FranceNetherlandsStarting A New TripSwitzerland

Snowy Start

There was an unexpected blanket of March snow covering the garden on the morning of our departure, not an auspicious start to our Sunny Italy Trip.  We encountered several mini snowstorms on our drive to Folkestone but arrived safely before dark.  Overnight the weather worsened and there was chaos on the roads the following morning.  We were booked on to the 8.30 am train so we left the Collinsons soon after 7 am to travel the few miles to Eurotunnel.  We found all the main roads blocked with cars and lorries abandoned overnight in the snow and the minor roads were impassable due to snow and ice.  There was also heavy snow in northern France and the French were refusing to accept any freight lorries from the UK so the M20 was soon gridlocked with hundreds of parked lorries waiting to cross the Channel.  It took us four hours to cover the three miles to Eurotunnel.

Eve the snow ploughs could not get through gridlocked traffic.
Even the snow ploughs could not get through gridlocked traffic.

We eventually arrived in France several hours later, the weather was perfect, dry and sunny – but very cold.  We drove through France and on into Belgium.  We were getting tired and were thinking of looking for a campsite when we stopped for fuel.  The cashier at the service station explained that we could stay overnight on their car park.  We found a nice spot at the back, overlooking fields and joined a collection of overnighters, mostly lorry drivers.  We had a meal in the restaurant, it was typical motorway food and had been kept hot for far too long – but we were hungry.

Free overnight parking at a service station in Belgium
Free overnight parking at a service station in Belgium

The following morning we were on the road early, heading for the Netherlands where VB Air Suspension at Varsseveld were due to carry out modifications to our air suspension system.  This work was carried out whilst we spent a few hours having lunch in the local restaurant and then we were ready to set off for Germany.  We spent that night at a campsite near Cologne and were on the road early the next morning.  We drove all morning and then stopped for lunch and a rest.  A few more hours’ driving brought us to Switzerland (our 6th country in three days) where we found a pleasant campsite at Solothurn, just south of Basel.  The weather was still very cold, with snow blowing in the air, even though the winter sun was shining.