A Fortnight in France– Part 4
If you’d like to read right from the very beginning, you can find Part 1 HERE!
A quick warning, this is typed up very quickly from what I wrote whilst on holiday. I suspect the grammar and the tenses etc are very badly mangled. If you are an english teacher or some such other writing professional, please could I ask you kindly to ignore the badd spelling, terrible tenses of which I write of at the last minute, and appalling p’unctuation.
This blog is mainly about hunting for French Rizlas, suggestive Cave Paintings and drizzle (or should I say ‘Le P*ssing it Down’.
Both kids have gone completely native, and have been running barefoot around the site. We have been using copious amounts of Savlon on ragged feet. No amount of cajoling will persuade them to keep their shoes on. I reckon their feet have become so calloused with the gravel that they have numb toes, there’s no other explanation for it.
Darlek is getting dreadlocks and I must appear like the worst mum in the world because I cannot be arsed to run around after her with a brush. I found a bobble the other day and managed a plait so I’m on with damage limitation exercises.
I’m unsure if they will let us back through customs with our battered children. Poor Sausage looks like a shadow of his healthy self. He fell over the other day and used his face as brakes. He grazed his face quite badly and now looks like he has jam smattered all over one side of his face permanently. I am hoping it will heal a little more by the time we got home. Both kids have been runnning around like wild things and have acquired scratches and grazes. All in all, I suspect I may be guilty of mild neglect. There will be a plaster famine some time quite soon.
A Quest for Rizlas.
Horace and co have struggled to find supplies of baccy in surrounding shops, and in particular ‘thick’ rizlas. Horace has always been given thin rizlas that are crap for roll ups and he has been unable to ask for anything else because of his rubbish french. He proudly announced today that he has found the word for ‘thick’ in his french dictionary so he will be able to go into a baccy shop and ask for them properly now. I am hoping they won’t think he’s actually calling the shopkeeper ‘thick’ and get thrown out of the shop as a result. Up until now, he’s just mimed with his finger tips, doing a pinched finger and thumb to mime ‘thin’, and then stressing he wants thick rizlas by extending the distance between finger and thumb to indicate thicker rizlas. Consequently he’s just been supplied with massive rizlas, they think he’s just saying bigger.
When I go home I will need to stop chain smoking, drinking G n’ T’s in the afternoon and contantly eating baguettes and cheese. Not quite sure how this will happen. Will have to stock up on tonic water, ensure there’s no gin in the house (ever!) and go get plastic fags from the chemists. I will be very bored with mild cheddar, and may have to leave chunks of it sweltering in cling film in the sun on the windowsill in a vain attempt to make the cheese taste of something. We cannot continue such an expensive cheese habit, more’s the pity.
Laxeaux – that place where they have cave drawings estimated to be from 30,000 years ago (I can’t spell it).
There’s a slight hint of the Cottingley fairies in this tale you know! The story goes that a couple of french lads found these cave drawings in their summer holidays in underground caves amongst the french countryside – all of them resolved not to tell anyone about it – but then told everyone a couple of days later. It is almost impossible to date the paintings because of the make-up of the rock, or something. I think these lads just got bored, elaborately grafittii’d a load of rock with pictures of bulls with double unicorn horns, and then pretended it was pre-historic. I suppose we’ll never know! (actually I think there must be some basis of truth because one of them would have spilled the beans to The Sun by now if that was the case). I reckon the Cottingley Fairies mystery wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did if newspapers offered lucrative rewards for stories at the time.
At the Museum in Laxeaux (how is this place name spelt?!) We went for a wander around the museum and were very unimpressed. They had an area with animals in that were supposed to vaguely look like the beasties that had been drawn on the cave walls. For example, one of the notices outside one of these animal enclosures said: ‘Compare the bull pictures with the real things!’ – in the enclosure are horses: yep, you read that right….horses. Talk about confusing people!
At the the Laxour site itself, the cave drawings were actually beautiful replicas of the ancient art work; the original cave siting had suffered from mould and damage because of the influx of visitors and the spores that they brought down with them on their breath. They were amazing to see, the artists had just come out of an ice-age and were making their mark in these old caves. The paintings span almost the whole of the replica cave, across the walls, the roof, everywhere. Three colours were used, which is apparently rare in cave drawings of this kind, they consisted of black, red and yellow – various combinations of which led to 12 shadings. In my youth I always assumed that people from that era just ran around with clubs attacking wooly mammoths and going ‘Ug’ a lot. In fact some of them were ensconsced in flickering candlelit caves, laid flat on their backs on scaffolding, painting the ceilings of caves with breathtaking images of bulls, stags, bears, horses and, it has to be said, a rather rude stickdrawing of a man looking rather excited about something.
(I’m sorry I can’t include photos, we didn’t take our camera with us on that day)
In the cramped cave where the tour was held, Darlek crawled through a sea of legs at least once to get to the interesting bit of the talk. The french bloke doing the tour had a really strong french accent and I struggled not to giggle innapropriately at first.
Seriously though,the drawings are spellbinding! My favourite bit was where the artists have drawn five horses, all following each other in line as if along a hillside. The artists often used the relief of the cave to add depth to their drawings and in this case the horses really do look as if they are running along a far distant hillside, they are drawn along a particularly dramatic crease in the rock which makes for a perfect perspective trick of the eye.
We were told that anyone who made too much noise would be thrown out so, after we’d told Sausage to stay as quiet as possible, he began to tell me and anyone within reach to ‘shush’ and put his finger to his lips. This meant I missed quite a bit of the talk which was a little frustrating, but was still forgiveable because it was funny. Daughter thankfully didn’t do her ‘Farticus’ impression whilst we were in the cave. I overheard Gangdad asking her to try not to blow off too much, and ‘clenching’ was suggested. The advice was obviously taken on board and gas masks were not necessary at any point in the cave experience. Yay!
