Mustard of the Night and Fannys beware!

On one of our trips into SYlP after we parked we saw a chap reversing a wee digger so he could put it on the trailer of a works lorry. He did this slowly and purposefully but with a little less care than he should gently reversed his sturdy charge into the back of a parked van. A bloke was perfectly innocently eating his lunch in said works van when it was rudely but not very roughly taken from behind! He got out as did two other chaps from the lorry. Having seen it happen at almost slow-motion pace we paused to see what would develop. I feared that three people to one could be an issue and wandered over to make clear – in my best attempt at French – that we’d seen what had happened and could help if needed. Pleasingly the matter was being dealt with in a very relaxed and laidback fashion so our assistance was not required.

IMG_20181024_115912.jpgOn we went with our main task which was to find and purchase Walnut mustard – a special request of my Dad and Stepmother – in the Cave de Bacchus. It’s a very cool wine and for want of a better term fancy food and stuff shop run by a chap who played for SYlP FC when I used to go watch them. S stepped in to assist when I asked if they had “Mutard de nuit?” not “Mutard de noix?” The young shop assistant was no doubt confused as to what the hell Mustard of the Night was or could be!

In an effort to help S recover from laughing at me we stopped for a drink at The Joker café which still serves the best coffee in her view. Having just managed to pass on the regards of Jan and Keith to madam patron her initial blank look pleasingly changed to one of understanding. Wandering on we were waylaid by Kim half of our hosts from our viewing trip in late June, who now run J & K’s old place. We chatted catching up and she recounted her busy summer then we explained that as they didn’t allow pets we weren’t with them again this time.

20181018_121310

A winding path

On our next wander we nearly walked to the Dordogne, not that we knew it at the time… Having checked out the church in Le Chalard as featured pictorially last time we wandered down hill to the mill. The watermill, now a home, used the Isle river to turn it’s wheel and such which I had suspected but checked after. While doing so I discovered that here the water way marks the boundary between the Haute Vienne and the Dordogne. Despite SYlP being further south and our new abode a little further south again they are in the HV not the more expensive D. The Isle river meanders on south westish getting bigger and bigger before joining the Dordogne river at Libourne which is a good hundred and eighty k’s by road from here.  (Which makes it more than several  times longer than the River Forth at 29m/47k – you’re welcome).  The Dordogne then joins the mighty Gironne, (the big one on all the maps of France that goes thru Bordeaux). The older of the two readers may remember the Isle goes past where we spent our first six months in 2014/15 where it is only a few feet wide.

On the way back the peace and serenity was broken by a sound as if from the gates of hell itself. A screeching wail that rang out across the idyll came from a donkey that had a decent set of lungs on it as well the ability to project brilliantly from its diaphragm. As we were slogging back up the hill I was able to hide a little the surprise I got even if S couldn’t hide hers. The beasts mission accomplished of scaring the heck out of wandering folk it returned to silence, the git!

IMG_20181024_120030.jpg

Familiar as we are with all the local supermarkets, the large and small Intermarche, the Hyper Casino, Super U and Netto we are checking out what provides our favourite items most reasonably. On one such trip to Intermarche I enquired as to the availability of application details for a loyalty card then realised we didn’t yet have an address. Having confused the woman a little I drew the conversation to a close only for her a minute later to come scampering after us to see if I had paid for the bottle of diet cola I had had under my arm. I am many things but a criminal I am not… If however I were to begin down the road to criminality I’d start with the full fat and sugar stuff. I ain’t going to the big house for no diet pish!

With no indication of progress on the house buying front we continued to get into a bit of a routine until Wednesday the 24th when we went to Limoges Airport. There S picked up a stealth hire car for the drive north. She was off to Brittainy for a few days to learn about what she will be doing with Prestige Property Services assisting them with the Gite/Holiday reservation side of things. The process of getting the car was pretty simple after the place opened following lunch. In the small airport building were an exhibition of rather good cartoons – France is big on such things so you can enjoy some of them can be understood internationally…

IMG_20181024_115957.jpg

The nice woman told us the hybrid hire car was very quiet. Being a hybrid quiet was not the word, silent or more accurately less than silent in a completely decibel free or even negative way… S being a bit of an executive type has much more experience of hire cars and such than boring old me, but we were both convinced that we couldn’t get the effing thing going! As there was room in front of the car my absolutely last straw suggestion of, “See if it moves…” was a forlorn cry. When it did it was met with surprise and relief from both of us. Significantly happier S headed off for quite six hour drive north, remember France is really rather big, while went back to ours. There are no pics of this episode tho anyone wandering by would have found our feeble efforts very amusing viewing…

