Sometimes it's sunny in England, even in June! In fact we had beautiful weather all the way to the hotel, where we were greeted by the familiar sight of a couple of "Benidorm or Bust" rally cars on their way to cross the water. I think we've seen participating vehicles every June since our first trip to Spain, so it's obviously a long-standing and a very well-supported charity - well done to all who have taken part in the past or who plan to do so in the future!
And, speaking of the future, of course we were hoping that the fine weather would continue - at least, until we got out of the country. After a good night's rest, the morning granted us half of our wish: it was gloriously sunny, but the cooler-than-cool breeze meant that Lorraine kept her neck-warmer on and her jacket securely fastened over an extra cardigan. "A woman is at her happiest when she's warm". Judging by Lorraine's smile, whoever wrote that knew what they were talking about.
Anyway, we were soon on the train, travelling through the tunnel to France! In the "good old days" we always used the channel ferry, but experience has taught us to appreciate the importance of time: more specifically, holiday time. Also, friends had been urging us for years to use the eurotunnel, but we'd always enjoyed the hours of relaxation offered by the RO-RO boats - only in good weather, obviously. Then, one day, we thought we'd give the train a try - and we've not been near a ferry since!
The novelty of "tunnelling" to France still makes us smile, and it's really great to board the train in a sunny but near-freezing England, then to arrive only 30 minutes later in a warm and sunny France. On a good day you can feel the upward change in temperature as the train exits the tunnel.
There's no hanging around, either, first waiting for the ferry to dock and then, of course, scrambling down to the lower decks to untie the bike and ease your way up to the outside world. Within ten minutes of arriving on the train we were on the road, riding free and heading for our first lunch break at an old favourite of ours, Aire de la Baie, Somme. After an hour or so, and pleasantly refreshed, we continued to ease our way southwards. We had an overnight stop planned in Chinon, and Lorraine had requested a room with a view of the 11th century Chateau.
Now, I must admit that when we checked in at the hotel I'm afraid I suffered a teensy-weensy "here we go" moment as Lorraine interrogated the receptionist, asking in her usual direct manner if the view would be as expected. "Oh, yes," twittered the desk clerk, you will love the view from your room!" The Basil Fawlty in me managed, somehow, neither to sigh aloud, nor to roll his eyes.
"You'd better be right!" I thought, as we headed for the lift. Obviously, the young lady didn't know who she was dealing with and, apparently, she seemed to enjoy handing out promises like there was no tomorrow! But: when we arrived in the room and Lorraine threw back the curtains to step onto the balcony, all my fears were set aside.
The chateau gazed down upon us: imperious, high, wide and haughty in its magnificence. Birds sang and the sun continued to shine. Lorraine was content, I was relieved and the desk clerk had, unwittingly, avoided the potential "Wrath of Lorraine"!
She seemed to be reasonably happy, so…
…Looks like we pretty much nailed it this time!
And so we continued our fine and dandy start in a genuine and very positive atmosphere that was to be maintained and enjoyed throughout the rest of our holiday. (Secretly for me, though, the healthy holiday happiness thing really had nothing to do with the "room with a view": it was more in line with the facts; the weather was absolutely perfect, we were only ten yards away from the bar - plus - we had the place almost exclusively to ourselves !)
(And, no - that wasn't because they knew we were coming!)