Getting to Broughton is never easy, so I decided to make it even more difficult by going to St Nazaire first. To get to Broughton from St Nazaire you first have to take an hour taxi trip to Nantes - glad I wasn't paying the €200 bill.
I flew with Flybe because it was a lot easier, more convenient and a 1/4 of the price plus it got there at 4pm instead of 9:30pm! The flight went via Flybe's base at Southampton, which was a bit of a non-event. My driver - John had a sign with my name on it as I came though the arrival doors. It was a nice afternoon and a pleasant change from last time I was in Manchester as last time, there was snow on the ground.
It was great being able to talk English again - not that I could get much of a word in. John was filling me in on all the things wrong with the world and most of the problems came from London. He was getting himself all worked up so I changed the subject by announcing that my parents were from Liverpool. This did the trick nicely as he was also from Liverpool - "what are the chances ah?" with a quick friendly hit to the arm. This was to be the first of many hits to the arm as he went on about the glory days of Liverpool. Somehow we got onto the subject of the Christchurch earthquakes - surely this would stop the barrage of hits to my now numb arm, but no - I think we were now long lost Liverpool brothers and I as described what it was like being thrown out of bed at 4 in the morning by the house splitting in two it was followed by a " oh my God"- whack!
Despite the fact I now had lost the use of my right arm, John was a supper guy and very proud of the area he calls home. To prove to me that they were nothing like those bunch of nob heads down in London, he took me on a quick tour of Chester - my destination for the night. John dropped me off at my hotel, reached for my arm and shook it ( I could no longer lift it to offer it to him) and we said our sad goodbyes.
I quickly dropped my bags off in my room and headed back out to explore Chester. John had given me a few pointers, I wanted to go to a few shops before they closed but as it was after 5pm there were only a few open, quite a contrast to France were they would not think to close until 7pm. I was really taken with Chester, I walked the wall which took me around the city taking in all the historic sites along the way. I ended my tour at a pub recommended by John and it was great, good atmosphere and a friendly publican who I could actually have a conversation with. He was a young student and was quite surprised at the answer I gave him when he asked what I had been up to today and I told him that my day started in St Nazaire! After a couple of good pints, I walked across the road to the "Upstairs at the Grill" and had a great steak, I really wanted some NZ wine, but they only had it by the bottle, so had to settle for an Aussie red.
I had a taxi booked for 8.45 reception rang at 8.40 to let me know that he was waiting, I was ready so went down to check out "ello James" whack, yes it was John and yes I had a bruise from the day before. Luckily this trip was only about ten minutes so there were only so many hits that could he get in as we discussed the good looking hotel receptionist and how great Chester is.
The inspection at Broughton went without too much drama. I had decided to catch the train down to London, as it was cheaper, just as quick and more comfortable especially as I was travelling first class. Unfortunately the National rail service lived up to its name and there was a delay for some unknown reason so we had to go another way that added an extra 45 mins to the trip. This was going to make things pretty tight as I had to catch the underground from Euston to Victoria and then the Gatwick Express. Made it to my flight with plenty of time to spare, easyjet lived up to their name and had a easy flight back home to Toulouse.