S however arrived safely and no doubt silently. Mitzy seemed to handle being stuck with me and having a fifty percent reduction in available laps pretty well. While S was away I went to an old haunt of ours Lubersac for fitba courtesy of posters we saw on the Sunday – again see the other post. I did so after having lunched in Cro’k Food who had been teasing me via Facebook for months with their glorious burger creations – they are as I hoped as good as they look tho the sample size is so far small I will endeavour to visit again for your not my own good. Why anyone would go to McDonalds when they are in the town goodness only knows. As regards the rest of the day suffice to say I – who have been sun burnt about three times in my life – was genuinely concerned that I was going to be peeling for a fourth time. My wandering into the shade at half time and ample moisturising when I got home both did the job as thankfully I only added to my October tan. October and tan are two words I have rarely used together until now…

IMG_20181024_115918.jpg

I had begun watching a bit of Petanque – aka boules – on French TV and it was the European Championships. The UK appeared to be un-represented, but will no doubt win it all after Brexit just cos… Anyway, I’d happened across a very tight and exciting quarter final between France and Switzerland in the three a side version. The French girls won even though one of them, Daisy missed a couple of key shots. I the next day found the same Triplette – trio – beating Italy with Charlotte – who can knock away an opposition ball with disturbing accuracy – and Anna – who despite being young will soon have more titles than Steve Redgrave – both doing well. Daisy again seemed to feel the pressure of playing alongside two such well established players. I ended up seeing the Final which France won 13-0, pleasingly with Daisy making the winning throw before dissolving into tears. A clean sheet win in Petanque is called a Fanny. Traditionally, (I’ve double & triple checked this), if you get beaten 13-0 you must kiss a girl called Fanny on the bottom! I know that’s why I triple checked.  Don’t check this on a work PC!

Fanny.jpg

A Fanny

Accordingly, Petanque/Boule clubs often have a little statuette or similar rather than a lass of said name poised and available in case of a white wash or drubbing. I had wondered about having a go at the sport myself having had a few games in Pompadour during our long stay. This does make me wonder if it’s a good idea or not … I will not reveal yet which way this little gem of trivia is swaying my thoughts. There are clearly pro’s and con’s.

Fanny cupboard.jpg

A more subtle Fanny

The name Fanny is not uncommon in France and I was amused that a French judo star was featured in the local paper the very next day who luxuriates in the name Fanny Posvite. I am positive if I lost a match heavily I’d be leaving that Fanny and her bottom well alone.

Tune in next time to see if S comes back – #spoileralert she does – and what else we’ve been doing… :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Bits, bobs and double daring do! Settling in in 87500

Experience has taught us that when heading over to stay with or near Brit hosts it is important to ask if there is anything they crave from the UK. We arrived in the hamlet of Gondandeix with tins of Heinz Tomato Soup. This is not a hint to potential visitors… Well it wasn’t intended to be but now I think about it feel free to ask if ever heading our way!
Anyway, with Mitzy recovering from her journey and us a day earlier in situ in 87500 – which is the French post code for hereabouts – we unpacked further and began the process of waiting for confirmation of the date for the purchase of our new French abode, anticipating it would be early November at the latest. On our first full day we drove past to check the hoose was still in one piece which pleasingly it was.

IMG_20181020_120544.jpg

Autumn market

 

In the mean time we were to be Chez Kay and Paul in a converted stable. It does the job rather splendidly and gave me the opportunity to get back into the swing of tending to a wood burner not that this was a prime consideration in mid-October. We have French TV so are missing … frankly nothing much that we watched in the UK. It gives us the opportunity to try and polish up our French a bit and watch some stuff we wouldn’t normally. It also means we can see what Jonny Hallyday, Jenifer, Trois Café Gourmands and the rather splendid Fatal Bazooka look like from their videos. I am yet to knock any sense into myself in the upstairs portions of our wee hoose on the angled ceilings, S has not yet had a problem for height related reasons. Mitzy settled in rapidly, enjoying sitting making faces at the many birds that like to welcome the dawn in the trees outside. She was not at this stage not bothered about not being allowed out but we wondered how long that would last for our wee prisoner of stable block H, (pronounced ach here).

IMG_20181020_120539.jpg

S before we escaped the sun

Knowing this neck of the woods as we do we were quickly back into the swing of going to the shops and getting what we needed. There have been a couple of changes in shops since we were in Saint Yrieix la Perche for eleven months with a cheese shop opening and the arrival of a McDonalds which we haven’t yet got around to visiting. We did however over the first few days visit a few of the café’s so S could re-establish which had the best coffee and had lunch in the Vice Versa her fave. Posters at the roadside told of a Marche de Producteurs D’Automne on Saturday the 20th. Celebrating local produce like the apples and white chestnuts produced in the area. Not wanting to miss out on the first event since our arrival we toddled along on a glorious day with the temperature in the low to mid-twenties. So sunny was it that we after our initial lap of the stalls we nabbed a place at a long table under cover where an old couple were settling down for the afternoon. Like professionals they were equipped with picnic plates, cutlery and their medication required to taken before food. I got a sausage and just missed out on the last of very few bits of veggie pizza. Thus plan B was enacted for S’s lunch and after the chef who apparently features on local TV assured me the chestnut soup was veggie I was unable to have some lardons (wee thick slices like bacon) added to his offering. We both like chestnut soup it turns out tho I doubt that the addition of lovely lardons would have done anything but improve it for me…

IMG_20181020_131701_409.jpg

Charity Apple

It was interesting seeing a few faces we recognised from events we’d been to in the past and we had another wander around. During which we learnt that the Limousin has thirty-six (36!) different apple species. That theme continued with some rather elaborately decorated larger than life versions which were later auctioned for charity. We declined the opportunity to dive in as it were to the large crates full of several different varieties of pommes to take away with us. We did however get a bottle of very freshly pressed apple juice – like within half an hour tops – that Greek Gods may have scorned nectar in favour of.

