Blimey the French put us to shame…..

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Get all road designers or engineers or Robert MacAdam fans to France now.

The roads are fabulous!

Its so easy to get from A to B ( – as long as you ignore you Satnav – “please prepare to continue straight ahead”) the old days of being told the drivers in this neck of the woods are wild is nonsense. Everyone cruises along quite the thing.

The motorway service stations are great too. Edible food by God and drinkable coffee.

Yes there are toll roads but honestly the non-toll ones are fabulous too.

I am a confused traveller.

Is this another country or another planet.

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Sorry Scotland but we are years behind. Pockmarked, one lane each way on our main road to England in the East it is a  piece of nonsense and frankly I’d rather we sorted this out rather than fiddle about with the damn useless empty ghost like trams of Edinburgh….

The A1 is a travesty.

A dangerous life risking horror show.

So how about putting this on the agenda for the big vote on September 18th?

Yes a ranting post but hey ho – better out than in.

 

 

Le Manoir – French dream is a reality.

IMG_1747When I imagined staying in a French house overnight with food and wine and lovely hospitality – I thought it was just a dream  but good news – it exists. And here it is. Le Manoir only an hour from the ferry in Calais – Calais is another tale for another day but today is all about Le Manoir a lovely story……

We read about it on Sawdays website and had booked ahead. Plugging in the co-orindates our Sat Nav took us round the houses, across the rues, over the montagnes and meandering for ages but eventually we found it – in a small village called Gouy-St-Andre in Pas De Calais, and it was well worth the wait. Look.  Sometimes photos speak louder than words. But being me you will get words as well.

We arrived on 8th May and the whole area was completely shut. We wondered if the Triffids had landed, or some huge global disaster had happened and we were the only ones not to know about it but when we finally found our way to Le Manoir and met our hosts Ceclia and Raphael they informed us every 8th May in France  it is a massive public holiday to commemorate the signing of the peace agreement marking the end of the war by Charles De Gaulle in 1945. So we arrived on a party day!. Splendide!

On arrival a delicious afternoon tea of homemade cake and cups of loose leaf tea before being shown to the gorgeous room where we collapsed in to a bubbly bath before dinner at 7pm. When we came down there was a roaring open fire with a fireplace the size of Uist  and two huge sofas which we sank into before being handed a glass of chilled wine and some canapés. How we suffer. NOT.

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This is the label – fresh. light and really easy to drink. Being a philistine I don’t care how much a wine costs as long as it tastes good and this tasted great. Only later I learnt it was about 5 -7 euros! So I have decided to give up water and just drink this instead. Have a look here  and try it sometime you will thank moi (French bi-lingual now obviously)

At this point we mentioned dinner and of course being a daftie I had forgotten to mention to Cecilia, our hostess that we would like to eat with them. But she whipped it up in no time at all. If it had been me it would have been cheese on toast but at Le Manoir we were in the hands of a gourmet. The dining room was set for two overlooking the garden and we indulged in an entirely homemade feast. Rillette, gherkins, bread, mushroom tart, then an omelette bursting with fresh veg from the garden and Le Touquet potatoes from the host Raphaels Fathers garden with butter.     At this point we should have had our jaws wired but on we went to enjoy home baked apple tart, miniature cheesecake and ice cream. Be still my beating heart.  We managed to move to the lounge and the couch where we met this handsome chap. Charlie the cat.

A man who also enjoys his food. I am now his body double – with slightly less hair.

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Some more photos to give you a taste – see what I mean about the fire? Its a beezer!

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Breakfast – you can see here – beautifully laid out table was  homemade yoghurt, bread, jam, ,fresh fruit salad, hot fresh pancakes and maple syrup, homemade Granola, pastries. I could go on and on as I do but I think you get the gist…..

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Oh and meet Alfred and Marcelle, the geese. These two meander around outside like a pair of Disney characters keeping an eye on all the comings and goings.

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So to sum up. The ambience of Le Manoir is quite magical. The X factor. We were the first Scots they had to stay – and hopefully we have not spoilt it for the rest of you because we behaved rather well for a change.  From the horses, geese, cats, oh and of course the humans! They were wonderful….oh and their children who speak better Spanish, German and almost English than us. Yes we were very taken with the whole place……

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Le Manoir An hour from Calais and well worth straining your SatNav to find.

Road Trip Thelma & Louise Day 1

 

So we’re off. Mum and I are heading off to Europe today in the car. In preparation last night we drank a lovely bottle of wine and toasted the next few weeks of driving, travelling and “mindfulness” Yes the buzz word for the middle aged crisis sufferers the world over of which I am one. Obviously. Mum is neither middle-aged nor neurotic so that must have come from my Fathers side of the family. The mad, hairy, ones. Ah yes there’s the clue. Still back to the trip.

