It’s been busy lately…again. But a different and nice kind of busy.
We spent a week in France with good friends, followed by a day at the Christian arts and music festival Greenbelt.
I don’t want to do my usual multi-part holiday post – it was too relaxed a holiday and there’s not so much to say – but a few experiences and thoughts are given here.
We took the train all the way to Bordeaux! Which was a brilliant experience. Starting on Friday night with First Great Western (and a fantastically Spanish train manager sounding like a cross between Manuel from Fawlty Towers and the “Compare the Market” meercats), and continuing on the fabulously relaxed Eurostar to Paris on Saturday (with a brass band playing as you wait to board…superb!).
The Paris Metro was a bit of a scrum, but the TGV was a delight. Remind me why we fly again?
Chateau La Bruyere
The place we stayed was incredible. It was a bit out in the sticks but we had an enormous and unique 16-bedroom place with HUGE dining room and indoor heated swimming pool all to ourselves. It was excellent value for money and, aside from the relatively poorly equipped kitchen, more than met our needs whilst at the same time enthralling us with its charm and character.
I took a quick video tour if you want a speedy look around.
Booking Cars – Driving Cars
There was a slight mix up with the hire car booking site (Thanks Opodo!) which had reset the pickup times after doing a search, so there was a little confusion when we turned up 6 hours late to pick up one of our 2 hire cars, but it was all sorted out in the end.
Driving on the continent was fine again other than that odd incident where was passed a guy who was driving with the bonnet up against his windscreen, peering through the gap at the bottom of the bonnet. Man, these continentals really need to get places sometimes!
We got hideously lost trying to get back to Bordeaux Station, and were then charged for fuel one of the cars even though it was full. But we got that refunded.
Food, Language & Culture
I’m definitely NOT xenophobic, but I am pretty bad at getting to grips with foreign places and being in unusual places where things work differently and I can’t understand what’s going on stresses me out a bit. This holiday was helped by my own fairly-good latent knowledge of French, and the presence of many other good French speakers in the group. Altogether a more enjoyable experience than last years trip to Sicily!
A Fantastic Group
We were with some brilliant people too. Old friends, new friends, cultured and fun, intelligent and witty, some great cooks, some very creative people, and everyone willing to chip in and contribute to the holiday in all sorts of ways.
I’ll always remember sharing book recommendations, larking around in the pool, the fantastic array of food, the excellent drink (including the discovery of Pineau!),messing around with kindred spirits, the chilled-out-ness of it all, and the joy of being with such good people.
Plus, it was warm, but not too hot, dry, and sunny.
Let’s do it again!