5 grounds, 4 games and 13 goals… Football Special

Due to S’s pending travels and our earlier arrival in the Haute Vienne I went to my first French match on the 20th of October, Limoges FC against Poitiers in the National 3. LFC were relegated due to off field problems last season from the National 2. I saw them twice last time we were over and monitored them prior and since. Getting there in plenty time to purchase traditional fayre I saw Alain of the Supporters Club who welcomed me warmly giving me my Membership card, he got a Raith Rovers keyring in return. I accompanied him to the wee area where they are trying to cultivate a bit of noise and was introduced to a number of people. All of them had names which ones was a mystery especially as he introduced someone else later using the wrong name to the amusement of the rest of us.


Sausage, roll, mayonnaise & Coke

There has been a change of squad since last season so no familiar faces from my previous visits. Limoges have been doing ok, conceding few but not scoring many and drawn most of their League games but had progressed in the French Cup which I had hoped they would remain in for me to see. I recognised that their other keeper was playing and was surprised to see a youngster who’d been signed recently starting.

Any first game is about trying to see how a side operate and get an idea about the players. In what ended up being a 0:0 draw I learnt the following. The back-up keeper Cornet made a couple of very decent saves late on, the new youngster Faucher is very decent and playing out from the back is the norm – I ain’t knocking it the French seem not bad at fitba as this summer again proved… The home side couldn’t quite create an opportunity up front but looked reasonably solid across the middle and at the back. I also discovered that I default to French at St Lazare the LFC ground for the basics, allez, bonne, etc.. I was also reminded that French supporters expect to be stirred by the play on the pitch so I already knew that my efforts to encourage are often largely solos!
Limoges FC 0, Poitiers 0 – National 3 – French 5th Tier


Goaless but entertaining

Next as S was away I went to an U16 game Limousin v the Dordogne in Lubersac.  Due to an error in the publicity I arrived in plenty of time for the 2.30 kick off. So much so I was the first person there other than the chap opening the bar and I was pleased to see some players arrive five minutes later. The game kicked off at 3.00 or rather 3.10… By which time I was concerned about the hot sun and had wandered around the pitch watching the youngsters warming up, which they did themselves rather than being instructed by a coach. Three mini-buses had brought guys from the Haute Vienne, Correze and Creuse while the visitors arrived on a coach.

Also I had been approached by one of the coaches – there weren’t more than a dozen fans – who seemed not to fancy the chances of his Limousin side. The players including the visitors right back who looked about 12 were pretty good. A wee lad like him in Scotland would have been dropped/kicked out the game by U16 level but there was no sign of that here. There was lots of playing out from the back and at half time it was 1:1 with the Dordogne side getting a goal back just before the half. Both number 6’s looked good, the visiting one in green was polished and skilful but only passed backwards – he reminded me a lot of Jean Philippe Javary but without the streak of mental genius – whereas the home lad in blue was much more tenacious and direct.

At the half I asked the Limousin coach if their keeper had a hat. He didn’t but wasn’t bothered it appeared at the prospect of playing facing the sun in the second half. Both the coach and I thought he should be more concerned. The home lads continued to do well and scored before being pegged back. Then a sub who’d shown good touches scored the goal of the game running through the middle and jinking past a defender before firing the ball in the top corner from the edge of the box. That more than justified my 4e total expenditure on drinks! As time ran down the greens scored two goals in the last four minutes one of which the Limousin keeper may have been better able to prevent … if he’d had a hat. The defeat I think was a little harsh on the Limousin side who despite being the underdogs matched the visitors throughout.

Limousin U16 4, Dordogne U16 3


JPJ-alike by keeper

During our previous time here, I was a Saint Yrieix la Perche FC regular as they won promotion in the Haute Vienne pyramid – details of which are found in the older updates. Anyway, SYlP FC have struggled of late and having worked with AS Ladignac Le Long on the Youth side of things have sort of merged with them. Thus on a Saturday the 3rd I set off towards Ladignac to see them play and realised – cos I’m stupid – that they would be playing at the SYlP ground which is rather better than the AS L facility. As SYlP came into view I could see the glow up the hill of the lights and arriving a couple of minutes in joined a few dozen fans to watch the game against Chateauneuf Neuvic B.


