The return trip from paleo was a snip at only 15 hours and included a beautiful section of road over the Jura, especially at La Cure, a fairytale Swiss town high up in the mountains.
The two weeks we spent back in England went in a flash, catching up with work and small birthday celebrations (punctuated by a lot of shopping) took up the majority of the time. Final arrangements for the Pavillion blinds were made and Ellen prepared to go to Manchester to create her set for the production of “Merrily we roll along” (“The Company” theatre company) a 1950s musical with an American youth theatre organisation.
On Monday morning we (Vicci , Jamie and I) left, unfortunately without Ellen and Raj this time, for Tim and Deborah’s wedding in the South of France near Cahors (West of Bordeaux and north of Toulouse), we woke up at 2:30 AM and were ready to leave by 630 AM (unfortunately this length of time is about typical for me when going on a long journey). A mad rush ensued to get to Poole for the 9 AM ferry to Cherbourg (we went this way to reduce driving time and because the boat was big enough to have a lift for the wheelchair). We would have missed the boat if it were not for a very friendly Brittany Ferry staff member who was in charge of closing up the boat, who unprecedentedly kept the boat open for an extra 15 minutes. The journey was about 4 1/2 hours which we spent eating a terrible English breakfast, napping, I had to make a work conference call, fruit machines (four pounds profit), and I drank some free tasters of expensive cognac and whiskey in the duty free (plus mint Bailey’s, going to buy a bottle for Ellen on the way back, it is delicious). After a bit of drink-driving on my part through the ferry we got back into the car (the lift was accessed through the staff quarters which took us down to the car deck). The journey was down from Cherbourg to Caen and then all the way south to Limoges, halfway to Cahors and then off the motorway at the village of Souilliac. It took about nine hours and would have been a little quicker if we had not spent as much time on the small roads.
The chateau (chateau rayesse) is a fairytale Castle and the night we arrived the girls were a bit spooked in the dark and when getting out of the car were scared out of their wits by the donkey greeting them loudly, at which point Vicci jumped on my lap and Jamie ran into the car and cowered behind the wheelchair. All incredibly funny and slightly ironic (that they sought me for protection).
The view and setting were incredible, we spent the day sleeping late on Thursday and then meeting everyone in the evening (at this time there was an intimate group of guests and it was great to meet immediate family). Everyone was very welcoming and interested to get to know us. The next day I had a dip in the pool aided by Dave and Tim 2 -not the one getting married- (Tim’s mum’s boyfriend and son-in-law to be respectively -Tim 2 is to marry Jess, Tim’s sister-), this took a little while as the mechanism involved hoisting onto a double bed blowup mattress and then this being slid into the pool and me tipped off the mattress into the water. Everyone was asking what it felt like but the feelings were not very spectacular and I didn’t feel much below my shoulders. The lapping of the water on my shoulders felt great as did having my head under the water, a feeling that I miss not having regularly.
Saturday, the wedding day, seemed to go perfectly. It was extremely hot and I was granted a seat in the shade which I was very grateful for. Everyone else was directly in the sunlight but the humanist ceremony, given by a church vicar, was succinct whilst still very beautiful. We sought refuge from the heat inside for short periods of the day in the beautiful chateau. The food was spectacular in presentation and taste, there was beer on tap and it was an all-round exceptionally enjoyable day that went on to about 3:30 AM thanks to a friendly DJ playing some decent wedding music (with the occasional scratched CD).
Debbie and Tim are a couple that seem perfectly matched, both are wonderfully smiley people who listen and don’t judge easily. They are generous and considerate and both incredibly smart, making them supply a rich warm and interesting environment for everyone who is with them. Successful people like these are usually busy so it was an honour to get to spend this time with them.
Sunday was understandably a relaxed day, Mervin and Dom cooked and served a wonderful spaghetti Bolognese. Dom’s daughter Sophie and Mervin were very inquisitive about my wheelchair, sensation and movement, and I enjoyed the discussion. Sophie then gave me a rose which was a very sweet gesture.
Mervin introduced me to a band called Tragically Hip with whom he used to be a tour manager, I would recommend checking them out for anyone into music. We also discussed plans to get me on to a trike (three wheeled motorbike) and improve my wheelchair.
We said our goodbyes on Sunday evening after debating trying to rearrange plans to stay for longer, and left in the early hours of Monday morning.
The return trip was beautiful and we were out of petrol on the ferry so had to be pushed off.
Last night I was at a Pearl Jam concert which was absolutely incredible.
Thank you Tim and Debbie for inviting me, we all had an incredible time and met some incredible people.