As some readers may know, Plan Insurance Brokers have long supported The Children’s Magical Taxi Tour from London to Disney Paris. However, this year was slightly different as not only did we provide sponsorship, I stepped up and decided to take part myself!
Speaking to drivers and committee members over the years about driving in this event, I had come to the opinion that it would be pretty easy. You rock up, get in your cab and drive to Disney. You then have a day out, and come home. Simple! – But how wrong could I be.
Before I carry on and explain my own experience, I want to start by staying what a great job the committee members and volunteers do to organise this trip. The amount of time and effort they put in is an amazing feat of achievement! I think this can get over-shadowed by the trip itself. So therefore, on behalf of all the families and other drivers, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the people who help make this event happen.
Love/hate relationship with my 2016 TX4
This vehicle was kindly lent to us from Kingsway Accident Management. They had arranged for a 2016 TX4 with only 16,000 miles on the clock to arrive at our office for us to use for the trip. So I initially thought it would be a breeze, and a joy to drive; but this all changed quite quickly! I decided to use the vehicle beforehand and get used to it for a week prior to the trip. I soon recognised it was more of a challenge than I first thought.
After my extended test drive, can I now say on record I fully understand why members of my family (long standing Green badge holders) talked the way they did about their own TX’s; but in the same breath always found it very hard to change it/sell it. Over the years I have had and driven many cars, and I like to think I am a bit of a ‘petrol head’. But there is something about driving a TX. Something… unique.
Now I know my experience was short lived with my TX, but these vehicles come with their own character (and flaws). Just where, for example, do you put your left leg and knee?! Does that tyre pressure sensor ever stop bleeping in the morning? And why is there no light to see what gear you have engaged on the automatic box?
These flaws aside, like many before me, I began by cursing the TX (and wondering if the indent in my knee would ever fade) but I soon grew to love it. I know I only did a few thousand miles in this TX, but I was sure sad to wave her goodbye.
There is just something about it which makes it completely different to driving any other vehicle. But before I get too emotional about my LTI TX4 and our journey together, I will move on.
So I am sure many people will understand what the trip is and who it is for – however, for more information about it and who benefits from this wonderful event please see their website here.
The life of The Driver…
Since you can obtain all the information about the charity and the work they do from their own site, I thought I would give you an insight into the driver’s weekend as a quick time-line: How did the weekend go?
Friday 9th October
03:00 I was up and getting my cab loaded with supplies to pick up my family at a nearby hospital.
04:00 Arrive at the hospital to collect my family; now time for the first drive to the ‘Big Breakfast Bash’
05:30 Arrive at East Winter Garden at Canary Wharf.
As a driver we have to get our families seated and loaded up with food and drink. While they are eating we then have to collect items; such as packed lunches, tickets etc.
07:00 Everyone is now fully fed and watered and it is time for us all to get on the road. 100+ vehicles now need to make their way through the London traffic in convoy and head down to Dover to catch the ferry.
09:00 Two hours later and about 80 miles; and we arrive in Dover.
12:30 (French time) We arrive in Calais. Must all remember to drive on the other side of the road and off we all set.
15:00 We arrive at our pit stop which is a services station in Assevillers, around 130 miles from Calais. Here we all get a well-earned leg stretch and re-fuel.
16:30 Time to get moving and off to Disney – here we come!
19:30 So after another 100 (ish) miles and battling through the traffic and getting held up (a lot) we finally arrive at the park.
It is now time for dinner and to relax following the 340ish miles and being awake for over 15 hours. It is a big day tomorrow (and do not tell the children but I am rather excited myself!)
Saturday 10th October
07:00 Does not feel like I have slept much. However I am up in time to get ready to meet my family for breakfast for 07:45.
07:45 Everyone meets for breakfast and we do all we can to make sure the families are fed and watered; in preparation for the long day ahead.
09:00 It is Disney time!
17:30 After a long day, full of fun and games, it is time to head back to the hotel for one more treat for the children.
19:00 The Great Gala Dinner
We are all invited to attend a Gala dinner where all the children mix and interact with several Disney characters. This is a very special moment for all the children and their parents.
22:30 Time to leave.
It is now time for us all to head back to our rooms and get a good sleep in preparation for tomorrow’s drive home.
Sunday 11th October
07:00 Up early to have breakfast and get on the road.
09:00 Everyone waves “au revoir” to Disney (and Cowboy Goofy), and we get set to head home.
14:30 After a stop, we reach Calais.
16:00 We arrive in Dover.
The families say goodbye to the other families. We then all set off in our own directions to drop off our families before heading home ourselves.
20:00 I arrive home – time for a cuppa.
As mentioned earlier, I thought it would be a breeze. You turn up, drive to Disney, then go home.
I just never anticipated the amount of time and effort you have to put in as a driver. Which is by no means a negative; and it is soon forgotten about once you see what you have been a part of.
It is amazing to look back and to know what you have done – how you have helped a family have an amazing holiday together and been a part of it.
Therefore, once again, I want to thank the committee for letting me take part, and well done to all of you for organising such a wonderful trip for the past 24 years.
I am now looking forward to next year and urge anyone that can help. I hope we make the 25th year the biggest and best one yet!