It could also be handy to have this as a record of my plans in case my smooth skinned boyish good looks get me sold into slavery by some marauding traders on the lookout for a houseboy with a bit of meat on him. If you hear nothing from me for, say, 3 weeks, please contact the Foreign Office and see if they'd be willing to send me some marigolds. That foreign water can ruin delicate hands !
I'm all packed and ready to go.....although I've now exactly 11 hrs to wait. Hopefully I'll be asleep for 7 or so of those hours but that rarely happens as I'm like a kid in bed on Christmas Eve. The Yorkshire puddings, baked beans and M&S microwave ready meals are all in the case because as we all know, those Frenchies know sod all about good food.
I don't think I've ever been so prepared for a foreign trip before as we have b&b's already booked for every single night. That's 14 nights and 7 different locations.
Setting off from Leeds at 6:30am tomorrow, we'll drive 270 miles to Dover, get the cross channel ferry to Calais and drive another 63 miles to the first b&b. Sunday morning and we'll be off on the 252 miles to Montreal in Burgundy to visit friends who run a stunning b&b there. Then it's 306 miles on to Provence and a 4 night stay there so we can really explore the area.
Friday morning and we set off on the 314 mile drive to Barcelona, stopping for a meal at Pasko's Balkan Grill in Roses, just over the Spanish border. Pasko and I worked together for many years so it'll be great to see him again - if we can get there before he has his siesta and the restaurant closes !
After 3 nights in Barcelona, we move on 168 miles for one night in the lovely old Spanish village of Ainsa, nestling in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The following day we drive north for 239 miles, crossing into France again and stopping in the Dordogne region to spend 2 nights in the stunning cliff town of Rocamadour.
On the 227 mile drive to our next b&b near Amboise in the Loire Valley region, we want to stop off at the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, the scene of one of the most tragic and despicable events of WWII. I'd encourage readers to go to the link and despite us being on a holiday trip, I think we'll all like to visit the village and see it as it was in 1944. A haunting testimony to the horrors of war and what we humans are capable of doing to one another. I doubt I will leave there unaffected.
After an all too brief exploration of the Loire Valley, it's a 252 mile drive back to our first b&b, the one 63 miles from Calais, for our last night before catching the 11:20am ferry back to Dover and then driving back to Leeds.
Even without any sightseeing mileage, the point to point total will be 2,422 miles. Probably a bit too much driving for a 2 week trip but again, we're after a 'feel' for these places so we can, if we want, return for a longer experience at a later date.
And there you have it. Our itinerary in Johnny Foreignerland. As usual Daphne will be our linguist when talking with the natives as my French is basic and my Spanish non existent. Given my miming skills, I can be called upon to do a few hand signals when necessary but then again, if I get them wrong, I'll may still need Daphne to talk me out of a punch up at best or a jail sentence at worst !
I'm a bit nervous about only taking my new compact camera and leaving the dSLR and big zoom lens behind but this is just what I got it for so fingers crossed it does the job. Time will tell and the post holiday blogs could be short on quality photographs if it all goes wrong !
Anyway, it's au revoir for now and try not to get into mischief until my return....................