So we had ten hours in the car and thankfully no major meltdowns.
I drove, my mum was chief navigator and the kids watched about 15 episodes of Grange Hill. The boys love it. Tucker Jenkins still rules.
We did the journey the old fashioned way and used a map, mainly because my sat-nav keeps switching itself off. The plan was to get down to the south west of France as quickly as we could, so autoroute most of the way.
We had some minor map-rage and a few unexpected detours, but no serious driver/navigator tension. There was one hairy moment when all mention of where we were heading completely disappeared just as my mum was extolling the virtues of french signs. We'd a split second to decide whether to come off at a junction. Any experience of french motorways and you'll know you don't get a lot of warning about junctions. Sliproads suddenly appear and usually veer off round a seriously tight corner. It felt like we screeched round the bend on two wheels. It was the right call though.
I'm sure there are some great picnic spots and service stations along the autoroute, it's just that we've never found them. Our lunch stop was grim: no shade at all, overflowing bins and a disgusting toilette automatique that seemed to randomly flush when it felt like it.
So we kept motoring on. About halfway through the journey I started flagging. We'd stayed near Dover the night before the ferry and I hadn't slept a wink. Autoroute driving isn't too demanding but it is dull and monotonous.
Two kitkats, a coffee and a can of coke later and the sugar/caffeine hit seemed to do the trick. It picked me up and on we went. Now I know I said I wouldn't bring huge quantities of travel food this time, but old habits die hard: the car was packed with stuff to eat. Constant grazing and vintage DVD's definitely helped though, and the kids were so good.
Humbug was good too. She meowed a bit but didn't move an inch. I'd like to think this was because she didn't mind the trip, but reckon it's more likely she was traumatised and in some kind of deep cat trance. Anyway there were almost tears of joy when the journey was over. I don't know who was more relieved. It might well have been my husband, who said it was one of the most stressful days he can remember, which seems bizarre seeing as he's in Afghanistan.
I'm starting to unwind, I can feel everything slowing down, but that might have something to do with the sweltering heat...and I'm not going to complain about the weather.