T is for… Tunnel

*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*

Channel tunnel to be precise.

Growing up, we travelled down to France several times a year to see the family. Sometimes we took the plane, sometimes we drove down and took the ferry (that was also exciting, except when we took a hovercraft and the sea was rough – that was seasickness central), and then an amazing new piece of engineering entered our life.

The Channel Tunnel. For those of you who don’t know what it is, over a number a years a tunnel was dug under the Channel to connect the UK and France, so you could drive form one to the other without having to bother with ferries etc.

Considering how often we did the trip back and forth, we followed the digging of the tunnel with interest. For my part, I went to the library and got out a book on fish. I lookedΒ at the fish and other creatures of the deep.

Soon I’d get to see them all for myself from the tunnel! I couldn’t wait.

In my mind I pictured the tunnel as a long pipe that would rest in the bottom of the sea. There’d be enough light from the tunnel — I reasoned — for us to see whatever creatures were nearby. Maybe I’d be able to convince my dad to stop the car in the tunnel for a while so we could go and stare out the windows at the fish.

I’m sure you can guess where this is heading. There are no windows in the channel tunnel. The cars are loaded into a train, and there are window in the train, but all you see flashing past is concrete and the odd light. That’s it.

It was a hugely disappointing experience.

In a nice twist of serendipity,Β my first ride on the tunnel was twenty years ago, and a few weeks ago I kind of got to celebrate that anniversary by going to the amazing aquarium in Monterey, California, and seeing some of the creatures I had expected to find floating around the Channel Tunnel windows. Here are a few of the highlights:IMG_3708IMG_3643

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27 thoughts on “T is for… Tunnel

  1. My cousin was an engineer and he worked on the building of the tunnel for a time. Last year my family and I traveled to Wales and London and at one point in our trip planning were thought about taking a train trip to France to go through the tunnel but time didn’t allow and we had to forgo that part.

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    • Definitely! πŸ™‚ It would be much more fun to have tunnels be tubes that rest at the bottom of the ocean – although the thought of all that water and pressure against a bit of a metal would be pretty terrifying!

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  2. I used to think that’s how the channel tunnel worked, too, and then I looked it up online once and was sorely disappointed to find out it was pure concrete (although from an engineering standpoint, I guess I get it). It’s really too bad when our imaginations are far better than reality. And I can’t see the Monterey Bay pictures either?

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  3. That would be disappointing. I used to love tunnels as a kid. When going through a tunnel in a car, we kids used to hold our breath and make a wish. Then, if you hold your breath for the whole thing, your wish is supposed to come true. Amazing the number of things kids can find to wish upon. I imagine that would be hard for the Channel tunnel though. πŸ˜‰

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  4. I remember reading about the building of the Channel Tunnel (do they still call it the “Chunnel?”) in stuff like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics when I was a kid, and I was totally blown away and fascinated by it. I’ve always loved engineering projects like that, even stuff like building subway lines beneath existing streets/

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    • It’s actually quite wide once you’re in the train that goes through the tunnel. It kind of feels like being in a really long, moving carpark. You have no idea where you are really. (I added the photos from the Monterey Bay aquarium since they didn’t work first time around, thought you might like the little reminder of the weird creatures to be found in there!)

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  5. Nice photos! I agree the Channel Tunnel would be much more interesting with that kind of view. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to see it, though. I’ve never been good with tunnels. Too claustrophobic for me.

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