Bomski the Chow's trip through Spain

July 19, 2007. It was an early start. I was happily curled up in my usual position at the base of the bed dreaming doggie dreams, when the shrill of the alarm rudely interrupted. It was only 04:30 but I knew that we had to get down to Portsmouth to cross over to France on that nice boat with the pretty ladies in their smart red jackets.

By now I was a seasoned traveller. My first trip had been much longer - all the way to Spain five years before, along with best mate Rupert-Bear, sadly no longer with us. This was just a short hop, but I knew my mistress was mindful of the fact that I enjoyed my morning constitutional in Windsor Great Park where there were always plenty of sniffs and squirrels to keep a fellow on his toes, hence the early start.

I could hardly wait to jump into the back of the car and settle myself for the trip...

Eventually we were all set to drive down to Portsmouth and I could hardly wait to jump into the back of the car and settle myself for the trip. I was really looking forward to get to our home in France and to see the rest of the family. Gloria, the St Bernard would, I know, be pleased to see me, but her husband Wellington and the 3 refugee chows from Spain and who still only spoke Spanish among themselves might be less keen on my return, as they would be anxious to have my mistress fuss around them after our long absence.

Still, Neds and Bruno the miniature horse and donkey would be keen to know what was happening in their old haunt in the New Forest. I always referred to them as the dwarfs as they weren't much bigger than me and we could gossip comfortably eye ball to eye ball. I wondered too if the cats from the neighbouring farm would still be around!! ? That could be fun!

I always treated our cats with the respect they deserve but those interlopers from next door who had the temerity to set up home in the cavity beneath our house and cadge free meals " that was another kettle of "poisson? altogether. "Âllo, I am your capitain and would like to welcome you aboard Brittany Ferries!!.? reassuring words indeed, and the soft purr of the engines as we slid smoothly out of the harbour soon lulled me gently into a morning zizz!.. I had hardly closed my eyes, it seemed, before my mistress was opening the door and climbing into the driving seat again.

My smart blue passport had been safely packed and I had watched proudly as it was checked when boarding the ferry at Portsmouth...

We rolled down the ramp and eased our way towards the big sign reading Passports. My smart blue passport had been safely packed and I had watched proudly as it was checked when boarding the ferry at Portsmouth. Not for me the danger of the indignity of quarantine on the return journey. We waited in the queue. Suddenly a man in an adjacent car leaned over and spoke to my mistress in French. "Would you mind inching your car forward a little my children want to look at your dog?"

I stood up and curled my fluffy tail a little tighter, nonchalantly pretending that I was just going to look out of the window. I was well used to such expressions as "oh a teddy bear, or, oh, a lion, isn't he gorgeous?!" and took these admiring comments as my due. We chows are a clean, proud, dignified and ancient race and very good ambassadors to travel abroad, thanks to the introduction of PETS passport scheme and the willingness of enlightened ferry operators such as Brittany Ferries to accommodate us.

I was very surprised not to see more canine passengers. I think on this trip I might have been the only one. I shall have to spread the word among my doggie chums in the Park as to what an easy journey it is to undertake. Not long out of Cherbourg, we stopped at a convenient service station to fill up with petrol and so that I could have a drink and stretch my legs on the abundance of surrounding green grass. I felt quite intoxicated with the delightful new Gallic whiffs that assailed my quivering nostrils.

Ahead of us lay a good 7 hours drive to our home in the Charente, but I knew that my mistress would never dream of leaving me behind and I looked forward as much as she did to our holiday in the sun and the many charms of France. We were not to be disappointed, but that tale is for another day. Au revoir et à bientot !" Bomski