That evening – as I knew I would be busy the next Saturday – I headed off up the D704 to see Limoges FC in action. See the specific footie update for all the details, or dinnae it’s up to you! We went to Pompadour after a wee drive as we refamiliarized ourselves with the area on the Sunday having a wee drink at Le Ramparts café across from the Chateau on another lovely day.

 

20181023_170524

Le Chalard church

A couple of days later we walked into Le Chalard – the nearest village – along a path which was blocked by a fallen tree. Thus, we had to get all SAS style in our crawling under the one strand electric fence to continue. Ooohh the danger and daring do I hear you cry! As we dawdled up the hill through the village we were a little surprised to see a hardback graphic novel on the roadside. I propped it up against a wall so it would be more obvious to who-ever we thought must have dropped it.

A little further on we saw another then in the wee square on the steps was a third, Biggles Le Vol du Walkenstein in which he was in Scotland. Having been a fan of Biggles in my yoof – before I knew what racism and misogyny were – I flicked through it following the plot and not being massively surprised that the good guys, Biggles, Algy and Ginger saved the day. Oddly Ginger in the French version is not the character with ginger hair… The rest of our wander back to Gondandeix required much less pluck and adventurousness.

Biggles Book

Biggles book!

We knew from our previous stay that perhaps in honour of our friend Jan’s birthday, who we’d visited on the way south, cranes aka Grues migrate over in large numbers. Being a decent size and vocal – I suppose like your lowly scribe – they are often heard before they come into view. Their honk like calls prompt looks skyward as the latest flock go over in a large V formation.

20181023_171719(0)

Migrating cranes

If you are lucky, as we were with the first lot this year, they have a bit of a blether to each other and circle to get their bearings and then re-form into a group before departing for northern France and it turns out on to Poland. We were stood in the garden having spotted them when Kay our hostess came out to see them too. She is a fan and was pleased to hear we shared her interest. The cries from above punctuated the next ten days or so and S got this rather good pic on one of our wanders despite not really being able to see them properly. There are just over ninety in this V but we have seen groups of two and three times this size this year. It’s a very, very cool thing.

La Rochelle and on to Le Chalard

The drive from Nantes to La Rochelle was shorter and less roasty. We arrived early – thanks to Mlle Sat Nav – and rather than dwell too long checked into our hotel and set off for a wander. Having of course one less day than planned due to Animal Courier daftness.
It was a nice day a little over cast but pleasantly warm for north Europeans like us. Having pottered about the harbour area we sought nosh. I ordered moulles et frites and S a veggie omelette. The area was reasonably busy and we soaked up the atmosphere which included a shabby chic chap dozing on a bench with neither us nor him having a care in the world. Our food arrived and S’s omelette looked good having as it did lots of obvious lardons, this was not quite as veggie as requested so another was rustled up quick sharp. I meanwhile had a frankly massive portion of mussels and reasonable sized accompaniment of chips. Due to the sheer size of my mollusc mound I began, with S’s permission. They were rather fab and as I ploughed through them I discovered a couple of innocent bystanders namely tiny little crabs that had been living in a couple of my lunch! They had however ended up meeting the same fate as their larger hosts, except I didn’t eat them. By the time my first bowl of empty shells had been removed – two were provided – S was tucking into a fresh omelette and to our amusement the dozing gentleman had moved in the neighbouring eaterie and was tucking into an ice cream with gusto.

IMG_5463

La Rochelle

Suitably refuelled we set off for a wander around the walls and two famous towers that protected the port from foreign invaders. Despite it being off season there were lots of visitors but not enough to be an issue. The towers that mark the entrance to the harbour are interesting and there are also two light houses. One of which is rather away from the quayside but if out to sea you line them up you’ll come into the harbour without any problems – which struck me as clever. Tho I’m easily impressed.

IMG_5460.JPG

Famous towers

There was no hiding of the fact that for quite a period of it’s history La Rochelle was rather vigorous in the then very fashionable Slave Trade… Something many other places are not quite so willing to mention and in fact often do their very best to hide – as recent news about Glasgow proves.

IMG_5462.JPG

Quayside

After a quiet night we discovered that our hotel had a view of TGV or similar trains that had just left the nearby station. S isn’t yet missing her daily commute on Scotrail – that feeling appears to be delayed! The Bay of Biscay which is what boats setting sail from La Rochelle faced for centuries can be a bit dodgy weather wise. It rained the next day as if to illustrate that fact and so I could throw in that educational titbit. Anyway, that didn’t bother us as we were going underground!