Back at my old stomping ground

AS L were clearly the better side and looked much more of a threat against the visitors who had a guy my age up front. He was more mobile than me and clearly had a bit experience using his dwindling physical abilities to their maximum. There were few familiar faces in the crowd – a couple of guys I recognised who used to play for SYlP – and I edged towards the bar as the half wound down. A half in which AS L had done everything except score. Being first in the bar I was greeted by a surprised Phillipe who I’d got to know a little during our previous stay. He was behind the bar and is currently the President of SYlP FC mainly it seems for administrative purposes. We had a quick chat before others arrived for a drink and to warm up from what was for them a cool evening.


You can win with Grandads!

The second half brought more control of the game by AS L who made the visiting keeper make save after save. The home custodian had nothing to do and was helpless when a rare cross was deflected to the feet of the erm experienced striker six yards out. He put it in turning away more with a look of surprise on his face than joy. AS L pushed on the last 20 minutes was one way traffic during which the home keeper made a few decent saves and one absolutely brilliant one leaping to his left to touch a vicious strike just over. The visitor’s lone front man was replaced by a guy who was a few years older and did very little. The visitors who were in the bottom three of the league hung on and were very chuffed at the final whistle.
AS Ladignac 0, Chateauneuf Neuvic B 1 – Haute Vienne Departmental 3 – Poule C – 3rd Tier in Haute Vienne

The following Sunday the 11th – as were killing time waiting for the house stuff to move on – I drove to Bosmie L’Anguille using Mlle Sat Nav. I arrived in time for the 3 o’clock kick off but couldn’t find the ground! Eventually having consulted an old-fashioned roadside map I arrived a few minutes into the game. AS L had it appeared at first no fans other than a random Scottish bloke but as the game wore on it became clear that a wee group of young women had also travelled at least one of them to watch their boyfriend face Bosmie Charroux.


The open end of the building is the bar/aid station

AS L’s 11 opened the scoring after a shot from the number 8 hit the bar. The AS L number 9 almost doubled the lead in acrobatic fashion at the far post but got it all wrong and it remained 0:1 at the half. In the first period I was flummoxed to see the ref produce a white card which meant 9 had to go sit on the bench for 10 minutes as punishment for dissent.

At half time the home goalie – who made me look like an athlete – did not join his team mates in the changing room instead he was in the bar area having his upper thigh strapped chatting to the locals! The big lad in goals for the home side was not mobile to start with and was a spectator when AS L’s number 7 got onto a through ball and chipped him. AS L continued to look more dangerous and but the home side’s best player hit the bar with a lovely curled free kick before the hosts got a goal back.


Allez le bleu et noir

I was again defaulting to French for the basic stuff but good a funny look of another visiting fan when I said perfectly reasonably “Good ball!” AS L’s 11 scored with a splendid dipping volley from outside the box before the blue and black number 10 – fresh from a wee seat on the bench prompted by a white card – played a great defence splitting pass from inside his own half. The AS L number 8 ran onto it, controlled it nicely before slotting the ball home in the last action of the match.

davBosmie-Charroux 1, AS Ladignac 4 – Haute Vienne Departmental 3 – Poule C
The result took AS L up the 3rd place in the 12 team league.


View of Limoges from the car park

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.


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!


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…


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…


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!


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… :-)









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.


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).


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…


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.



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!


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.


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…


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!



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.


Then there were three…


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.


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.


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!


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.


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…


Brandy Brand

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…


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…


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.


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…


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.


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.


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…



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…


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.


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


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.



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.


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.




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…



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’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.



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!

2 days at the Tour de France 2015

On Thursday the 16th Chris arrived from Edinburgh. He’d survived the flights via Southampton and seemed pleased to find France warm and sunny. Due to his early flight and our trip the next day we took it easy heading for the hoose and watched the end of the stage of the Tour on TV and then had a quiet evening.

Tour de France!

