lundi 21 mars 2016
I had no idea when I opened my eyes this morning that I would be entering an international sporting event. Indeed I hadn`t even done any training.
About 11.45, having visited our accountant to sort out some particularly confusing French paperwork, we passed a small local restaurant and thought "Why not" - and so we did!
An hour later and having enjoyed a wonderful three course meal for less than £11.00 each we turned off the car park onto the road to head home. We had travelled no more than some 30 yards when a rather officious looking man wearing a yellow 'gilet' and carrying a clip board made it clear that we could not continue but had to turn around go in the opposite direction. It was clear we had been 'barriered' in!
Driving along by the side of the canal we soon fell in behind a large supermarket advertising van with an immense video board on the top listing lap numbers. Then a few lycra clad racing cyclists on very streamlined bikes zoomed past us and disappeared into the distance.
We continued on our way eventually falling in behind a small convey made up of cars and a few small trucks carrying spare bikes. We passed various camera men proudly pointing their very long extended lenses directly at us and and a few spectators, some enthusiastic enough to have brought their own seats with them - but no matter how we tried to leave the road we couldn`t do so as all the side roads were cordoned off., and we were simply waved on. I tidied my hair...paparazzi and all that you understand!
More cyclists began overtaking and then hoards of people sitting on the pavements on their folding chairs. It suddenly dawned on us that we were actually on the course of one of the legs of the Tour de Normandie cycle race taking place that afternoon. I was very tempted to wave but hid my face instead.
We actually drove quite close to our friends Viv and Mike`s house and were desperately hoping they had turned out to watch the spectacle as I wanted to give them the Queen`s wave and watch the shock on their faces!!!
We started to head back towards the town and came to a traffic island surrounded by gendarmes and more 'yellow' men. We assumed that we would be moved off the course but, again, we were simply waved on. Did they think we were an official vehicle and perhaps Mark was a timekeeper or medic?
WE had already passed the sign arrive (start/ finish) 3 kms - and then we passed the 2 km. sign. It then became very obvious from the growing number of people standing at the side of the road that we were almost at the start point - and were destined to do another lap! I was very tempted to do just that as, by this point, I was getting very competitive and wanted to win!
At the next side road Mark managed to make a quick swerve, mounted the pavement and managed to squeeze past the barriers before the 'yellow coats' could stop us.
Let it never be said that life in this quiet backwater called Normandy is ever without excitement!
A la prochaine mes belles
dimanche 20 mars 2016
samedi 12 mars 2016
Amy - otherwise known as Mademoiselle Tartelette from Oregon has been staying here with us at the chateau for a truffling trip.
She began her trip down in the South of France where she spent a week of truffling before starting the long haul drive to us here in the North, in Normandie. She had intended to stop over in Paris mid-journey before carrying on the next day, but as she was still wide awake after the expresso café stops en route she called us to say that she had decided to carry on and would reach us about midnight.
When she was about an hour away she called again to say that her fuel was getting low in her hire car and was getting a little worried as she did not know where the nearest service stations were. We re-assured her that she only had a little way to go before she found a petrol stop and that she should have sufficient fuel in her tank to make it in time.
She called us about 45 minutes later to say that she had arrived at the service station, would top her tank up and be with us very shortly. However some five minutes later she called again to report that her hire car was refusing to start.
She was only about five miles away so we jumped in our car and set off to rescue her, wondering what had happened to cause her car not to start. When we arrived at the service station she appeared in high spirits, sitting in the all night café stop and causing great hilarity among a group of truck drivers wearing yellow coats, trying to explain in her broken French that they looked like a gang of Minions!!
A few calls to her insurance company and it was not long before a truck arrived to transport her car to the nearest garage. And the reason it wouldn't start? Tartellete had put petrol into her tank instead of diesel!With her car safely locked away in the garage for the rest of the night [it was about 2.00am by then!]we packed her along with the treasures she had bought and her suitcases into our car and headed home.
The next morning we went to collect her vehicle, having been duly drained and re-filled with the correct fuel and our truffling began in earnest.
I take her to brocantes and dealers off the beaten track and I have threatened to blindfold her a couple of times as some of my truffling spots are in well-guarded 'simply chateau' secret locations!! Some old dealers with amazing hauls and collections have supplied me for well over 30 years now.
Tartelette has a very serious case of incurable 'brocantitis' but, teamed with a very good eye, that makes for a whole hoard of delicieux treasures for her to pack up and take to La Poste.
We have had half the salon brimming with boxes, bubble wrap , rolls of tape, baskets, books, zinc finials with the other half full of her purchases: old chocolat boxes, rustique farmhouse linens and cuisine items,18th century giltwood fripperies, old boxes of candles, frames,18th century engravings, salon chairs and tables, and bed canopies - and that is to name just a few!!!
And so, with parcels packed and labelled, it's off to the post office.
This is just a small peek at her haul; and there is more to be shipped back to the States, including not only the two chairs she bought on this occasion but also two others which have been decorating our lounge for the last 18 months or so!
She leaves tomorrow, returning to Paris for the last few days of extra truffling, but under strict instructions to buy "small" as anything else would have to go in her suitcases. I shall be amazed if she manages to do that as she usually finds the temptations of the Paris flea too much to resist.
Of course I came home with a haul of confections myself so after a day of recovery tomorrow I shall be back to listing my own treasures on Monday including..............
....... a beautiful timeworn chateau Lit Polonaise
Plumply upholstered with horsehair and traditional batting inside it will be an easy project to re-upholster.
A la prochaine mes belles and "Au Revoir and Bon Voyage" to Mademoiselle Tartelette; have a safe journey home.
Oooh la la...... it seems so quiet here now.