Friday, 15 June 2012

And so 2012 starts...

Here I am sitting at AK airport, it's 11.11, I'm super sleepy but have a 27 hour journey in front of me! I hope I sleep some.


But it's exciting, flew up from Wellington, with far too much stuff, got my boarding pass and not long now.

I used fastgate or whatever it's called - it's great - no standing in queues, straight though, through security and then bang - duty free.

Bought some parfum - of course - and now just about to pack up and get ready for my flight!  :)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The slackest...

Well, I think I must be the slackest blogger ever...

Here I am, it's 8.11am, I'm sitting at Sydney Airport having flown over from Singapore, been here since 6am, waiting for my 9.50 flight to Wellington and then, officially, it will be all over.

Oh no!

I really should go back over my blog and see what I have written about - and then fill in the gaps.

I suspect it will be easier if anyone is reading this to just get hhold of me in a few hours and say - Hey Cookie, let's catch up, you can tell me all the goss about your trip, bore me with photos and we'll drink fantastic coffee (god, I miss great coffee - although McCafe has opened in Frankfurt, I was there last Monday, it had been open for 4 days and they served flat whites. I kid you not - probably the only place in all of Europe where you can actually get a flat white - and where it's on the coffee list! Why? I asked and they said that McCafe is Australian owned - hence the flat whites. I also have it on good authority - ie the manager, I was having a chat with her, that the Costas down in the waterfront shopping centre in Portsmouth is going to add flatwhites to it's menu next year. Hush hush though apparently!).

I have just spent 10 minutes pissing about trying to upload a photo - I'm sure there is an easy way; I just can't find it!

Anyway, so here I am sitting at Sydney Airport waiting for my flight and for the hols to be over - and in many ways, back to the real world.

So, what was Singapore like? I really liked it. It's very clean, the food is just fantastic (everything from super cheap to crazy expensive), the people really nice, really restrictive laws (OMG, if I had actually had sex....).

I stayed at the Intercontinental - totally totally OTT! Love it! The room was huge, the bathroom amazing, the bed big enough for 4! Although, I wonder if it's really worth it given that I was either asleep (or awake at 3am) or not there. But still....

Did quite a few of the touristy things - the merlion, the river trip on a bumboat, the Asian Civilisation Museum, saw Raffles (but didn't go in - I've never drunk alone, and figured I didn't really need to go and buy an incredibly expensive pink drink!). I subsequently found out that the Singapore Slings are $28 (or was it $27), they're pre-made and it's all about the tourists!

Hung out in Little India a bit - really liked it there. Bugis where the hotel is - great location - transpires that Singapore is really quite small. The MRT is really easy to use (although there is one station that has two levels of trains - and some escalators go between levels and some from the bottom level all the way to the exit level (ie the top - 3rd - level). Did I spend 5 minutes going up and down trying to get to the middle level - yes....

I did a pile of shopping - there isn't any fake stuff in Singapore really but shopping for Africa - so to speak. Checked out Sim Lam Square - hundreds of electronic stores. And yes, the IPhone 3G-s is available, the official supplied - SingTel - won't sell you one (either out of stock or, if in stock, they only sell it on a plane). The slightly more "dodgy" shops (although I'm not sure if there are any truly dodgy shops in Singapore) will sell you one for about $1000 Singapore - but god knows about whether they're real or not - the cab driver on the way to the airport showed me his "Chinese Official" mini-IPhone - dual sim even. Given the hassles I've had with chinese crap dual sim cellphones, I'm leaning towards spend the money, buy official...

You can also pick up a PS3 slim for about $500 - only draw back is that the warranty is local - anything goes wrong, you're poked in NZ.

I went to Gluttony Lane and sat outside and ate (OMG, have I eaten!).

I went to China Town and did the nightwalking tour - I can now tell you all about prostitution in Singapore and oral sex - it was a great little tour - one guy mysteriously asked for a taxi at the end of the tour, the tour guide said come with her back to the main part of China Town and he took off in the other direction back towards the brothels we'd just been shown.... Lol!

Met Megan and Daniel on the walking tour - Megan is a med student from Wales who was in Wellington (yah!) for 2 months working at A&E at Wgtn Hospital - and to make it an even smaller world, she was also staying at the Intercontinental! Daniel is an Aussie who went to the UK for his OE and had to leave cause his visa ran out. So, the three of us, after the tour had some kai, a little shopping and then a drink and dessert back at the hotel.

