Why did I think I’d no photos with ORANGE in them?
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After a marathon three-and-a-half day journey from Arizona – taxi ride, overnight flight, rental car, hotel, channel tunnel, drive, drive, drive, hotel, drive,drive, drive – to the south of France, our Reward was this:
And of course we got our just desserts:
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Please play with me! PLEASE! Brittany spaniel in St. Genie de Fontadit, near Beziers in France.
I could do with a playmate! Donkey in a field – all alone! – Romilly, France.
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He’s cheating on me.
He has a new girlfriend and she communicates to him via a little box plugged into the cigarette lighter. My services such as they were are no longer required.
I sit with the road atlas on my lap, ready to catch her out and just as I’m nodding off her strident voice alerting himself to an autoroute exit brings me round with a start.
After some initial teething problems in the relationship – a 20 mile detour on a ten mile journey close to home, probably operator error – I have been forsaken. I can’t argue with her, touch her or question her judgment. Her clipped British accent and penchant for being right is getting on my nerves. She is even correcting my pronunciation of French villages and towns.
I hate her.
Now and again, clearly enunciating her t’s she says, “Lost satellite reception.” Not so clever then is she? I know exactly where we are and where we’re going but if he wants to dally with her he can suffer the consequences.
The fact that he is carrying on with her right under my nose and in my car is just too much.
He thinks it’s funny.
If we weren’t in France and in my car I’d get out and leave them to it.
However . . . .
She didn’t cover herself in glory in Italy. As we approached the French/Italian border I made a show of closing the French road atlas and slipping it beside my seat.
“You’re on your own now, matey, you and your new girlfriend.” Himself looked alarmed. Though he’d been taking directions from her exclusively she obviously didn’t inspire him with confidence.
A spectacular journey through the Alps and under Mt. Blanc – a 7 mile tunnel in a series of 17 tunnels – came as a major surprise as no route planning had taken place.
Then she really messed with him.
She insisted he come off the autostrade, go in circles, make several u-turns, attempt some mountain climbing, pass under the same cable car three times and pay two unnecessary eight euro tolls, robbing us of all our coins.
Just as we were both feeling quite frantic – we’d many more miles to go but which way now? – I pulled out my secret weapon, a map of Italy, and resumed my relationship with my husband. I’d had my doubts all along about the two of them and had highlighted our route on the map before leaving home.
We zig-zagged back down the mountain, where we’d had a nice view of the autostade below, and headed east once more.
I turned the stupid woman off and stuffed her in the glove box.
I didn’t gloat. That’s unlike me but himself was looking strained and it seemed only fair to keep my mouth shut.
At our final destination, the seaside resort of Porto Sant’Elpidio, I was forced to make up with her in an effort to find our hotel. She invited us to complete our journey at a derelict building and was banished once more to the glove box.
On the return journey she “lost satellite reception” in Bologna, a city of 400,000, all seemingly on our stretch of road and fighting for space in our lane. Several major roads intersect in Bologna and they are designated by international, national and local numbers which quickly become meaningless when panicked. The only way to find our way through was to look for major cities on our route, all of which were on the other side of the fold on the map.
Have you ever opened a full-size country map in the passenger seat of a compact car? It blocked out the sun and the road ahead and terminated the peaceful spell in the car.
GPS – Gloriously Pointless System
We made it back to the EuroTunnel but I lost my dog.
So many of you drooled over your keyboards when I posted pictures of our desserts we felt obliged to take the same route back through France and stay in the same hotel so we could go back to the Restaurante de le Maire to eat the same dessert so I could photograph it and post it again. So . . . . .
Here it is and please no comments about the fact that the wine bottle and glasses are empty. You all encouraged me to drink.
Here is a close up:
The profiteroles were full of ice cream and the chocolate was pooling around them. I didn’t eat it all. I left some for you. Enjoy!
As we left a sleeping campsite behind and headed towards Dover, the stresses and strains of the last three months – an international move and corporate harassment – seeped away.
For the moment the monumental planning tasks for the move and our impending trip were complete and we were still on familiar roads.
