Sunday, May 5, 2013

country travels

Last weekend Country Mouse and Spouse went to Town (London) which was mostly a mistake. To start with country distances between towns in France have got longer despite the expensive creation of motorways, or dual carriageways, between them. Take the distance between La Chaise and Angouleme. In our early years here we would allow a country hour door to door, even in our ancient Fiat 127. Now, in the very superior Audi (also previous Audis) we have to allow an hour and half. As for the distance between Montauban and Brive.....the official motorway panel says an hour twenty – we have never made it under two. Perhaps the town moves as one approaches.

And now the same has happened with Bordeaux airport. I always used to allow an hour forty to get there on the old national roads; now it has to be two. Admittedly these days I do allow a longer time for what I have dubbed 'the haywain factor'; that is when one gets stuck behind a mega-tractor trundling wood or hay from A to B at around 20 kmph on the feeder roads. Or a Spanish lorry trying to overtake another that is going 6 kmph slower than it is, uphill which takes about half an hour.

Consequently we got to the airport rather too late to catch our Easy-Jet flight with comfort – I won't say at what speed I drove in case local police read this. However the airline has cleverly managed to get the right to sell tickets on the Gatwick Express, so that was one hassle the less.

Once in London our mobile phones went on strike and refused to work reliably with any of their partner carriers.. And we were reminded that wretched English plugs – we needed a three pin adaptor French – English – have fuses in them. It took us some heavy cursing time to work out that, in one particular adaptor, the fuse had blown.

The mobile phone hassle became a serious problem when we headed to the English countryside from Liverpool Station: we lost each other and neither phone worked. It was a miracle that we both met up again at the appropriate departure platform. So off we trundled into eastern England, the weather was sunny, the sheep were the right way up and all was well. There was even a buffet wagon, boasting an 'on-board' chef who was dispensing breakfast – hot bacon rolls!

We missed the return train because I had left a case behind but, boldly, I went into the local station and, to my surprise, found there was a real, human person in charge – on a Sunday! I explained the problem in my best blonde manner. He said no problem and gave me a handwritten chit to change the ticket. The train inspector accepted this, no problem. So, there are country manners in remote, rural England too.

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