Local Heart, Global Soul

February 4, 2017

No One Seems To Be Sitting On The Fence…

Filed under: Calais,Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After the funeral service of one of our friends in Folkestone, England, we visit our friend’s wife at home.

We know that there will be some time needed before she will feel like a holiday abroad, but make it known that she is always welcome at our home in The Netherlands.

She made several visits with her husband before, we know that the first one without him will not be easy.

We have a very early start the next morning because we have to be back in the Hague in time to pick the kids up from the locations where they have been billeted.

The journey on the channel tunnel train goes smoothly, and soon we are exiting the Calais area.

At once the tall barrier fences everywhere become obvious: needed because of the constant stream of refugees and people seeking a better economic future in the United Kingdom are risking life and limb to cross the channel by getting into the channel train tunnel.

They also try and gain access to the Port of Calais, board tourist campers and vans, and commercial trucks, and we saw on this trip and previous one, pairs or groups of people walking close to the fences, looking for a way through them or around them. It’s a sad statement about the inequalities of not just standards of living around the world but also the huge variations in political stability that forces people to be desperate enough to make these dangerous attempts.  These fences have grown and grown in recent years, so now we can be even quite a way out from Calais and we see the fences starting. They are a sign of the current times… whatever you think about the situation that makes them necessary: opinions are usually starkly divided: no one seems to be sitting on the fence.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 31, 2017

With A Figure Like This, It’s No Wonder It Turns Heads…

Filed under: Calais,Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Calais is a busy place in the summer months, there is a constant stream of traffic heading back and forth to the United Kingdom.

Of course it’s a traffic flow that goes on year round, but I think especially in the summer there is more of a chance to see unusual vehicles and sights.

Personally we have seen highly decorated team vehicles making the crossing just before the London 2012 Olympics, and on this occasion we get to add another interesting mode of transport to our list.

We were waiting behind this one, and it was a very interesting view: a three wheeled vehicle, where the single wheel is at the rear of the car, therefore two at the front, and unique in shape.

This stunning car was also noticeable for the fact that it sits very low to the ground, I’m sure it must have something to do with the handling, style and driving experience but my layman’s first thought was: “imagine sitting that low at a red light with the exhaust pipe of the car in front of you almost fair and square in your face“.  That said, even with the sum total of my car knowledge able to be written in a postage stamp, I could see that these lines were stylish and beautiful, that it had the grace of a vintage car married to the speed and style of a racing one.
I asked Himself if he had any idea what Make the car was. “Morgancame the reply, adding that the company is still in the Morgan family and still running, and from the first day of production until today, each and every car is completely hand made.

Naturally it’s instantly clear that quality is valued above quantity, and needless to say, any buyer would need to have deep pockets.  I have of course edited identifying details from the number plate and also of the driver who’s face was reflected in the mirror.

The driver was wearing a tight fitting leather “helmet” and old fashioned 1920’s or 30’s style driving goggles. I think that this attire fits in perfectly with the car, they clearly care about authenticity as well as a driving experience in a head turning motor. The detail fanatic in me adores this car, it’s sophisticated and stunning and I was far from the only one casting admiring glances. We lost them after they cleared customs, but I bet that with a figure like this it’s no wonder their car turns heads where ever it goes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 18, 2015

Ely To Cité Europe In Record Time, Then Onwards To Home…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch travelled to England in 2013 for a family wedding.

It was a long weekend in May and apart from a disastrous cloudburst just the the bride and groom left the church, we have for the most part had beautiful weather.

The rest of the family, taking the ferry from Harrich to the Hoek van Holland have a short car ride and then a long crossing on the boat.

We, having opted for the channel tunnel have a lot of driving but a crossing that only takes thirty five minutes as opposed to the eight hours plus on the boat.

The children have asked about a possible breakfast at the Little Chef that’s almost next door to the hotel and we figure that if we are there when the doors open in the morning then we can have a quick breakfast and get onto the road in time to get to our channel crossing appointment.

