As we say goodbye to Corrèze for now, it seems fitting that the Ragtag word for today is ‘crepuscule‘. It means twilight, and I always thought of it as an evening word. But it can mean dawn as well. So was this photo, taken from Sharon and Andrew’s house, and home to us for a week, taken in the morning or the evening? What’s your guess?
I let myself off posting yesterday, Tuesday, because we were concluding a drive all the way from Yorkshire England, to the Limousin, France – all but 800 miles in two days. You’ll hear why in my next post. Just now, I’ll tell you about our Monday stop-over.
Les Hayons is a transport caff in Normandy, pure and simple. We love it. Truckers from all over this part of northern France aim to end their working day here. They’ll have a quick wash, a drink, then head for the restaurant – refectory style tables where they can sit down among old friends and new and talk over the events of their solitary day pounding along the motorway.
They’ll help themselves from a buffet-style first course, then there’s a choice of about a dozen home-cooked main courses – copious, traditional tasty food washed down with as much wine or cider as you want. After that, a cheese board – local unpasteurised cheeses from the farms down the road, and finally ice cream or some such for pud. The cheery noisy atmosphere, the decently cooked if simple feast puts us in holiday mood every time we eat there.
We stayed the night there too. Maybe that wasn’t quite such a good plan. The truckers stay in their well-appointed cabins built into their lorries. The days of their needing a trad. bed in a trad. simple hotel room are over. So, lacking a bed in a truck, we chose their former hotel instead. Which was fine. But though the truckers were all tucked up for 9.00 p.m. or 10.00 p.m. that was because they were ready for the off at 4.30 a.m. or 5.00 a.m.
Our alarm call was the sound of revving engines and heavy tyres crunching across gravel. We too were ready to roll at 6.30 a.m. And barely a truck was still there. Look at the scene the evening before. Scores of trucks, neatly lined up in auditorium sized parking lots, protected by the orange glow of sodium lighting.
And we shared breafast in the bar with men in orange: workmen ready to go on shift and face the rigours of the day in their hi-viz clothing. Life at our next destination is very different.
The RDP challenges for Tuesday and Wednesday this week were ‘orange’ and ‘feast’ respectivly. Two birds with one stone.
This Country Mouse, this bumpkin, loves a trip to London. I love visiting my family above all, especially William and little Zoë (who’s doing alright. She’s been moved from Intensive Care to High Dependency and back to Intensive Care: out of, and now back into an incubator. These set backs are not unexpected in such tiny babies, but the staff are confident that she’s basically doing well. Slowly she’s learning to breastfeed).
I love the neighbourhood shopping streets. They’re often, and depressingly, a bit grubby and litter-strewn. But they’re full of life. Turkish, Lebanese, Italian, Chinese and East Asian, English, Syrian, French, Ethiopian, Eastern European, Caribbean shops, take-aways and restaurants rub along together. There are barbers and hairdressers, some specialising in working with the tight curls of the local black population. They may not open early, but they’re busy until late. Markets sell fruit and veg. by the bowlful, and the fish stalls are an education in unfamiliar marine life. No pictures – sorry. When I take William to the park, I may find myself making common cause with grannies from Poland, France or Thailand.
I love the happenstance of walking the backstreets almost anywhere in central London. When I have to get to King’s Cross Station, I often get off the tube at some station beforehand and complete my journey on foot. That’s how I found myself in Smithfield Market, England’s largest wholesale meat market, trading in meat sales as it has been for over 800 years. Then nearby is the church of Saint Bartholomew the Great. It ought to be twinned with Fountains Abbey. One was founded in 1123, the other in 1132.