Wednesday, 31st December 2014 in France - 2014/15.
We left for the last long part of the journey south in good fettle. Took an age to get past Lyon – an accident brought the bypass to a standstill – felt almost like home. Eventually we passed the problem and drove without any other holdups along the great river Rhone past Vienne and Valence to Montelimar where we stopped for lunch – no, not nougat, although there was a lot of it about. Patisserie Paul, selling the most delicious cakes and breads of all kinds, was outside the main service area and we bought small quiches and the inevitable bagette plus coffee and sat in the sunshine to eat surrounded by pines and Italian cypresses. The temperature was only 7C but with the sun shining it felt like a spring day. We could feel our bodies unknotting, expanding.
Strange but we very rarely put Cds on while we are drivng these huge distances. I remember when we drove right round America – Neil gigging at nearly every stop, we had music playing almost continuously – Kind of Blue, Bob Dylas Radio Times etc. Now we just drive locked into our own thoughts, sometimes asking an opinion or chatting about some kind of domestic issue – occasionally raising the level to politics when some kind of incident draws a line across our consciousness. Both very much in the present tense on these journeys. I I used to love train journeys, before mobiles became standard issue, A period of space when I did not have to direct my thoughts to anything particular or get anything done or make descisions. Freedom time when I could let my mind wander wherever it wanted to go. I cant say I ever sorted anything out – but maybe I was able to get a handle on the relative order/importance of things, so I knew where to start when I got back to my desk.
When we got back on the motorway we ran into a fierce wind all the way to Avignon – we had to hold the wheel tightly and pass any tall lorries quickly.. Rows of cypresses along the road,,,their pointed tops dancing madly in the wind. The landscape was a tapestry of greens , browns and silver greys. Amazingly verdant with pines, evergreen oaks, ivies, mosses and silver grey olive groves with here and there clumps of tall grey grasses. Wanted to dance on the bridge at Avignon, but as it was New years eve and early closing, thoughts of food overtook the attraction of a lunchtime tango and we drove straight on to Brignoles and LeClerk.. We bought fresh scallops, ham, salads veg fruit and of course bread. Managed to resist my current addiction – pain au raison. But I knew I’d be back. Filled up the car and took off for the last few miles. The long drive through France had been a breeze– the roads clear and fairly empty, the sun shining for the last part and no rain or snow on the road.
Ten minutes later we had arrived – a lovely house warm and welcoming. We checked emails and news, then walked around the village along the River iIssole and finally sat down to a feast with the wonderful feeling that we had nothing to do now except enjoy..
Usually on new years eve we go to the beach at Aldeburgh with a bottle of champaign. It can be quite magical – small braziers alight up and down the beach – food being cooked and eaten not so much ‘sur l’herbe’ as sur pieds –best to bring a cushion. Then the fireworks, colour- crackling into the deep blue sky throwing sparkling reflections onto the black waves. There were no fireworks in Sts Anastasie – we hadn’t really expected them – a few fizzes and pops but nothing serious . We watched a DVD on Dali –one of Neils birthday presents . It could have been made yesterday – all the paranoia, loathing of the press and media in general, the ‘why are we here’ and ‘what are we going to do about it’ exactly as now. The search for a reason, the rejection of the given. He and Neil would have been buddies. Then to bed to sleep off the journey.