As it was, traffic was lighter than we expected and we got to Folkstone over an hour earlier than we expected. We made our way to the channel tunnel and instead of having to wait, were told that there was space if we wanted to catch an earlier train.

We did, and on the French side we had time to pop in to the Cité Europe shopping centre close the channel tunnel entrance on the Calais  side of the channel.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the French side it’s also clear to see the measures that have had to have been made to stop illegal immigrants from attempting to stow away on or underneath trucks, trains and other vehicles about to make the crossing to the United Kingdom.

Exceedingly tall fences surround the Cité shopping mall and for kilometres around the train areas.

It follows the road for quite some distance  before we see open fields again.

Annoyingly we come up against one of the downsides (or upsides, depending on how you look it it) to France: weekend shopping hours have not been embraced so on this long weekend almost all of the shops in this gigantic mall are closed. I was hoping to pick up a cured ham but we are out of luck, we make our way down to find the gates leading into the supermarket are well and truly closed.

We can at least make a toilet stop and after that it’s back on the road and back to The Hague. The kids are tired and after a while squabbling and getting comfortable in the back seats, they fall asleep and a quiet peace reigns in the car as the kilometres glide by.

It’s dusk by the time we turn into our own street and it’s been a long day on the road, but the way has been smooth and the traffic easy, and we are safely home to our own beds.  It’s been a wedding to remember, and a lot of kilometres in a weekend but worth it for a special family occasion.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Interesting decoration around the restaurants…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

calais way home 1m (Small)

Cité Europe

 

September 28, 2014

Beware: A Top-Box Puts You Into A Higher Price Fare…

Filed under: Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve blogged about the Channel Tunnel before, but this is the first time that we’ve travelled though it in a vehicle bigger than the average sized car.

Camper vans are tall and are therefore the channel tunnel train operators  are unable to get a double story of vehicles onto the train.

It’s not surprising that the fares for the crossing are more expensive for bigger vehicles too, which of course we completely understand and have no issue with.

However, what I didn’t realise until we boarded the train was that an ordinary car fitted with a top-box also qualified as a “larger vehicle” and had to travel on the more expensive tariff as well.

My photograph doesn’t do justice to the size difference between the car in front of us and our camper van, we are already sitting considerably higher than them and have the compartment that houses one of the double beds above our heads in addition to that so our vehicle is massive compared to theirs. It’s a warning for people who might expect that a regular sized car with a top-box would fit in with the other cars without one, be prepared if you have a top-box for that extra luggage to be land you in the higher tariff section of the train.

July 23, 2013

Tunnelling Under the English Channel… in a Train!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are leafing through the pages of my  journal and now find yourself virtually stuffed into my suitcase and following our adventures of last Summer.

Our Singaporean friend hardly knows what hit her… her feet had barely touched down on European soil when we bundled her jet-lagged self into our hired van and started whisking her through multiple countries.

Now we are in France, Calais to be precise and waiting  with curious apprehension to board the Channel Tunnel Train for the first time.

The procedure turns out to be remarkably simple and quick…  my first assumption was that our car would be loaded onto a regular railway carriage and that then all the carriages would be linked together for the journey, but  how wrong I was.

Instead imagine the train as a  very long tube with a hole at each end. Vehicles enter the tube  at one end and since the tube is completely open inside, they drive the length of the tube and then stop at the end.

Channel Tunnel Marshalls stop the vehicles at regular intervals to leave some important gaps between them and these gaps look like the joins in the tube at first but they actually turn out to be very sophisticated sets of bi-fold doors that fold out and make instant compartments once the train has been filled with vehicles.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It may not be immediately apparent from the photos but the train is a double-decker one (What’s the bet that that part was an English idea?) and for our journey we have entered the train and gone up a ramp to the upper level of the train.

