Tuesday, April 17, 2018

20 years of adventures

French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
17th April 1998, Henley-on-Thames

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary and I can’t believe that Adrian looks so young in the wedding photos, whereas, as I’m sure you will agree, I look just the same. 17th April 1998, at Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire, we tied the knot with a small civil service, then went off on our first adventure as man and wife – a boat trip along the Thames, where the river was so swollen and running so high, we were told to expect a cancellation. But we had faith, it worked, and we sailed.

French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
17th April 1998

The first ten years of marriage saw many adventures; getting two kittens, moving to a new house in the UK, having a baby, then moving to France and getting a dog. The last ten years have been far more relaxed but we’re still happy to have adventures, in fact our tenth wedding anniversary saw a new start to our adventures in France, our Mini Cooper Road Trips, in Gizmo the mini.
 
French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
17th April 2008, Beaulieu-sur-Mer
In 2008 we awoke on our wedding anniversary in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near Nice, having made our way south to the Riviera in two days. We then set off along the coast, through the Alps and into Italy, where we stayed near Turin for a few days before heading west, back to home. It was such fun, we vowed to continue every couple of years and a new tradition was born.
 
French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
17th April 2010, Le Mont-Dore
In 2010, we returned to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, by a different route, then drove the Ardeche gorges, arriving in Montelimar on the eve of our anniversary. Up to this point, this road trip had been even better than the previous, and we’d learned to take our time to explore the back roads of France. However, it wasn’t a great start to our anniversary when we discovered Gizmo had been broken into overnight, but we coped. Thankfully they hadn’t smashed any of the windows, so we made a visit to the Gendarmes, and hit the road for Le Mont-Dore in the Massif Central. The sun shone on our beer terrace that night as we raised a glass to twelve years of marriage.
 
French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
17th April 2012, Angoulême
In 2012, we were wine tasting in Angouleme on our anniversary, taking a break from the preparations and packing for the third Gizmo tour to the south. From St Emillion to Condom, to the Pyrenees, to Collioure, to Carcassone, to the Cevennes and home, we had a great time. I had this mad idea to share our adventure on the blog every evening and I did, but it was tough, and if I’m honest, took up too much of our time together. 

In 2014, two days after our anniversary, we were ready to hit the road once more. Sadly, on the second day Gizmo had mechanical issues (see here) and although Adrian managed to perform the equivalent of open heart surgery on a rather remote hillside, by the 21st April we were back home. We did get to make one (most likely) final road trip in Gizmo in June 2015 (see here), but he is sadly now showing his age and is confined to the garage for the foreseeable future.
 
French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
17th April 2016, Angers
However, this hasn’t stopped our adventures, oh no! In 2016 we spent our anniversary just outside Angers in the Loire on the eve of our first ever big cycling adventure. A six day, 450km cycle ride around the Sarthe department (see here). It was so much fun, last year we challenged ourselves to a charity cycle around the Deux-Sevres department (see here).

Which brings me back to today, our 20th anniversary, and I’m sure you’d love to know what sort of adventure we have planned in celebration this year. Well, life has given me a new adventure in the local library, and having only started work a few weeks ago, getting away this week hasn’t been possible. As Adrian works away from home, we have spent many birthdays and anniversaries apart, but this is the first time it’s my work that has been the reason. Call it sods law if you will, but since I began work, Adrian has had time at home.

As I write this, Adrian, Ed and my mother-in-law Sandra are in the Pays Basque, returning to the wonderful gîte we all visited last year (see here). I was at work this morning and will be working this afternoon, but I am being wined and dined by good friends this evening. Adrian is celebrating by cycling up mountain passes, without having to keep glancing behind him to see where I am. We will certainly be raising our glasses to one another this evening.

We have already had our first meal out, an advance celebration, at the village bar, where, as is the French convivial way, we sat with friends who were also eating there. When my travellers return at the weekend the celebrating will continue, at the village bar once more, and it will be a double celebration for Adrian’s birthday too.
 
French Village Diaries 20 years of adventures
Together in Bordeaux 2018

I’ve no idea where the next twenty years of marriage will take us, or what adventures we will have along the way, but I can’t wait, as together we can tackle anything. Love you Ade.