IMG_5466.JPG

Old and new

During WWII there were submarines based in La Rochelle and the group they were from had a black cat as their emblem. The U boats were based in a massively reinforced concrete bunkers which attracted the attention of both the UK and US air forces – which of course lead to civilian as well as military casualties. The U boat crews were based in a Hotel Etranger – fans of Bergerac will know that means foreigners. Below that building remains a bunker which is now a museum. It is rather interesting for example the Mayor of La Rochelle on the day it was occupied had a German Lieutenant go to the Mairie (town house) and order him to take down the French flag and replace it with a Swastika one. The man in his seventies refused to take such an order from a low-ranking officer and told him to go get someone more senior! That was the first resistance in the city and the Mayor a few years later was to pay for his continued involvement in such things with his life. The German U boat crews and colleagues were pretty successful early on but tactical and technological advances by the Allies meant that the average life expectancy of U boat crewmen was only about three months and in total upwards of three quarters of them were killed.

Bergerac2

Gratuitous Bergerac picture

The bunker was interesting and a little surprisingly had a well decorated bar – much of which was still visible. A couple of women had left the employment of a department store in Germany to do interior design for the U boat crews, decorating the bar and no doubt parts of the Hotel above as well. They were paid by the Kreigsmarine – the German Navy – to do so. Even when after D-Day the remaining U boat units left France going to Norway they were deemed important enough to go with them. At the end of the War the Allies then asked the same women to decorate their accommodation! Doing painting and interior design for both sides… How oddly curious.
Emerging above ground it had continued to rain which was ironic as there seemed to be a theme of pink umbrella’s across the city, none of which we nicked. We went to a pizza place called Rigoletto on rue Chef de Ville, a street or two from the harbour. I mention it as the pizza’s were very, very good. The tomato sauce on them was much richer than you normally get. Consider it recommended! As we had an early start the next day … we had a quiet evening packing and similar. Not before a nice woman stopped to ask us directions, something that rarely happened in the UK but seems to happen to me all the time in France…

IMG_5472.JPG

Pretty town

 

Next morning we checked out a day and a bit early to rendezvous with our travelling cat. It was dark and we stopped for petrol. As I finished filling up a guy was struggling to get his car to the pump. After I’d paid he was still having difficulty so with my mediocre French and some pointing I helped shove it forward. Unhindered by such problems we pootled towards 87500.

Not having any idea when Mitzy was arriving we kept on going pausing only when necessary. We knew the Animal Couriers knew S couldn’t access ansaphone messages on her mobile so wouldn’t call her and leave a message. It turns out that they did do that but our expectations of them were so low that was no surprise… We paused only when we had to stopping in La Rochefoucauld for frankly rather obvious reasons. It had a nice chateau which has been added to and worked on since they first broke ground back in 980!

IMG_20181016_105248_904.jpg

Chateau!

We arrived in Le Chalard or rather Gondandeix where Kay and Paul – our short-term hosts – had not already welcomed Mitzy. We took some stuff out the car and as M had still not arrived were able to whiz into Saint Yrieix la Perche to grab a scratch post having got a litter tray, etc, during our previous stop. Returning we were able to get more out the car and settle down to wait for the bundle of fur and occasional attitude that is our cat. Unhearalded and without notice a van appeared and Kay told us we had a visitor. Mitzy seem pleased to be removed from said van and relatively soon was settled down on S’s lap. She seemed fine and was blissfully unaware of the shambles that had gone along with her travels and the impact Animal Couriers had on not just S and I but the innocent bystanders that were Kay and Paul.

mde

Then there were three…

Meandering South (actually west then south…)

Next morning – paying more heed to the stroppy lass imprisoned in our dashboard – we headed from Calais for Etretat. Why pray tell, I hear you both cry…

dig

Pretty like a picture

After meandering enjoyably through some wee villages – Mlle Sat Nav seems to like that sort of route as we do – we arrived and after some Google Maps prep the night before parked at the sea front. Etretat is very nice but be warned the parking meters are clearly designed for proper geniuses. We waited patiently unconcerned while married Americans were shown how it worked by a very understanding French couple. He wanted her “to give them a dollar” for helping! How hard can it be we thought? Only for the next person to have similar difficulties before being helped by a different patient French person. I’ve 5 years of further education and much more significantly S has put up with me for 17 years and it took us a while! Not only does it ask for your registration but I’m pretty sure we needed to input our favourite colour, height and Joan of Arcs date of birth squared to the nearest prime number… It wasn’t however pricey obviously as some form of reward for the Nobel Laureates who manage to get a wee ticket out the very testing machine. There is free parking out of town for people with the intellectual capacities of Stephens Fry and Hawking…

dig

Other side of the bay

Etretat is however iconically beautiful and as it was sunny well worth a visit for those who like Monet and his Impressionist ilk. I fear it is busier peak season but we were able to wander the streets unhindered by coach parties and paused to soak up the ambience eating frites and mayo – as you do.

