Three ferries and a black cloud

21, May 2016 by Hilary Coombes">Hilary Coombes in Latest News,Life     1 Comment

IT WAS DOOMED FROM THE OUTSET  …what was doomed I can hear you ask?

[I can laugh about it now, so why not join me in the laughter]

I’ve just had one of those journeys — the sort that makes you wish that you’d stayed in bed. We’ve just driven over a thousand miles and everything went wrong from start to finish.

We’d planned a holiday to northern Spain on the way from the UK to our Spanish home. We booked a ferry to Santander [in northern Spain] a lifetime ago, we organised hotels, got excited …we were still excited late the night before we were due to leave. Then a text arrived in the dark hours — the ferry was cancelled!

Naturally there were jammed phone lines to the Brittany Ferries next morning but eventually we re-booked for few days later (had the last cabin — the thought of 36 hours in a chair didn’t appeal). We reorganized and rebooked all the now cancelled hotel bookings.

Guess what? Yes, it was cancelled the night before again. So once more we cancelled all the hotel bookings.

Eventually we managed to get this in the boot of the car and closed it!

Now at this point we might have given up for a week or so, but we’d loaded our car with a million items, including a kitchen sink …I kid you not, here’s a photo to prove it (it’s a long story, don’t ask).

Anyway here’s the dilemma — do we unpack it all again (it took over a day to squeeze it all in the car), or do we drive around the UK with a ‘bag lady’ car, full to the brim with ‘stuff’. Maybe we should take a chance and book a third ferry. We choose the later and here’s what happened –


We couldn’t face another possible cancellation on the Portsmouth to northern Spain route so we sailed Portsmouth to Cherbourg instead. Well I believe we did …the weather was so bad that we couldn’t see out of the ferry windows, it was even impossible to see the quayside as we docked, but the plus side was the boat didn’t sink.

Our northern Spain holiday being thwarted we thought we’d make the best of a new situation and mosey slowly through sunny France, staying where we liked on the way. After all France is a lovely country, well I think it is because Mother Nature didn’t let us see it. Yes, torrential non-stop rain blurred the vision somewhat 🙁

We didn’t feel inclined to get soaking wet so we drove and drove and drove, thinking and hoping that the weather would improve as we headed south. It didn’t! We’d now been on the road over 15 hours, having left home at 5.00 in the morning.

We found a bed and breakfast in La Rochelle (lovely place) and thought our luck was changing because when we ventured out to find a restaurant an hour later the rain stopped and the sun, whilst it didn’t quite have its hat on, it did make a very brief appearance. (Blink and you’d have missed it) Yippee we thought, next day would be great.

La Rochelle

It wasn’t! The rain drowned the sunshine next morning and we set off again this time almost needing a boat instead of a car. We decided to head for the Pyrenees hoping that maybe if we crossed into Spain then maybe the weather would improve.


The hope had been misplaced because when we reached Spain thestair rod’ rain changed to hailstones. The countryside, what you could see of it in the gloom, would have been the perfect backdrop to a doomsday novel, and that naughty black cloud continued to blanket the entire sky.

This was the best it got for two whole days (apart from 5 minutes in La Rochelle)

We headed for a hotel that had been described as having luxurious accommodation in the guidebook. We badly needed a bit of luxury, but we didn’t get it! The hotel when we eventually found it had a note pinned to the entrance door saying that it was closed until summer.

We did eventually find a little B&B with a room free, so all was well, and the owner pointed to the sky and told us that ‘Tomorrow. Sun. Good weather come’.

Mmn, I have to say I took this comment with a pinch of salt. I would have been more inclined to believe him had he said driving snow come’.

I should have had more faith, although next morning was cold (9 degrees) it was ‘sun’. The problem was it didn’t last very long and as we drove away from Vielha that blooming black cloud spotted us again and decided to join the journey.


The rain pummelled our poor car and we were unable to hear the radio properly so when Phil Collins broke through with a whispered version of ‘I wish it would rain down on me’, we joined in at the top of our voices. Gotta keep the spirits up somehow and help Phil drown out the sound of rain!

By midday the hailstones were back, so we cancelled our planned overnight‘holiday’ stop at Morella and decided to head home. We were fed up with being cold and surely our black cloud friend wouldn’t join us as we travelled towards southern Spain.


It was at this point that I felt something wet on my knee. It was the parting shot from our cloud friend; he’d somehow penetrated the closed sunroof, which now could be called a rainroof.

Never mind we let him drip on a pile of dusters instead of a wet trouser leg — that showed him, and we had the last laugh because as we approached Valencia he got left behind and by the time we reached our lovely Moraira the evening sun greeted us.

Phew! What a n0n-holiday it turned out to be. Maybe we will attempt to do it again one day. Perhaps we will be brave enough, or maybe, just maybe, we’d be wiser to take the Easyjet route instead for after all you can’t get wet in an airplane can you.

Do leave me a comment if I’ve made you smile …I hope so, for what is life if we can’t smile at friendly black clouds and misfortune.

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