Tour de France!

The next day we were up at 0600 and soon on our way efficiently heading for Rodez. (Rose had already kindly said she’d check on and feed Mitzy.) My purely subconscious attempt to leave my wallet behind was foiled when I realised and re-opened the gate and went back to get it… The day was developing into yet another hot and sunny one. We had established where the Tour de France stage to Rodez was finishing and via the computercleverness of the interweb had worked out where it was amending our initial plan of throwing ourselves at the mercy of the Tourist Information office. We paused in Figeaus for a drink and continued making good progress. We knew the way after our Milau trip – Chris was acclimatised to French roads when a car pulled out almost into us avoiding parts of a freshly blown out tyre from a lorry that had just stopped.



Seeing Winnebagos as we arrived in Rodez we swung up the hill past them, more by fluke than design we were at exactly the right place – I could have pretended it was on purpose but both S and C know me better than to believe that… Sure enough it was busy and between the modern buildings crowds of brightly clad cycling fans were amassing. Following the traffic around I took us off the main road in an effort to find somewhere to park, no easy task despite the finish of the race not being for scheduled for about another 5 hours! Here however years of practise trying to park prior to football matches kicked in and turning away from a diversion everyone else was following we parked and set off with bottles of water re-traced our steps.



The crowds were growing as was the excitement. We walked back along looking at all the things and stuff finding the finish and a big screen showing what was happening out on the road. Some were better organised than us an older French couple with picnic table, parasol, cutlery, crockery and lunch were noshing away about thirty yards past the finish line. Their prime spot up against the barriers was probably bagsied by them before the rest of us were out of bed! There was the podium and a few stands around the finish line, but a number of areas where non-corporate punters like us could get a good view. Some of the flats overlooking the area had banners on their balconies – a few supporting Alex

Geniez a local lad who rides in the FDJ team (aka Francais deux Jeux – the French lottery people).



Having scoped the area and spotting a couple of options for watching we sauntered off to find food for me, a veggie and a veggie not that keen on eggs. In France! However we were more than successful going into a creperie which like all the other places locally were doing a roaring trade. I had the menu de jour, a crepe with geziers (duck!), C selflessly had the cidre that came with mine he’s good like that. S and C also enjoyed their crepes and we relaxed a little in the relative cool of the restaurant watching more and more people arrive to be part of the world’s biggest sporting event…

Big screen action

Big screen action

Walking back around we were amazed to discover that the best place we’d spotted for watching was still free. Thus we took up position by a couple of large boulders that divided the in and out access to a modern blocks underground car park. When the time came we’d be able to get onto said rocks and have a good view of the finish from a couple of feet higher up than the rest of the crowd.  Sorted.

Maintaining our claim we went for wanders down the hill away from the finish behind another stand and along the barriers that were by now filling with people. A nice sponsor woman was giving away chicken wings which I took a couple of, mainly as a favour to her to avoid them going off in the heat. As time passed in the sun we kept drinking, topping up the sun tan lotion and took turns moving into the shade… The sun helpfully moved around so our spot was in shadow for a couple of hours which helped. The BBC said it was 38 degrees however a local paper said it hit 46! Despite numerous drinks none of us needed to find a loo…

Tommy V - Legend!

Tommy V – Legend!

The atmosphere was good and lots and lots of people arrived and took up places around us or moved on hopefully down the hill. The caravan of sponsors vehicles arrived, distributing freebies and in Vittels case spraying the crowd with water – which was much appreciated. The mainly young people involved in the caravan looked pretty pleased to have reached the finish in the conditions. By now the crowds at the barriers were six or seven people deep and with an hour to go all the best and even mediocre viewing positions had been snapped up. Haribo folk were trying to throw sweets up to people on 4th floor balconies with some success. Despite the heat three poor people were dressed in mascot costumes, a Haribo bear, a Credit Lyonnais Lion and a Skoda superhero type guy. How hot it was under their foam heads and outfits goodness only knows.