IMG_20181012_142826.jpg

Better pic

Onwards we went leaving behind the queues of people wailing and gnashing their teeth at the parking meters. Seriously the other parking is the better option unless you feel particularly clever or have kidnapped a PhD. Pootling along towards Honfleur another painter’s haunt we had few cares in the world going over the Pont de Normande which is one then another whopping feat of engineering…

IMG_20181012_154513_302

From one bridge to the other

We arrived without problems at the Ibis Hotel hosting us for the night. After unloading our most valuables, which required two trips each stop, we fitted after a fashion our headlight adapter thingys. This would have taken less time if we were not still recovering from the gargantuan test of our intellectual capacities that was parking for two to three hours in Etretat.

20181012_174727

Only bit with the name … Not the best but avoided the bins!

S was given a cool poster advertising an art exhibition on in Honfleur around her date of birth by a very good friend of hers. We wandered the short distance into town and having found the place that hosted said exhibition dawdled around the harbour which is still lined with higgledy piggledy old buildings many of which are now bars and eateries. Pleasingly Honfleur retains the charm of the Impressionists daubings of the past even if the properties are now not as brightly coloured.

20181012_175317.jpg

Working harbour

 

Having found a place for our tea S checked her phone and discovered a missed call, said device rang at that moment and it was the animal couriers who were transporting our cat Mitzy. The woman told S that they were dropping off our wee poppet on the 16th not the 17th – which was not what we’d asked for nor paid them to do as we were not going to arrive ourselves until the 17th! We said we’d not be there to have her delivered foolishly thinking the date arranged was how their system would work. Sat as we were mid main course this was a very unpleasant surprise. I then spoke to the woman who lied about things clearly previously stated in e-mails and among other things threatened to not bother collecting Mitzy at all OR refund the significant amount of money we’d already paid the f@cktards. Despite her saying with no hint of irony whatsoever, “Just because you put the 17th on the Booking Form”! This being something which we’d it appeared very stupidly done before they confirmed the details and took our money. The woman was hilariously inept and accused me of being “rude and aggressive”, bless her. In that we were in a busy restaurant and I was surprisingly being both calm and measured in my comments, attracting no attention from the other diners. I fear the poor woman has had a very, very sheltered life. She wouldn’t like me at all if I had been being either of these things. I won’t name the company of Animal Couriers…

20181012_175436

Pretty

Our evening very much over shadowed we called the people we were booked to stay with from the 17th and they rather brilliantly came up with a few options to save the day and stop Mitzy being abandoned at the road side or left stuck in Polmont with a happy Debra and less so Gordon…

20181012_175550

It’s still art hereabouts

When we returned to the Hotel S needed a drink – something that despite being married to me is surprisingly a very rare occurrence. The next morning it had dawned on us that we could cut short our established and paid for travel plans to fit the whims and idiosyncrasies of the Animal Couriers dullards who no doubt consider themselves to operate in the service sector. This was agreed with our hosts and we – having no indication as to any arrival time – became resigned to our holiday plans being screwed up (to our cost) and an early morning start then high tailed drive to 87500 hoping to get there before our charming and blissfully ignorant of the shenanigans wee grey feline.

20181012_174812.jpg

Ironically named eaterie – The cat that fishes

Having addressed this further the next morning and gone back to the customer service ignoring Animal Couriers we set off towards Nantes…

Are we there yet? 2018

dav

Another brick or two in the wall

We set off south on the 8th of October, the car heavily loaded and despite the efforts of Halfords – who’d redefined useless – a top box was safely in situ. Almost leaving behind a slipper having packed the top box in sideways rain and with house keys we thought we’d left behind… The first stops were Vindolandia, the Roman Army Museum and Hadrians Wall – all of which were very interesting and well worth the visit.

Our first night was in the Hilton at John Lennon aka Liverpool Airport as Susan had amassed enough hotel points for a free stay. Unlike a certain Hotel California* said Hilton is harder to get into than leave perched as it is atop a multi-storey car park… At the third attempt we managed to find our way to it and check in. Apart from being elusive it was fine and you can see a yellow submarine the significance of which no-one needed explained, honest. (As regards the * Ringo Starr of The Beatles is brother in law of Joe Walsh of The Eagles… You’re welcome!)

Next day getting used as we were to the sat nav – knowing the way where we used to live – the sheer joy of long stretches of 50mph limits were broken by the voice tersely shouting at us to do something or other. Smart Motorways are a brilliant bit of spin btw – using the hard shoulder as another lane and hoping for the best cannot go wrong… We used the toll bit of the M6 which was like a French road smooth surfaced, clean, empty and efficient but avoiding the civilisation and no doubt numerous delights of Birmingham.

Due to historic under investment and a stroppy cow telling us to drive through The Fens we arrived late at Jan and Keith’s. They had hosted us for the first six months of our previous French adventure and despite that were more than happy to see us. We had a lovely lunch and they detailed some of the differences they are getting used to going the other way.

