24/05/2020

november retreat 4: the final miles


OUR FINAL DAY IN FRANCE.

How fateful those words read now! 

As if to remind us why we come this way, our morning departure (this is 18 November now, a Monday which (and when incidently, restaurants often choose to be closed, please note) was kissed by clear skies, when our breakfast stop at Luçon was up to the usual standard, and our deviation to le Passage de Grois, most pleasant. The tide was in, the tourists out, or not around. For a full fifteen minutes we had the landward end to ourselves, and in this wonderful light — we shall not readily forget it. Port du Bec just had to be called in upon also, naturally, although we were altogether far too early for the moules–frites we have enjoyed here on other less clement occasions. Oh to have a small bolt-hole here! We pressed on, after pottering up and down in that reluctant manner we have on our 'final days' when we areonly  too aware that on the morrow we will not be iaround these parts.  We drove to Saint Brévin ostensibly to find somewhere to eat, prior to crossing the Loire.

We didn't find such a place: the blame, as is usual in this tribe, being apportioned to me for some reason. I have learned to tolerate the misrepresentation of myself as a no-lunch promoter by my family, to suffer the insults and vitrolic remarks heaped upon my person when lunch does not spring from this village or that town, ignoring the stoney silences and deep sighs that punctuate the rebukes. I do so with resignation and the infinite patience for which I am widely known. My conscience is clear. Not my fault if everywhere was either closed or not in the least sense present. It is no use shouting at me, you should have pulled us over for a filled baguette or three when there was the chance!

WE MADE DO.



With the hounds and snakes of hunger snapping at our heels  (something like the image right) we took once more to the road (and over the bridge) while I managed to deflect the vitriol still flying my way by the suggestion of a tea-time interlude at distant Guingamp.

It can seem a bit of a slog (well it IS a a bit of a slog) to get across the Brittany peninsula these days, particularly since 90 kph became 80 kph maximum speed limit on single carriageway roads. I mean, I am known for my consistent adherence to limits … I have never been done for speeding you know. Not me. Mme Melling was once stopped and breathalysed fgs! Near Chaumont in the days of the XM motor. Only by luck had she had just the one Paris Goblet of rouge with her lunch… one of those lunches that took an age to get on the table…  spot check only of course … but I digress.

We did get a drink in a rather sleazy bar in Guingamp at long last (I thought it sleazy but it was probably more noisy than sleazy). We gave Adam a chance to look at the fortified bit of the town (and saw the worst sculpture seen in Fr this autumn – see below, head in the clouds sort of idea) and then drove off into a setting sun to arrive in Roscoff at dusk.


Our normal parting shot when shipping out from this bit of Fr is a moderate three courser at Le Surcouf, a restaurant that has never failed to please. But they were shut for three weeks. Holidays or some such. Mme Melling had an alternative in mind and a place she had wanted to try before now, but here's the thing, the son-and-heir still hasn't come to terms with fine fish cuisine and will only partake of soupe-de-poisson in fish restaurants; M's second choice venue didn't offer it so we went to another joint which did. But when it came to ordering we were addressed on the subject of the soup and of it being 'off', that is to say they hadn't any as chef no doubt had mislaid the tin opener. A certain gritting of the teeth took place. The meal was alright I suppose. Only alright. Personally I'd have preferred a filled baguette but decided at the time to refrain from pointing this out.

From there it was but a short drive to our ferry and the three berth cabin situated on deck 7. Amorique as usual, the crew greeted us on first name terms (not). Bye bye Roscoff see you in about four month's time…

The following morning France was behind us. The very last car out of the customs check. Someone has to be. We were already planning our return in spring by close of play on 19 November. All was as it should be back at Bullsmead Mansions… except… just-a-minute… What is this? bloody hell! 

BLOODY HELL!!!

…… seems I went 3kph over an 80kph speed limit way back in September just after we had arrived in Sablet when taking Terry to Grignan. Reputedly. Three kilometres per hour! Some blasted Fr parking geek in Saint Paul Les Trois-Chateaux or wherever, deciding to go to the trouble and state expense to try and snatch some shekels back from a fellow EU citizen who spends most of his surplus in his region anyway. Not to mention local taxes. The nerve of it! For a few fleeting moments I thought about saying stuff you, I am not paying up the €45 requested of me, but then I relaxed;  fair dos, I'll remember to take more care when driving around there next spring, of course I will. Damn it all though: me, getting a ticket for speeding. ME! A speed camera: must have had a fault, obvs. But you can't argue with these Fr can you? I can't, I blame my school. Huh. ( I feel better now, thank you for your concern).

Well that was a pipe dream wasn't it? Going back this spring and all that. Hah! Stuck here on the Bullsmead Estate, albeit in glorious sunshine, son-and-heir stuck in Bath, all with about as much chance of getting tired of that interminable hack across Brittany to get down to La Rochelle or Les Sables d'Olonne in 2020 (or vice-versa) as winning the top prize with the Premium Bonds. Self isolating! Pah!

We've even gone and bought a new Michelin Road Atlas for 2020. Before all this kicked off. Two in fact! The wiro bound one is already getting bumped while we have been doing all the planning for the Spring Jolly!

All in vain. Damned Corona. And us with only two BiBs to sustain us (and a few bottles of Côtes du Rhône, and some Touraine). We are fresh out of proper garlic! My summer open toeds are stuck in Sablet… merde merde merde!

Stuff happens.  And we both did win on the Premium Bonds aussi! No not the top prize exactly…