Having been reassured that my mother had made a full recovery from her illness and wasn’t due to go back into hospital for a further procedure until the middle of September, we managed another brief escape!
(Yes, I know her lunch looks awful, but it tasted better than it looked – a cheese and pickle sandwich with some rosé champagne to make a toast to my father whose birthday it was, who would have been 81):-
I had weighed up all the other risk factors, which all mainly involved leaving my children home alone and realised that I would be leaving our house, our plants and our cat in very, very safe hands. My daughter is nearing the end of her MA and working incredibly hard. There was no way my youngest child was going to be able to host ANY wild house parties with her in charge, so the coast was clear.
The trip to France was more essential business for my partner, with me just coming along for the ride. He needed to get back to pick up a load of stuff he’d had to leave over there when lockdown hit and of course to spend time with his sister and his brother who both live there. Owing to the shorter travelling time, the journey felt a lot less stressful than the one we had made to Greece. The tests required were relatively straightforward – we just had to fill in the “honesty” test and provide proof of two vaccinations to get in, but I’m sure it also becomes easier having done it before.
Proof of double vaccination was surprisingly important in France. Every single café and bar required us to show them our “carte de santé” (vaccination certificate) before we were allowed to eat or drink in their establishment, even if sitting outside. It’s hardly surprising that the French have taken over the Brits in their vaccination numbers – it’s a big incentive to get jabbed. You also still had to wear masks inside and outside during the markets.
We got there via a 4 hour ferry ride from Newhaven to Diep and then drove to La Rochelle for the night to break up the journey. From Diep, his family are based ten hours away in the Dordogne region, so doing it in two stages felt far more manageable and I didn’t have to feel like we were going to die on a motorway owing to tiredness.
We didn’t get off to a great start when he inadvertently threw away our motorway ticket with all the rubbish during our first loo stop…which would have been a massive fine had he not found it, despite the embarrassing performance:-
La Rochelle was a great delight. I hadn’t realised it was so beautiful. An easy city to wander around in, with many bars and restaurants to choose from to eat (although booking is recommended – we struggled to find anywhere with availability) and there are some fabulous markets and shops to peruse as well as the spectacular marina:-
We met up with some friends for the evening:-
We drove on the next day to stay with his sister and her husband in a glorious part of the world. They live near Eymet, which I have come to know and love over the last few years and it was good to be back. They have a fabulous market twice a week and loads of great restaurants and bars too:-
The central square is spectacular – this was the view from one of the restaurants we ate at one evening:-
Here he is enjoying my scintillating conversation clearly!:-
Bubbles in the fountain?:-
We went to my favourite restaurant in Eymet again – La Cour D’Eymet which I’ve done a separate review on. Very romantic if you can keep a straight face during the photographs:-
We had glorious weather and made the most of it one day by going kayaking on La Dordogne – a massive highlight:-
We did some wine tasting in the local area. Chateau Jaubertie do a lovely pink champenoise we love for 10 euros a bottle:-
Accidental baguette shot which I quite like! Our daily bread…:-
Castillonés do a weekly evening food market with live music which is a fun thing to do:-
Issigiac Market on a Sunday morning is always worth going to:-
Could this be any more French?:-
I made the Ottolenghi roasted cherry tomato recipe one evening with tomatoes given to me by a friend in the area- très délicieux! :-
Teaching Pilates by the pool made for a lovely change of scene – what a luxury:-
After ten wonderful days of eating and drinking (the delicious local wines) we drove back in one go to Diep for supper before the midnight ferry:-
Now, what with my croissant and champenoise weight gain, adding to my Covid curves, I’ve got a lot of work to do before attempting to fit into any of my work clothes and getting on that commuter train again! Now off to search for my elasticated waist bands. Will have to make that section in my wardrobe for a while I suspect.