Not Maureen

Not Maureen or is it???

We then went onto darkest Norfolk having a couple of fun days with Maureen and Keiran where we dealt with a couple of issues, sending back keys, requesting a screw in a shop – for my sunglasses – and sharing a picture from one of the museums of a person who looked very, very much like Maureen. On the last night we had a curry that sadly impacted three of us in one way or another…

Thus it was a tired, weaker and perhaps slimmer me that started the drive south not having risked breakfast. Susan took over as we weaved between many a lorry in the ferry terminal at Dover. Loads and loads of lorries, as there had been going both ways on the motorway through Kent. Thank goodness the UK would never do anything to jeopardise this vibrant, lucrative and clearly important trade.

dig

Cheerio

A storm had been approaching the UK and we were fearful it may be channelled up the Channel leading to a rough crossing. S was more worried than I was as I had little to lose! Anyway we rolled onto the roll on roll off and having checked the muster stations and taken a few pictures retired to the adult only lounge to avoid several coach loads of school kids. Before you get all excited the adult only lounge was not as exotic as it may appear unless you find pictures of boats and peace and quiet stimulating… If there had been a disco funk soundtrack we’d not have entered! This was probably a good thing as the boat wasn’t rocking much already and I was still in a weakened state. Having chunnelled our previous trips it was easy to see why this has been the main crossing point from Roman times as both sides were clearly in view much of the way.

dav

On our way

Arriving we didn’t need the stroppy lass to find the hotel. But berthing in a different place we used her to get us back to the hotel via a perfectly lovely but unnecessary trip up then down a normal or by UK standards great bit of motorway. The Calais Holiday Inn has been a regular stopping point and they now have chickens roaming the grounds which is cool. Striving a walk we set off for the nearish mall but turned around before some rather heavy rain had the wipers in overdrive and that would have drenched us. After enjoying the large supermarket – all should have a sushi bit with folk doing fresh stuff – a quiet evening was had before a sensible start the next day.

20181011_145647.jpg

Dafty!

 

Nantes

Despite it being October the drive was hot, not just hot but very hot, 25 degrees hot. That’s needing to stop for a medicinal ice lolly hot. It also meant we got the hang of our cars air con something rarely used in central Scotland. The long drive was otherwise fine as we became more accustomed to a road network and infrastructure that works, is thought through and properly funded – if only the UK tried say any one of those things.
On the way well accustomed to the roads and driving on the other side tho we were, Mlle Sat Nav still caused cries of alarm when she bluntly blurted out instructions. Arriving at an Ibis Style – I can fake stylish for but a night – we did out two trips in and wondered at the room being hot. The air conditioning did nothing – it transpired that unsurprisingly the dual function units had switched to heating not AC the week before. Which is very reasonable considering it was mid October but I fear not factoring in what we’ve sadly done to our planet.

IMG_20181005_084303.jpg

Poster from last post

Off we toddled again having looked via Google Maps towards the tram line to head for the Ile de Machines. The stops ticket machine was not working so we set off on foot which was good after a long drive. Foiled in our initial route we wandered towards where S’s phone said our destination was marvelling at heading for a hundred moped drivers wearing pink capes and honking their high pitched horns as they noisily if not to rapidly went by. It was a charity event of some kind and they lapped us as we went what turned out to be the longer route to where we were going. It being a Saturday night the bars lined along the edge of the old dock buildings were busy not just with Nantes young and vigorous but families and older folk too.

20181013_184220

Big ennit!

Heading back on ourselves we found details of the famous mechanical Elephant which can carry up to fifty people on it’s back. I tried to get S’s attention as she looked at the information board and at the third attempt got her to take a couple of steps to the side where she could see the real thing!

20181013_184539

Told you…

It being late in the day the massive machine was parking up for the night but we saw it reverse into it’s resting place. It is quite a thing and difficult to describe or grasp in either written form or by photograph.

20181013_184607

I mean, really…  Wow!

They have a number of other mechanical creatures that look like a cross between Dr Who and Star Wars characters. The ingenuity of them all is quite something as must be the skills of those who create the beasts/creatures/robots…

Into the city centre we wandered in search of nosh. I had – wait for it – a duck salad which was rather lovely while S had a salad without duck… Heading back a lovely little kid was hanging about beside the ticket machine to his well turned out head scarf wearing mother’s annoyance… Having got us our tickets, the wee lad scored 20 cents, as did his brother – fair’s fair. A hoodlum may have just been created but we doubt it very much. We got the tram back to the hotel and retired to our warm room but slept fine with the window open. We liked Nantes from the brief time we spent there.

