However, this time…..facing our 3rd summer in Caunes, we decided to drive from Yorkshire. The plan was to stop off to see family in Surrey, to locate a family ( Mark’s great uncle Donald) war grave in Cambrai in northern France, drive across the Millau bridge and to arrive in Caunes with a car full of “stuff” that has never quite fitted into our Ryanair hand luggage allowance.
|Saying goodbye to the grandchildren involved some fishing in Carole's pond|
So, last weekend, following a busy park run and breakfast meeting with all the children and grandchildren and a last minute farewell visit to the Overgate Charity shop in Hebden Bridge ….we set off.We spent 2 nights with Mark’s sister and family in Reigate in Surrey. Niece Erica, has recently returned from world travels, and we spent time chatting about our favourite spots in Australia and New Zealand, as well as hearing about some of her adventures in Vietnam and Thailand. Mark’s sister and husband have just come back from Costa Rica and the Galapagos islands….so there was lots more travel talk to be had there.
As well as travel discussions and hearing about nephew Mark’s up and coming wedding plans ( wedding to be held in September in a French chateau near Bordeaux ) we managed to fit in a lovely walk through a park in Reigate, past bluebell woods and a delightful lake.
Anyway, we finally left family behind and headed across the channel via the Euro-tunnel, intending to be in Cambrai in time to search out the memorial to Mark’s Uncle Donald, who died there in 1917, aged 29.
We failed miserably…..The motorway junction we needed was closed, the diversion was miles long, so we decided that Uncle Donald, having waited this long for us to visit, could wait a little longer, and we will endeavour to find him when we drive back at the end of October.
We headed south in torrential rain, and began to feel that Ryanair would have been a better option. However, I am particularly anxious to have my car with us in France for the next 6 months. I don’t like driving our large French people carrier, and it has always felt marginally criminal to be leaving my car sitting outside our Hebden house for 6 months of the year. ( Having 2 cars in France will also mean I don’t have to drive Mark to the golf club…and back, and then have to repeat the journey 5 hours later when he has finished his round. )
We were pretty tired after a day’s driving, when we arrived in Vichy, where we decided to stay for the night.
|Sheltered walk around a main square in Vichy|
What an interesting city ! Before its infamous past as the base for the war time Vichy government, it was…and still remains, a major spa town. The Belle Epoque artchitecture is gorgeous… and if it hadn’t been pouring with rain, we would have wandered around for hours.
We did manage a stroll after breakfast the following
morning, and loved it.
|Dome over one of the spas.....attached to our hotel|
We had a further 5 or 6 hours drive before getting to Caunes, and took a spectacular road through the Auvergne, and across the Millau bridge.
The rain stopped, and as we got closer to Caunes, the sun came out. The temperature rose from 11 degrees to 22 degrees……….and finally, we arrived home in Caunes.
|Our house in Caunes|
The garden looked great. Many of the flag irises are past their best, and I have missed the almond and lilac blossom, but the vines look healthy, the sages we planted last year have grown and are starting to flower and all the trees, including 2 new cherry trees look to have survived the winter well.
|Healthy vines.....amongst the weeds.|
The weeds are pretty amazing, and the vegetable garden will need some serious work….but everything looks wonderful…..and it is lovely to be back.
Within minutes of arrival we received an invitation to lunch with friends in a nearby village in a couple of days time. The internet was up and running, the gas and electric turned on with no problems. We briefly thought we were going to be without hot water for a while as a particular switch had jammed. ( Something to do with a small dead animal found in the electricity junction box), but a friend who has overseen work we have needed doing here, arrived within 20 minutes to fix it.
|First trip to the bar for a quick lunch in between cleaning and weeding sessions.|
So, we are back. We have made out first forays into the village, and have reintroduced ourselves at the bar and our favourite restaurant. The dusting and the weeding have started. Setting up furniture under the pergola, opening the pool, and getting around to inviting people round will happen soon......and it seems our neighbours have acquired a new addition to their family while we have been away.
|Our neighbours now have a goat.|