Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Roadtrip west: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK

Mike & Munson - Essen to Dunkirk

I was still full on my Buddy Holly happy meal from last night when we checked out of the hotel at 7.30 this morning. Munson was still purging himself under the influence of his worming medicine and hadn’t developed any appetite, even for his favourite small treats. 

We were booked on a 2pm ferry from Dunkirk, but I still hoped to reach the port by noon so that we could get Munson cleared for boarding, I could reload my phone with its French SIM, and give him a good long walk around before the Channel crossing. There was also the off-chance that we’d strike it lucky and get there early enough for the noon crossing.

The network of roads this densely-populated part of Europe offer very little in scenery for the road passenger; it’s just a long maze of highway and border crossings marked by little more than a simple sign and some subtle changes to the road markings. We stopped briefly in the Netherlands so that Munson could add the dirt of another nation to his paws, but otherwise it was just a four hour slog towards the top of the French coast.

We didn’t make the earlier crossing, but we were both cleared through border control quickly and drove down to near the front of the growing collection of cars. The ferry port is not a particularly exciting place: usually windy, visually as interesting as a plumbing supplier’s loading dock and blessed with the machine-loaded eating facilities of a long-forgotten gulag. I spent my time watching some news reports of the looting and violence going on in London, and responding to suggestions from English friends that I “turn around now”.  “But the glow of London’s burning over the chalky white cliffs of Dover is so arresting”, I countered.
Munson at Dunkirk   Eat Mangez Drink Buvez

We finally boarded for another charmless crossing, Munson staying in the vehicle below while I buried myself in a book on a higher deck. There was a brief period when I could see France and the UK’s shores from the same point as we tracked along the channel before turning decisively towards England. The exit process was very lengthy as each vehicle was slowly paraded in front of various layers of British border control. We were pulled out of the queue so that Munson’s papers could be re-checked. I asked the officer if a decision had been made on worming treatments in advance of the change to animal entry requirements on January 1. Apparently no decision had been made. I commented that taking away the tick treatment requirement but keeping that for worms didn’t change either the logistical or financial hurdles of entering the UK. One would presumably still have to pay for a vet to dispense some very inexpensive tablets in an awkward time-window before crossing the channel. I suggested doing as Tasmania does when dogs enter from the Australian mainland, and simply dispensing the worm tablet at the point of entry.
Grant, Jonnie and MunsonAt last we reached London, where we’d be staying a couple of days with Jonnie & Grant. Bondi and I had stayed with Jonnie when we first came to the UK together in 2005, and he’d met Munson on his birthday trip to Sydney last year. This of course meant that Munson latched onto Grant as the least experienced with malamute wiles, and made cow eyes at him all through dinner.


  1. Glad to hear that you made it to the UK relatively unscathed. I can't get over how big Munson is. He makes our Boris look like a toy!

  2. Lesley9:53 pm

    I thought that the 'new' rules would eliminate the stupid 24 - 48 hour tablet rule. I shall have to re-read the Defra site for the UK.
    The change on the rabies front did not help our dog who was subject to two doses of the stuff in order to 'pass' a blood test. Caused mainly, we think, of the test being done at the wrong time to see the antibodies. An extra €200 did not bother the system.
    Best of luck in dog friendly UK!

  3. Work it Munson! Work it! Those soft brown eyes are what always works for me!!!


  4. Lesley: I think we'll all have to keep monitoring DEFRA's rules up through the new year to see where the 24/48 rule goes.

    The rabies blood test is twice as expensive in Australia because the vet sends the sample to a lab who sends it on to the actual government testing lab, and each step seems to at least double the cost of the actual test.