A few years ago I had to drive to the island of Jersey, which if you don’t know is fourteen miles from the coast of Normandy in France and a hundred and thirty miles from Poole in England. No-one would contemplate driving to an island; you would take a boat or ferry or fly there.
My company did a fair amount of work on Jersey, yes all the way from Team Valley and in 2004 we won a large contract in St Helier that needed numerous meetings. Previously, for other projects I had always flown; this is a pretty straightforward flight by prop plane out of Heathrow. One regular flight out about ten in the morning and one return flight per day in the afternoon at half-five. Unfortunately at this time, due to illness, my doctor had advised me not to fly for six months so I had to find another way of getting there.
What to do? I just couldn’t take a week over it; I had a business to run.
These days there are a wide selection of ferries available from either Poole or Portsmouth. The fast ferry from Portsmouth for example only takes four hours but back then there were only two ferries per week and the journey took almost thirty-hours; I assume the ships were geared towards truckers. Poole by the way is a 7hr journey from Gateshead non-stop by road or six and a half hours by train with about two-million changes.
There is a ten-times a day commuter ferry from St Malo. Only takes twenty minutes; plus, I wouldn’t need my car because the meetings were all in St Helier, just a five-minute walk away from the ferry terminal. If I could get myself to St Malo by say ten-thirty, take my meeting on Jersey, leave by say three, back to St Malo by four at the latest . . . .
Thats what I did.
So, leave Gateshead after work around four. Drive to Dover 5hrs. Car ferry across to Dunkirk 2hrs [24 crossings a day]. Drive down the French A84 to St Malo, 5hrs; meeting, back up to Dunkirk and home the next day. Knackered, but home. Drove through the night; every French radio station was playing electronic disco music. Couldn’t find Bizet or Debussy anywhere.