30 August 2017

Hello

Cattle above Ax-les-Thermes
Hello. Do you remember me?

We got back from France last evening and zoomed northwards in time for the quiz at "The Hammer and Pincers". By the way, with my chum Mick we won one of the three monetary prizes. It helps to know that Florence Nightingale planned her funeral fifty three years in advance of it.

France was hot when we left it - well maybe not all of France but certainly the L'Ariege area west of Carcassonne. The late summer landscape was  baking and fields of ripening sunflowers hung their weary heads awaiting the impending harvest.
The Cité de Carcassonne
We had three lovely days there. It was good to catch up with my brother Robin and his long time girlfriend Suzy. Each evening, as darkness was descending, we enjoyed simple, rustic meals on the terrace - talking, laughing and drinking French wine until tiredness arrived and our beds beckoned.

I didn't look at a screen once while I was there - no TV and no internet. It was a pleasure to be out of this addictive loop. Instead, I swam in the pool and we drove out to Ax-les-Thermes, Foix, Mirepoix and upon request back to Carcassonne to wander around the walled and medieval "Cité" that has figured in various films and is certainly a wonder to behold.
Sunrise over Floc
For our son Ian and Frances's boyfriend Stewart, it was the first time they had been to Robin's place. They both loved it and appreciated their Gallic break on the doorstep of the Pyrenees. I asked Robin if he would take Stew out for a ride on his biggest motorcycle - a shiny Honda beast with more power than your average small car. It was better than the scariest fairground ride and better still - Stew lived to tell the tale.
Frenchman in Ax-les-Thermes
At the single pay kiosk by the closest petrol station to Carcassonne Airport, I was fumbling to provide the right amount of cash to pay for filling up the hire car. A woman got out of the car behind and angrily poured forth a tirade of French abuse. How dare I hold her up for thirty seconds? Of course I didn't understand a single words she was saying so I just ignored her and asked the kiosk attendant for a receipt. These days some hire companies have developed the nasty habit of asking for proof that renters have filled up with petrol. I hope that my abuser rots in hell.

Fortunately, she didn't sour the end of our long weekend. Vive La France!
By the river in Foix
In an antiques shop in Mirepoix
Robin and Suzy's place in the sun

31 comments:

  1. I think you need to learn French for 'eff orf. Just curious, but wouldn't the long term girlfriend of your brother be his partner at least? Or is partner a loaded word? To mix up some language, Robin and Suzy's place looks like a hacienda in France.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't approve of the word "partner" in personal relationships Andrew. I grew up in a time when the word "partner" was reserved for businesses or solicitors. Its modern use is in my view an affectation.

      Delete
    2. Almost as bad as being referred to as the "significant other" !

      Delete
    3. Ok, but what do I call my......other half. Boyfriend is inappropriate when I am nearly 60 and he is within viewing distance of 70. Husband and husband does not sit comfortably with me at all. I can think of some cumbersome phrases but what is the practical alternative for me?

      Delete
    4. Well, YP, things change. My brother never refers to his wife of 30 years (implying possession) but to his partner (implying an equality in a relationship). You can be very bourgeois sometimes.

      Delete
    5. Practical alternatives... my man, my lover, my best friend perhaps? But if you are comfortable with "partner" just stick with that then you can say to him "Howdy pardner!" just like John Wayne.

      Delete
  2. Remember you?!

    Great pictures, and Robin and Suzy's place looks just like in your painting. It is good to know you all had such a good time. No internet etc. is certainly a good break for the mind.

    The angry woman - who knows what she really said? Maybe she only sounded angry but was not... When I was still part of a Sicilian clan, I often thought that someone who did not speak the language would have had the impression that the family would be at each other's throat any minute now, when really all they were talking about was something as banal as the weather, just in a very noisy and excited-sounding manner :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and welcome back, of course!

      Delete
    2. I am very confident that that woman was not giving me a recipe for casoulet. She was simply being impatient and self-centred and resented the little delay I was causing her.

      Delete
  3. I was hoping you were having a good time, and obviously you did! It sounds like a perfect getaway...well, except for the shrew at the petrol station!

    I love the photo of the Frenchman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you...about the photo. He didn't guess that I was zooming in on him. Perhaps I should get myself a hat like that.

      Delete
  4. The Cite de Carcassone is amazing, I know it's a bit of a tourist trap but I still love visiting. Sounds like you had a good time in la belle France.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a wonderful Bank Holiday break and on Monday and Tuesday very hot too. It has not been a good yrear for growing vegetables at their place because of the severe heat.

      Delete
  5. How can we be certain it really is Yorkie? You might be a hacker and have hacked Yorkie's site for all we know!! We're not that gullible, I'll have you know!!

    Welcome back, Mr. Pudding - I'm glad you had a wonderful time. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a hacker. I like to hack up gunge when I have had a bad chest or a bad cold. Hack! Hack! Spit! Like a North Korean missile.

      Delete
  6. You couldn't fail to have a brilliant time in such a lovely place! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That view of the Pyrenees is so calming isn't it Jenny?

      Delete
  7. I have always thought that native French speakers sound p'd off at the world - to me, it's something about the lack of (or perceived lack of) variation in their inflection that makes it sound aggressive. But that's just my two cents' worth.

    Lovely pictures. Did you buy the hat and why are you not showing yourself wearing it??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because I am a modest, humble fellow.

      As for the French woman, I know enough French to be confident that that nasty woman was certainly blowing a fuse. She needed to calm down and show a soupcon of patience.

      Delete
  8. What a wonderful weekend you all had YP. I hope you have some more photos for us to enjoy.
    Did your brother and Suzy like your painting - or would they rather have had the antique Sheffield Steel cake slice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They loved the picture. In fact they found that gift quite astonishing. It is the only original picture of their place that anyone has ever given them. I shall send them the cake slice at Christmas perhaps.

      Delete
  9. Photos: cow and calf and the elderly man sitting on the bench are top photos. Your short break in that country across the Channel sounds idyllic.

    Alphie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Those two photos were the best ones I snapped on this trip.

      Delete
  10. Exposure to a different culture is always a good experience. we might learn something.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great photos. So glad you had a relaxing time away from technology.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Who are you again?!

    I LOVE the picture of the Frenchman on the bench. So French! It sounds like a terrific time. I really need to spend some time in France outside Paris. I've only ever been to the capital.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To me France is so much about its ancient agricultural history, its rural life, its little villages and market towns. Paris is something different and separate.

      So glad you applauded the picture of the Frenchman.

      Delete
  13. Aaah, now I have been to France !! Did you run into monsieur Hulot?? I simply love him being a menace at the hotel and simply love your pictures and simply love that angry lady ....maybe I actually should go to France!!!! Thank you, YP, nice trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Non madame! I did not see Monsieur Hulot. In fact you have guided me to somebody new! I had never heard of him. Perhaps you should go to France.

      Delete
    2. Oh you see, Monsieur Hulot is one of Jaques Tati's immortal characters, and the Movie is called Mr Hulots Holiday. It's from 1953 and one of the most hilarious films I have ever seen. You go get that film and I will considder France for next years vacation! Deal?

      Delete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.