Yellow = Froome

A couple of Brits had taken up position on the boulder behind ours. They were following the Tour into the Alps and had been to Alp D’Huez previously. As the anticipation grew Pompiers moved through the throng past us and removed a person who had clearly been affected by the heat. A few other the red ambulances seemed to be making similar trips. The big screen showed the countdown of the distance to the finish and a breakaway was caught as the PA told those of us who could follow the French what was happening. The cool shadow moved away from our rocks as the team buses went past.

Stage Winner – Greg Van Avermaet

As it got busier a chap clambered up to join S with me and C on the rocks. We were about 2 feet higher up and had a good view, S’s was snapping away with the camera as best she could. Then the riders arrived – I’d feared we’d not get a good view and all would whizz over the line in a bunch taking all of fourteen seconds. Thankfully from our vantage point we were able to see a BMC shirted rider out sprint the Green jersey wearing Peter Sagan to win the stage. Just behind him in 6th came the yellow jersey worn by Chris Froome. The BMC guy who took the win was the Belgian Greg Van Avermaet. We had a real advantage being higher up, S would have struggled to see anything at ground level – and I saw the veteran Frenchman Tommy Voekler who crossed the line in 93rd. It took Irishman Sam Bennett 21 minutes 37 seconds more to complete the stage than the winner by which time we’d moved seven or eight yards to our left where we had a good view of the podium and presentations. Out came Van Avermaet the stage winner then, Froome for the Yellow jersey, Sagan for the Green, Froome again for the King of the Mountains (spotty) one, then Quintana for the White jersey. In a decent day for the Belgians De Gendt was presented with the combatively award and then the Movistar team came out as they were leading that classification. The ceremony was accompanied by Sweden’s Eurovison winning tune without the words – in heat like that all the riders were Hero’s.

Green = Sagan

Green = Sagan

Having lost then refound Chris we toddled along seeing all the bars and one shop were heaving with hot and thirsty fans. Heading back to the car we watched as the team buses moved away with a no doubt tired cargo. S saw some riders already had their feet up. One of the buses was featured during the TV coverage one day and it had a shower on it!

The car was effing roasting – 42 degree’s – when we climbed somewhat unwillingly into it. Our remaining drinks in the boot were very hot but the ones in a cool bag were tepid and very welcome. The queue to get away from the finish unsurprisingly took a wee while but it was fine – we’d done very well and seen more than we’d hoped.

White = Quintana

White = Quintana

Despite our instructions which were not much use from our starting point – tho we did pass the AG2R and Lampre hotel – we eventually got on the right road to our place. After seeing at least fifteen Tour cars waiting to go thru a car wash – something we’d not have thought of happening if we’d not seen it. I’d not realised how good the AC was with the car having become cooler quite quickly, finding our hotel we opened the doors all reacting with surprise at how hot it still was despite it being after seven…

Hotel with Sisters

Hotel with Sisters

The hotel was I believed a former convent and is quite a striking building. To our surprise inside we met a couple of nuns! They helped us find the right person to get us in the rooms. The place obviously still has a few Sisters resident and gets a lot of pilgrimage trade being on the Compostela route – our visit and devotion was however to follow those en-routes to the Champs Elysees.

Hot cat

Hot cat

We went into the village of Saint-Come-d’Olt (another Plus Beau Village) and C and S had pizza’s while I had a ducky salad which we washed down with lots more fluids. We then promenaded around the village which was pretty and populated by several cats who looked more than vexed it was so warm despite it starting to get dark! Our lap ended with Madame patron re-uniting C with his hat which he’d left in the restaurant.

Back at the Hotel the rooms were simple and lacked a TV but each had a little Jesus. I failed to tune ours in so gave up and after cool showers we went to bed. I had opened our room door earlier to go give C our interweb dongle-doda and was startled by a ninja nun. Thankfully I didn’t swear.

Hose me Baby!

Hose me Baby!

The next morning we got up and set off. We paused to buy stuff for breakfast and headed off largely ignoring our planned route. I dropped bits of pain au chocolat on my khaki short but disaster was averted by a wee dance at the roadside to remove said crumbs. Weaving through the hills we passed a dam which held back turquoise water that looked absolutely stunning as passed heading south for our second stage. It was a nice day but thankfully cooler than the previous.



