I’m sure there are people somewhere that are blessed with the patience of saints. I am not amongst them. I will happily confess to being very goal oriented with a heavy side order of solution driven. Usually this serves us (well, me) well, but…and it’s a big one…when things go wrong and despite both goal and multiple solutions being to hand, a resolution flatly refuses to manifest, I have been known to throw the mother of all trantrums. Type in capitals, start using bullets points, run for the hills for safety, c-word kind of trantrums. They don’t happen often, I do save them for moments of extreme frustration. Exceedingly few people get to witness them: I’ve yet to have have anyone ask for, or see a repeat performance. Except poor Chris, who has seen a few over the years. Today was one of those days.
It starts with a simple issue: trauma with the Truma heater. See what I did there? My sense of humour, at least, remains intact. In the motorhome, we are very reliant on gas: cooking, heating, hot water, refrigeration all run on gas when not plugged into power. This trip has seen progressively annoying glitches requiring rebooting the system, culminating today in an issue that needs possibly urgent attention, on an approaching weekend, of course. The interwebs, source of all knowledge, to the rescue.
- Solution 1: UK service centre with a local presence is emailed. They promptly respond, but are away on holiday. They recommend alternatives, the closest of which is 50 km away.
- Solution 2: 50 km away dude. Drive there, check. He’s open, check. Qualified, check. Can’t do the work: is overwhelmed with work and goes on holiday tonight. He recommends another place, towards Toulouse, 77 km away, IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
- Solution 3: 77 km away dude on a random road in the way to Toulouse. Drive there, check. Miraculously find it with the limited directions: check. He’s open later in the afternoon, check. Qualified, check. Can’t do the work- too busy. Come back “maybe” Monday.
- End result: DRIVE BACK 77 KM TO WHERE WE STARTED – no Les Plus Beaux Villages anywhere near Toulouse of course, nor anywhere to stay. NO RESOLUTION. MUCH FRUSTRATION. Not to mention barely an appointment and the trip needed to come back in two days time.
It takes until late afternoon to perform the above comedy of errors, one of the many frustrations of being in a country whose language you don’t speak well enough to converse. Three calls could have saved hours of travel. Sadly for me, it’s all I can do to internalise my frustration: no point targetting Chris. Not his fault. Much silence. A bit of hissing from me occasionally.
To distract me, Chris takes us to the Les Plus Beaux Village of Castelnau-de-Montmiral, another mediaeval, hilltop, fortified gem.
What better way to calm a hissy cat than frog-march her up a steep hill or two on a hot day. You might recall, I have nicknamed him Fearless.
Castelnau-de-Montmiral is indeed lovely, even if I’m not perhaps in the best mood to enjoy it.
It overlooks the forest of the Vere, a stronghold of the counts of Toulouse and Armagnac. In the Middle Ages, a castle stood here. It was sadly destroyed in the 19th century but the village fortifications still stand intact as does the Porte des Garrics from the 12th century.
The village is remarkably well preserved, its half-timbered houses surviving a little repair here and there. The church, the Eglise Notre Dame de L’Assomption, has another elaborately painted blue ceiling, a tradition in this area it seems.
It also houses under heavy guard, a 14th century reliquary cross decorated with 354 precious stones.
We stop for a drink in the square then continue on our way to find a stop for the night.
It’s here I finally find some peace in the day, on an evening walk. A painters’ theme is set to follow me in this part of France it seems: Monet today.
I’m sure this field bursting with wildflowers would have him itching for his brushes.