Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Friday, September 09, 2005

Troyes, RIP Ginger Cat and some questions about the French...

Finally back in Edinburgh, after a looooong drive across half of Europe. Set off from Morzine at the first crack of 11am on saturday, and drove until I got bored. As I was only in Les Gets at this point I thought I had better put in a bit more effort, so hit the motorways for 5 hours. Got off and drove around a bit looking for a nice wee country hotel, no luck, so headed into the nearest sizeable town, a place called Troyes.

Very tempted at this point to make a few references to Homer and the Iliad (Brad Pitt in a leather kilt and all that) but don't want to blow my cover. I am hoping that there are still a few people out there that think I am a tough cool mountain-biking chick, and don't know that I am in fact a nerdy bookish cat-loving spinster librarian.

Lucked in severely in Troyes, was a good size place, found a place to park the car and a nice hotel pretty fast. Nearly kissed the guy behind the counter when he asked if I wanted a room with a bath or a shower. Managed to squeeze in 4 baths in two days.

Went out for a few hours on the road bike on sunday and reaquainted myself with the big ring. Was nice to ride on some flat roads for a change. Had another bath, and set off to do all the touristy stuff in Troyes. The highlight was the "Maison de l'Outil et de la Pensee Ouverte". This was a museum of Tools. Much more interesting than it sounds, it was a couple of floors in a medieaval half-wood house of pre Industrial Revolution Tools, for making things like barrels, shoes, baskets, smithing and carpentary etc. They had huge big exhibition cabinets full of axes, hammers, files. Made for some unusual photos.

Next best thing was the Gothic "Basilique St-Urbain" a well proper Gothic cathedral, with gargoyles and flying buttresses (the best kind of buttresses) and everything. Back to the hotel for a quick bath (it was 40 degrees in the sun, I swear) and out for a French Chinese meal, which was excellent and well above any Chinese I have ever had in the UK.

Left about 9ish monday morning and headed slowly towards Calais. Had a bit of a horrowshow moment in the queue for lunch in a motorway services. Decided to phone the ferry company to get on an earlier boat, instead of the 10pm I was booked on. Was looking at the ticket, wondering why they didn't use the 24 hour clock like most Euro Types. Oh. They do. MERDE. Instead of looking at arriving 7 hours early for the boat I was on schedule for 5 hours late. Phoned and did some serious groveling, explained how I had changed the day of the boat over the phone blah blah blah lie lie lie and they put me on the 5pm for an extra £20. Nice Ferry people !! Got there at 2.30 so they put me on the 3.30, so was back in Epsom for 6.15, exactly 5 minutes after Jeremy got home. Picked Janine up from the train station, a few wines and another pleasant evening in Epsom.

Bit of a grim start to the final leg of the journey up to Edinburgh. Found a dead ginger cat on the road at 5am, that somebody had run over and just left. I was a couple of hours too late to help him out. Stopped and wrapped the poor wee thing in a towel and tried to arrange him nice on the grass at the side of the pavement. Couple of fraught hours worried that he was one of Jeremy's cats (he wasn't wearing a collar) but they had both been spotted scoffing well after I had left so that was OK. Still, I can't believe somebody could run over a pet and not even stop. Somebody loved that cat, but at least they will think the driver tried to help him, and won't find him splattered on the road. And I know I am soft but I don't care !!

Finally back in Edinburgh after I reckon about 30 hours driving up the M6. I'm liking the new Toll Motorway at Birmingham by the way, was £3.20 to miss out all the traffic around Birmingham. Bargain.

OK. I have observed a few things about the French that have me wondering. If anyone has any information that would clear up any of these questions I would appreciate an email.

1. "allez tout droit" - whats that all about ?? This apparantely means "straight ahead" when anybody with even a basic knowledge of French can see that it means "go always right". Although this may explain French military tactics, in particular in relation to the (non) defence of Paris in WWII. They were busy driving their tanks around in circles.

2. Stupit little dogs. In the same way that every Italian women over 40 grows an enormous bum, every French woman over 40 adopts a stupit yappy little dog. Accidently (honest) kicked one while stepping back from a counter, went to apologise to it and the maniac psycho smelley little thing tried to bite me ! Nice.

3. Every time you go out for a walk somewhere in France, you are guaranteed to pass at least one person carrying a naked baguette. You could be way up the top of a mountain on one of the most isolated Grand Randonees at 5am in the middle of a blizzard, and somebody will come by clutching their baguette and giving you a cheery "Bonjour !"

4. Jonny Halliday. Seriously !!!???!!!

Off up to Fort William this weekend for the last leg of the Mountain Biking World Cup. No idea what the weather will do, so am packing everything from shorts and sandals to full-on winter hill walking gear. Should be good fun, there is a well huge crowd going up.

Congrats to Jo and Daniel in Wellington on the birth of Lucien on Wednesday 7th September. I feel a trip to Baby Gap coming on....