We met Tour traffic as we approached the small village of Bouloc with a couple of cars behind us. Parking at the roadside with others and going on to the main street the Tour would go down. We wandered up and down the road as officials, sponsors and team cars started going past as other spectators arrived. Taking up position in the village square we waited. The locals were enjoying the day with several parties going on in gardens as the population of the village temporarily tripled or more. The Sponsors Caravan went past and we amassed more free things from rather fresher looking youngsters who’d only been on the road for 40k’s or so… The Can Can girls and cyclists atop various floats looked much more vigorous. A free local paper showed us on the front page, among others, stood on our boulder vantage points. It was cooler but a squirt from the young Vittel woman was still a good thing.

Froome & Sky

Froome & Sky

Some of the locals went inside for a drink no-doubt keeping an eye on TV as the peleton approached. Others were tailgating. A car went past saying on a PA system that they were coming and flogging Tour stuff.

Third group

Third group

Then another car told us there was wee break and they would be with us soon – as we feared would be the thunder which we could just hear in the distance.

Lantern rouge

Lantern rouge

Before the dark cloud arrived it was preceded by the helicopters flying above the race then the Gendarme outriders were followed by the lead group, which included Sagan (in Green). Not far behind came a larger group, with Sky and Froome towards the front of it.  Again we spotted Europecars 129 Tommy Voekler as the third group went past followed by the long line of team cars and one chap who’d obviously had a problem of some sort who was trying to catch up through the traffic. He was no-doubt hoping to do so before they went up a wee hill just up the road.


Heading back to the car we set off looking for lunch knowing we’d been very lucky to see so much on both days. I’d feared it would be a bit rubbish for Chris who – though he likes Mitzy – had come over to see the Tour. If we’d barely seen anything through a crowd and then the bunch had steamed by in 4 seconds it would have not really been worth it. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and the thunder and rain arrived after we were nicely settled in the car. Getting lunch was not so easy our options were limited – a few places were shut up and one village was emblazoned with posters and homemade signs supporting the local rider Alex Geniez – who did a ballsy lone breakaway the next weekend. We stopped in a McD’s in Rodez for ease and as unlike the day before we needed the loo! The place was full of other Tour fans with their free hats and stuff.

Just above ...

Just above the word hier – in white with hats…

We travelled back past signs for Balsac (titter) and S took over the driving as tiredness no doubt affected by dehydration began to hit me – which makes me look a bit lame considering what the cyclists had been doing as I stood about…

27th June to 16th July 2015

Forgive the delay in updating – I’ve made sure you haven’t missed anything!

Sunset fae the garden

Sunset fae the garden

We are now ensconced with Roy and Rose in Paulliac which is between Pompador and Lubersac in the Correze. About 20k’s south east of Saint Yrieix la Perche. Mitzy was a bit confused as to where we were the first night and woke us up – she was obviously a bit freaked out by the new place and R & R’s four horses out the back. She has since settled in nicely and moved from lizards to mice which she regularly brings in for us to marvel at and deal with often at the most inopportune moments…

We had neighbours for the first few days a family had been staying supporting a lass who was part of the GB team at an event at Pompador’s equestrian facilities. Sadly her horse had a problem so she only got to take part in the first of three events. Roy and Rose live next but one and he is working on finishing off the gite between theirs and ours. He’s one of those skilled clever people who can do that sort of thing – he also plays for one of the local village sides B teams but would be the first to admit to no-longer being in his prime. Rose spends a bit of time each day tending to her four horses, one or sometimes two of which she rides in the field out the back. All this activity is observed by their three dogs.

Cool cat

Cool cat

S and I had a trip to Limoges for the Summer sales, we pottered about and S got three things for less than the most expensive items pre-reduction price. Rather to her satisfaction. We had a light lunch with me having a ducky salad cos of the heat, it was 35 degrees… It was hot last month, all month, mainly in the low thirties which we have got nicely used to but there have also been a few days where the temperature hit 40 plus. This neck of the woods was the hottest bit of France a few times being a deep red on the weather maps.

