Often in this post I inform of the lunacies that hail from our French Government and you may recall our most recent enforcement; that of the requirement of breathalyzer kits in all cars. Well it seems that our President has taken a step nearer to that of mad King George and stated that they should now be in all road vehicles, including tractors. This, as you can imagine, has annoyed the farming community somewhat, and we all know what happens when you upset French farmers. So if you happen to be in France in the next few months, expect blockades and burning effigies of Monsieur ‘Ollande on every road-side, with ruddy-faced farmers huddled around it supping red wine in protest.
The thing is, for once, he may actually have a point, especially using our local farmer as an example. Whenever Eric comes round here to collect his hay bales or cut some grass, he always makes sure it is early evening and then pops in for a quick aperitif – or 10. The last time he left, he dove straight through the electric fence destroying a dozen fence-posts and plunging the entire village into darkness. At least now I can suggest he ‘tests’ himself before he wobbles off into the night on his 200 horsepower killing-machine.
It doesn’t stop there either. The next idiocy going into the rulebook is the outlawing of sat-navs that locate the position of speed-cameras. Apparently, even if the sat-nav is switched off and stowed in the car boot, if it is checked by a local gendarme and found to have this facility enabled, the driver is liable to a 3 million euro fine and 4 months in the dungeons, irrespective of how fast they were travelling. One wonders if this rule is to be extended to drunken tractor drivers also, despite the fact that they can only go 35 kph?
On the subject of travel, once again one has to question the intellect of Ryanair staff. It seems that, besides their inherent rudeness which appears to be pre-requisite for anyone in a yellow and blue uniform, the latest insult to its customers was to put a passenger on the wrong plane. Yes, despite having his boarding pass checked at least 3 times by stewardesses who evidently couldn’t read, when surfer Toby Donachie descended the steps in what should have been the sunshine of Southern France, he was actually in Sweden! Unlucky, mate. You might need a thicker wet-suit for those icy waves. In response to this, a Ryanair spokesperson said and I quote: ‘….it is the responsibility of passengers to ensure they are on the correct flight…’ Um, really? Great - thanks. So let’s just do away with boarding passes altogether, then? That would save us having to print them out on your behalf or paying a thousand pounds each for you to do it for us? Bordeaux’s crappy little ‘low-cost’ hub could just become a free-for-all as we choose a plane to board at random while you are still busy making sure we only carry one bag and charge us an extra tenner for paying by credit-card when it is the only method available. It really is despicable!
No wonder I never go anywhere. Not that I can at the moment.
This week we have a house full of youngsters enjoying the exuberant sunshine in early September. Well, sunshine by day and then dancing by moonlight to an eclectic mix of strange music. Unfortunately, while trying to keep up with these twenty-somethings on the dance-floor, I have now sustained an injury to my Achilles tendon and am subsequently confined to my writing desk. The lengths people will go to, to get out of cooking for a week! I ask you?!
At least it gets me out of table-tennis for a few days, which has become our latest craze. After watching all that sport on TV, the two of us have taken up the mantle of trying to get into shape and le tennis-de-tableau has worked wonders for the fitness, although a little less for my ego, as Wendy tends to beat me in demoralising fashion most evenings.
Next week, heel permitting we are heading off on holiday. Some might say our entire life is a holiday, but I would be the first to contest that on the grounds that we are so constantly busy that the summer months go by in a flash. There is a reason we have delayed our little soiree until this late in the year, because we like to take the dogs with us, and sadly they are not allowed on the beaches in summer. This may possibly be a good thing, especially as our two would run riot amongst holidaymakers, Pooper nicking ice-creams off small children and Louis cocking his leg on sunbathers at every opportunity, but hopefully, by September 15th, the official date they are allowed back onto the sand, the beaches will be quieter. Even then the trip won’t be purely holiday as, in my new found career as a travel writer, I intend to put together some more short books for my eTravellers-guide series from the area around French Atlantic-Pyrenees and North East Spain.
In fact, a few weeks ago, we made a similar mission to the beautiful area on the North side of the Arcachon basin, known as Cap Ferret, just for the day. I have to admit it was a rather pleasant spot and would have been all the more so, were it not so busy. This pretty seaside strip, as well as being home to the famous Arcachon oyster business, appears to be the holiday destination for the entire city of Paris who, on the whole, are not particularly nice people. However, they are rather wealthy and quite prepared to be ripped off for everything from meals to house prices. According to one colleague, all the footballers have second homes here – a sort of Cheshire by the sea. And, of course, each and every one of them has a boat the size of Worcester, moored in full view, so their girlfriends can strut around on deck showing off their permi-tans and leaking false boobs. We did manage to find one reasonably priced restaurant though, which also served dogs. It seems, although canines are not allowed on the beach, they are welcome in all restaurants. France does have some strange cultures, really.