Between Nantes and out curtailed time in La Rochelle we enjoyed more October like weather – or nice August Scottish weather. Near Cognac we saw this, which for me took the edge of the finesse and romance of the product…

IMG_20181016_104140_256

Brandy Brand

More French stories… 2015

As the clock ticks down towards our return to Scotland I will flip through some of what we’ve been up to…

Evening market (SYlP one)

Evening market (SYlP one)

Before Chris returned after the cycling we three went along to a weekly Marche de Producteur in Segur le Chateau on the Monday night. It’s a Plus Beau Village and was absolutely mobbed – both Chris and S got veggie food – while I had to make do with half a duck breast… There were stalls around the large area of tables and bench seating as several hundred people ate, drank and listened to live music. There was a great relaxed atmosphere and really enjoyable tho Chris may have preferred a different play list music wise. We sat on the deck that night watching the sun go down gently and blethered the prefect end to a great evening. There had been a few stunning sun sets.

However I’m sure Chris enjoyed that more than the Vide Grenier on the Saturday at SYlP FC which we went to after I’d shown him the town – it was a medium sized market/car boot sale which was made all the better by some Three Musketeer type guys and gals who had a few sword fights and such.  I was able to have a wee chat with a few of the fitba regulars who were there – which was good.

We paused in Limoges so Chris could have a wee look at the place before he jetted off.

SYlP evening do...

SYlP evening do…

After Chris went S and I had a few days of pottering about – we went to the SYlP’s Marche de Producteur on a Thursday night. During July and August you could go to four or five a week, villages do a night each, which would be great but not good for your wasteline. The friendly chap who we’d spoken too at the Bastille Day event wandered over to say hello. Having ducked the time before I had several sausages and took advantage of the fact the guys from the football were running the bar…  Result!  That made it easier to get served…  I also discovered that SYlP FC had got a difficult draw in the first round of the Coupe de France facing a team from 4 divisions higher.  The goalie was concerned, the player coach also not hopeful and my efforts to gee them up fell on deaf ears with Philippe.

We had a few wee local trips and another splendid lunch in the Vice Versa in SYlP.

Oor view...

Oor view…

I had a wee time out of things – the details of which don’t need broadcast on here – but thanks to Susan, family and friends who provided support.  You know who you are!  Having had a range of experiences with the NHS the French system is rather better and its employees have a very different attitude which took some getting used to. Anyhoo we gently got going again all having been well.

There have been a few neighbours since then coming to spend a week here only to find a couple of Scottish folk who’d been here for ages. We’re probably hated…

Killer Queen!

Killer Queen!

Mitzy had been having fun – two mice arrived within a 20 minute period one night – the first was dead but the second much more alive.  She’s been quite an effective hunter here – much to Rose and Roy’s satisfaction – she did put a live mouse on the bed beside me which ran across my arm as it tried to escape. It was saved when I recovered… There have been too many mice/shrews to keep tally of, a small bird as well as a couple of lizards and a large frog/medium sized toad she brought in one dark night! One mouse jumped into her cat bed/cave thing which I quickly took outside and as I was shaking it to get the mouse out I had to try and explain my curious actions in French to a lovely couple from Nantes – I think they understood and spoke to me again the next day not looking like they thought I was mental…

She was out one night during heavy rain so after lots of attempts to find/entice her for an hour she was shut out. Next morning a damp cat entered the barely open door at about 67 miles an hour.

There have been a few days of rain which helped turn the area from yellowing back to green but thankfully the cat didn’t change colour despite having stayed out in the rain at least once…  (The view above is greener now)

There are a couple of goats along the road which shout a welcome to any passing pedestrians – raising a smile every time.

J & K & S

J & K & S

Visiting SYlP we tried out a new restaurant (pork & mushroom dish with rice) and had a wander about then went to see Jan and Keith (our first hosts) and had a good catch up with them in the sunshine at Keith’s Pool Bar. It was great fun catching up as their latest punters sat around the pool. We delayed the cats dinner which they made obvious but after tending to their demands the blethering continued.

The both wished us luck for our return which hadn’t been the purpose of the trip and made us feel a little sad. Due to the interweb they will not escape us that easily…

 

We went to the Truffles museum in Sorges which was interesting and could be a lucrative money making scheme… They have Perigord ones hereabouts (black ones with white veins). We fear however that Mitzy may sniff out more mice than exotic funghi no matter how much we tried to train her… She’s no team spirit that one!

We’d paused for a light lunch – duck free – in Excedieul and were asked directions by a French couple in a camper van. No doubt horrified to discover they asked other tourists they seemed pleased I knew the way to where they were going (Hautfort) and after I managed to provide pretty good directions they said “Thank you!” as they drove off.

That day we saw lots of fields of blooming sunflowers, as in sunflowers in bloom – not a sudden lapse into Cockney parlance – some of them are huge and fields full look pretty impressive…

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

One Saturday we went to Junhilac le Grand visiting the chateau and did the tour. It was interesting and had been owned by a few people then it was hinted that the original Junhilac family buy it back and do it up! It’s an impressive place and we enjoyed the trip but felt obliged to use a discount coupon we’d found just to make their generation worth while…

These pics are all the rage, I'm told...

These pics are all the rage, I’m told…

It was a holiday so many places were closed for Assumption Day, but we got a light lunch in SYlP – croque monsieuring and a veggie one for S.