Accordingly we took it easy and S had a few cold baths due to the canicule (French for heatwave) while I perfected making sure upstairs was cool keeping blinds and windows shut when the sun was on them and open when it wasn’t. There is a period of the day when the sun seems to come in both the front and back roof windows which I fear breaks the laws of geography but I am not complaining. The cat found the coolest place she could and would disappear there for hours on end. Wandering around the field one lovely afternoon I was confused by a popping noise eventually realising it was the seed pods of a Broom bush bursting in the heat!

Yours for less than a quid!

Yours for less than a quid!

Not having moved far we know the small towns – Lubersac & Pompadour – well so don’t need to do much exploring. I have done a little bit, not much, of helping out Roy with his various works in my non-skilled way and we explored some local walks in the cooler evenings. There are goats along the way which are talkative to say the least and we’ve debated trying to update our ringtones with the outbursts of a Limousin goat! That however may not fit in so well when we get back on a early morning train or at the fitba.


The coverage of the Tour de France on French TV was extensive and helped prevent us getting sun stroke. Watching live was a good build up for our trip to see it for real. There were a few crashes that took out the man in yellow on consecutive days – the first being quite a pile up and how none of the riders hit a concrete lamp post that a couple of dozen of them careered towards at break neck speed is something I still fail to understand. They halted the race give the walking/cycling wounded a chance to finish the stage and get patched up overnight if they were up to it.


Giddy up!

One Sunday we went to racing at Pompador. We had a drink across from the chateau then paid our 6e each (which is less than a fiver at the moment) and went in. The Chateau is actually available for sale, Roy tells us for 1e! The purchase would depend on the buyer having an additional lump of cash of 4,000,000e minimum that is required to carry out the work needed on the rather impressive building. The rumour is that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt viewed it a few months back as their current chateau is a bit small for them! That’s no doubt one of the perils of international megastardom… How quickly one outgrows ones castles! Anyway no bid has been made by them or anyone else as far as we know.

Slightly worried winning jockey.  The sponsors seem to want to give him a prize...

Slightly worried winning jockey. The sponsors seem to want to give him a prize…

The racing was good. They mix up the styles and sort of races – flat, steeple chase and cross country which is cool. A couple of jockeys were unseated but all horses and riders were fine. Horseball was demonstrated between two of the races – it’s a sort of basketball/cavalry charge type thing – which involves no little skill on the part of both riders and horses.



Lots of people were in attendance who mainly stayed in the shade but it didn’t seem to have the toffs and non-toff atmosphere you get a racing in the UK. We watched the first three races and invested in the 4th winning 5.80e from a 4e stake. More than enough to buy the chateau but sadly not sufficient for its upkeep!

As regards trips we went to St Eyzies-de-Tayac another riverside village. En route we saw the aftermath of a crash with a car in a ditch on the wrong side of the road – clearly everyone was fine. That day we had a couple of close calls with dafties coming the other way whizzing along the middle of the road on blind bends… Always a joy.

We arrived in time for lunch and for some reason I had chicken and chips while S had an omelette. We then enjoyed the air conditioned National Pre-Histoire Museum not just because it was cool. It was also rather interesting and well laid out.  St Eyzies is a pretty village so had a wee wander around.


St Eyzies-deTayac

Then we headed off to our next stop, eventually finding Fort Maison de Reignac – a large house build into the cliffs. It’s very interesting wandering around a normal room to turn and realise that one wall is a rock face. The place was much more accessible than in the UK without the dreaded and limiting velvet ropes everywhere. It apparently could be defended by only fifteen men if attacked.

Cliff house

Cliff house

It also had an exhibition of torture paraphernalia which showed no lack of imagination or human ingenuity. Apparently the guillotine was in fact a Scottish invention… Hurray for the jocks! L There were many rather disturbing implements – did who know that a skilled practitioner could cut someone in half – starting at the groin and keep them alive, if upside down, for some time before they unsurprisingly succumbed? Noteworthy also was a large metal bull which was hollow into which you put the victim then light a large fire underneath it cooking the poor no-doubt screaming so-and-so inside. I’ll never think of those plastic cows that are still dotted about Edinburgh in the same way again.

