23 July 2010

How small is the world?

Today began early. Really early. And with a small amount of sleep. I clocked up three hours Brooke managed only one. We got to the Dover ferry port pretty quickly. Traffic before 4 in the morning is pretty light. After a brief passport scare (Brooke packed mine into her backpack so I had no idea where it was) we joined to queue to load our car on the ferry

The English Channel was kind to us. The swell was flat and weather was calm so in short time we were docking at Boulogne and our driving holiday began. Immediately I was driving on the wrong side of the road. The guy in the oncoming car had a sense of humour and put in a few over exaggerated swerves before I sorted myself out. A word from the wise about approaching round-a-bouts when driving on the right hand side of the road: always remember to look for approaching traffic on the left. I lost count the amount of times I looked right first. Also Have someone in the passenger seat who remembers to do these things.

On our way north we stopped at Cap Gris-Nez, it looked like the remnants of a German World War II base. There was a few cement bunkers and in the distance there looked to be two large cannons pointing towards England. We also managed to catch up on some much needed sleep in the car park.

Around midday we continued our journey north and stopped a place called Sandgate (can't remember the French spelling of it) for some pizza and mussels or as Brooke described it “the biggest lunch in the world.” We then headed towards Oostende looking for a place to stay for the next couple of nights.

What we found was a camp ground called Albatross just south of Neuipoort . Wow. Just wow. If Belgium had trailer trash then this is where they live. One site had people selling cheap DVDs and other odds and ends. Another advertised the areas most famous singer and his troupe of transvestite dancers. I don't know if he lives in that trailer but it would at least be a relation.

After setting up we headed to the beach. Well what Belgians call a beach. The sand was grey, full of stones and shells with a strong odour of rotting fish., Kids were digging sandcastles but with proper shovels and spades, the surf lifeguards were watching people get pounded by the half a foot swell and the unmistakable sound of guys selling ice creams. Just like any Australian beach.

After an unsuccessful food shopping trip (stupid Travelex Cashpassport not being accepted everywhere or stupid Europeans adopting new style credit cards with chips for extra security earlier than Australia) we headed back to camp for some dinner of tinned tuna and vegetable pilau flavoured rice which tasted better than it sounds.

Just as we were packing up for bed we struck up a conversation with the couple at the site next to us. Helen noticed our Australian accents and she being an expat decided to say hello. What happened next only shows how tiny the world really is.

Helen, over 24 years ago, went on a school tour to New Zealand where she met a guy named Peter from Switzerland. Peter was on a student exchange program in New Zealand and his host family managed to get him in the same tour group. They kept in contact through writing letters and eventually Helen went to Switzerland on holiday and she never came back. They now run a dairy farm together.

As I mentioned earlier Helen grew up in Australia. She grew up in Coffs Harbour. She has even spent some time in Yamba, staying in Doncaster, the units beside where my parents have a place. Her sister, Ann-Marie also lives in Yamba. Ann-Marie is currently studying to be a primary teacher at Southern Cross University and she and I just did our last prac at the same school.

So after all of that we happen to be staying in the same camp ground as neighbours. How small is the world.

Off to Brugge tomorrow. Should be fun. I think some Belgian chocolate and waffles might be consumed.

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