Taking it's toll

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Taking it's toll
Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France


There are just some days you shouldn’t get out of bed, especially if that bed is in a chateau on a rainy day! But the time had come to check out and it wasn’t long before my bubble burst – and by bubble, I mean tail light when I backed into a rogue pot plant on our way out. That pretty much set the tone for the day. The rain continued to fall heavily and mercilessly as we made our way to La Rochelle over the highways and by ways and of course through a few toll ways for good measure.

The plan was to stop in the picturesque seaside town of La Rochelle for lunch and to take in the beautiful old city in order to break up the long drive. We drove in and were instantly confounded by the maze of narrow one-way streets that the GPS didn’t seem to know yet everyone else in town did judging by the traffic on them. Eventually we found a car park and set off on foot but to where we didn’t really know.

We managed to find the ‘vegetarian’ cafe recommended in the guide book (the ‘plat du jour’ was chicken although thankfully they did also have a veggie quiche that taste like it was made by someone with thick dreadlocks in a hair-jumper wreaking of patchouli) but without a map, we were a bit stumped about where to head next, especially in the rain. We headed back to the car and asked the GPS to take up to the sea walls – it did – right up on top of one which I’m pretty sure was a pedestrian path! The directions that followed were so confusing that in the end, we headed out of town having only done a brief drive by the things we’d come to see.

Had I done my research, we might have been able to redeem the day at our next pit-stop – Cognac – but we got there pretty much in time to see all the Cognac houses closing their doors. We did manage to sneak into Hennessy to visit the shop but miss the tour and then briefly into Cognac Franzac for a quick once around the shop that didn’t really justify the time taken to get there. Again, the traffic, rain, disorganisation and disorientation all got the better of me and we once again headed out of town, passed all the other unvisited Cognac houses and off and away through more rain and tolls to our final destination for the day and for the trip, Bordeaux.

If I wasn’t already feeling like I’d ruined Mum’s day with my total inability to drive, navigate or plan, then Bordeaux did the trick. Far from the imagary of beautiful vineyards and laid back lifestyle that the name evokes, we arrived into a somewhat dirty city in total gridlock. We eventually reached our hotel. The best I can say about it is that it’s a perfect book-end to our first hotel in London – massive, impersonal and not too friendly.

In a desperate attempt to salvage the day, we dumped our bags and headed off to the main square just up the road for a nice meal and drink. I hesitate to use the word ‘sleazy’ because I don’t wish to alarm people reading at home who may fear that I’m endangering Mum – it’s not unsafe but it’s not pretty! We didn’t come across anywhere we’d want to eat so in the end opted for take away falafel and a medicinal tub of Ben &amp; Jerry’s icecream to have in our room with a bottle of wine we’ve been lugging around. We broke out the plastic cups only to realise we had no bottle opener, nor apparently did the hotel… in BORDEAUX!!! No, I don’t believe it either. A quick rummage through my backpack confirmed that I didn’t have a single one of the three swiss army knives that have in the past lived in its pockets.

And now I’ve just heard that Steve Jobs died. So sad.

Today I just can’t turn this tide of emotion. Feeling wedged between a past in which I felt better ‘equipped’ and an uncertain future looming large, there was little room or coping mechanism for the very present needs of the day and I’m afraid it all just came crashing down around me.

In the end, I just let go of everything I’d been straining to contain, making the days torrential rain look like a sun-shower. In a moment of clarity, I realised that I just wanted my mum – and there she was ready, willing and able to scoop up her not-so-little-girl and tell me that it’s all going to be alright. We may have missed all the sites today, but finally I could see everything this trip is about. Thank you Mum.

Mum’s Message: After leaving Mary’s, we headed off to La Rochelle in pouring rain. We had lunch at a vegetarian place in La Rochelle, chicken was suggested but we both had hippy-quiche. We then went to Cognac – it was closed, we missed the last tour by an hour and a bit. Next we headed for Bordeaux – lots of traffic. We went for the usual evening stroll, the area was sleazy. Not a good day at all. Bloody rain, bloody Cognac, bloody sleazy place! Not a good day at all.

What made me smile today: We had take away falafels for dinner served with chips inside the wrap. This made us laugh. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was good too.

The most important part of the day, I spent with my beautiful daughter, Naomi, even though the weather was lousy (shouldn’t complain, it’s only the second day of rain we’ve had all trip), the food not good but the company always great. Love to all.


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