Thursday, April 23, 2015

The fly-by-nights

We rushed through France, on our way from Spain to England - a stay of barely a week.   Just time to empty suitcases, imagine the possible weather in London, re-pack, leave the restored baby Audi in the safe hands of Jerome,Clea,Alexandre and Audrey - and eventually the garage.

Just time to see the first of Roger the (new) Ram's offspring and the last of DSK's (the previous ram, sadly dead of tetanus - according to the vet) which was the first lamb of the year. So far this year the lambs have mostly been singletons but all very vigorous.  They have invented a new game: one, two, three - jump in the manger, get in all the mothers' way!  And wait to be lifted out by Alexandre.

Hallo World!   Here's Me!
We came back to the other spring joys of life in France - strikes by workers whose pay ultimately comes from taxpayers, radio, railways and air traffic controllers.   The effects of the first were not overall bad, the popular station just put out terrible pop music, the classical station put out less talk and more proper music - unfortunately this included many variations on 'Happy Birthday' and 'God Save the Queen' which got tedious. .

We booked our flights from Bordeaux with no problem and, as usual I went to the St Astier railway station to buy our train tickets.   This time I had decided we were Too Old to rush, with large, red four-wheel drive suitcase, for an 07.45 morning train on the day of our flight, so bought tickets for the day before.   When paying for same, I saw a hand-written notice that the SNCF would be on strike on the day of our flight.   Priding myself on my foresight, I later learned that the air traffic controllers were already on strike and would be on the day of our flight.

However, the storks are still nesting on a pylon at Coutras station - the train conductor confirmed a recent viewing.  We had a good night at the hotel and our flight was only two and half hours late, swamped by irate Ryanair passengers who had been abandoned.

We got to Gatwick and tried the electronic eye passport control: did not work for either of us but kind official persons showed us through.   This saved at least a half hour of queue-time. Efficiently bought our Gatwick Express tickets in luggage reclaim hall and headed for train.   It really is time the Gatwick Express put down new rails.  We were rattled and shaken all the way to Victoria.  Fortunately there was a very nice person on the drinks trolly and champagne - sorry, fizzy wine - does not curdle.