It’s promising to be a warm day so it’s off to see the Le Conquil troglodyte caves bright and early. It’s only a short walk over the river, but neither of us is expecting quite how extensive they are. It’s a walk that takes us several kilometres around the river bank, high and low. Great to river views on the way there. Whist the timelines to troglodyte dwellers differ by many millions of years, there’s a display of dinosaurs lining our path to the caves. 25 different types of dinosaur models are tucked away in the forest, complete with a descriptive plaque detailing the nature of the beast, its size, diet, habitat, etc. A couple of more recent beasties make it in too: the woolly mammoth and sabertooth kitkat.
When they’re in shade and the sun isn’t gleaming off their plastic hides, they’re quite impressive, skulking through the trees. Especially with the Jurassic Park sound effects which come on from time to time.
There’s also an interesting room which has been speculated to be either an early version of a dovecot and/or an area where things were sacrificed: the suspected use of the circle below is the collection of blood.
It’s an odd thing, this hardwired apparent need in humans: the desire to believe in a higher power.
The rooms, which follow the natural curve of the cliff go for several hundred metres, sometimes interconnecting, once accommodating 10 to 15 families. The rooms have been fitted out in mock settings for their original and later uses.
Now we have ladders and steep staircases to reach the cave rooms, but our forebears used to shimmy up the cliffs – in addition to the markings showing how the caves were carved out, we can see evidence of climbing foot and hand holds and an impressively carved set of stairs in one spot.
The cave dwellers we certainly braver about heights than I. Smart too. This would have been a great place to live with its rich soils, extensive flora and fauna, water supply and natural security courtesy of the surrounding limestone cliffs. Nestled between the cliff and river, life would have been safe from predators and enemies, and relatively comfortable.
We’re very lucky to have seen the caves this early, with virtually no one about. A few kilometres down river is another extensive series of caves, visible from across the banks with hundreds of people walking though them later in the day. This area was once, thousands of years ago, a rich and flourishing, if new, society. It puts the beautiful Lascaux cave drawings we saw near here years ago, into far better context. Not a random, exquisite find, but an artistic expression capturing a way of life highly evolved throughout the region. There were no cave drawings today, but a local artist has make a good facsimile of Lascaux on the gift shop walls. Not that they were part of the original, but I particularly like his rendtion of bunnies.
On our return, it’s clear that there’s been a casualty in our temporary work around of our gas issue: the refrigerator is not coping. The freezer is fine, but our lovely large fridge is alarmingly warm. It’s not an issue we can afford to ignore, we’re very reliant on it. Some hard decisions have to be made but there’s a major obstacle: virtually all of France is closed for the August summer break. Up and down the country, everyone who might have been able to assist is shut until September.
Eventually we find a service centre that might just be open, just past Tours. Their website has no mention of closure and whilst there is an answering machine on, we can’t understand the message. It’s either this, or back to England.
To add to the difficulty, the UK sims we have are in a wide blackspot – we’ve been without internet for three days now. It appears this whole region may well be without a reciprocal carrier. Tricky stuff, trying to find a solution without the net and no translation to hand.
The rest of the day is spent driving hundreds of kilometres north, past all the regions I love, towards Tours in the hope that the service centre qualified to do the work will be open. We try a few alternatives along the way – no luck. It’s a sombre drive north.
We arrive at the service centre by early evening. Despite the web’s assurance of its opening hours, there’s a sign on the gate: closed until 6th September. Fuck.
Laugh of the day, and there weren’t many, goes to…well, me. On the way to the caves, Chris asks “what’s a troglodyte?”. Me: “it’s what we have been the past three days without the internet”. I try sometimes to remember life before internet and whilst I remember very early finance work being a largely manual process (especially in Adelaide) I literally struggle to recall what on earth we did for information before smartphones and the www. I suspect somehow that the real answer is that we lived simpler lives, used less information, went to an expert if we wanted something done. I can’t wait until being “live” is mandated en masse. I’ll be first in line for my implant to plugged in and on line permanently. Better yet, give me plug in on line learning where I can upload instructions, a language or anything I please. There’s a future I could embrace wholeheartedly.