On the way back we paused in St Leon sur Bezere – a Plus Beau village – for a drink. It’ a nice wee place but which we didn’t think was that special, a Beau but perhaps not a Plus Beau! Someone did well to get them that accolade… Going back went thru St Robert – another PBV – as w neared home it was rather more impressive.

Beau but Plus Beau?

Beau but Plus Beau?

We had a trip to SYlP and wandered around the Rue des Arts. What’s that I hear you both ask? A few shops have been opened up flogging three or more different local producers work – clothing, jewellery, painting, pottery, you name it it’s in one of the seven places. That’s well over twenty producers of things and stuff who all have an outlet and the opportunity to further establish themselves/make some money/be discovered… It’s to ensnare the visitors as July and August is holiday time en France and the roads are a little busier with Dutch cars and the streets occupied by many of the dreaded tourists! (Don’t worry I see the irony of that comment).   On that trip we bumped into Mike – from the last hoose – who’d no doubt thought he’d got rid of us!

We were invited to join Roy in Pompador – where they have a wee hoose – to play petanque with some other local Brits. Not that either of us were much good it has to be said. S & I lost then I was part of a 2:1 girls v boys win.

Massive tart!

Massive tart!

The next weekend we sought out a massive tart. No really, we’ve been here a while and seeing the fliers thought why not… A massive fruity tart at that. Insert Sid James laugh here if you wish otherwise behave! In Conzeze which a village about 7 or 8k’s along the road they hold an annual Fete de Framboise where in 1997 they made the world’s largest raspberry tart. It was authenticated and verified by the Guinness Book of Records people who no doubt had a sample. Anyway it was another hot day and we got there before this year’s version – rather a tame effort as you can see from the pictures – had been consumed in its entirety. Very nice it was too, sadly S found the portions a little large and I selflessly had to finish hers off for her.

There were also various stalls and mini-exhibitions, one being a blacksmith who was banging out his wares* using a rather swanky mobile forge to do a demonstration which was interesting.      * If anyone tittered at that you should be ashamed of yourself.

Nice portion

Nice portion

We went to SYlP for the Bastille Day bash which was excellent. Again we ended up chatting to complete strangers in French as we had stuff from the barbeque – they were down from Limoges having lived in SYlP until recently. It was a wide ranging blether and they brought up the comedic behaviour of the Greeks government which they found almost as amusing as the fact Andy Murray got married in a “jupe” which is a skirt. I assured them that a kilt and a “jupe” are very different things.



The Bastille Day do was like the St Jean de Feu one of the previous update but with about four times the number attending and a larger bar. We wandered about and had a blether with one guys from the football and exchanged a few pleasantries with a couple of other people we know slightly. As darkness fell and the accordion based band filled the marque’s dance floor the atmosphere remained relaxed and jovial. It was very busy with people all around the lac and all was good despite many a small child having consumed Bard de Papa’s (candyfloss) the size of their torsos!

Feu artifice

Feu artifice

We found a spot for the feu de artifice (fireworks) and as darkness fell the European anthem was played – as it is here quite regularly at large events. Nigel Farage wouldn’t approve so it must be a good thing. Then they raised the tricolour as the Marseillaise was played.

This was followed by the most impressive fireworks display either of us have ever seen. The only pic shows the setting with the railway viaduct behind. As well as being a great backdrop it was also used as part of the display despite the line still being in use. They were loud and fitted in with the musical accompaniment several times filling the sky with colour and light – making me think of the rather screwed up display in Oban when all the fireworks went off at once.

The next day we met with Jose and Joelle who had returned from a long trip to Portugal. He said the fireworks had lasted 23 minutes the night before, they had watched them from across the lac. We blethered in as close to French as we can manage for four hours, no really four, in Segur le Chateau. It was good to see them again.

Next will be details of our trip to see the Tour de France and some of the nearly 400 pictures we took!