I’m actually quite getting used to the long overnight drive to and from France. Since joining the Frequent Traveller programme, this has been the default mode, and for the most part it avoids the dread stress of 17-mile queues at passport control. In the middle of the night, even the passport control people are less dick-like, although I swear the woman on the British side gave the two women in the car the stink eye for travelling on a French passport.
But there were a couple of aspects of the drive home which were less than delightful.
First, Burger King.
Now, I’ve always preferred both the burgers and the fries from Burger King, and for the past couple of trips we’ve stopped at the one in Vesoul. It’s about an hour from home, so if we leave around five, it’s fine for an early dinner.
Last trip, it was just me and the Mrs, and we ate inside. Fine, although nothing was hot enough for my liking.
This time: oh dear.
First of all, nothing was hot enough again. Two strikes and you’re out. We didn’t even order standard stuff, so it ought to have been freshly made.
But there was something wrong with almost every aspect of the order.
My wife had a fish sammich, but there was no top of the bun on top of her burger. Just: bottom of bun, salad and sauce gubbins, fish burger thing. And, er, that’s it. She spent a good five minutes hunting around the car thinking she must have dropped it on the floor when she unwrapped, but no: no lid.
My daughter had ordered a bacon burger thing, and everything was fine, except she got two burgers. Not something you’d complain about, but on top of everything else, it was, just one more error.
My burger was (a) disgusting. I mean, I kind of knew it was meant to be disgusting. I’m too ashamed to even tell you what I ordered. Suffice it to say that it was disgusting, but in the wrong way. It was nigh-on cold, bland, and almost tasteless. Only by eating a gherkin slice on its own could I detect any flavour. I’d also, (b) ordered their “cheese and bacon” fries for maximum disgustingness, but unfortunately, I realised I shouldn’t eat the cheese, which was yellow and I’m allergic. Strike that to my mistake, but their mistake (c) was to give me the wrong drink. Instead of cherry coke, a second can of orange juice, which, yuck.
All in all, no stars.
No stars too, to Eurotunnel. We have to talk about the rolling stock. I’ve been using the channel tunnel since it opened in the mid-1990s. I’ve been using it 10-12 times a year for the past ten years, and at least six times a year in the decade before that. So let’s say I’ve made, back of an envelope, two hundred journeys in the 25 years it has been open.
Same rolling stock.
According to Wikipedia, the initial order was for 38 locomotives and nine (9) tourist shuttles. They usually run between 4 and 2 per hour, all day every day. So (more back-of-envelope reckoning), let’s say that there are 68 runs per day, about 7.5 runs per shuttle, 365 days a year for 25 years, that’s over 68,000 runs per shuttle.
Needless to say, the back of my envelope suggests they should get some new rolling stock. A lot of the toilets no longer work. Those that do are dizgusting, and, like my burger, not in a good way. Yesterday, we were parked next to a condemned emergency exit door. A sign on it said, porte condamnée and suggested it should only be used in the event of an emergency.
But… it’s an emergency door? So when else would it be used.
The track along which you drive through the carriages is worn down by the many millions of cars that have driven along it. And imagine this: 25 years ago, nobody had any idea that the insecure and vain British motoring public would adopt, en masse, the Sherman Tank as a standard family car. The Porsche Cayenne in front of me was hopelessly too big for the width of the carriage, and the incompetent twat driving it couldn’t keep it in the middle.
What I’m saying is, hold your nose on the Eurotunnel, and avoid the toilets.