Approaching check-in at the Channel Tunnel, reservation in hand, we were both spooked when the self check-in computer screen greeted us, “Hello Mrs. C. Welcome to EuroTunnel.” Without a word or screen touch from my driver, we were checked in and the smarty pants machine spat out our boarding pass.
“It knows me. That’s a little creepy.” The adventure into the unknown had begun.
The unmanned all-knowing computerised check-in at EuroTunnel:
EuroTunnel was celebrating 20 years of operation and the terminal building was heaving. Les Anglais on holiday. Even Snow White and Cinderella were there. Look closely under the W H Smith sign:
Attendez! We’re next!:
Oh very funny. France this way. Follow that car to the train:
On our way into the train, like a rat up a drainpipe, I had hoped to elucidate you with a quick snap of the Folkestone White Horse, an ancient Celtic carving in the chalk cliffs of Dover. However the carving is only 11 years old:
Follow the leader into the train:
In a car, on a train, under the English Channel. I’ve never quite been able to get my head round that:
And away we go. Italy beware:
To those of you who commiserated with me on my last post – A Catalogue of Disasters – many heartfelt thanks. Your kind words were most appreciated.
At the moment our brains are dulled with French food and wine to the extent that we are unable to stress about anything for a few days.
Flowers are a necessity, not a luxury. Did I choose our B & B in France because it was close to the Beziers Flower Market? Possibly.
So many lovely blooms. How could I ever make a decision?
No, not him! The flowers in his hand!
Bloomin’ big blousy blossoms!
They are peonies by the way. And his name was André. He wasn’t for sale.
At first I thought I hadn’t any photos of rivers. But guess what? I’ve got loads. Oh no! I hear you say. I’ve whittled the number down to just a few (phew!):
The Niagara River tumbling over the falls from Lake Erie to lake Ontario:
Our practically mute and taciturn river guide at Magnolia Plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, cutting a wide swathe through the algal growth on the Ashley River and scaring away all the wildlife except Batman and Robin here:
In the town of Confolens, France, the river pictured is most probably the Vienne but possibly the Goire, as Confolens is at the confluence of the two rivers as the name suggests. Or I may have just made that up.
The Chicago River. Happy daze in the Windy City on a not so windy day. We were gorging on Chicago-style hot dogs while others engaged in more energetic pursuits. Note the distinctive Willis Tower in the background:
The Deschutes River in Olympia, Washington State after a heavy rain. Just upriver was a ‘no swimming’ sign. As if.
“Drove my Chevy to the levee. But the levee was dry.” We didn’t drink whiskey and rye on the levee of the Mississippi River at St. Louis Missouri.
Jude, at Travel Words asked in her Travel Theme: Rivers, have you taken a river cruise in England? Yes I have! And there is the very boat on the River Avon in Bath, England. We traveled upriver above the weir. What is a weir? Look here!
Scared half to death as himself towed our travel trailer in narrow lanes of heavy traffic across the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River in New York City, I didn’t dare reach for the camera so Wikipedia will have to suffice:
At this distance it looks a doddle. It wasn’t.
Is doddle a word in common usage in the United States?
It has occurred to me that Jimmy and I may not be thinking along the same plane or are even on the same planet. We rarely do are should our Quest be any different?
“The List” of requirements for the perfect place to live, which we had agreed on, has been thrown out as being ridiculously unattainable so now we’re drifting aimlessly, mentally and geographically. We each speak longingly of our nirvanas but these potential home bases may be more pie in the sky than pie on our plate and his is probably apple and mine is pear.
When I say Let’s live in California he says I don’t think we can afford it. When he says Let’s live in Florida I say I don’t know if you can stand it. And that’s the end of the discussion. If you can call that a discussion.
As we’re not the best at communicating, at least in any constructive way, it seems appropriate at this point to put into writing our options. Perhaps the unspeakable possibilities will spur us into taking action about settling down. These are our realistic and unrealistic prospects:
There. That should focus our minds. There are some pretty scary prospects there.
Even more worrying is that it is only No. 12 that we would both find completely alarming.
I’ll get back to you when we’ve had a proper grown up discussion about it.