We set off at 4am, and arrived at half past eight in the evening, French time. Just in time to share a bottle of wine and sit down to a family meal around the big wooden table in the kitchen.
There are ways of making a sixteen hour journey bearable - and on occasions it even felt like a fun adventure:
- Pack vast quantities of food in the car. More than you think you can possibly eat. We took sixteen sandwiches, a giant fruit cake, oatcake biscuits, crisps, kitkats, chewing gum, 3 bottles of water and 2 flasks of coffee, and ate most of it. Nice, homemade food is a must on long journeys - it saves your sanity and your wallet.
- Only attempt such a long journey with children old enough to keep themselves amused for sixteen hours. Until a couple of years ago we just didn't go down to visit my parents in France. It was too long a journey for the children (and therefore us) to endure.
- Provide the children with things to do. Books and iPods do it for mine.
- Know your route before you set off. There is nothing worse than marital navigational rows at the start of a holiday.
- Agree ground rules for music choice during the journey. In our car it is very simple: the driver chooses the music and nobody else is allowed to complain. This means that both G and I are very keen to share the driving equally. He endures my Country Classics playlist with very good humour and I don't say a word when he puts on Joe Satriani guitar wig-out sessions. That's fair.
Buggy headlights, at the end of our drive along the length of France
Waking up this morning to sunshine and wisteria