It's always the coolest when you randomly meet excellent people as you bop around the planet.

Quickly - the kai we had was in noodle house that the tour guide showed us - the chef made the noodles in front of us (the take the dough, pull, twist, pull twist etc until noodles type of noodles) and then cooked and served - all for a whole $4.50 a dish! The shopping was "odd" as we finished eating about 10/10.30 and all the stalls in ChinaTown were closing up - maybe it's the down season?

The last day, back to ChinaTown - it's very cool there, hung out at the hotel, packed (about 41 kilos - ouch!) and then out to the airport and off to Sydney.

The business class check in at Singapore Airport is really nice - you have a separate room, and you sit down like you're checking into a hotel rather than a plane! But the security is at the plane - not customs. So, you get through customs quickly but then stand with over 300 people trying to get through security into the holding pen for the plane - not very good at all!!

The entertainment system on the plane wasn't working - but it's very nice in the top deck, overate but figured might as well make the most of it, lots and lots of leg room, chatted with a really nice woman who'd just been to fashion week in Paris (she works for an APC mag here in Sydney - Madison or something), and generally just snoozed. Then they got the entertainment system going so I did the only sensible thing - watched Ice Age - the Dinasaurs! Lol - didn't sleep but had tea and biscuits, ordered everything on the breakfast menu and had a shower in Sydney (god, the shower - just divine!). It's not a bad flight - only about 8 hours - the long sector is Asia to the UK.

Was business class worth it - hard to say really. Was it expensive - hell yes. Was the leg room great - hell yes. Is the service nice, the food good etc - hell yes. With stop overs is it worth it - not sure.

Well, there is bound to be lots and lots more stories and thoughts and things - travel is always full of it - but it's not long until my plane so I'm going to pack up and maybe go for a stretch before it's all over.

Best thing - easily the nephews in London - they are just so cool!

Worst thing - spending a day barfing in London (sorry Lee!).

But there we go.....

Another day, another adventure!

Yah! :)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bye Bye Europe...

The quickest of entries - and yes I know I'm behind - and yes quite a bit has happened since I last updated (somewhere I've started the entry which I was typing on Eurostar - seems soooo long ago!).

But here I am, sitting at Frankfurt airport, it's 11.06pm, I'm in the Cathy Pacific lounge, it's nearly time to go through security and get ready for the plane - and so Europe will come to an end.

The best thing - easily my nephews, they are simply the coolest!

But it's been great seeing new things, eating so much and, especially, catching up with friends - it's the people who really make a place!


But now it's looking like a 12 hour journey to Singapore - not that I'm complaining - it is business class - and I have been having a magical time (and yes, if you're interested, the visa bill is sitting at over $13,000 - ouchie!) - and it's just been sooooo cool!

See you all soon - next time I touch down it'll be another country and 6 time zones away - wow!

Byeeeee Europe and the UK!!!


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Paris - truly a city of love...

No - not that I found love - but it really is a totally beautiful city.

Been here for 2 nights now - star!

Arrived on Monday, on the TGV - I love those trains - sooooo fast.

Then umming and ahhing, major indecision, and eventually we decided to get Paris Visit ticket - 5 days unlimited travel. I'm not sure that I'm going to use it - probably not even close; but there you go. At least all the travel is covered - and there's nothing like zapping the tourists!

Arrived at the hotel, our room wasn't ready so went for a walk. OMG - this really is like a blow by blow account of what we did - funny! Not.

I'll summarise - walk, lunch, hotel, Rue de Rivoli, looked at the Louvre (not in, outside), found the Information Centre, booked a trip for Tuesday, returned to the hotel, Ji went out for a walk, I had a snooze, Ji came back, she didn't want dinner, I went out and caught up with Carl - at the Cafe de Industrie.

Eating is so, umm, Parisian, here. The dessert I had was magnificient - it was this little chocolate cake, slight warm but the inside when you ate it turned to pure liquid chocolate in your mouth. It wasn't liquid, but turned liquid - just stunning.

Wandered back to the hotel and bed.

The next morning I was up very very early - eek; given that it's 10.45am and we're still mucking about in the hotel. But off to Cityrama, onto the bus and on the road to Reims (pronounced "Reince" - don't ask me why!). Just me; Ji didn't want to go. We stopped firstly at Mumm and had a tour of the House - wow - all that champagne, all those tunnels, all that history - and yes, we got to taste a bit. Having seen how they actually make it, I can see why it's soooo expensive.

