|La Rochefoucauld, Poitou-Charentes|
We set off from Rocamadour on our preferred back roads heading north west, and were straight away driving through walnut orchard country. This inspired me, or maybe that should be encouraged me to check out the boulangerie selection of walnut tarts when I was supposed to be buying a baguette only. We didn't need another patisserie today as the two Russe we bought in Meyrueis were so big we'd shared one and saved one yesterday. However it would have been surly to ignore a walnut tart in walnut country, so I didn't, although it was only tiny. We crossed the river Dordogne and then found ourselves in the dry lands between the Dordogne and Vézere rivers, dry of coffee stops that is, but thankfully we found our fix just before crossing the Vézere.
What we did notice in this area was the somewhat quirky tradition to hang a shield and tricolour flag high up on the outside of the homes of the village Maires and local councillors, accompanied with the words "Honneur à nos élus" (To honour our elected). From a bit of google searching it seems to be linked to the arbre de mai (a tree symbolising liberty) and takes place at the beginning of May following the local elections (which were last held in 2014), to celebrate the newly elected council. They can be accompanied with a newly planted tree, they can be decorated with flags or ribbons, they can be at each individual's house or just one communally. We certainly drove past rather a lot of them and I'm rather glad we live in Poitou-Charentes rather than the Lot, Correze or Limousin.
We lunched in a lay by, which was nicer than it sounds and the duck rillettes from Rocamadour were delicious. By early afternoon we were back in Poitou-Charentes and stopped by the chateau in La Rochefoucauld for our patisserie, half the walnut tart each and a quarter of the Russe, which generously left half a yummy Russe for Ed when we got home. It was great to be back in Poitou Charentes and seeing its beauty with fresh eyes again. This feeling was reinforced by Adrian's parents excitedly telling us how lovely the drive back from Ed's music lesson was, a drive I do twice a week, in the dark, the rain, the fog, the ice, but also at sunset and in the glorious late summer evenings. It's become my routine and I'd forgotten how lovely our local landscape is.
Our holidays are not really the relaxing and recharging of batteries type holidays, more a feeding of the senses on a journey that is the holiday rather than a means of getting to a destination. It is the changing scenery, building styles, landscapes and the flora that fills us with energy. Even the patisserie choices changed from region to region, stimulating our taste buds too. One thing I did notice this year was my poor eyesight compared to three years ago. With the car bouncing around I really struggled to read the road numbers on the map and have decided I might need one of those neck mounted magnifying glasses next time. I've never struggled to read a map before and I'm not sure I like the idea of getting old.
Within an hour of arriving home and despite feeling relaxed and refreshed we were about to get a real shock. Ed was out at a party with friends when a Gendarme van pulled up outside our house and straight away confirmed we were M et Mme Brown and that we had a fourteen year old son, Edward. In that second my heart stopped beating, before beginning again and hammering away in my chest.
Thankfully all was well, Ed had witnessed the theft of a bike from school and they needed to interview him, with us, as he is a minor. As we had been away and not yet seen Ed, we had no idea what was going on, especially as he had neglected to mention the incident on the phone. It wasn't quite the welcome home we were expecting and it certainly took me a while to breathe easily again.
I hope you have enjoyed our little adventure in a Mini Cooper in France. I'll let you know when we hit the road again.