Well today was meant to be THAT day, the day that Britain was to leave the EU. Unless you’ve been deliberately ignoring the topic (and I wouldn’t blame you) then you’ll know that it hasn’t happened. Not yet.
We had set out on our latest travels mostly unprepared for Brexit. At the time – in mid Jan – we didn’t know the full extent of the requirements for travelling in the EU and Schengen area if there was ‘No Deal’. We blithely assumed that the government knew what they were doing and expected some sort of exit deal to be agreed.
While we’ve been travelling it’s become more apparent that anything was possible, and ‘No Deal’ would restrict our ability to travel. We would need stuff that we don’t have on us and wasn’t available when we left the UK. International Driving Permits and Insurance Green Cards being the main requirements to keep us insured and legal while on the road in the EU.
Along with many other people we have been wondering what we should do. It’s a daily discussion; what is the latest news from parliament? Should we return to the UK in anticipation of a no deal? Should we continue on our journey? It’s taking up far more of our time than it deserves, and if it’s that time consuming for us then imagine what it means for any business, where contingency plans are being made and financed right up to the deadline, a deadline that keeps moving.
In the end we took a risk, based on what we were seeing in the press we decided NOT to return to the UK, but to continue on our journey. We’re happy that, for a few more weeks at least, our plans have not been derailed by Brexit. It’s a small consolation. I don’t remember anything that has so revealed the failings of our parliamentary system or so divided the nation. Of course social media has made it all so much more immediate, providing a forum where vitriol and spleen can be vented to a worldwide audience by keyboard warriors. It’s all rather depressing.
Today we have made our way from France to Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel. It feels like a commitment of sorts, we have nailed our colours to the mast, we don’t think we will be crashing out of the EU in April. We’ll have to see whether we are right, it’ll be a long drive back to the UK if not.
So we paid our €60.40 for a one way trip through the tunnel, it’s a lot of money for 11 kilometers, but when you consider that we were driving through the roots of the highest mountain in the Alps it seemed worth it. It was an easy enough process, paying the fee at the tool booths before entering the tunnel, although we weren’t sure whether to go in the truck/bus lane or the car lane. We ended up in the car lane and decided not to move despite a last minute 3.5 tonne limit sign. Since the dreadful fire in the tunnel in 1999 the safety precautions are rigorously enforced, including an upper and lower speed limit (between 50 and 70 kph) and a minimum distance between vehicles (although there was no one in front of us to worry about). The biggest issue was the boredom of driving through the monotonous passageway, Paul wanted to drive faster just to get it over with.
We made a bit of a mistake on our exit from the tunnel, missing the turn off for the non toll roads, so we gathered an additional few euros of toll charges (and a few more kilometres of tunnels) on the Italian side before the next exit.
We’re now in a sunny sosta in Aymavilles, a town in the Aosta valley, I’m blogging and doing some paper work. Paul is soaking up the sun and resting his knee which has been giving him some pain recently, probably because of skiing on slush (we haven’t got our heads or bodies round the right technique). Tomorrow we will be hunting down some LPG so that we make sure we stay warm when we head up into the mountains for some skiing. The weather forecast is showing snow next week so fingers crossed.