Monday, March 3, 2008

Polly Averts Catastrophe...

My Mom showed me a photograph this morning; accompanied by "... you know, this really is lovely photo of you and it's not a bad one of DG either..."

Without a doubt this sudden remark which had come from apparently nowhere provoked at least a passing interest, so I glanced to the right to discover that BJK was absolutely right. The photo in question was taken approximately eighteen months ago; immediately following our arrival home following our feted trip to France.

For those of you who don't know the story yet; in my wisdom I had decided that it was time for a quick tour around the campsites of Northern France for via The Irish Sea, Wales, Southern England (including a short detour to visit the boys father), a short hop across the English Channel via Newhaven et viola...If only it were that easy.

The advantage of this route was the enormous amount of driving to be completed before we even arrived on terre firme. Err, what I actually meant to say was that because of the enormous amount of driving involved the over all cost was reduced dramatically.

Summer 2006 was hot; both at home and abroad. Once in France we allowed ourselves to relax and partake of its delights, including the World Cup Rugby Match on the Sunday evening. The whole of Dieppe was buzzing with excitement; the children painted their hair and their faces in the French colours and generally felt right at home. We stayed for another couple of nights, marvelling at the facilities and the general bonhomie.

Our grand tour took us to Rouen, Parc Asterix (definitely to be recommended), Paris (for Bastille Day) and down to Le Valle de Loire. We witnessed many spectacles of French cultural life, including Sol et Lumiere at a magnificent pink chateau, tasted violet flavoured ice cream and generally revelled in the tranquillity of the place.

I mention no names in an effort to protect the innocent; ie me, so that I can return to the tranquil environs of Le Valle de Loire undisturbed by hordes of holidaymakers inspired by my post! Shh...

A few days later we were due to travel to St Malo, via Angers; this was not to be as I had developed a rotten case of fever, headache, achy muscles, joints and bones. Simply put I was off my food and not at all well, so we stayed at our campsite for another night and celebrated French hospitality with some newfound friends. Barbecued mackerel and lots of slightly overheated red wine went down well for everyone, while I struggled to swallow a single mouthful.

Eventually the time came for us to tear ourselves away from this beautiful part of the country; we were determined to make the best of the day and visited the extensive grounds of Le Clos de Luce. As this beautiful place was the final home of Leonardo da Vinci it was both a pleasure to stroll amongst the greenery and educational.

Remember, as a child I knew only of him because of his passion for great art. The details of his genius were only deciphered later as cryptographers finally deciphered his secrets from centuries old writings, which were discovered during the latter part of the last century.

Much later that day we approached to walled citadel town of St Malo, following a long, hot journey that had lasted pretty much forever. The volume of traffic was growing; we had discovered rush hour France. Maybe this is why the poor man driving the articulated lorry was in such a hurry; the sun was low in the sky, barely hanging above the trees in the distance as we made our slow approach onto the three laned roundabout.

With a sickening dull thud of metal grinding into metal our car shunted forward into the path of oncoming traffic. Thank God the handbrake was already applied, otherwise the results could have been catastrophic; as it was the four of us were deeply shocked, even stunned by what had just occurred.

To add insult to injury we were only a matter of yards from our chosen campsite and the three nights of luxury accommodation we had booked months in advance. Determined not to let this upset spoil the last few days of our holiday we persuaded the lorry driver and his companions, once back at the depot, to open the crushed luggage compartment with a crowbar. At least now we could erect our hotel for the night!

And the rest, as they say is history; except that we were stranded for an additional ten days and made the best of a bad situation. DG flew home courtesy of Air France and Mapfre Assistancia who were marvellous. The kids and I stayed on and waited for the car to be repaired; but eventually this plan was abandoned and we parted company with it being transported by sea, while once again Air France came to the rescue. Happy memories...

of at the beginning of this post was taken the day we got back, having been chauffeur driven all the way to and from the airports! I would definitely recommend a trip to France and if I could afford to I’d be back again this year, however, maybe we could do without the excitement next time!

Polly P


Jean said...

I hope your next French trip will result in a trip to Angers - it really is worth seeing and the tapesty d'Apocolypse is wonderful. However - BUY A GUIDE IN ADVANCE as the explanations are hopeless!

And if you go there let me know as we are 50ks north.

Polly Peirce said...

Thanks for your comment and invitation, we'll definately be back as without exception the trip was a success.

Our accident resulted in us meeting some lovely people, including the poor lorry driver. He accepted responsibility and took us to his depot to meet with the manager to fill out the paper work and get the ball rolling!

Even my trips x 3 to the local doctor were a pleasure...and so much cheaper than at home!

We had an extra ten days holiday, which was slightly spoiled by all the frantic phone calls to the insurance agents back home.

If anything it was their appalling lack of efficiency which caused the stress, but we got over that!