All the grapes must be picked by hand. (Apparently at Moet et Chandon - which I went to later - they bring in 3000 pickers for 2 weeks to pick the grapes!). Then it's made into wine. Then it's blended (if an ordinary year) or a vintage made (if a special year). Then it's bottled. Then the bottles sit. For ordinary champagne, by law, 15 months, for both Mumm and Moet, it's 30 months. For vintage, by law 30 (or 36 - I can't remember!) months f0r Mumm and Moet, it's 5 years. Moet leaves Dom Perignon for 10 plus years! Then all the bottles are turned and eventually verticle so the sediment is in the neck. At Mumm, they said 90% of bottles are turned by machine, 10% vintage is still down by hand - 40,000 bottles turned a day! Not sure at Moet. Then the neck frozen, the sediment expelled (pressure, pressure, pressure), sugar and a top of of wine added (more sugar for the sweeter wines), and then finally you have champagne.

Voila - thus why so expensive! The rumour in the UK is that with global warming, eventually it'll be too hot in Champagne to make champagne - but we wait and see.

After Mumm (who were Germans), it was off to the centre of Reims (did you know the WWII ceasefire was signed there?), to the cathedral which is where every king of France was crowned - in a 7 hour ceremony. Go figure. A stunningly beautiful cathedral - but unfortunately the stone is slowly dissolving - they're trying to protect it (lastest is silicon) but no-one is sure whether it will work. It has more statutes on it than any other church in France!

A wander around Reims - a very pretty city - go go! Then on the bus to Moet et Chandon - founded in 1743. This house in in Epernay - which is really in the middle of the Champagne district - and it's a truly typical and beautiful area - hills, vines, vines, little villages in the middle of vines! The first Moet passed the House on to his son, his son was a friend of Napoleon (thus why imperial champagne!) - who bought the original church where Dom Perignon lived/prayed/did religious things and it's still privately owned by Moet et Chandon. We drove past the village. Then there was a third son and the fourth generation was a daughter - she married a Chandon - thus Moet et Chandon. The House is the home built by the second Moet - and it's beautiful. Across the road you could see 3 buildings and the formal french garden (public life), the House has an informal english garden (private life). One of the building is a private restaurant for "important clients" - far, wouldn't mind eating there! Then into the caves, there are 3 levels of tunnels at Moet - the bottom one was only completed in the early 1900's - took 90/100 years to build - it was all tunneled by hand - the entire complex. And bottles... And bottles... and bottles... of champagne. We saw lots of Dom Perignon - their premier label. Sigh - didn't managed to secret a bottle though! Lol! And then tasting (only a glass - and I think I liked Mumm more). A look around the shop (the Japanese were happily shopping!) and then back to Paris.


A beauitful day (expensive - 106 euros - about $230NZ but there you go!).

Then moroccan for dinner - Carl joined us. A walk to his appartment - saw that. Then a walk back to the hotel - with some weird guys who "suddenly" came out of an alley and followed us across the road - don't know what was up there. But Paris at night is beautiful.

Today - breakfast first, then I be thinking the left bank, Tour Montparnesse, have a look at the Eiffle Tower and maybe head up to Montmatre!

See you soon!

Monday, 28 September 2009


What can I say?

It is beautiful here beyond words.


Sunday, 27 September 2009

The last night in Avignon...

27 August - 9.30pm, The Sentinal is playing on tv in french, I feel like a snooze and really should sort out getting some photos up.

Only prob is that they are a complete mess - ie I've taken so many I have no idea what is what! Lol!

Well, let's see.

The last full day in Nimes we did the only sensible thing - we dropped off that stupid Europcar car. They said they wouldn't charge us for the nat.sav and the first day (ie the day that we were driving on a dangerous car or not driving because we'd been told not to by the Gendarmarie!). That left only 3.30pm until 10am the next morning - it will be very interesting to see what the final bill is.

In any event, I've got the address for a complaint, got the head office address and will be complaining to the Gendarmie about Europcar, suggesting they should investigate the company for giving advice that, with 2 gendarmes standing there, we should just drive off.

Anyway, it was a different woman at the Europcar desk when we dropped the car off and she knew all about it - obviously news travels fast.

As they say in the sunscreen song, all my advice is based on my own meandering experience - and my experience is do not rent from Europcar!

