Considering it’s near Arctic out there, and that the wind’s howling like a banshee – I thought I’d hark back to sunnier times. Here’s the ‘Fortnight in France’ I promised you a while ago. It’s a bit rough in places, but I hope you’ll enjoy the read. I certainly enjoyed remembering blue skies, swimming pools and sunshine. Roll on Summer!
There’s rather a lot of this, so I’ll have to get it updated in installments. I could have written so much more, and even now I think I probably should. But with time constraints and Xmas looming ever nearer, I’m going to leave it as it is for now.
Did I ever mention I want to be a travel writer? And an astronaut *sighs* ;O)
This is in no particular order and is written in a hurry, sorry. All names have been changed to protect the innocent ;O)
‘Are you sitting comfortably?’
A Fortnight in France.
The days as they pass in no particular order and comments passed in passing…..whilst in the Perigord area of Southern France.
28th August 2011
Ah the sunshine!!! We arrived in France yesterday and I’m currently writing whilst sat on deckchair beneath a sunshelter outside a French Gite or ‘Git’ as I’ve taken to calling this style of french housing. We’re on our hols until the 10/09 and I have to say I think we’ve landed in some kind of French heaven. It is beautiful here, absolutely fabulously wonderful. I couldn’t possibly gush enough about the place!
To backtrack a little. We set off yesterday from our rainy, drizzly home town, after a little bit of bickering and running around screaming ‘Where’s Darlek’s goddam sandals?!’ and ‘I’ve just packed that suitcase, get out of it!’ Personally I breathed a sigh of relief when we were finally sat in the taxi and were on our way to Manchester airport – it meant that all the horrendous packing and washing was over with, the next bit was the fun bit. I’ve always found airports to be quite fascinating places, although a little intimidating with all the rooting around in baggage for passports and the awful full body scans that they have now.
Manchester Terminal 1 did not disappoint. I love people watching in airports. So many people, with so many different accents and dressed in various outfits ranging from full on bhurkas to posh dresses, to shorts and T’shirts. A mass of colours and slightly stressed people.
The kids were brilliant, no tantrumming, just the odd bit of running about like crazy things and randomly running off with hand luggage which did cause a few moments of heart failure – but they were generally very good. After a while we met up with our fellow travellers, Gangad & Sweara, plus Grandma Mu-Mu, Auntie J, a lovely lady I’m gong to call Annabel with her cute little daughter Bella….and then we began the checking in process. There was a bit of a fraca over boarding passes or something which wasn’t so much fun, but that was sorted without too much ‘Raargh! going on, and we boarded the plane. Bella got really excited and started doing high pitched ‘Yeeaarrgh!’ screams all the time. She is only a little ‘un though so has an excuse for being highly strung, I think I’d have done the same if I’d have been able to get away with it. I was so pleased and hyper because we were actually on the way to France after all the preparation!
Darlek was so excited too – ‘I’m soooo exiiiittted!!!’ she kept saying – she was absolutely beside herself at the prospect of flying and paid great attention to the take off and as the plane got higher and higher she squealed at the clouds and how amazing they looked close up. Sausage was just completely baffled as to why we were on a plane instead of just being at home. He kept asking when we were going back and said ‘Why are we on a plane?’ a few times. The little love had no idea about what a ‘holiday’ was or why we were going on one. Both of them behaved very well which was a relief. I was expecting fidgetting and ‘I’m bored!’ but they were kept occupied with a travel activity pack supplied by Grandma Sweara full of drawing pads, pens and sweeties. No-one was sick or complained that their head was going to pop because of the air pressure, so that was good at least.
They did behave very well, although I did cringe a little bit when the pilot announced on the intercom that the plane was landing. Sausage yelled ‘We’re going down!!!’ as if the plane was going to crash. I hope that the nervous flyers on the plane were too pumped up with Valium to pay any attention. Nobody screamed, not that I heard anyway.
We arrived at Brieve airport and were whisked away in two hire cars to our destination, which is ??!! in Proghjdbgj. True to form we got lost on the way there and as the sky grew dark, the games of I Spy With My Little Eye became more and more ridiculous, ie, I spy with my little eye became ‘I Spy with My Little Magic Eye’. You can see anything you want if you play with a Magic Eye, but it does make it rather difficult to guess the answer, eg, ‘I spy with my Magic Eye, something that begins with R.’ Answer Robot. Darlek and I sang an out-of-tune, out-of-time rendition of Kuckaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, and a few of us practised saying ‘I am Bored!’ in french. As far as I can remember it’s something like ‘Je suis envie’ which could just as well mean ‘I am a turnip’ for all my french skills are worth.
