>I’ve Been Everywhere, Man…..

>Been an odd couple of days, really. Weather variable but dry.  Easter now upon us. The French do
‘do’ Easter  (as they used to say in Wales) – Paques. The shops have been full of Eastery bunnies, chocolate eggs and, of course belly-bursting seafood, for which they have a particular penchant on public holidays. Great, heaving trays of Oysters, Mussels, Langoustine, Prawn and Sea Snails are everywhere. And most tempting they are, too. Although the Bulot – Sea Snails – are a bit like chewing on old tyres, for my money.

In the great tradition of Scotland, I did curry. You can never have a enough curry, I’m oft heard to say – too oft, according to J!

I had to return unexpectedly to the UK earlier this week. It was a real flying visit. Eurotunnelling under the channel and back on a shuttle about five hours later.  J had been feeling very unwell in London, having picked up a horrendous chesty infection thing from the grandsprog in Wales. Rather than sit miserable in the capital, however, we thought it would be more relaxing for her to come back out here. So…..I drove over to collect her. We also had some stuff in London that we needed out here, so it meant we could kill two birds with one stone – a macabre thought and saying, if ever there was one!

I set off from our local village, three Kms away at about 13:30 and arrived in Islington, North London, at about 04:00!

Here’s the local village:

In the event, I got myself hopelessly muddled en-route through France. My map was about ten years out of date, and the Frogs are, of course, forever changing the circulatory systems, creating EU financed ring-roads, bypasses and roundabouts at the drop of a beret. Having set off reasonably well, I went wrong at my first major town (Cholet) when I missed the turning for Angers on the Loire and then tried to remedy it from my long-gathered knowledge of French geography. As a result, I basically zig-zagged, West to East to West etc., up through the country to Calais, where I arrived about four hours later than planned or expected! Still, it was a sunny day and I did see some parts of France that I’d previously missed!

In one small town in the Suisse Normand, Pont D’Ouilly, I think it’s called, I managed to knock over a line of those huge white plastic things they use to cone off major roadworks. It was most satisfying rolling along to the whump, whump, whump of them as they toppled heavily into the roadwork excavations. Luckily, there were no workmen around at the time, though I’m not sure what the cars following must have thought.  The town itself, is a lovely little gem of a place and looks well worth a visit at a later less, stressful time. Have a look on GMaps – it really is a splendid spot, rivers, weir, etc., set in the midst of some glorious Normandy countryside.

I left Jack and Charlie home alone, with plenty of nosh and water. Charlie with a cat-flap could escape, Jack could not! Both were fine on my return the following day, so no problem there.

All stretch now…….

When I reached Blighty, I again got hopelessly lost.  Missing my turn-off on the M20 in Kent. I careered on into Essex, of all places, on the dreaded M25, of all bloody roads.  Much of the motorway was closed for roadworks, with exit junctions shut down. Not particularly helpful – especially as by that time I’d been driving for about nine hours and was becoming a tad tired. When I eventually managed to rectify the situation and got into London – or its outskirts – I made countless muddled mistakes and ended up in parts of East London I’d heard of but knew nothing about.

This made it all very difficult cos I couldn’t visualise where I was most of the time and therefore was also unable to imagine how the various boroughs/areas connected to their neighbours or where they might be in relation to parts of the city that I know! A potential recipe for disaster. And it was. Nevertheless, I can now say I’ve been to Bow (three times), Bromley, Bromley in Bow, Stratford, Hackney, Mile End, Stepney Green and many other parts of the city! Hopefully I won’t be revisiting most of these, however. Eventually, I spotted a new landmark on the skyline that I recognised and from which to get my bearings. The Shard – a monstrous glass tower alongside London Bridge. I therefore recrossed the Tames southbound, U-turned and recrossed it northbound and simply followed a route I knew would take me up to Islington, where I was headed. All in all, I arrived about five hours later than expected by which time J was a trifle worried and had made enquiries with police etc., both in France and London about accidents etc involving a Swedish registered car! I think I crossed Old Father Thames no less than four times in the course of my peregrinations: Dartford Crossing; Blackwall Tunnel; London Bridge, twice!

Oh, yes, and just to cap it all: the car began to overheat for some unknown reason about fifty miles into the trip and the rear silencer box fell off a few miles shy of the Channel!!

It was simply a nightmare journey. I now know why so many people have GPS/Sat Nav gear. I’m even tempted myself!

The return journey was fairly straightforward. With a better, more up to date map and J navigating (she is a Geographer with a passion for map reading) it was pretty uneventful and took about four/five hours less to complete.

Now, J is off at Limoges airport collecting the daughter, LVP, and the grandsprog, who are over for a ten day break.  I think there’s a small easter egg hunt planned for this afternoon sometime. That will keep Junior happy and I can take part by slurping on a bottle of Rosé while scoffing some Froggy things like cheese and bread etc. So I’m hoping for a relatively pleasant day. After the awful drive earlier in the week, I could do with the rest and time to de-stress a bit!

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About yractual

A former lawyer and national daily journalist, now a freelance music journalist, with moves bewteen Spain, Sweden, France and who knows where next! A Scot by birth and inclination. Lover of acoustic ragtime-blues guitar and ukulele. Work with music titles across three continents.
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