Pools star Matthew Bates is blogging for us as he travels across France for Euro 2016 and here's his first update after an epic journey and ahead of England's game with Russia.
Saturday 11th June 2016, 3.30pm BST
Hello and welcome to my first update from France – though I am amazed I have the energy to write this given the incredibly long journey we had to make it over from England.
As I explained earlier in the week, we actually travelled down to Poole and stayed overnight there on Thursday, meeting up with friends for a few drinks and a bite to eat – and things seemed to be going smoothly…
On Friday morning we got up and aimed to set-off for Dover at around 9.30am, but that’s when things began to go wrong. I realised I had lost my car keys somewhere in the Poole hotel and literally couldn’t find them anywhere.
It wouldn’t have been a massive problem because we’d already moved all of our luggage out of my car in to the hotel the previous night – but there was the small matter of our tickets for the England game against Russia still locked in the car, as well as my driving documents that I needed for the hire of the two camper vans we’re going to be travelling around France in.
We had no choice but to wait for the recovery team to arrive and get in to the car but that took a couple of hours and we ended up not setting off from Poole until 11.30am! As you can imagine, I took a fair bit of stick on the journey down to Dover – a lot of it warranted, of course!
Once we got off the ferry things didn’t get much better. We had agreed to pick another friend up in Reims – about ninety minute from Paris – on our way to Marseilles. He had flown in from New York to meet us but we under-estimated the travel time and were very late picking him – which meant he wasn’t best pleased when we didn’t turn up until after 11pm local time! All eyes were on our mate Dan, who had done a lot of the organising, and he took the brunt of the micky-taking this time!
With him safely on board we set-off once again from Reims at about 11.30pm which was substantially later than we had hoped or expected but tiredness caught up with us and we decided to stop at a service station at around 4am to have a few hours of sleep.
Once we’d had a power-nap we got back on the road at around 9.30am this morning, arriving at our camp-site around twenty minutes from Marseille at 2.30pm. It’s a long journey and we were all glad to arrive – even if our camp-site is in the middle of the woods and little bit remote (as you can see by the photo)! Hopefully I’ll get some better photos at the game tonight!
What helped massively during our time on the road was the fact we invested in a couple of walkie-talkies – one for each bus. It sounds daft but it’s helped loads in terms of arranging fuel stops, not to mention how much it’s been of assistance when we inevitably got lost!! Plus, there’s been some great banter going on between Bus 1 and Bus 2 which helped to keep us going during the long hours.
Although it’s been an even longer journey than we imagined, it is all going to be worth it when we walk in to the stadium this evening for the England game. We are all very excited now and can’t wait to get in, sample the atmosphere and hopefully cheer the players on to a win in the first game.
Look out for me on the telly tonight everyone! I’ll be back with another update at some point tomorrow about our experience at the game.
Come on England!