So, having dropped the car off we wandered into town, looked into an old church - it's kind've true but still breathtaking what they say - you've seen one church, you've seen them all. But they still are spectacular, and I can see why they were built - to instill a sense of awe into the population and keep up the power of the church. They certainly are very cool, and peaceful, inside - no traffic noise!!

Then to the arena - the most perfectly preserved arena in the world. It was stunning. The commentary was rather disturbing - the putting to death of criminals etc. I discovered that it's a Hollywood myth that most gladitor fights resulted in the death of the loser. Not. Apparently the person paying for the games had the power to decide live (thumb in closed fist) or die (open hand - thumb out - not down!) and if he decided death, he had to reimburse the gladiator school from which the gladiator came - which was, of course, too expensive - so in 90% of cases both gladiators lived to fight another day.

However, the animal fights were full on, and apparently at midday was the execution of the condemned prisoners. Most people left the Arena for this (bar the true sadiest who got off on it and the poorest who didn't want to give up their seats!). The putting to death though consisted of condemned fighting condemned both to the death, being tied up to a post and letting the animals eat you alive etc.

Pretty gruesome really.

The Arena though is amazing and it's still used for concerts and bull fights. 2 bull fights a year - and in Nimes (ie France; they also have them in Arles and maybe other places), the bulls are put to death in the Arena. In Portugal, apparently, the bulls live after the fights but, according to the YHA manager, they're put to death afterwards anyway - so don't think the Portuguese are any better!

After that it was lunch - I love the outdoors dining here - it's soooo relaxed. Ji is a vegetarian (she'll eat fish but not eggs) so that's a bit of a challenge - but we get there! France is all about meat!

Then meandering around Nimes, to the Maison Carre (half covered in scaffolding) but we went in for the 3d film - very impressive. Then more meandering about, bought some dinner (from a wonderful delicatessan - not cheap but nice!) and me some glace fruit (basically fruit soaked in sugar for months until it's just pure decadence - only ever seen it in France but wow..... Walked back to the hostel via the gardens - very pretty, lots of statues and more roman ruins - they're kind've everywhere there.

Dinner at the hostel, chatting the Andy the deputy-manager; he's been there for 17 years, was there when I stayed 8 years ago and we were talking about how he's dealth with a few things on his list - but not all. So he's dealt with attempted suicide and a death in the town - but not a dead body at the hostel yet.

Sleep, then the van to the station (nice - door to door!), bought a ticket and off to Avignon. Soooo much less hassle on the train - and nice trains here.

Off the train, to the hotel, dumped our bags and off for a walk around Nimes. It was Saturday and a sale day - so all full on. One can certainly shop here - and the style - wow. But, spending kiwi dollars doesn't make it that cheap. Maybe if one was earning euro it would be - but nice to window shop all the same.

We went to Les Halles, watched a cooking demonstration - I've got the recipe - absolute yum! Looked around all the food halls, bought a tart (a pissadarie - or however that's spelt) - Ji bought a tart at a boulangarie outside - where I got a Paris Brest - nothing like calories for lunch! We then wandered to the Place de l'Horlage and munched out watching the world (mostly tourists) wander by.

I then went and slept for nearly four hours - this cold ain't going nowhere and is no blocking the old sinuses - probably a little infection but all good!

Then up, a shower, found Ji and we went wandering through the town having a look.

Then double triple and super yah but Antony and Nico from Marseille (or Marianne next to Marseille) turned up - I met them the last time I was here and they came up with a friend of theirs for dinner and a catch up - most stunning excellent. So there we were in our mix of english and french just chatting away under the sky eating dinner and drinking a nice rose. What more can a boy ask for really? :)

It was great to catch them and I'm now trying to convince them to come to kiwiland on a working holiday! I also told them to invite me to their PACS (the french civil union!) so who knows - if my friends in NZ won't be having them for me, I'll see if I can't swing one in France!

But the evening was over all to quickly and they wandered off.

Today, was really just walking around, having a look. It's been just beautiful here; for example, at 18.33 tonight it was still 30degrees! I have the phone somewhere to prove it!

I took the free boat across the Rhone and walked up the Isle de la Barthelasse taking lots of photos and enjoying the sun. There was a sports festivall on so lots of kinds trying out different things (including the coolest blow up climbing tower for little people!).

