Our other life in France. #1
It's a sunny May day here in Beaulieu sur Dordogne and in truth I should be soaking up some rays as tomorrow looks rather foreboding weather-wise. It's a shame really as in two days time the Fête de la Fraise ( the Strawberry Festival ) will be held here in the town and it's a BIG deal; probably the calendar event of the year and the town is busy now preparing.
But more of that to come.
We've been here in France a week but it feels a lot longer. After our arrival all did not auger well for our onward journey to the South West of France and our cottage.
The country is gripped by train strikes and the effects have been widely felt.
Arriving at 7:30 in the morning at CDG after a gruelling 13 hour flight we were soon alerted to the fact that our TGV train booking to Bordeaux had been cancelled and we had to book again for later that same day. At 3:20p.m. to be precise.
So, feeling like we'd been partying all night and in a punch drunk state of numbing jet lag, we headed to the nearest Parisienne Cafe to while away several hours.
Feeling ridiculously hungry and both nauseatingly exhausted we ordered an omelette. There is absolutely nothing, NOTHING like the taste of a french omelette. It is served with a generous side of frites and a salad. A fresh basket of bread is whisked onto your table. Coffee is served. I bolt it down as though I've not eaten for days. I do not pause to converse with my husband. I am too hungry for words. It is the best meal I've ever had.
Obviously I'm being dramatic. The food however has its immediate effect and we yearn for a horizontal position.
The afternoon roles around eventually and we head to the station.
There we find crowds of people who have also been delayed. They wait patiently and without complaint as the french are want to do. We follow, like well trained sheep, up one platform then back down again. This sort of "follow the seething crowd" goes on for quite a while until eventually our train pulls in to a completely different platform. No one talks or complains or remonstrates at this frustration. We make our way onto the train, find our seats and three hours later arrive in Bordeaux. Twelve hours of blissful sleep follows in a hotel bed made from marshmallowy clouds. " I want one like this at home..." is my last sleepy thought.
The next day dawns sunny and full of hope. We shall be in our other home in just a few hours!
Sadly, this is not to be. We arrive at the station to be told that alas, the trains have been cancelled all day. It takes a while for this reality to sink in. Merci Monsieur Macron. It's beginning to feel a lot like Ground Hog Day. The man in authority tells us that our train ticket can in fact be used as a bus ticket to get us to our destination. It is 9:30 a.m. and the bus leaves at 2:15 p.m. Our two hour train trip will now take five hours on a bus. Oh joy!
I gather myself. " Rae-Helen this is a first world problem. Get a grip! "
So, we head to the nearest sun drenched Brasserie to while away several hours. This is sounding familiar n'est pas?
Prior to heading to the bar I visit a local Relay to purchase a pack of playing cards. I'm shocked that they not only have them in stock but that the cards had just that very moment arrived in their morning's delivery! I have renewed energy as we find our spot in the sun, order a wine and a beer, and begin to play cards.
We also order Moules frites for lunch. This is mussels cooked in white wine, garlic and cream served with delicious frites. My absolute favourite dish...other than omelette of course. :)
Eventually we get onto the correct bus (after a lot of excellent sheep following) and find a seat. The bus is hot and packed and the air is pungent. Our garlic breath will fit right in we muse.
Our driver we quickly surmise once drove
in the Grand Prix or has some kind of death wish. It is a rather hairy two hour trip before we have a stopover for an hour or so in Bergerac. We notice our driver is a female this time and it turns out she rather likes her life and wants to preserve both it and ours. We arrive unscathed at St. Cyprien station where our taxi awaits to ferry us to the cottage in Berbiguières.
It's just light enough to see it waiting for us. It looks a little like a Japanese Geisha in the evening light with it's lilac wisteria gently wrapped around the upper storey. Home at last.
What will we find when we open the front door and shutters which have been closed for 6 months?....