DAY 1: Alrewas to Ypres

Day 1 is traditionally the most boring day of our trip, and wasn’t helped by the need to drive to Birmingham to get the water flowing through the tap in the van. I got stuck for over an hour in a traffic jam by the Tyburn pub as some blokes were filling a tiny hole in the road very slowly. At least I could stop at the photo shop in Lichfield to get yet another picture taken for the Pakistani visa. The Pakistani visa people seem to like Jennifer’s picture but not mine, even though they are taken at the same shop. The on good thing was that te passports arrived back at the time the post office said they would.

We set off at 15.00 hours so that we could have a nice enjoyable drive down to Dover, and even stop off for a meal. In the event, I missed th M42 junction and drove slowly down through Warwickshire on an A-road, getting stuck in traffic jams in Solihull, Leamington and Banbury. Only after reaching the M40 near Oxford were we able to cruise along at 70 mph, and we reached Dover wih 5 hours to spare. We parked outsde a kebab shop and spent £18 on two Doner kebabs which were edible. I remember asking a Libyan friend who had a kebab shop in Tadcaster if I could have a doner kebab and he refused to sell me one, saying “You don’t know whats in them”.

We slept for most of the 3-hour ferry crossing and, after a bit of a detour because I got lost (not knowing how to use the new satnav) eventually reached Ypres and bedded down at the side of the road behind a truck.

This rather sad plaque is on the wall of St Mary’s church in Lichfield.

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