How Do You Travel?

We are four weeks into one of our extended trips away. There have been a few mishaps. Inevitably, long periods of travel include some mishaps-unless, of course you are undertaking a series of back-to-back cruises, in which case you will have been floated overnight to a tourist destination, hand-held on to a bus, ferried to the place, told what it is, ferried back, fed [a lot], cabaret’d to, floated to the next place, had your nose blown, been wrapped in cotton wool…you get the idea.
This trip, a slow van meander to SW France and then to the south, guided by the weather forecast [there have been severe storms in central Europe], has been dogged by a few irritations. Take the fridge, for example. It has selected now, in the heights of full blown summer and 30⁰ to shed its door, resulting in a Heath Robinson bodge of Gaffer tape and paper wedge to conserve chilling. Gaining entry is not to be taken lightly and should only be attempted in dire need, such as access to beer or wine.
The music player has come out in sympathy and has opted to remain resolutely silent under any circumstances. This means meal preparation has to be undertaken in a welter of silence; not a bad thing in itself, except I do miss the joy of jigging around to The Stones whilst waving a wooden spoon in the doorway of the van.
Worse by far-during a weekend at Parentis, which happened to be hosting a ‘Feria’-a huge humdinger of a festival involving bullfighting, drinking, eating, music, getting plastered and wearing red/white clothing, an attempt to appropriate my bicycle was made, outside the Bureau de Tourism.
Here in cycle-mad France my bike is much admired. It was acquired by default as a result of a burglary at home, and addresses my failings as a cyclist with more than adequacy. You could be forgiven, if you were to ride it, for thinking you were astride a motorised bike. It is by far the easiest bicycle known to woman. It is called a ‘29er’ owing to its enormous wheels. The French like it-and of course, many would like to acquire it! This is not the first time passers-by have attempted to free it from its locks. This time a combination lock was wrenched until two serrated teeth were exposed-almost, but not quite freeing the bike.
A few days later we were cycling yet another part of the Canal du Midi and stopped at a convenient cycle rack, securing with the aforementioned lock and returning to discover that-heureusement!!!-the combination number did not release the bikes. The cycles were locked stuck on to the rack, and we, the hapless riders, miles from home without our transport; a result of the wrenching of the previous weekend.
We walked along to where a sign directed us to sustenance-a rustic farmhouse advertising ‘crepes, boissons’ and much more. We tackled the patron. ‘Monsieur’ we faltered, ‘nous avons un problem avec les velos’…
He went to look. ‘J’ai le solution!’ he assured us, disappearing and returning with an enormous pair of bolt cutters.
Relief can sometimes seem like a holiday in itself…

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