Freddy & Bertie Arrive in Belaugh

Despite my worries, everything went surprisingly smoothly when we took Freddy and Bertie through the French Pet Travel Scheme Control Zone last Sunday.

As per the plan, I’d taken the dogs the day before to our vets in Chateauneuf-de-Grasse to be inspected, flea, tick and tape worm treated. Passports were duly completed, timed, stamped and signed. The clock was now ticking as we had a ‘window’ of not less than 24 hours but not more than 48 hours to drive through France and reach the Control Zone in Calais.

Our journey was identical to our two previous ones – only this time we had to contend with extremely strong gusty winds, from Aix-en-Provence onwards and steady rain (but thankfully abated winds) as we reached Lyon and which continued throughout our  entire journey up to Calais.

After an overnight stay at our usual Premiere Class hotel outside of Troyes, we continued our drive towards Calais, reaching the French Pet Travel Control Building shortly before mid-day.

A large black paw print on a yellow background to the right of the Eurotunnel check-in point and passenger terminal building helped direct us in the right direction.

Parking in the designated area we took the two dogs for a short walk around the grassed exercise area before entering the control point building. I honestly expected to be greeted by white-coated vet-like personnel but instead found two typical French ‘fonctionnaires’ well cocooned behind their desks.

After an initial ‘Bonjour’, I handed over the passports and the desk clerk began to enter the details into their computer system. After being asked which Shuttle we were booked on, I was then passed the chip reader to scan both dogs. Not once did the clerk leave her desk to look or inspect the dogs.

With doggy details now in their computer system we were handed a printed paper with the date and time the control was done along with a reference code, the number and type of animals. All hand-written I might add . . .

Interestingly, both dogs dealt with the journey totally differently. Bertie hid most of the time under the blanket on the back seat, while Freddy sat peering through the window, captivated by the moving scenery and traffic. He never slept or rested his eyes but sat upright alert – ready to take on the world.

Needless to say – who’s a very (very) tired boy now?

And Capture Them We Did

After all my worries and stressing out, we actually did manage to capture Percy and Ginger without too much difficulty. What a relief! While I know it helped not having the other furries around, a little starvation certainly drove them to eat their food inside the capture cages.

My main worry was that we’d capture one of them in full sight of the other – who would then freak out and do a runner on us. With only three days to go (we’re leaving this coming Saturday), my fingers (and toes) stayed well crossed.

As it happened, we captured Ginger first in one of Leslie Frasier’s larger capture cages. Nigel hid behind the kitchen door and as soon as I saw the cat well inside the cage, he pulled the string et voilà!

A couple of hours later it was the turn of Percy.

Yesterday evening we met with Leslie and did the hand-over. It was a sad moment (I do wish I wasn’t so soppy) as I tried to hold back the tears, telling myself that we were picking them up in January and to stop being so silly and upset. But I was – upset that is.

The dogs are now back with us and enjoying being home. I feel like God for the moment as I know the adventure that awaits them and they don’t. Odd feeling!

A Room With A View

Imagine waking to such an incredible view. Every day. This was the sunrise yesterday morning from the hills behind Tourrettes-sur-Loup and, as luck would have it, this is the view that I woke up to.

After we filmed this property last Thursday, there was little doubt in my mind that sunset and sunrise from there would be spectacular. I therefore asked if we could return a few days later to film these two events – which is how I came to wake up myself to this stunning view.

At my feet lay the entire French Riviera and vastness of the Mediterranean Sea and above me an immense unblemished sky as far as my eye could see. This view would have moved me at the best of times but it was particularly emotional as this is my last week of living on the French Riviera and so, as it turned out, I was able to bid a discreet and sad farewell to a much beloved region before I departed.

Packing has now started in earnest and I am yet again surprised at how much there is still to box up. Yesterday I did all the DVDs, books and magazines – today I’m packing up my office- tomorrow I’m making a start on the kitchen.

We have now set up the capture cages for Percy and Ginger and with luck these two rascals will be captured in time to hand over to Leslie Frasier (Les Chats du Mercantour) tomorrow evening as she is kindly looking after them until we come to pick them up in January.

Watch this space!

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