Welcome to France, land of blue skies, sunshine and rose wine. Well not quite, we got one out of three this time and one should never complain about rose wine!
There are always lessons to be learned when travelling. One is to never trust your silly French sat-nav that will assume for some unknown reason that on arrival at Bordeaux you are in the 19th Arondissment of Paris and have a desire to reach the other side of the city. It will ignore completely the fact that you are on the motorway desperately trying to head south while it shreaks at you continuously that you are going the wrong bloody way. Arguing with a Sat Nav is a fruitless mission but I do so nonetheless as swearing at that mechanical voice is some compensation when you are doing your third 40 point turn in the side roads of Bordeaux while surrounded by irate French drivers hooting horns and waving their hands about.
I eventually give up on the Sat Nav and head off in the right direction. Two hours later I am in the south and pulling into the sleepy village of Cudours where I’m staying with my friend Alison. I haven’t been here for two years, last year was a blur of incident and heartbreak with Mum and I couldn’t risk being away even for a week.
There is a lot to catch up on and sitting in the garden with wine and friends is a good way to start. Coffees in sidewalk cafes, birthday parties, shopping in fabulous little gems of shops where every veggie gets to shine like the star it is. To me this is all heaven, who cares that the weather doesn’t want to play ball this time and that yours truly has only brought a bag full of summery clothes and now have to spend the week borrowing jerseys and wearing the same jeans all week. I resign myself to a definite lack of sartorial elegance and nil points in the fashion stakes!
At least the wet weather has brought out the amazing colours of France. The grass is green and the flowers are everywhere. I go to stay with Martin and Ann at their amazing horse farm where the air is heady with the scent of roses and lilac and the wild chamomile and apple mint make walking in the fields a sensory treat.
There are horses everywhere, what a treat for an old horse nut like me. Dainty new foals dash around play fighting and racing like the wind, only to suddenly stop and hide behind mum when it all gets too much.
I haven’t seen Martin and Ann for 3 years but we pick up where we left off with mad chat of family and friends, people, places and animals. Good food and good wine and putting the world to rights. True friendships know no bounds of miles or time.
Days out are photo ops for me and even the chilly deluge we endure at the Pau Grand Prix doesn’t dampen the spirits and we laugh at ourselves as we huddle in the fancy shops to dry off and rub some warmth back into cold hands. I remember being in this store at the same time 2 years ago buying flip flops!
Browsing brocantes and vide greniers. More sidewalk cafes and a final day out at Dax races where the sun comes out and bathes the already stunning parkland in glorious sunshine. France at last looks how I remembered her, blue skies, sunshine and rose wine. But I think for me there is something far more special and heart warming in this country and that is my friends.
Some places make you feel like you are coming home and some friends make you feel like you never left.
Thanks to Martin and Ann and Alison for giving me such a wonderful holiday. Miss you already.