I am a new woman. Thanks to the Bank Holiday weekend I have acquired a pink nose, the beginnings of a tan, a cheese-and-bread tummy-pooch and a truckload of very nice wine. All of these things have done wonders for my attitude (though the pooch is problematic in relation to future bikini-exposure. I suspect Summer 2012 will always be The Summer I Should Have Tried Harder to Curb Carbs).
|VINES AT CHATEAU FONPLEGADE, JUST OUTSIDE ST EMILION. SKY BORDEAUX'S OWN.|
Together with 15 others, I schlepped over to Bordeaux this weekend. SUCH A PUNISHMENT. We hired a converted watermill near Bergerac for the weekend's accomodation; luxury. It had a wonderful, rustic kitchen with open fires and so many bedrooms - plus a pool!
|SOME OF THE DAMAGE. TASTY, TASTY BORDEAUX BLENDS. WE WERE WINE-SNOBBING IT UP BY THE END OF THE LONG WEEKEND. IT WAS RIDICULOUS, HILARIOUS AND DELICIOUS.|
Work tried very hard to ruin the weekend: I missed the flight everyone else took on Friday. I vividly recall watching the clock hit 3.15 for takeoff, still stuck in a Courtroom on terribly hard benches with a numb bum and sweaty palms (but it worked out alright in the end workwise, thank the baby Jebus!). Having foreseen the potential for this calamity, I had arranged an alternative flight the following day, but it involved a bit of transport drama:
- Taxi to Paddington (approx 20 mins)
- Waiting on the platform FREEZING cold, inhaling tea (15 mins)
- Train Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads Station (1 hour 39 mins)
- Bus from Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol International Airport (20 mins)
- Going through the standard airport palaver including a detailed conversation about some All Blacks from the 60s with a nice man who was testing my shampoo to ensure it wasn't drugs or explosives (approx 1 hour and 30 minutes)
- Extremely embarrassing incident in the Ryanair passport check queue involving stuffing my carry-on with my handbag then breaking the zip, trying to ram the carry-on into the bag size check thingo and failing miserably, losing a bunch of toiletries out of the open zip, a line full of people actively wishing bad karma on me for delaying the orderly procession of the queue, a frustrated but fairly calm staff member finally waving me by just to get me out of her hair and unexpected commiseration from a fellow queuer who had been in a similar position herself once, with her undies falling out of her bag (10 mins)
- Flight to Bergerac (1 hour 15 minutes)
- Rental car to the home base (approx 40 minutes)
- Time spent driving on the wrong side of the road (approx 2 minutes THANK GOD I didn't run into any oncoming traffic)
|REALLY CRAP MANICURE: 30 SWEARY MINUTES AND ABOUT 50 BAZILLION BUMPS ON THE TRACKS.|
DO NOT UNDERTAKE A MANICURE ON THE TRAIN. ESPECIALLY IF YOU LACK COORDINATION. I REALLY DON'T KNOW WHY I THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA.
Digression: I was reading a blog the other day that suggested that it's funny how the discomfort always ends up being the part of the story you focus on after the fact and I guess that's right. I think travel, discomfort and disaster go hand-in-hand and usually end up being the stories that are recalled. Maybe because it's the shared part of the experience with readers/listeners? Most people can relate to a bus that doesn't arrive on time, or a bag gone missing and so on.
Anyway - on to bigger and better reminiscences about the weekend. Even though Europe appears to be having a wet spring all round, Bordeaux came to the party. Yesterday we had temperatures in the mid 20s, enough to singe most of us around the edges and allow for swimming and backyard cricket. Bliss. We went wine tasting at several amazing spots; savouring the experience, the flavour and the aroma of various Bordeaux blends. We wandered through St Emilion and stopped at every possible boulangerie or patisserie we saw on the roadside. We cooked up a storm: duck one night, lapin the next. We broke the cardinal rule of drinking and frying, but the meals were absolutely delicious, eaten around a table big enough for us all with a blazing open fire and windows open to the moonlight (indulgent in the extreme). We followed up with dancing into the wee hours, midnight swims, and some serious rumbles over early bedtimes.
|VIEW FROM CHATEAU FONPLEGADE. HONESTLY, I AM SUCH A LUCKY GIRL.|