards conquering the effects and symptoms of GAD, but it is still a very new diagnosis and not one I can switch on and off. One of my biggest problems is travel. I have the most horrendous travel anxiety. So what did I challenge myself to do… go to a foreign country for a day, of course. Nothing like a knee trembling excursion (and not a knee trembler in a good way thank you matron) to a different country with different money, language & customs to get the fear flowing, especially when you have handed over the reigns to your pals and barely know where you’re going let alone specifics. Jesus Christ with knobs on… here we go!
So, I was up and ready to roll at 6am. Into the car and off to Dover to get the ferry… first hurdle: we missed it. It was fine though, they just booked us into the next one. Parfait! Brekkie on the ferry: Sausage, beans and hash browns. God, I love a PBG (potato based goods.) After an hour or so of not acquiring our sea legs and falling over, we were in France. Back in the car and after a few teething issues with the satnav and getting used to driving on the other side of the road, I promptly fell asleep, so no comment on the journey. Oops. If, in this moment, I need to point out that I wasn’t the one driving, that speaks more about you than it does me.
Fun Fact: France seems to actually value it’s workers and their rights. We arrived in Boulogne-Sur-Mer at lunch time and it was a ghost town. Everywhere was closed for an hour so the workers could have a proper lunch break. That’s right they could eat LUNCH and have an actual BREAK… not continue to sit at their computer and stuff half a sandwich in their mouth whilst still having to answer the phone, Stephanie! Yes France, come thru! We went for the longest walk through the cobblestone streets and stumbled upon a little art installation all about luck. There were black cats and ladders, salt throwing and four leaf clovers, just to name a few. It was beautifully done and intertwined with wild flowers, all which had a connection to luck in some way and as a superstitious Sally, I bloody loved it.
After walking for another small life time we hit the river and things had begun to re-open. We spied a large Carrefour and decided to have a nose around it. Now, here is where we learnt the hard way that backpacks are not allowed in the supermarkets. This is also where I realised that there is a staunch difference in fashion choices between England and France. From the serious amount of eyeballing, pointing, whispering and obvious gossiping, ripped jeans and doc martens are too punk for the people of Boulogne-Sur-Mer.
Anyways, I bought a bag of Maltesers bigger than my head and we pootled on back to the castle. Another fun fact: when you think you’re docs are sufficiently broken in enough to wear them on what is essentially and urban hike, they’re not. Honest to God, I had lines of blisters around the bottoms of my calves where my docs had been rubbing, nasty little blighters. I mean I love ’em, I just don’t necessarily like them right now… kinda like a naughty child.
We decided to take a break and have a car-nic – translated: a picnic in the car. Being the mother duck that I am, I had to make sure to bring enough car snacks for everyone and a large variety, so we had pastries for breakfast, sausage rolls and chicken strips and some crips for lunch and some cheese crackers, gummies, chocolate, mini colin the caterpillars (courtesy of my pal)… what ever you fancied. I even packed a bin bag. After some serious snackage we decided to hit up the museum and the crypt. €10 each for the museum, the new, temporary exhibit and the crypt… um, yes please, sign us up!
There was a lot of pots. Like A LOT of pots. The museum had a lot of Greek and Egyptian artifacts, including a real mummy. Like woah. Fun fact numéro trois: museums are far more fun when you can’t read the captions. It’s like being in an episode of ‘Drunk History.’ So, everything is obviously in French… but my limited french meant that the translations were hazy at best and let’s face it… we were having way too much fun thinking up alternative facts, le président des États-Unis style. Who knows, the seafaring virgin could be the inspiration behind a future ‘Pirates’ film. You just never know these days!
Another car nap later and we were at the Pas De Calais (at least I think that’s what it is called) – the french equivalent of the white cliffs of Dover. We caught it just at golden hour and oh boy, was it beautiful. Windy, but beautiful. We spent a bit of time getting windswept and soaking up the view, but then it was back in the car and off to Cité Europe… essentially a big ole Bluewater. We had a little mooch about, popped into a party store and got scared by the robotic clowns… who spoke English btw?! Went into another massive Carrefour and bought a few bits and bobs, got my mum some stinky cheese and croissants. I know, how stereotypical of me but sometimes the stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason! Something I noticed here was that, whilst the cashiers did not speak English, which we didn’t expect them to, they did realise we were English and spoke much slower and in more simple sentences for us… meaning I could actually understand them, translate for my friends and respond in French too. Result!
Then it was time to miss our ferry again. So we sat in the car for an hour waiting for the next one before returning to good, old Blighty. It was an adventure and whilst I wasn’t always comfortable and did panic a touch, which I fully expected as I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone agreeing to this excursion, it’s true what Winnie the Pooh says, “being brave is easier when you’re not alone.” It was a grand adventure and, whilst I’m not crazy into politics and don’t know all the facts and figures, I am dreading the end of the month. #bettertogether