Eventually we arrived, piled out of the car, ate a very late tea, and climbed into our beds in our lovely ‘Git’ and fell asleep looking forward to a fortnight of sunshine, relaxation and hopefully no rain.
The location is between the Dronne and the Cole rivers, the river at the bottom is called the Donkey’s Tail. Not sure if I’m being wound up or if it actually is called that. So there’s the location for you!
We walked to a ‘nearby’ pub which turned out to be frigging miles away, but the sun shone so that made it ok. When we eventually got there we sat in front of a 12 Century church and drank beer and shandy in the shade. When we got back the kids played in the pool and nearly drowned us grown ups. Horace and I practised club juggling which we haven’t done for years. I swam, and yelped like a kicked puppy when I went into the pool because it seemed so cold, eventually I got used to it though. So tired and have had a few too many glasses of red wine so am incapable of typing anymore.
*Sorry. Last note: little lizards everywhere. Kids & I have been stalking them to try and get a closer look. They are so cute! Grandma Mu Mu said it was like hunting dragons, mini ones of course. Grandma Sweara said a similar thing. She commented that watching the geckos was like watching dinosaurs from a very long way away. That reminded me of the old Father Ted sketch when Father Ted was explaining to ? about the concept of sheep being near, which is when they’re ‘Big’ and when they’re far away, they’re ‘Small’. Always cracked me up then and still does.
Summary of the day: Gits are gorgeous, well these are anyway. Beautiful little cottagey sort of things. Drinking in the middle of the day is nice, but makes me giddy and then sleepy too early in the afternoon and finally: kids + swimming pool = all they could ever want. Wish I could buy them a swimming pool for christmas and leave it out the back door. Problem being it’d get full of manky leaves, drizzle and sweet wrappers. It’s idyllic here though. I have been wondering what squatters rights are like in France. If they’re lenient I may not be returning home.
Went for a beautiful walk down to the chocolate brown river at the bottom with Grandma Sweara, Horace and the kids. We decided to have a wander off site for a bit of an adventure. The adventure started when we spotted some green plants entwined around a fence, they had huge light green tendrils that stretched towards absent minded walkers. Grandma Sweara became entangled in a pantomine style with them, called them Trifids and mimed being strangled, which was nice and dramatic for the kids. I’m sure they were a little wary of those plants from then onwards. On we walked past an old tractor, that looked like an aged member of Bob the Builder’s gang, past green fields and down sunshine dappled country roads. We arrived at the river, and were greeted with overhanging trees, skittish minnows in the shallows and a multi-coloured stones flickering under the surface of the river and about a million pond skaters. I think we’d stumbled upon some massive pond skater convention.
Sausage and Darlek began lobbing stones into the depths and soggying their toes, whilst I muttered about drying out trainers. There was the most rickety bridge I think I’ve ever seen in my life. It consisted of about four metal grates with metal supports at the joins, absolutely no sides to stop hyperactive 3 year olds or 6 year olds falling in, and just one metal wire thing to hold on to. I watched both kids clamber across it with my heart in my mouth, even though it was only a small bridge that would probably only house one single slim troll. But no accidents thankfully and spare clothing was not necessary. Phew!
Sausage filled his pockets with pretty gravel, Darlek went for biggers stones and the ones that weren’t thrown in were stored in a makeshift pouch made of her purple dress all bunched up for the purpose of storing them. After a while of making big splashes and me fish spotting (I am obsessive about spotting fish when in the presence of rivers) we set off back. Grandma Sweara spotted some very impressive spider webs and two spiders that looked similar to Harvest Spiders you can find in Britain. These lurked at the edges as we stared at them, and pointed out the complexity of the webs to Sausage and Darlek. Sausage’s first reaction was to try to wreck the web, and was quite disappointed when his plans were thwarted. We stressed that it had taken ages for the spiders to make their webs and that they were quite amazing really. In true Sausage style, his grand finale was to pick up a stick and throw it at the web just as we carried on walking. Luckily his aim was bad.
As I commented to Sweara about how I despaired of Sausage ever developing a love of nature, I turned round and saw him stamping on something and digging his heel as if he was stubbing out a cigarette. I don’t know what small furry caterpillar he’d just massacred, but it definitely proved my point.
On the way back we took a picture of Sausage sat on the old decrepid tractor. We thought he’d love that, but I have to admit he sat on it looking like he had no idea why he was being stuck on this knackered bit of machinery.
To be continued! Here’s a link to Part 2 in which we go canoing and talk nonsense in French. Pls click HERE</strong>