Having been glued to 7pm slot on ITV4 every day since the 7th July, the unbroken run of catching the Tour highlights was about to be smashed on this last Friday in July as my journey under the channel to watch Le Grande Boucle live in Paris was about to begin.
With great anticipation, about an hour before I would normally have been settling down to get my usual fix of Garry Imlach and crew, I met Sandra at St. Pancras (International – just to be clear, we weren’t going to Luton) amid more and more alarming warnings of delays due to enhanced security checks and text messages asking whether we had managed to set off okay.
Still, the schedule only slipped slightly by the time we made our way out of the station through Stratford, underneath Essex and out through Kent, hurtling ever faster towards the continent, France and the Gard du Nord. All was going swimmingly until the wheels of our journey were about to quite figuratively come off with the announcement of le tonnerre et la foudre in Paris causing power cuts and delays to train services. According to the BBC, this was affecting a lot of services across the United Kingdom and France, and with us about to straddle the two, we were in poll position for the disruption ahead.
Still, worse things happen at sea and, by now, we were only technically under it. All it really meant was that we would arrive in Paris a little later with a gazillion other people all cramming in to or on to available onward journey options. And a little ‘oh no! I’ll be too late to check in to the hotel!’ anxiety.
As it turned out, the latter came to nothing, and, although there was a queue for the taxi stretching back to London, a quick dash out the Gard du Nord in to the unknown, almost midnight streets of Paris, it wasn’t long before an on-call cab circumvented the need for all that waiting nonsense. With some questionable, but applaudable manoeuvres by our driver and new found saviour we were soon weaving our way down the Boulevard de Magenta towards our hotel (actually ‘My Hotel’) on the Rue Commines. Moments later, after we had negotiated the world’s smallest lift (which involved sending the luggage up with Sandra while I ran up a trillion flights of stairs), we were in the room and ready to call it a night.