You know what they say about best intentions ? I had planned ( as much as I ever plan anything ) to get up early , stroll to the bike hire place and tootle across to Richard ( my friend , who has rented the shit hole of a place in the photo below ) with my basket stuffed full of baguettes and pastries for all to share . In this complete cul de sac of a plan , I imagined myself waving cheerfully at smiling villagers , telling anyone who would listen that I was ‘ en vacances ‘ and that ‘ my hobbies include travel and drinking ‘ .
In reality , as is so often the case , it didn’t pan out that way . To be fair , I did get to the cycle shop and spoke to a very friendly assistant who , unlike me , got away with wearing Lycra . Determined to have some sort of conversation in the native tongue , I asked the chap if we could at least start off in French and revert to English if it all went pear shaped . He duly obliged and , actually , we got quite far . We even joked about wanting a basket to put baguettes in …. That .. or he was taking the piss . Either way , a booking was made for the next day and all done in French . I’ll probably turn up to find a pink tandem with stabilisers but at least I had a go.
I do love the politeness here . The French , have a reputation , I’ve always thought wrongly , for being a bit grumpy . I don’t see it . Take the lady in the Bread Shop this morning ( see ! I did actually get bread .. just not a bike ) . As soon as I was through the door , it was all ‘ Bonjour , Monsieur ! Comment allez vous , aujourd hui? ‘ – not a hint of grumpiness . In fact , she was quite the chirpiest person I’ve encountered in months. It actually makes you feel ‘ sunny ‘ even if it is just a brief exchange over a loaf . It’s the little things .
Richard had probably guessed I’d never turn up on two wheels at that time and kindly suggested that as he was ‘ in the area ‘ he’d pick me up . After 40 years of friendship , he knows I don’t do mornings .
And so to a glorious afternoon of doing very little . There was a routine , a simple one , which basically involved :
1 – Getting hot by the pool
2 – Cooling down in the pool
3 – Getting out and getting hot again
4 – Getting back in the pool
Add some inane , random chat , together with games like ‘ Head the ball into the inflatable chair ‘ and ‘ Guess the TV theme tune ‘ and you get pretty much the perfect day .
Back in Sarlat now . ( I’m staying in an air b n b place here for the first week , then joining Rich and Co. at Chez Pascale – the aforementioned ‘ Shit hole ‘ **. I probably should have explained that earlier ) Another stroll past street entertainers , pavement artists and chattering folk . I stopped for an ice cream ( mint choc chip if anyone’s buying ) and just enjoyed the feeling of ‘ life ‘ around me . Not thinking of the past or what’s to come – just that ice cream and those sights in that moment . Should do it more often .
Anyway .. I’ll stop all that . You’d think I’d been on the pop .
As usual , I haven’t learnt from past mistakes and failed to put on any sun cream . I’m now paying for it .
Ca suffit .
Bonsoir mes amis et a la prochaine .
To new horizons .
* AKA ‘ Len’ The inflatable Flamingo who lives on the pool .
** joking of course – it’s not at all a ‘ shit hole ( ‘ trou de merde’ ) – it’s absolutely magnificent .