Passengers remain in their cars inside their “compartment” for the thirty five minute journey through the tunnel, there are lights in the carriage and if you like you may stand to the side of the car but not behind it, but that said I think they prefer you to sit in your car for the crossing.

They do advise that you wind your windows down half-way and since the day we crossed was close to 30 C  (86F) the marshalls in the train were going around handing out free bottles of water.

Since Kiwi Daughter and I both get sea-sick as well as car sick,  it was very nice to have avoided a three and a half hour boat crossing of the English Channel and whilst Himself said when I booked the trip that he’d rather have taken the boat, once we’d experienced the crossing he was a convert to the train.

It many have been more expensive than the boat but the time we saved was worth the extra and getting on and off was a breeze. The only one who had problems with the crossing was Our Lady of the Tom Tom who experienced some serious confusion  in her little display face trying to figure out where we were!

As we exit the  train at the other end and see cars queuing on the other side for their trip to France, Velvetinenut is still marvelling at the fact that she’s managed to have been in four different European countries in a car today. Whistle-stop tour indeed… but there are still many  more adventures to experience yet!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 22, 2013

Preparing to Go Underground…

Filed under: Channel Tunnel,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this page of my 2012 summer journal, we have left Belgium behind and have now crossed into northern France. We are headed for Calais … but not  this time for the ferry terminal.

Instead today we are intending to take our first ever trip through the channel tunnel.

The entrance road is a lot longer than I thought it would be, but after a while we pass through the French customs checkpoint, there are plenty of signs in both French and English to direct you and following the request to have your passports ready for viewing would speed up any queues.

Even on this hot August afternoon there is surprisingly little traffic and Himself and I have time to wish a cheery hello to the French customs officials.

A short distance down the road we stop again for the British Boarder control and after a quick switch from French to English we request  a stamp in the children’s passports (not usually allowed since they are travelling here on their Dutch passports and usually there are no stamps issued for EU passport holders).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After explaining that they just wanted it for decorative reasons so that they may have a souvenir of the journey they gave the children’s passports a stamp, but added “by request” next to them  to absolve themselves of blame should the powers-that-be who might audit two small Dutch children’s passports take them to task for doing so.

I like the statue / Monument that is made up of pieces of the giant boring machine at made the actual tunnel… nice touch.

After successfully clearing customs and managing to not cause any international incidents by our request we then take a road that winds all over the place but ends up in a massive car park with some very large duty free shopping establishments along side.

It was hot so we had all the doors open in the parked up van and Little Mr., who since we were parked had removed his seatbelt provided some drama in the car park after wiggling on his booster seat whilst trying to retrieve some coloured pencils off the floor.

I was in the front passenger set of the van reaching back also searching the floor when to my horror Little Mr. disappeared suddenly from view… he’d managed to completely tumble out of the other side of the van, booster seat and all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I got to him as fast as I could to assess the damage:  luckily he was shaken rather than broken and a cuddle was all that was needed to stem the tears but it was a good warning that his booster seat slides on, rather than grips the car sear so we’ve had a lesson that he needs to be very careful if the van door is open from now on.

I’m not feeling like tacking the crowds inside the shopping area but Himself and Velvetine escort Little Mr. and Kiwi Daughter inside for toilet stops and try and track down a nice “Euro tunnel” fridge magnet for my collection.

No luck… either they missed them or the Tunnel is missing a souvenir idea opportunity. Never mind.

There are huge billboard signs detailing the status of the next train departures, they flash on  and off alternately in English and French (logical) but what made us laugh were the rows and rows of “Grande-Bretagne” signs that I’m sure would look less comical when the car park was completely filled.

I laugh that surely the French don’t need signposts to England… after all haven’t they managed to find it perfectly well in centuries past whenever the mood for invasion prevailed?   Once we are all refreshed and recovered we little band of Dutch and one Singaporean invader climb back into the van and use a “few” signs to point us in the direction of Grande-Bretagne.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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