We are experiencing yet another heat wave here in France. They're becoming worryingly frequent.
We delayed our trip to France until the 21st July to avoid travelling in the last heatwave, so on this day two weeks ago we were sitting on the tarmac at Eurotunnel, Folkestone, patiently waiting for our train. It was delayed by three hours.
We had set off in the morning at a time that allowed for a two hour delay on the road and sure enough, one of those was taken up when we sat in a queue just north of the Dartford Bridge because protesters of some kind or other were making a nuisance of themselves by climbing the gantries above the road.
Anyway, we still arrived at Eurotunnel an hour early but all trains were delayed. We like Eurotunnel but when it's very busy things often go wrong and long delays occur. Having arrived in Calais three hours later than we should, we then arrived chez nous at three in the morning. The total journey had taken eighteen hours. Daisy and Hugo travelled really well considering, although by two am Daisy had clearly had enough of being cooped up in her cage and vocalised her feelings for the last hour!
Other travellers who had tickets for trains later in the day faced even longer delays of up to six hours. I'm fairly sure the reason was as usual that all trains were fully booked but no doubt some of it was down to the effects of Brexit.
There were even worse queues at Dover, where those trying to get a ferry to France at the end of the school year faced many hours of delays and the resulting misery that goes with it. I thought it typical of the person who is likely to be our next Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to blame the French!
The truth is that the French are obliged to carry out extra checks at UK ports for each passenger now that we are no longer in the EU. They have to check the passport expiry date, check for how long each person has already spent in Europe because we are not in the Schengen area and stamp every one on exit. Then a number of vehicles are picked out of line randomly to check for the goods that we are no longer allowed to take into France, such as meat, dairy, plants, furniture, tools - all of which people like us with second homes in France could take freely before we left the EU. To suggest that the French were simply being bolshy and could have opted to ignore all these checks is ludicrous. Maybe if a different Brexit deal had been negotiated things could have been different, but the problem only affects the little people so why bother? (By little people I don't mean those who are vertically challenged but people like us, the ordinary, everyday tax paying citizens.)
In pre-Brexit days we would pass through the French customs with just a wave of our passports, barely even having to stop the car. Those days are gone. It's called the end of freedom of movement, which so many Leave voters were so keen on. Unfortunately it works both ways but the Leave campaigners told us it wouldn't make any difference to us at all, not to travel, trade or anything.
In addition, the French had some time ago offered to man several more customs booths at Dover in order to cope at times of heavy demand but the government didn't see the need for it and was not prepared to stump up the £30 million pound investment in order to do it. Why would they? It would only affect the little people!
Speaking of pets, Daisy is recovering well from the operation to remove a huge lump from her head. It was a sarcoma, which the vet described as very invasive even though not life threatening as they don't usually metastasise. She has a long scar which is gradually healing, although I had to take her back to the vet last week to have some residual bits of the stitching to be removed. She was not impressed!
Realistically, we are just pleased that we still have her. Having to have a general anaesthetic twice, once for the biopsy then for the removal, was very worrying but she came home safe and sound. She has outlived her parents and siblings by several years already and is getting on a bit at eight years old herself. She's a bit more clingy and less adventurous than she used to be but that means we can enjoy her company more often. She still does a sterling job in keeping the mice at bay!