18 January 2016
BACK IN FRANCE AND INTERESTING WEATHER
I travelled back to France last Saturday, by myself, except with the cat, the dog and our two new bicycles, which were hung on the new rack which fits onto the tow bar. It took me three days to figure out how to pack the car, to fill every possible space with all the stuff we wanted to bring. The main reason for it taking so long is that because of where we now live in the UK, on a main road, each time I went out to the car I had to make sure the cat didn’t follow me outdoors and each time I went back into the house for more stuff I had to lock the car so that any passing person wasn’t tempted to help themselves to the contents.
The journey was good, as straightforward as it can ever be, taking 11½ hours door to door. Nick had done it the week before in 10½ hours but he didn’t have a cat and dog to deal with, making sure they got a walk, a visit to the loo (litter tray for the cat in the passenger foot well), nor the snow for about fifty miles around Alençon. To be fair, the road was clear but there was plenty of snow piled up at the roadside and as darkness fell and temperatures dropped to close to freezing I began to feel nervous.
I was happy and relieved to get home to a wonderful welcome, the house warm and looking lovely, a delicious beef casserole for dinner and a nice glass or two of wine.
There was a deep frost overnight and I woke up on Sunday to a pretty winter wonderland scene. Then the sun soon came out and the frost disappeared so we went for a nice long walk with Lulu – she had spent the whole of the previous day curled up in the back of the car.
I don’t think I had ever felt happier to be back in France. To leave behind the awful traffic in the UK, the potholed roads and neglected, littered verges, all the pushing and shoving and grumpy rudeness. It was a total joy to be able to find the countryside clean and smart and to be able to move around without constantly fighting through traffic.
Waking up on Monday morning we had a totally different scene. Snow started falling soon after daylight.
It was a pretty scene and it was good to think I could just sit back and look at it, not having to worry about whether or not the roads were safe for getting to work and getting home again afterwards. By mid afternoon the snow had stopped falling and was beginning to disappear from the ground so we went out in the car to do some shopping as planned.
Later on we were reminded of how careful you have to be, even when the roads look clear. At low temperatures icy patches can form and this learner driver had found out the hard way what can happen. It looked like the little car had swerved across the road ending up pointing the other way in the ditch on the opposite side. Nobody was hurt but it must have been a horrible experience for the young girl standing at the side of the road and looking very upset.
The car was simply picked up by a fork attachment on a tractor, loaded onto a farm trailer and taken away. The thing that amazed me most was how differently it was done compared with what you could expect in the UK. No police were called. Nobody was shouting or remonstrating with anyone else. Other drivers waited patiently for the job to be done and nobody was pushing and shoving past, sounding their horn or being stroppy. I am quite sure the scene would have been very different if it had happened in Derbyshire. I felt sorry for the young girl but found the way it was dealt with positively heart warming.