 

The first hurdle in leaving is pictured here. The dog.

SMILE IF YOU HEART IS BREAKING
SMILE IF YOU HEART IS BREAKING

Nellie the lurcher. She got a bit twitchy when she saw Mum pack her bags and spent last night pacing the flat then when we got up this morning she was glued to Mums bags displaying her doleful eye.

 

I took a different approach as my dogs are 15 and 13 respectively if I had said goodbye to them it would have taken 2 hours and involved a lot of wailing and snottering so I gave them a biscuit a cursory scratch on the head and  they walked off rewarding me with a lazy wag.

GOODBYE CRUEL WOMAN
GOODBYE CRUEL WOMAN

As they disappeared off into a bushI ran in and gathered the next armful of extraneous goods to stuff into the boot before leaving the flat for the last time tears threatening.

 

For those considering taking a car. First revelation.

 

Travelling across Europe by car is a joy. No one to winge about the size of your cases or the number you have of them. So we have spread out…..there’s just us and over the boot and back seats we have:

  1. The Library; Selection of books to read on the road. Travel books, thrillers, sci-fi-romance, history it’s all in there. NO WE DON’T HAVE A KINDLE and NOW WE DONT WANT ONE.
  2. The larder. Food for stuffing into the face in times of desperation which we plundered on day 1 more details to follow…..
  3. The digital radio – yes I must have @BBC6music at all times when in transit
  4. The footwear. Shoes, flip flops, trainers, wellies, boots, flippers.
  5. The rumbley rolls of clothing. Warm stuff, sandy, old summer stuff, winter stuff, spring and Autumn stuff – fully prepared for all eventualities.
  6. The drugs. Not illegal ones but the ones you end up accumulating. Ibuprofen, aspirin, paracetamol, a couple of back supports as my back as been chronic recently, vitamins, Nytol for the insomnia and then Mums array of stuff for blood pressure. I wonder when you see Posh Spice (Yes I still call her that) swashbuckling through Heathrow with all her bags if they are filled with Berocca and painkillers in case of a cracking hangover after a wild night out with Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana.

But seriously to the untrained health freak we probably look like a couple of dealers. There are a serious number of bottles with pills in them in the boot. I hope we don’t get stopped at customs.

  1. Shampoo. I ordered it twice by mistake on Amazon and thus have 12 bottles of shampoo in the car which we can sell if we run out of money, or petrol, or the will to carry them round Europe.
  2. Lotions and Potions required for maintenance. This is a biggie.

You know the sort of things Cleanser. Moisturise, Veet, conditioner, body moisturiser, deodorant, anti-pespirant, perfume, my make – up which we did consider putting in a separate trailer. Mums make up – pictured. Is slightly less high maintenance.

 

Electronics:

Laptop. Phone. Chargers. Camera. Batteries.

Vital equipment: Maps. Addresses of where we are going. Instruction on how to use the Sat Nav.

By now there is barely enough room for Mum and I.

 

If it doesn’t just burst I will report back tomorrow…..

 
Hasta La Manana

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road Again – soon…….GULP

The polar opposite to us low slung dark varied, short legged Aberdonians.

I can’t fly. No that is not a comment about my personal feathered wing situation. Fact is I am not permitted to fly on a plane due to an ongoing health condition – yeh I know – yawn yawn. Don’t worry I wasn’t going to splurge out all that stuff – I was just telling you all about it cos I am in the process of planning a road trip with my dear Mum.

Road trip consists of

Her – passenger seat.

Me  – driving seat.

Her – old crumpled map. See below.

Me – GPS

I would be lying if I said I didn’t laugh when I saw this map proving my suspicion that she is no Christopher Columbus.

ImageHer – finely tuned destinations decided and confirmed.

Me – fly by the seat of the pants. Oh I do fly!  By the seat of my pants I forgot about that.

My Dad once navigated his wee sailing boat round the coast of the north of Scotland with an AA Road Map. It didn’t end well.  So I do understand why she is pushing for some definitive answers as to where we are going. She thinks I take after him. I do too.

In May we are off to Spain.

So I am reinvigorating this blog  to tell the tale of a road trip  with me and her.

Or as she would say “You and I,  Alison! Not Me and her”.  Yes the travails and travels of this middle aged daughter and my octogenarian Mum  on the road.

Jack Kerouac style?
Well that remains to be seen.