Fourth gear at last...

Bonnes, Chalais, Aubeterre, and goodness knows where else, France

Everybody had left the house ( B&B ) for Church or Bordeaux. I had the industrial sized toaster to myself, and after a fortifying cup of tea, decided that today I would go exploring.

Abbeterre is a small village on a hillside not too far from Bonnes.......................................................

Being Sunday, the centre of the town was crowded with tourists and locals visiting the stalls and butcher, Hotel and galleries , Tabac, and other odd shops. English seemed to be the most common language. This area has been settled by a lot of English and Dutch, which has revived the various towns and their schools. As a natural mimic, I am having an extremely hard time restraining myself from falling into various British accents.

Rain played with us for a bit, but the day ended up sunny and warm.......

They have BIG bread there! ......

I got lost coming out of Aubeterre, which is practically impossible, so I decided that I would just drive whichever way looked inviting for the next little while and the whole thing would look intentional. I think it worked.

The car finally got to experience fourth gear, and I progressed to juggling the camera as well as brakes, clutch, accelerator, bending roadways, hills (both up and down), oncoming traffic on one lane roadways, corners, bridges, rain and the odd fly.


Things I learned by driving through the countryside today:

French drivers have a highly developed ability to judge, with lightning speed, exactly what the width of the road is, the width of your car, the width of their car, the extent of protrusion of door handles, side mirrors and hubcaps, and from those estimates are able to calculate precisely what position to take on the roadway in order to fit all of us on the paved bit as we pass one another at speed. If they should conclude that we aren’t all going to fit, they calculate that you’ll notice they are going to drive in the same position on the road anyway and that you will pretty briskly utilise the conveniently provided shoulder.

French drivers in general are very tolerant of cars being driven by persons not used to gears, clutches, driving on the right, bends in the road and French drivers. They acknowledge their support by revving their engine in salute as they speed past while overtaking you or as you finally scuttle out of their way into an even smaller roadway after they’ve been stuck behind you for, I actually don’t know how long.

Some French drivers are Dutch. Or British.

At an intersection, if the sign which is directing you towards a village is positioned as if it can’t make up its mind exactly which road it’s pointing to, i.e. it’s at a bit of an angle, you will take the wrong road.

If you are being spontaneous and follow a sign which points you towards a “Le”, a “La”, or a “Les” something, you will end up in somebody’s yard trying to do a u-turn either in the ruts left by their tractor, or inconspicuously on their front doorstep.

If you are being spontaneous and follow a sign which points you towards a “Saint” something, it will probably be a small village which you passed through not fifteen minutes ago from another direction.

The countryside is beautiful.

...Mussels and rosé for lunch, the car was replaced by walking shoes for the afternoon.

The path beside the river that passes through Bonnes is lovely......................

Things I learned along the river today:

Newfoundland dogs walk upwind of one regardless of which direction one is walking in.

There was a slight wind today.

If a Newfoundland dog rolls in something stinky, there is an awful lot of dog to have rolled in whatever that was.

A Newfoundland dog near the river in Bonnes definitely rolled in it.

Newfoundland dogs like to come for walks with people they don’t belong to and who wave at them and hold their noses and tell them to go home.

Other people who have canoes on the river bank think stinky Newfoundland dogs belong to the other people who are obviously waving at them.

If a person falls out of a canoe, his friends fish him out; stinky Newfoundland dogs don’t jump into the river to rescue him.


Newfoundland dogs walk upwind of one regardless of which direction one is walking in.