Monday, July 19, 2010

Brilliant fields

Pet on board

Munson after a night on the car deck

As we drove onto the ferry at Plymouth, some of the hospitality staff stood on the entrance deck waving and nodding to their oncoming charges. One spotted Munson in the rear of the car – which isn’t hard, my friend Michele likened it to seeing a car grafted onto the back of the head of a malamute – and exclaimed “brilliant!”. I gathered a small bag of gear, and lowered a few windows for Munson, and then left him in a sea of cars to find my own overnight seat. That seat was in a “family area” distinguished by a wailing child, who would occasionally drift off to sleep and then its mother would ask if it was all right, at which point it would wake again and resume screaming. Any other hope of my sleeping was interrupted by announcements of midnight cognac tastings, and late boarding passengers who thought that shouting their inability to read the seat numbers would somehow encourage the bowed heads around them to get up and assist. I abandoned that area and found a piece of floor between two rows of seats and managed a night of piecemeal sleep.

I rose finally at about 6am to see the sun low over a pink and flat English Channel. Back at the car, Munson seemed cheery after what had undoubtedly been a much better sleep than I had managed. We drove off the ferry at Roscoff around 7.20am and almost immediately found ourselves behind a slow-moving tractor that slowed the procession of vehicles for about twenty minutes. Finally released from this purgatory, we shot off into another form of purgatory: eleven hours of poorly air-conditioned freeway driving past Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux and then Agen where we switched to country lanes for Condom. We stopped every 2-3 hours along the highways, firstly at Bedée outside of Rennes to get some euros from an ATM in case my Visa credit card wasn’t accepted at a toll-way. The rest of the stops were at highway services, Munson snaring the hearts of one holidaying English family from Chester en route to La Rochelle.

Cathedral by day Cathedral by night

Condom Cathedral, a few steps away from the apartment, afternoon and evening views

By the time I had reached Agen, my knees had moved from purgatory to hell, but the sight of sunflowers, fields of oversaturated yellows against the sky cheered me on for the final half hour into Condom.  Peter gave us a fine welcome to his apartment ( henceforth referred to as “the condominium” ) and had dinner waiting for us, and graciously allowed us an early night’s sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Who wouldn't fall for that handsome hunk of Malamute!

    My sister feels your pain - she had a crying infant on her overnight flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia AND one on her return to Phoenix via Charlotte

    Munson looks so ready to go!