Today I didn't go to Poitiers. Twice.

Bonnes, south western France, back garden, green bench.





Today I was meeting up with the writer who is currently staying in her apartment which I’ll be renting later in the month, in Poitiers.

The city is north of Bonnes and accessible by train. I would travel there leisurely in a gently rocking carriage from which I’d watch the Beautiful countryside slip away, we’d meet, lunch together, check out the ropes for the apartment, then part with probably a peck on the cheek when it was time for me to make my leisurely way back to Bonnes.

It turns out that to get there I would need to catch the train from not too distant
Chalais at the not so leisurely hour of 6:51 am to then connect with the even less leisurely TGV (Very Fast Train) which catapults hysterically from Angouleme to Poitiers several times a day.

No matter.

I set my alarm for 5:10 am for a relaxing shower, cup of tea, toast, and departure at 6:10 for the 20 minute drive, which I knew would take me longer but would still leave plenty of time for purchase of tickets in French.

I rechecked the alarm to make sure the little button was in the right position...I have been known to have pushed it a bit too far to the left and it doesn’t go off.

I woke all through the night as I do before a morning when I am due to wake up alarmed. I decided to check the clock to see how many hours I had left to sleep.

It was 6:12 am.

(Insert swear words here)

It was pitch black. Shot out of bed, groped, found light switch, threw on clothing, found light switch, brushed teeth, looked all over for car keys, could remember seeing them right there (insert more swear words), found them in the pocket where I’d just put them ( ditto) , grabbed bag, coat, camera, handbag, checked for money, added money, turned lights off, pitch black, groped, found light switch, found nifty torch keychain, turned lights off, turned handy torch on, down the winding stairs, out the door...it was pitch black.
Except for the fog.
Thick fog.








Found car.


Deep breath. I may still be able to do this...started car, remembered clutch and handbrake, gears and found light switch, crept through fog- found driveway, found gates, opened gates, crept through, closed gates, indicated, pulled out onto the road.

It was pitch black except for a wall of white directly in front, and a small doormat of grey directly beneath. I waited for me to go faster. The road, even with creeping, lurched this way and that, went up and down, met other roads wandering lost through the fog, and all the time I was painfully aware that I’d never driven to the railway before and wasn’t entirely sure where it was. I got out through the gate at 6:25 am. At 6:35 am I was just barely up the road. At 6:37 am I could tell I’d never make it. At 6:39 am I took a wrong turn which actually allowed me to make another turn and end up heading back for home. By 6:45 am I was incredibly glad I hadn’t tried to go faster, by 6:46 am I realised I’d never have arrived in time even if I had woken at 5:10 am, by 6:51am I was drinking a VERY welcome cup of tea.

I rang the writer. I’d look at alternatives...and in the end decided to take the 1:15 pm train. We’d only have a few hours together but that would be nice anyway.

At 11 am I started the drive to Chalais again, this time in bright sunshine on clear roads with green fields and sunflowers on either side.

Luckily I had lots of time up my sleeve because I still ended up travelling at fog speed: about 20 kph, behind a tractor.
Luckily I had lots of time up my sleeve because the directions I’d been given weren’t QUITE right...you DO actually have to take that little road under the railway to find the station; if you don’t you visit other interesting quaint narrow little roads with small boys on bicycles and you wonder why anybody would put a station so far from the tracks.

I practiced my French by listening in on the conversation between the ticket lady and the young man and older woman who had several complicated requests, and spent several minutes trying to figure out which side of the line my train would be on. Two signs gave completely opposite advice. I sat down, walked outside, sat down, read pamphlets, sat down.

Luckily I had lots of time up my sleeve.

Then it was my turn. I didn’t take long.

Yes, there is a train at 1:15, but I’d have to wait at Aubeterre for two hours for the TGV to Poitiers which would arrive there at 4:11 pm. I would have exactly 45 minutes before I’d have to catch the train back.

I rang the writer.

Having missed going to Poitiers twice and then giving up, I helped let the hens out again. A little family of wild ducks joined them and the two tame ducks with toupees for a bit of breakfast, but because my camera thinks for a minute before it clicks, I kept just missing bits of them. One friend has asked why my photos don’t have people in them...it’s because they’re long gone, in fact home having their dinner by the time the shutter clicks.

One and a bit ducks...just missed the second one
...Red hen...just missed her...

...almost...


...Got them! ......


We stepped into the Church in Bonnes.


.........

One of my hosts needed to make a trip to the Airport at Bergerac in the afternoon to pick up a friend.

At the airport there’s a sign clearly depicting the things that one ISN’T allowed to take onto the plane. In France, those things include fine wines and Duck paté. Show offs...

I had a chance to photograph the countryside out of the side window. Because my camera thinks as it does, and because the road is likely to change its mind at any moment about what direction it’s taking, I JUST missed photos of quaint houses, picturesque dairy cows, beautifully laid out vineyards and gardens, little old men in berets, pigeon houses, rivers, lakes, and an entire forest.
Tobacco shed...just missed the rest

...quaint church just missed.............delightful houses just missed......lake just missed...


...no idea what this was but I just missed it...


However, the French, being very considerate, and being aware of digital cameras and the nature of French roads which can make actually arriving at a destination less than a sure thing, have placed little signs at the exit from villages, towns , and cities to let you know which one you’ve just missed.



Unlike the roads in Australia which start you off in one city or town and take you to the next with relatively little procrastinating, the roads in France are just as likely to start in somebody’s kitchen as at a Town square, then wander about wherever they please. They’ll see how the maize is doing, stroll into the woods for a bit of shade, tumble down a hill and around a bend then remember they forgot something and will head back again. They come across one another and that can be a real distraction. Sometimes they forget completely where they were going. That’s why road signs are placed at an angle...because even they aren’t sure.

We put the hens to bed. It was late. Dark. I took a photo....

Incidentally, I’d set the alarm for 5:10 pm.