Back over the bridge to town, caught up with Ji, went to the Musee Louis Vouland were I couldn't take photos in the main museum - which was full of the most beautiful old furniture and things - including the most exquiste chinese bed - just amazing. There was also a special exhibition of mirrors - which I never really thought of as art - but there were some really really cool mirrors - andI was allowed to take photos!

Then some lunch (chinese - quite nice actually, outside, far too much but lots more vegetarian options! Then another nana=nap; not that I really slept more rested.

Then I wandered off to find the choir that wasn't - go figure. I've just worked out where it was - I was at the right place - but I needed to go into the church! Bugger! So instead I went for a wander - Ji was off having a rest by this stage - found another church (lots here) where vespers was being sung - rather nice - then found Ji, more chinese for dinner (it was nice and sitting outside is wonderful - it's soooo relaxing!).

Then back to the hotel, partly packed, cleaned the icecream off my pants (oh, did I forget to mention - yesterday I had melon and grapefruit icecreams - yum - so I had to repeat today - mango and coconut were today's flavours. We won't talk about the price (yep - 4 euros which is about $9 NZ for 2 scoops of ice cream - but it was really really good!).

Tomorrow though - c'est Paris! The city of love. Of romance. Of beauty. Sigh...


Lol - let's see if we miss our train! Hopefully not - TGV here we come! Yah!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

24 September 2009. The day from hell...

OMG, today (now yesterday - my battery died before I could finish!) was seriously a day from hell - it was so terrible that it's actually just bizarrely funny - although really not funny.

Got up and had breakfast at the YHA - all good; no worries at all.

Few hassles with the lock up - we have to keep changing room here - but all good really; no worries at all.

Then, Ji and I decided to leave and head to Orange.... And so it all started. Our plan was to go to Orange, have a look, see the theatre (which we did eventually, it's absolutely fantastic!), go to the Pont du Gard, have a look, then up to Uzes before returning to Nimes.

Life was sweet - the sat-nav got us a bit lost getting out of Nimes, but we go there eventually. One the autoroute (that's important), a pay one - heading happily towards Orange.

We then get to the toll booth at Orange. No probs. Drive up. There's a truck immediately to the left of us, it had to back out of it's lane as it was too tall. Next to that was a police car - The Gendarmaire de Autoroute - ok, that's the gendarmes - you know, the national police force - the big guys.

We pay, go through and the gendarmes pull us over - still in the exist space of the autoroute. Huh we go.

We get out. They get out. Two gendarmes. They realise we're tourists. That's cool. They were nice.

Oh, but did we know that the two front tires on the car were bald, that it was dangerous and that we could not drive it anymore? Oh, yes, you know - that blue piece of paper - an Immbolisation Notice. They also gave us a ticket. Oh, but they said it was Europcar's problem - could we give them the contract. Did we have the contract - no; it was back at the hostel. So, they say to ring Europcar. Do I have credit on my phone - nope. Can I go get credit - nope. Can we drive the car - nope.


So Ji gets her phone (my global roaming phone was back at the hostel). She rings the Europcar helpline.

Guess what the guy says - oh, can the car still drive? Yes. So then just drive off.

He didn't quite explain what we were supposed to say to the two Gendarmes who were standing there. I guess we could've just said - please don't shoot us, but you've said we can't drive but Europcar said we could so we're just taking off.

Ji asked the Europcar guy on the helpline if he could talk to the Gendarmes.

The Europcar guy did the only sensible thing (not really - I'm being sarcastic) - he hung up on Ji.

So there we are, stopped, two gendarmes, a rental car we can't drive, can't get hold of Nimes Europcar, I have no phone credit and Europcar's advice is to just drive away and then they hang up on us.

Like hello? Hello? Hello?

So Ji rings back Europcar helpline - what else could we do?

Yes - Ji got her german cellphone and rang Europcar back again. This time she got a different guy who, as welll as saying just drive away, at least agreed to talk to one of the gendarmes.

They had a chat (on Ji's cellphone) and then the gendarme said to us that we had to get hold of Nimes Europcar, get the contract number (it's still not clear why either of the Europcar guys on the phone could not simply look up the contract number in their computer!), get hold of Orange Europcar and they would swap the car for one which we could drive.

The gendarmes then left - although who knows if they were sitting around the corner to see if we also drove off. We didn't - although we did drive the 10 metres to the parking space which they said we could.

