Shock To The System
The words must've hit all of us at the same time, the radio was now glibly playing some pop tune but our conversation was at a stop.
“Mum?” Jules stated more than really asked.
“Don't worry kids, you're Dad should be well down the road.” Mum tried to soothe.
“But what if he's not?” I whined.
“Drew, its not your Dad.”
“Calm down both of you.” There was an edge to Mum's voice, a worried tone I hadn't heard since she was in hospital.
“And coming up next a classic from the 70's, it's ELO and Mr Blue Sky.”
The traffic shuffled along a bit but despite the happy tone of the music our worries over Dad kept our mood down. Things didn't improve much over the next hour; the traffic moved maybe a mile and each successive news flash just went further to fuel our fears.
We had been in the jam for nearly two hours when my phone went off.
“Drew, it's Dad.”
It was as if a weight was suddenly lifted.
“You don't have to scream kiddo.” Dad complained.
There were loud sighs of relief from the other car occupants.
“Yes I'm okay, can I talk to your Mum?”
“Its Dad, he wants to talk to you Mum.”
“We gathered that” Jules mentioned.
As luck would have it we were stopped so Mum took my handset.
“Where are you love? ” Jules and I only got one side of the conversation which was a bit frustrating.
“We'll see you there then Dave, say goodbye to your Dad kids.”
“Bye Dad!” we both called at the phone.
“See you soon, oops the traffics moving, bye Dave.”
I retrieved my phone and we edged forward again.
“So?” Jules enquired.
“We're going to meet up at Farthing Corner services, then we'll do the last bit to Dover together.” Mum advised.
The radio was playing Sargeant Pepper and our mood was much lighter – even the traffic started to move.
The rest of the trip to the coast was pretty uneventful, Jules did the last bit in the truck with Dad and we just made the check in for our ferry. We reconvened on the ferry, it was pretty busy but we managed to find each other.
“Come on guys, lets go out on deck.” Dad suggested.
The Pride of Calais was already edging out of the harbour by the time we got to the observation deck.
“Lets get some pictures.” Mum instructed.
We used my digital to record the occasion even getting a fellow passenger to take a couple of all four of us with the White Cliffs as a backdrop.
It started to sink in a bit then, this wasn't some holiday trip that we'd return from in a couple of weeks, we were leaving England behind, maybe forever, certainly for several years. I think we were all having similar thoughts as we stood at the rail with the English coastline slipping inexorably away behind us. What will living in Germany really be like? Mum put her arms around me an' Jules and gave our shoulders a squeeze.
“We're really leaving aren't we Mum?” I asked plaintively.
“It'll be okay kids, I promise.” Mum tried to sooth.
We both cuddled up to Mum and Dad joined in by wrapping his arms around the rest of us. The Kent coast disappeared into the distance and soon we could see the French coast instead.
Once on French soil we quickly cleared the port and started the long drive across France and Belgium to our new home. Jules elected to ride with Dad for at least part of the journey of some 400km. Unlike the motorways back home, the French Autoroutes were fairly quiet except around the bigger towns and cities so we made good time.
I have to say I was fascinated, I recognized some of the places we passed from watching Euro sport – and Mum pointed out others that she had visited during last years race circus. We made a couple of stops at services for the essentials and near to Brussels for fuel too. A bit over four hours out of Calais we crossed the German border near Aachen.
“Welcome to Germany kiddo!” Mum enthused.
“Danke.” I used my limited German in reply.
“Only a couple more hours now Drew, we'll stop at Aachener Hof services then drive straight through to Dernau, we should arrive at the house around nine.”
“We're not unpacking tonight are we?”
“No silly, we'll use the camp beds tonight then you and your Dad can unload the truck and trailer while your sister and me go to buy some essentials in Bonn or Koblenz.”
“Aw, can't I come?”
“There'll be plenty of time Drew, I'm sure we'll need lots of stuff. Here we go, Aachener Hof.”
We had a meal, there's no food at the house yet, the restaurant was nothing like the services at home – quite civilised in fact. Then it was back to the car for the last leg.
Mum pointed out the ‘Schumacher Karting Centre' shortly before we turned south onto another quiet almost empty motorway. From my map reading I thought we would turn off at Dreieck Sinzig but we took the turn before that took us directly down to Bad Neunahr. I sort of recognised some of this from last years trip, we passed the Roman villa place and it seemed like moments later we were turning off the main road in Dernau.
Of course I'd seen the new house – well pictures of it but the reality is always different. There was a car parked on the road outside and I was surprised to see lights on inside as we pulled to a halt on the drive.
Maddy Bell 17.09.07 © 2007
Back to Chapter 5.8 On to Chapter 5.10 Back to The Library