 

A pal from Uni (in Dundee) had been in touch and they arranged to pause for a night in Limoges. We joined Aiden and Shauna (with Martin & Finlay) on the Sunday as they returned towards Belgium from a holiday further south. We had lunch in the Place de la Republic. Young Finlay is an expert on the latest Minions film and endeavoured with very little encouragement to detail it’s twists and turns to me.

Specialist subject - The Minions

Specialist subject – The Minions

It was quiet the day after a holiday but we wandered about the city centre a bit but rather to the lads disappointment failed to see any trolley buses. As compensation and purely to help re-raise spirits from this mild disappointment we stopped for ice creams! It was great catching up and a good time was had by all. S had a cafe gourmand – a wee coffee and three or four mini puddings – not that the delights of said weren’t trailed by a certain fellow diner…

Pompadour

Pompadour’s Chateau

We at last visited Pompadour chateau which was narrower than I thought it would be. Not that it’s four foot wide or anything but it wasn’t as imposing inside as out. It is steeped in equine history and the stables provide horses to the President of France presumably for ceremonial duties. It’s the place you can buy for 1e but needs 4,000,000e of work doing.

After we got to see a number of performing horses which was more entertaining than I thought it would be especially as they can be flighty beasts. The white Andalucían horse was pretty.

That night we headed to a do in Lubersac – Roy’s pal John was singing (he’s written a UK number 1 when that was difficult) and on arrival discovered that a bicycle race was going on. Interestingly the main road thru the village which heads for the motorway was closed as there was a funfair and the diversion took the traffic down the road to the finish of the race.  As there were a number of laps tabard wearing locals were carefully letting large lorries go between groups of riders!  Cycling is seen as pretty important over here.

After the race finished and the result clarified, there having been about half a wheel in it we wandered over to where John was waiting to do his first set as the locals gently appeared. Having dined at his place months ago and him seen us at the gite we had a blether for a while as the locals laid out the food for the evening and sauntered in and heading for the bar. Sadly there was little in the way of food options for S but she had some chips then sort of bullied me into trying the stuff on offer – various starters of cold meat and cheese then freshly cooked meat and chips… The things I do to keep her happy!  John was by now showing how talent was so much more linked to success in the old days before autotune and Popidol.

We’d heard there would be fireworks but hadn’t expected much. However we noticed flashes from that direction so watched from upstairs as quite a display was set off that we could almost see but could hear perfectly.

3 man break

3 man break

The next day the Tour de Limousin’s first stage finished in SYlP. Avoiding the route of the race lopping around the town another driver almost reversed into us trying to go down a side street. He seemed to think our being there was some sort of insult to his manhood – which would have been at risk if he’d hit us!

Speedy team cars

Speedy team cars

We sat outside the Mairie waiting for the riders to come thru the town before they went off on said loop – Jose was officiating somewhere and it being warm and sunny will have made that more of a task. Tho it wasn’t as hot as our Tour de France trip to Rodez it was very nice. That was something that we hadn’t really considered until an older woman a few metres away was caught as she keeled over and then efficiently if unceremoniously carried into the shade and plonked on the grass. The Pompiers arrived quickly and tended to her but she was pleasingly not that unwell.

PMU caravan car

PMU caravan car

There was a breakaway of three going up the hill with one chaser then the peleton.  Tommy Voekler was at the front and identifiable – I’m not stalking him honest.  The road up the hill and traffic calming meant a few team cars scrapped their fronts going more quickly in support of their riders.  This caused a mini cheer from the many watching each time it happened!

Olivier – the goalie from the football – said hello but I almost missed him doing so as we were waving at the same bloke from the Bastille Day thing and Marche de Producteurs.  He may be stalking us!

Team buses

Team buses

We got a good spot to watch the finish having had a look at the team buses and other stuff going on. To be honest it was rather larger and more impressive than I’d thought it would be, not the same as the Tour de France but what is! There was a commentator who was firing questions at the crowd then the caravan arrived – the PMU do the betting on the horse racing over here. There were freebies but we didn’t move for them. Popping off for a drink I bumped into Phillippe from the football and his son who is no-longer having to wear a fancy boot thing after injuring himself a few weeks ago.

Winner

Winner

The race was won with a sprint by Sonny Colbrelli and the rest of the field took a while to cross the line. Yes I saw Tommy V again! Then came the presentations which were numerous and lengthy. We could see the girls changing t-shirts for each new category (they had plain white tops on underneath) and the flowers were in a bucket to the side. The Europcar Team bus headed off sharpish but Tommy V needn’t have been concerned I’m not stalking him!

Jersey time

Jersey time

It turns out that Sonny went on to win the 4 stage event so in both Tours we saw both winners getting yellow jerseys which was pretty fortunate.

Told you!

Told you!

The chap on the left of the above pic is the gaffer of the local Intermarche – Jose knows him and introduced us one time.  Does that make me nearly a celebrity?

More soon!