#15: Drive across Europe at night

I put this on the list myself, as it addresses quite a number of my limitations. For me, driving at all is far from comfortable; and driving in the dark is mildly alarming. Driving on the wrong side of the road is very alarming, while driving an unknown route somewhere I have never been before brings us into the realm of naked terror. So, time to put it all together, and get on with it!

And so we did. We entered the Eurotunnel about 7pm, with the poorly formed ‘plan’ to drive all night by turns. Since it should take 10.5 hours to reach our destination, we ought to be in the mountains of the Czech Republic for an early breakfast. That was without reckoning on the vagaries of the sat nav, (which took us a circuitous route adding 2 hours to the journey). And then there was the unscheduled stop at a Belgian A and E department, in desperate search of any medication that could stop our youngest from screaming that her ear hurt. It is hard to convey the level of desperation that had overtaken our vehicle after 2 hours of this. The first packing oversight was revealed. I can see the Calpol sitting in the medicine cupboard at home. Why didn’t I put it in the bag? Why? Why?

We had to wait an hour and a half, but eventually left the Clinique Notre Dame in triumphant possession of some children’s Nurofen. It was by then 11.30 pm. We’d been going 5+ hours and were still in Belguim. Not good. I drove for another hour, handed over, Dave lasted til 2.30am. Then I bolted a coffee, resumed my shift, and managed to drive another 3 hours, crossing much of Germany, with the rest of the family slumbering all around, and ‘Pimsleur’s Guide to speaking Czech’ on the cd player. Congratulating myself on my quite brilliant efficiency. (A shame not to be knitting the socks as well, but probably wiser not to).

I did feel quite a weighty responsibility, alone at the wheel, everyone else sleeping peacefully, with no idea where I was taking them or quite how many fast-moving lorries I was negotiating. The whole experience was strangely very calm, in stark contrast to the family life of our waking hours.

By 6am I handed back, very happy to be able to tick that one off. Though I suppose we still have to get home somehow next week.

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