Monday, 2 December 2013

Sunrise over the channel; sunset over the Jura

Long day on the road today, somewhat stressful due to warning lights in my car and that bane of modern travellers - the sat-nav.
We were travelling from Thorney to Bourg-St-Maurice in the Savoy Alps to help carry stuff down for Sam and Lucy and to spend a week with them with a bit of sightseeing and skiing. We were booked on the 7.30am ferry from Dover to Calais which meant check-in no later than 7am and a 4am start from Thorney (so 3am alarm call). Actually, that's not that much earlier than my regular 5am work start.
I had been a little concerned on Sunday that my car had been hesitating a little before the turbocharger kicked in. I thought something might be going wrong, but it seemed fine on Monday morning and we had a good run down to Dover, getting there about 6.30am, so I stopped to fill up before checking in.
When I restarted, the engine warning light came on and an error message said "excessive emissions". There wasn't much choice but to carry on and hope for the best. The car seemed OK. I'd hoped it might sort itself out while parked up in the ferry, but as we drove off in France, with 600 miles of autoroute ahead of us, the warning light was still lit up.
It may be a faulty sensor, I guess, but whatever the problem was, it didn't affect the performance at all. We did 600 miles at an average speed of 71mph and fuel consumption of 44mpg. I just hope it keeps going until we get home and I can get it checked out.
As we sailed out of Dover harbour the first glint of pale yellow sun rose above the French coast ahead. We were sailing straight for it and it was nice sitting in the front of the ferry seeing it rise clear of the horizon. It promised to be a decent day weather-wise and that's how it was.
Apart from the stress of engine warning lights and a long journey; the good old sat-nav intervened. We've decided the best route down to Bourg is via Reims, Dijon and Lyon and then straight across towards Chambery, Albertville and Moutiers. The first time we came, Sam's sat-nav took us across towards Geneva from Dijon, then Annecy to Chambery. It's a nice drive through the French Jura, but when you want to get somewhere, sightseeing and scenery are not foremost.
We also got stuck in heavy traffic that day. Coming back, the sat-nav took us into Paris and then up to Dover, which was quite a quick run but would have been quicker without seeing the Eiffel Tower.
When we came earlier this year, we forced the sat-nav to stay on the Autoroute des Anglais and the journey was going really well until we hit horrendous tourist traffic (it was Paris holiday week). The journey back was very good however (we didn't let it head for Paris).
This time, both my and Sam's sat-navs (different makes) were saying Geneva was the way. Sam didn't have a map and Lucy was asleep, so he went as directed. I was trying to flash him and signal to stay on the road, but he didn't see me.
We had a lucky escape (and so did the bird) when a large raptor, perhaps a buzzard, swooped down in front of the car intent on some dead animal. We were heading straight for it and it reacted just in time. I think I brushed its tail with the top edge of the windscreen, but if I'd hit it, then the windscreen would have been staved in. We both heaved a sigh of relief (can birds sigh?).

We saw the sun set over the French Jura and completed the last two hours in darkness. I think you can do the journey in eight and a half hours; we took 10. On the way back, apart from keeping fingers crossed that my car keeps running, I'll be travelling via Lyon.
This is why we have winter tyres fitted.