3 August 2021

THE SUPERMARKET RUN

I wrote this as a guest post for Tom's blog so posting it here as well seems a bit like cheating, although not really as it's a subject I already had in mind.


I have occasionally been asked why we bother to have a house in rural France.  When we’re constantly patching up a crumbling old building, grappling with doing it in a different language and there is no handy B&Q around the corner, I sometimes wonder why myself.  Especially this year when we have had to jump through so many hoops to get here.  I was pondering this very thing on the way to the supermarket in Descartes the other day.


Back home in the UK our nearest supermarket is three miles away.  It can take between five and forty five minutes to get there, depending on such things as time of day, how many sets of temporary traffic lights there are, or whether or not there has been a crash on the M1 and traffic diverted through the town (which happens more often than you might think).  The run is rarely stress free, involving regular near misses with other drivers, navigating the speed bumps and avoiding the sunken manholes and potholes.  We go past two huge building sites where hundreds of new houses are going up which will soon be occupied and pouring even more cars onto the already frantic road.  We go alongside grass verges choked full of litter (including those disgusting plastic bottles full of urine tossed out of vans and lorries), into a scruffy little town where Tesco has seen off most of the other local shops except for the charity shops and a hardware store.  Metal buckets are seemingly not big sellers in Tesco. 


From our house in France the nearest supermarket is eleven km away.  It usually takes twenty minutes to get there, very rarely more, and if we encounter more than six other vehicles going either way the road seems unusually busy.  At this time of year the run takes us along smooth and winding roads flanked by fields of endless sunflowers and the grass verges are pristine.  We hardly ever  see any litter, potholes are scarce and the only likely hold up is getting stuck behind the occasional combine harvester.  Or sometimes having to wait for a little family of deer or wild boar to cross the road.  We have on a couple of occasions had to stop to shoo a few sheep or a donkey back into their field.


On the way there we drive through sleepy hamlets of old and crumbling buildings very similar to ours and pass three ancient châteaux, one of which by driving alongside its moat. When we get to town we pick up bread from the boulangerie before heading for the supermarket.  Ponder no more, I thought.

Mind you, we have to get there well before 12.30 when they close for two hours for lunch – this is in France, after all! 

9 comments:

  1. Well I’m relieved to hear everywhere has its downsides!

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    1. When it means we have no choice but to stop for lunch somewhere until they reopen it's more of an upside !!

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    2. Definitely and as soon as you start describing a typical French lunch, I might have difficulty stopping myself boarding a ferry to get there!

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  2. Ooh, you're making me miss France so much!!

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  3. Glad you are (naturally) happy in France, but so sorry that the U.K. - England particularly - seems to be in such a sad state of dysfunction. What the xxxx is the matter with so many of your fellow citizens? How have they all lost their minds, their manners, and their hearts?

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  4. "when things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose" Charlie Mackesy. The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse.

    By that quote I mean that now you are in France, where you've wanted to be for so long, focus on being there and forget your feelings about England.
    At least you've still got access to the health service, which, whilst it is under intense pressure, like so many other countries, is there when you really need it as Nick will know - like Colin - when they both had heart attacks. Elizabeth xx

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    1. We're loving every minute of being here at last....well almost....it has been a lot of work to get the place clean and remove all traces of our long absence but we're getting there!
      We are indeed lucky to have any kind of health service at all in the UK and let's hope it stays that way.

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  5. My own experience exactly. I shall be returning to England this Winter for the first time in about 20 years. I'm wary about what my mid-Covid
    South Coast town will look like.

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    1. You could be in for quite a shock, Cro.

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