Thursday, 13 June 2013

Road to Rouen by Ben Hatch

Ben and Dinah Hatch take their two children Phoebe and Charlie on another of their epic road trips with the usual chaos along the way...well, before they have even left actually because Ben has had an idea about packing the car up which is Baldrick cunning in its simplicity...

This time they are powering around France and finding out that, despite the rumours, the baguette is a rare commodity which you have to move quickly to pin down before the shop closes again. The children behave impeccably, unless there's an audience, in which case the French have no problem with telling them to hush, much to the embarrassment of their parents. Typical family outing then!

The book contains some personal memories of Ben's earlier life which are touching. He is also brutally honest about his behaviour when he receives some bad news and decides to beggar off over the border to Spain, leaving Dinah and the children to it while he contemplates the situation.

There are several hilarious incidents but my favourite has to be when Ben decides it would be a good idea to pop out of the car on the highway and take photos whilst the lights are red, only to still be outside when the lights turn green and the surrounding drivers are getting cross. Dinah (driven by the embarrassment of what people think which us Brits do so well) can stand it no longer and decides to take matters into her own hands. Despite not having driven the whole trip, she jumps into the drivers seat, screams at Ben to get in and obliviously heads off towards the Arc De Triomphe, the worst roundabout in France, where it's a free for all dodging death drive for foreigners and sometimes even the French themselves. I felt her pain, I could see her bug eyed expression, but it was very funny too.

What I like about Ben's writing is the way he draws you in and it feels as if you are actually (squashed) in the boot of the car, hearing it all happening but feeling as if perhaps you should go and forage for bread and give them some privacy.

The next trip is planned already and this time they are all off to explore Italy...might ask if there is room in the boot ;)

Twitter: @BenHatch

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