Forget Top Gear - this road trip featured nappy stops

The statistics that mask continuing real hardship

0
Have your say

The idea of a Top Gear-style road trip through France excites me greatly.

It conjures up images of Clarkson, Hammond and May powering south in some wonderful supercars with fabulous soundtracks.

The reality is somewhat different. Two Ford S-Maxes and a B-Max don’t quite have the same sound, or look. Passers-by don’t stand and stare in admiration.

On the plus side, we haven’t spent most of our time in petrol stations as we maintained 45mpg instead of 10 and our bottoms have been nice and cosy in our comfy seats, instead of rock-hard racing-style buckets.

This year’s summer holiday is a double celebration, with 40th and 60th birthdays passed, so the whole family have de-camped to the south of France, renting a large villa with a pool.

Between six couples, this makes great economic sense.

Saving the pennies has been the order of the day and driving down via the Channel Tunnel has kept the overall price down.

Since booking the holiday, my wife Sarah and her sister have both had babies and this has changed the dynamic of the trip.

Babies spend a lot of time asleep and little Freddie has been quite happy snoozing in the car, waking for a feed and then sleeping again.

It’s the adults who have not fared so well.

Regular comfort breaks slowed our progress greatly. In the past, the 700-mile drive from Calais to Cannes took 11 hours. As we stopped just an hour into the long drive, I knew this would be pretty slow going.

On the telly, these road trips look so glamorous.

Whose car is the best? Which one makes the best noise?

None of this mattered during a nappy change stop in Dijon, the home of French mustard (how ironic!)

The final straw came as we passed through Lyon. Those Top Gear boys never had the problem of the in-laws getting lost on the main gyratory, followed by a set of expletives on the mobile phone.

But luckily the mother-in-law drives like The Stig!