WhatsApp Image 2022-04-08 at 11.18.03 AM

Off Again

Well it’s only been just over a week, but it’s once again time to hit the road. Ciaran has kindly lent me his campervan for this trip, which will allow me to take up to 6 passengers wherever they need to go. I’ll be doing this trip solo, but Bear and Ciaran will be helping me along the way with logistics.

The plan is to head out from my home in Durham this afternoon, pick up some aid in York along the way and then trundle down to Folkestone and jump on the 1:20am Chunnel to Calais (massive Brexit queues permitting). Then tomorrow I’ll be driving to Vohenstrauss in Germany, near the border with Czechia, staying there the night and then pressing on to Medyka to meet up with Gordon on Sunday.

Early Monday I’ll be leaving Warsaw with a family of refugees, arriving back in the UK on Tuesday… livestreaming all the way!

That’s the plan. Let’s see how far we get!

I had to wait in for a delivery of of oxygen, which I’d be taking to Doc Gordon on the border. While I was waiting, a Polish friend of ours, Milena, got in touch to say that a friend of hers, Helen, had a large bag of children’s clothes that had been collected by a local church group for the Ukrainian refugees, if we wanted it I could go pick it up. Thanks Helen!

At the same time, Bear got in touch to say that his friend Tracey had some children’s clothes that had been collected at a foodbank in York. I called Tracey and it turned out that she had an entire lock-up filled with clothes, pushchairs, nappies, sanitary towels etc… all stuff that Doctor Gordon had told me was needed at the border.

The oxygen arrived just after 3pm. I said my fond farewells to my beautiful Kathryn, and hit the road.

I arrived in York at about 4.30pm. I met with Tracey and we went to her lock-up together, almost filling the van with all the stuff she had stored in there. Thanks Tracey!

It was around 5.30pm before I got going again, racing to Folkestone to get on the Channel Tunnel. I had booked the 1.20am slot and aimed to get there around midnight so I had plenty of time to check-in and go through all the passport regulations that our government’s catastrophic Brexit policy has made necessary. I even had time to stop at Peterborough services.

Only… the M20 was shut. Why? Well, because of Brexit, of course! The government’s EU export website had been down for the last week or so. With no GVMS numbers forthcoming, nothing could leave the country via Dover in a HGV. As a result, the M20 had been turned into a lorry park, with literally thousands of massive lorries belching out toxic gases all over the “garden” county of Kent.

The lorry drivers weren’t allowed out of their cabs. They had to piss in bottles and shit in buckets. The police patrolling the closed motorway were going up and down making sure that the shit and piss was kept in the cab and that nobody threw it out onto the road or grass verge. They also weren’t allowed to sleep. The Poo Patrol (Kent Police) would bang on the windows to wake up any truckers who dared begin to snooze after 37 hours sitting in a makeshift car park with no facilities. Sounds like torture to me, and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that.

But we can all agree that Brexit voters knew what they were voting for… right…?

With the M20 out of action, Google Maps took me on a magical mystery tour of Kent’s country lanes, and I eventually got to the port a little later than I would have liked, at around 12.30am.

Usually this wouldn’t be a bother, but… ARRRRRRGH… Brexit. Because the booking system hadn’t recorded my passport details from the last trip, I had to go into the terminal building and give them in there. More wasted time, then I had to queue up to get through customs (that would have been unnecessary had it not been for Brexit), and then queue up to get a stamp in my passport for France. Another Brexit bonus.

This Brexit thing is going great, isn’t it?

By the time I got to the lanes for getting on the train, it was around 1am. Not optimal, but still, I was on time.

But my lane didn’t move. 1.20am came and went. I missed my booked train. I’d have to get on the next one in an hour.

Then 2.20am came and went.

It wasn’t until 3.20am that I was on the train under the channel. 4.20am French time.

I arrived in France after 5am, entirely grumpy. Checking into a hotel at this hour would be madness, so I drove for 55 minutes over the border into Belgium and stopped at a service station recommended by Ciaran as somewhere I could get my head down for a few hours. Only all of the parking places were taken! After driving around and around for a few minutes, I thought “sod it”, parked in a space of my own creation, put a reflective blind up over the windscreen and fell fast asleep.

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