Tuesday, 29 October 2019

St Malo

Would you like me just for once to write a positive Brexit story? Well, I shall then. In June, Mrs P and I paid a quick visit to Malta on a Brexit-busting getaway, days before the UK was due to leave the EU. The grand departure from the union did not, of course, happen. It was postponed until the end of October. So we plotted another last minute Brexit-busting getaway to the EU. This time aboard the Bretagne, a Brittany ferry that crosses from Portsmouth to St Malo in France. It's a large ferry with plenty to do, see and buy on board. Although we'd highly recommend bringing your own food for lunch or dinner. The restaurants are neither cheap nor likely to feature in a Michelin guide.

We returned only to discover, much to our surprise*, that once again the UK's departure from the EU would be postponed. This time until, potentially, the end of January. We will need to plot another Brexit-busting trip before then. Although, as this extension is actually a flextension, the UK could actually leave earlier. Or we might not leave at all. Who really knows? If you ask about, everyone on both sides has a firm opinion, but I'd suggest you take them all with a generous pinch of salt. 

We shall plot another trip nonetheless. Although we will probably pick a different mode of transport. The English Channel can get rather rough in winter. It was rather rough on our way over to St Malo in October. However, as it was a night time crossing and we had a cabin with beds to lie down on, we survived without needing to make use of the seasickness bags provided to passengers. We did not get a wink of sleep though. It's not just the motion that keeps one awake. It's the constant, loud creaking and banging of the ship that really keeps you awake.

St Malo is a very pleasant little town. Full of history, cobbled streets, wonderful seafood restaurants, a picturesque beach and a stunning cathedral that sadly closed half an hour before we turned up to have a look inside. And there was also a four man troop of soldiers, armed with very smart looking assault rifles, on constant patrol. Mrs P found their presence to be disconcerting. I found them reassuring. Having watched the very moving Netflix documentary on the Bataclan attack, we both understood why they are considered necessary. I highly recommend watching the series.

Is there an actual purpose, a real benefit, for us Brits taking these Brexit-busting holidays before the UK leaves the EU? Not really. There will be changes. For example, we'll no longer have access to free health care. But then we have worldwide travel insurance anyway. But as the UK is not part of the Schengen area, passport control will not change. It might be more awkward to travel with pets. But duty free shopping with cheap booze and fags will return.

Our Brexit-busting holidays are entirely symbolic, travelling when we are still part of the EU family. Seeing the sights before we become outsiders. Foreigners. Immigrants. So there is our personal positive Brexit story. We're getting multiple holidays out of the fiasco. While we can. Vive le EU!

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