It was warm and sleep inducing in Jacques’ car. We went on the (Toll- A4) motorway and I felt insulated from the countryside in this fast travelling bubble.
We went past a sign saying “Maginot Line” – which brought thoughts of trench warfare to mind and soldiers having to go ‘over the top’ and how sickening, gut wrenching that must have been. Communication was limited between Jacques and I – “Strasbourg est tres jolie” – “Oui, et Châlons en Chapelle aussi”. We had some entertainment in spotting where the lorries were from – Romania, Lithuania, GB, Czech, Poland, Deutschland mainly.
Before I knew it, because it was raining, Jacques decided to take me to all but 11km from Rombas, to a Motorway Service Station/Hypermarket place –he did understand, and chuckled when I suggested he could just keep going and we’d end up in Australia – Demain!
We had a quick coffee before unloading the bicycle. Jacques asked me if I had the address for the inlaw’s house. I felt such a dolt when I failed to find it. All was well when he managed to contact them again on the telephone. I am so grateful to him for his efforts on my behalf.
I stayed on after a ride around for the camera - to buy fuel for my stove (alcool à brûler) wine for my would be hosts, and then a salad lunch since I had time to spare. Now, I may as well get going.
It didn’t take long to get to Rombas at all – not surprisingly. I had a coffee and did a terrible daily draw of an uninspiring view. Then I set off again – in the wrong direction along the river and got treated to an amazingly loud couple of thunder claps after flashes of lightening from black clouds to the North. Found a map and back into town on the right road, and arrived at Antoine and Rosa’s address by 5pm. Noone there, so I settled in the garden to knit. It was so bloody cold when the wind blew I tried to knit in gloves. Then I gave that up and went and sat in the doorway on my ‘sit-upon’ (to avoid getting piles, you understand). Antoine arrived back home at 6.15hrs apologising as Rosa had had to go to the doctor’s. The house was wonderfully warm, but he also got a woodburner going too, so the front room was soon glowing.
They were interested and warm and welcoming – and like Jacques – as soon as they heard which direction I was going, they thought of friends who live that way and sorted me accommodation for Sunday – again, so generous and kind!
I have a long couple of days to get through now – but the good food and warm bed should go far to making that happen.
Antoine is actually Spanish, but was determined to teach me French – Rosa (although French by birth) is Portugese, of immigrant parents, and spoke excellent English, so we all got by. Antoine has been a driving instructor for a long time and runs a school. Rosa is a foster mother and has seen many children through her doors (including her own two sons and one daughter). They are grandparents and family is hugely important.
We said grace before eating – long time since I did that, but it felt right to give thanks. Amen.