It seems that one minute we are in the UK and the next in France. For some reason which seemed logical last year we arranged to return to Bluegum in January 2017 – probably thinking she might have missed us!!! So on the 2nd January we fly to Carcassonne and find Bluegum exactly where we left her and clearly not caring if we are there or not. The good news is everything is fine and in working order. It’s pretty cold and windy so we need the heating on and once again I thank the previous owners for having under floor heating installed in the bathroom – a necessary luxury in my opinion.
I take the opportunity to give her a good clean inside and out. We enjoyed spending time with Pam and Charles (Xenia) including going to the local cinema to see Manchester by The Sea – fortunately it is in English with French sub-titiles but wouldn’t recommend going if feeling down or sad!!We take the train to Castelnaudray to visit Maggie and Nigel and enjoy a meal in a local restaurant.
Satisfied everything is okay we return to the UK on the 13th Janaury where Charles goes off on the following weekend to Manchester for his grandson Kieran’s stag do at the Manchester Beer Festival where a good time was had by all.
In early March Laura and I travel to Silsden for Bobby’s hen do enjoying a make up evening, zumba class, cocktail making plus of course lots of bubbles.
My friend Alison turns 60 in Janaury so before a meal out we take her to see Gas Lights at the theatre in York. Charles and I also make the most of our time in the UK and see The Commitments, Evita, Murder Margaret and Me and also The Red Shoes which was my Christmas pressy from hubby, not forgetting Angus’ school play Jane Eyre – a bit of culture is good for the soul.
On the 7th March we load the car up with my sparkling new cooker, microwave, new bicycles and nest of table together with everything but the kitchen sink. The poor car is laden down and I worry it may not manage getting over the humps onto the ferry but of course Charles says in his usual laconic way ‘it’ll be fine’. We stop off on our way down to Portsmouth for a night with Debbie and Kevin (Rangali) and enjoy catching up on news with the men updating each other on their medical conditions……
We decide to drive all the way down from Caen to Carcassonne in one go and although its a long drive we enjoy listening to an audio book and the time passes very quickly. I’m pleased to say the car held up and everything is in one piece and its not long until I have my cooker installed and everything else packed away.
The weather is very pleasant and we invite Pam and Charles along when we drive down to the Med to visit Collioure. It is such a pretty town and we enjoy strolling around the little streets and enjoy a lunch on the coast line.
On the 21 January 1870 an exceptional climatic phenomenon occured where more than one metre of snow fell in one day on the down. In the early 20th Century Collioure became the centre of artistic activity where many artists gathered including Henri Matisse and Pablo Pocasso. Cannot say Matisse does much for me but each to their own. I am so chuffed whilst strolling through the market stalls to find some earrings to match a necklace I bought about 8 years ago – somethings you cannot hurry….
We also take a drive to Castelnaudray to deliver the goods Ni ordered from the UK and its nice to catch up with both him and Maggie, not forgetting Tashi the dog who welcomed us like long lost friends.
We decide to break up our return trip to Caen so book a Chambre D’Hote half way up near Valancay, Le Bout du Monde is such a find. Catherine and Jean-Francois are perfect hosts and join us for our evening meal. Catherine cooks all the food herself and fortunately we had forewarned her I am a veggie and she didn’t disappoint, the meal is superb. It is a good opportunity to practice our French although its fair to say her English is much better than our French.
The next day we visit the beautifully kept renaissance Chateau de Valencay and just about have the place to ourselves. The Prince of Talleyrand enjoyed the finer things in life and also clearly enjoyed beautiful women. He charmed his way through life and benefited from being Bonapartes minister and councillor. Its quite incredible seeing how small the beds are – the look more like large chairs.
Then its a drive up to Caen stopping off for an early tea before boarding the ferry back to the UK and a long drive up north.