Thursday, August 31, 2006

A half a week in Provence

It has been a hard week at work coming down from the high of our holiday last week. You can probably tell from the previous post we had a lovely time in France. Then India was a complete contrast and also spectacular.

We drove as far as Paris on Friday night after a few tense pre-departure moments fitting the new bike racks. As it started to drizzle. At one point a springy bit pinged off into the garden, and I dropped the bike I was meant to be holding on the car roof, while a deranged lady with a headscarf like Princess Margaret and a case of Tourettes (no I don't mean me, really) stood on our driveway watching us shouting "F*ck, f*ck! f*ggghhhhrrrrr". I looked on smiling encouragingly (at Smithy not the crazy lady).

The Chunnel was great – we arrived half an hour early and drove straight on to the train. It takes about 35 minutes for the crossing and we were off again. I was wondering if Vanessa (our satelite navigator) would have a French accent once we crossed the channel but we were disappointed. She maintained her bossy, slightly posh Englishness. She guided us without a hitch to our roadside hotel near Orly airport around midnight just as the restaurant and bar were closing.

The mini bar yielded one beer, one coke and one water. Steve rang reception to say that our mini bar hadn't been stocked up. The hotel guy arrived and looked confused at two people talking incoherently yet excitedly in a strange language and stranger accent "whayne, there's noaouw WHAYNE!!". We convinced them to send us a bottle of wine up to get the holiday underway in the style we fully intended to carry on. That the bottle stayed sitting on the bedside table between our two singe beds half full is a testament to its pure badness. There is not much wine I don’t find drinkable and we were a bit disappointed to find it in France. Even some of the cheeky Slovenian numbers I've tried in the past were good compared.

The next day we continued on France’s fantastic motorways (compared to the UK – note article in today’s paper about a scheme to let people drive on the hard shoulder to relieve the traffic congestion) for about 7 hours until we arrived in the little town of Buis-les-Barronies. At L'Ancienne Cure where we stayed we were greeted by Martine, Erik and their black poodle. Martine asked if we wanted dinner. After a day of car snacks, butterscotch and chocolate eclairs washed down with vending machine coffee, I couldn't get my acceptance out fast enough.

to be continued....

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