Sunday, 16 June 2013

Return to the UK.

Home again from our road trip. Julie wanted cool and she got it… 

3840 miles in all hardly frantic pace for six weeks, 49.5  miles to each imperial gallon which is 98% of our average consumption, hardly bad considering occasional bursts of 130 kph autoroute and climbing up and down the mountainous centre of France. I have not been taking meticulous notes and making calculations as you might think, the van has a trip computer and fuel usage figure shows prominently which constantly confirms my fairly economical driving style, my navigator grumbles if it drops... Not as economically as it could be now that the road systems are now so heavily populated with tax gathering cameras for our protection... I drive quite sedately these days but It often worries me how much time I spend checking the dashboard rather than giving full attention to the road and it is heartbreaking to have to wear out brakes on a clear downhill section, (where most cameras  are looking out for our safety and know momentum can easily ease you into the tax paying bracket), and then stare in horror at the gas guzzling figure as the next hill is climbed slowly and wastefully. These drives used to be an absolute joy seeking the perfect line like someone on two wheels and getting the best out of whatever I was driving, now it feels more like a chore, even more so as idiots hurtle past unmolested because they know where the traps are!  

What I can say categorically is that of the four countries driven through Spain, France, England and Scotland the worst road surfaces by a country mile are those here in Scotland! They are falling apart! They are hardly ever flat but cause yawing all the time, the surfaces cause considerably more noise and the constant crashing into cracks and bumps is both wearing and worrying since several friends have lost tyres to hitting potholes and my tracking was out when I went to get replacement tyres at the end of last year. The scale of the growing problem is outrageous and I can’t see how the resources to deal with so much damage can be found and the problem will only grow daily.

I cannot denigh that we had some good times and the two sisters were happy to just be near to each other even if they drove each other demented occasionally…

I fared worst because someone who I used to be quite close to and who three years ago declared that she would “never” be able to stop using male pronouns as a mater of principle, but who had last year seemed to have come onside, decided that this year she would play games. This is someone fluent in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese and quite good at Latin, Italian and Catalan and will lecture us on the subtle differences in a word from one language to the next with the correct accented sound but would loudly and quite pointedly come out with the wrong name and or pronoun when in public and quite unapologetic about it! Later on she might revert to the correct words in a normal voice as if nothing had happened… 

What I like about France is that we meet so many people, life is less behind doors and more open. Now that I present as an authentic personality I even finally have a voice and try it out in French where before I hardly ever dared utter a word. Never was there a moment where we were not just accepted as yet another couple of old lady tourists but there was always that unexploded bomb waiting to go off and spoil things with people we had never met before, it became unbearable!

When I returned from my cycling jaunt, rather than entertaining her sister in my absence she had cleared off for three days on a jaunt a hundred miles away then for the rest of the time we were there said that she had no time to go on any trip with her sister!! Normally she is begging to go away anywhere from the moment we arrive… I could go on for yards more but I shall spare you.

As we said our farewells there was a sudden effusive show with all the correct words a hug and kiss as if nothing had ever been amiss, if anything this made it worse.

Last year I was a bit down hearted when Julie announced before we left them that she was not going to have an autumn visit that year, this time I was delighted when she said that there was no chance that they would be seeing us before autumn next year. As much as I love it there the usual heavy heart at leaving was replaced by a deep sadness that the urge to return had gone, one fly in the ointment has trumped all the joy.

Did I mention that the sister had blitzed all their money on a mad holiday in Madagascar and run up a huge credit card bill which she could not pay to get the restaurant stocked up for the start of the season and her sister bailed her out with our house repair fund? No? I probably forgot...  


  1. Hmmmm .....that last paragraph made me do a double take. That's so cheeky !!!!

    Glad to hear you are back, safe and well

  2. The roads in Scotland not good? I thought they were fine - better than Sussex, anyway - when touring there in 2010, my last visit. Well, thanks for the warning!


  3. Must be all the freezing weather breaking up the Tarmac. I suppose Spain and France suffer less with that problem because it is generally warmer. In really hot countries they have to run on bare concrete because the Tarmac melts!
    I'm afraid I'd be telling that friend in no uncertain terms to get the pronouns right or lose my friendship. There is no excuse for her insulting behaviour.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. Hm, they saw Madagascar and came back with rich eyes and poor hands.
    Hope your house won't need emergency repairs.

  5. Ellena, we are thirty years into our first five year plan...

    Gutters are leaking as old cast oron ones do, walls need a few coats of paint hopefully the last time I have to do this, I am getting a bit old for working so high!

    We shall survive.


Many thanks to all who ever joined in the conversation and to those who took the time to follow my zig zag to a new life..

I can be contacted on the email found on my profile page.