So, there we are in Orange. No car. Can't get hold of Nimes and not actually sure we were. So we walk into town. Find the tourist office. Get a map. Get directions to SFR shop (the cellphone shop from where I got my prepay sim). Walk to the SFR shop. It's closed. It's lunch time. Get lunch (horse burger - stronger than beef - not sure I like it!!). Back to the SFR shop. Can I buy a top-up. Nope, their machine isn't working. Great. The guy says that we can get it from a tabac around the corner (that was the limit of the directions). Find the tabac. Buy a top up. Ring Nimes Europcar. Ring Nimes Europcar. Ring Nimes Europcar - I think I rang 6 or 7 times during the day without getting someone.

Did I leave messages? Yes. Were they in French. Yes. Were they in English. Yes. Is the woman who works there english? Yes. Did I leave my telephone number? Yes. Did anyone ever ring back? Don't be silly - of course not.

So Ji and I decide that what else can we do but go find the Orange Europcar. So off we walk again. Along the walk I keep trying the Nimes Europcar and, wow, eventually, the phone is answered.

I explain what's happened. The woman is suitably appalled. She says that's terrible. She says to go to the Orange Europcar. They'll change the car. No, she doesn't need to ring them. No, she doesn't need us to ring her back. We did at least get the contract number out of her.

So, we arrive at Orange Europcar. We explain the situation. The guy there says that well, unless he has a car in reserve he can't give us another one.

What? And we're supposed to do what then?

He then misunderstands my bad french (yes, he spoke good english). He thinks the car is looked up in the Gendarmes garage. So he says the only sensible thing (remember that sarcasm thing) - oh, there is nothing he can do. If the car is locked up and can't be driven, how can he drive it from there.

What? Again. And we're supposed to do what then?

Yes, Europcar gives us a dangerous car. The cops say the car cannot be driven. Europcar say they can't do anything.

Like we're supposed to do what - oh, maybe just leave the car parked in the parking spot until it rusts and joins the great cosmos?

So, I get out my cellphone, I ring the woman in Nimes and ask her to talk to the guy in Orange to sort it out.

On my cellphone, of course.

By this stage, Ji and I are seriously off in lala land wondering what the hell is going on.

Whatever Europcar Nimes said to Europcar Orange, Europcar Orange say that they will swap the car - but the car they give us hasn't been cleaned, they're sorry about that.

Not sorry that they weren't going to do anything. Not sorry that nobody at Europcar wanted to get on the phone and sort things. Not sorry that they'd given us a car that the France Gendarmarie has said couldn't be driven on the road. Not sorry that the advice from Europcar car was to just drive away. But sorry that the replacement car wasn't clean.

So they drive us back to the car, get us to drive the car back to the Europcar depot and then bring out the other car.

The Orange Europcar guy didn't want any of the police paper work. We went back to the police (as they said to) - interestingly, they'd been watching the two gendarmes that morning stop us and knew all about the tourists and the tires. But they didn't want the blue piece of paper either. They said to take it to the Orange Europcar.

We gave up.

We left.

We just drove away (oh, well, walked away - you couldn't drive to the Gendarme office (you'd be back on the autoroute) so we had to walk - they said we could but needed to just be careful - walking along the entry to an autoroute.....

Ji and I then went to the Roman Theatre in Orange - fantastic!

Drove back to Nimes.

Did we get stopped by the cops again? Maybe the Municipal Police?

What do you think?

Yes, of course we did. Just as we left the autoroute at Nimes - flashing blue lights. Three cops. Identity cards. They were checking out the car. The contract (we got another copy in Orange). The tickets.

It transpires that all they were interested in is that Ji was driving with the lights on highbeam.

By this stage is really was tooooooo much.

We've decided that we're going to return the car today.

I'm going to make an official complaint.

I'm going to say that we don't want to pay for the car at all.

I'm contemplating complaining to the Gendarmie d'autoroute about Europcar's advice that we should just drive off. Maybe Europcar needs to be investigated by the police if that's their advice.

Who knows what will happen. Except that we will no longer have a Europcar car.

And my suggestion to you if you read this is really really simple - NEVER EVER EVER hire a car from Europcar. Full stop.


Well, it's nearly 9.50am, time to go do something (like get rid of this headache I've still got).


Yah though - Anthony and Nico from Marseille are coming up to Avignon on Sunday to say hi!

We have accommodation booked in Avignon.

I have my health.

I have gorgeous friends.

I ate cake yesterday.

It's sunny, and cool, and beautiful.

I have the most star nephews!

Can one ask for any more really?