Rain, Rain Go Away!
Today we woke up to drizzle, fog and what seems to be the Lake District. I am a little concerned that someone has picked up the entire git and shifted it back to Britain overnight. Currently I’m sat under our wooden shelter, with my coat on, and a jumper and my jeans, my feet clad in wooly socks and big boots. I’m rubbish at being cold, there are others here in jeans and T’shirts today but I’m just a wuss. The sides of the shelter are all open so I’ve had to move from the end of the table towards the middle which is more sheltered by the house – it’s either that or sit typing with a soggy potentially knackered netbook.
I’m a little resentful at the weather to be honest, it was so beautiful at the start. It still is, it’s just the colours are never quite as vibrant in my opinion when the weather is manky. Wordsworth would probably wax lyrical about the trees drinking in the rain, branches held to the sky in thanks for the watery blessing. I on the other hand, mourn the loss of the sun loungers and stare sadly at the redundant suncream all piled in a plastic tub in the corner. Bugger. We left Britain in floods of rain, it seems it has followed us. Bugger again. I’m not bitter. Much.
The gits (I refuse to call them any other name)
The three cottages are called ‘La Lavendere’ ‘La Rosemarie and ?, two of which have their own lawn and almost direct access to the swimming pool, our cottage has a gravelled area with some sun loungers but no pool. This isn’t a bother though as we’ve spent most of the holiday hanging around the largest of the gits. The food is communal so it’s a help yourself kind of affair, which has worked well. I just feel sorry for the people who live in this particular git as we have all been using it as the main place to hang out – hence they’ve had all the washing up, bottles, the dreaded Sausage’s wet pants left on the floor outside, and abandoned shoes. As the largest family here, I am concerned that we are secretly known as the scruffy rabble who should really learn to pick up after themselves. I fill the dishwasher sheepishly every now and then and wipe up in an attempt not to be evicted. So far it’s worked. We’re still here. (Kay digs her heels in)
The centre of the communal git has a relatively well maintained lawn with a beautiful tree as the main feature. I have no idea what sort of tree it is, but it appears to be light green, ferny and fluffy from a distance. The leaves catch the rain and make it look like it’s adorned with little glass dewdrop beads.
‘I don’t beliiieve it! (Victor Meldrew stylee), it’s started raining even more now. All I can hear is dripping water and burbling bubbling drainpipes, and pattering on the shelter. It’s all very watery. I think I need a wee. Damn you rainfall! (shakes fists at the heavens)
Running in the Rain
We let the kids run around in the rain for ages, they were having so much fun it seemed a shame to stop them. They did have anoraks on, but seemed determined to wear them with the hoods down, and in Darlek’s case unzipped. I saw her lie on one of the soaked sun loungers as if in the throes of a boiling hot day, although the sun’s rays had been replaced with pelting rain. I suppose it was warm rain at least. Both pairs of their shoes did use to have flashing lights in the soles, now they no longer flash and they are soaking wet and stuck in a corner rammed with newspaper. Why oh why did I not tell them to put their sandals on! So that’s one to French rain, and nil to mummy. Doh! I bet they’ll both end up with raging Athlete’s Foot now and it’ll all be my fault.
It is a little later in the day and the rain has thankfully left us. Good riddance to crap drizzle. Short of entertainment, Darlek resorted to hair design and badgering grownups. At least six of us have been bullied into having hair do’s remeniscent of romans or forest nymphs. Boredom has led to minor hair insanity. As we ignored all requests for TV, or iPad usage, this is what happened.
I personally had my hair decorated with ferns, and random cream flowers; others had wreaths of ivy and roses, Horace had ‘body’ added to his hair with the use of empty loo roll cardboard tubes and a bubble blowing container, with roses added for even greater insanity.
Further Adventures in Speaking Bad French.
I just overheard an excerpt of French phrase book dabbling: Someone has perfected saying ‘Is the equipment secure?’ ‘This is insane!!!’ I’m struggling to think of a context where this particular phrase could come in useful. Maybe on board a french ship where a bewildered englishman is desperately trying to tie himself to the mast in the midst of a storm and is given a traditional bright yellow rubber ring with a duck head on the front of it. Sorry, this is all I can think of. Again Horace is on about Gay Boits. I am at an absolute loss as to how to link that to the above phrases and situation. Maybe they are sailing to a gay island, Lesbos maybe.
Kids are running around frantically asking anyone and everyone if they will fill up the water pistol. Despite it being generally acknowledged that this is a bad idea, they are still insisting on asking everyone. I’ve been asked twice. I don’t think anyone has actually helped them but Harold has been squirted with water; all I can presume is that they have been attempting the complicated filling mechanism on their own and have achieved a little sucess. Either that or they have been spitting water into it for some considerable time. I daren’t sucess the latter as a possibility in case we are actualy thrown out of the git.
The evening sunshine is lighting up the surrounding hillside trees with a golden green glint. Cream, white and grey clouds are drifting along the mostly blue sky, a hint of crap weather with hopes of further sunshine tomorrow. Maybe I’ll swim in the pool tomorrow if I feel brave enough.
So there you go! This is the blog that refuses to go away. *sings* ‘I know a blog that’ll get on yer nerves, get on yer nerves, get on yer nerves. I know a blog that’ll get on yer nerves…..’ (repeat until you’re sick of it.) Apologies, I’ll stop soon, I promise.