Friday, July 20, 2007

French Leave

Bonjour mes amis! We have just returned home (early) from a really interesting trip to France. We crossed the little bit of sea that separates Guernsey from the nearby continent and emerged from the car ferry ramp ready to tackle the traffic on the wrong side of the road. We were not disappointed, as we found that everybody had gone mad and decided to hurtle around roundabouts the wrong way and throw their vehicles into high speed chases on the right-hand side of the road, of all places. When we found that they were simply not willing to adapt to our normal pattern of driving we concluded that in the interests of international peace and goodwill we would put up with theirs. So, we moved over. It was a good thing we did, because we didn't see another normal driver for the whole ten days!

Then there was the fact that they spoke our language with great difficulty. How strange! We found that the best plan was to shout very loudly in English and point with our fingers. This usually brought about some understanding on their part. Perhaps their education system isn't quite up to scratch yet, but no doubt they are working to upgrade it. Their food was bearable, but in the absence of decent gravy we opted mainly for seafood which, despite their cullinary lack of expertise, the French seemed to manage quite well. The one exception was their terrible habit of ruining a good plate of fish'nchips by covering it in black shellfish which was barely cooked (moules frites I heard them saying). It was almost impossible to get throught the groaning mound of obviously inedible molluscs, so we gave up and looked for a decent burger.

It is a real shame that the EU has not been able to get more aid money into Brittany as most of the town centres date back as far as the 12th Century! In the UK they would all have been torn down and modernised by now, but they are obviously very slow in getting around to it. Probably one of these days they will catch up and move those poor people into concrete tower blocks where they would all be so much happier. We felt particularly sorry for the folk forced to live in this ancient dump, where things have got so bad that there are even flowers growing out of the walls! When we saw their living conditions we felt like contacting some of the agencies in the UK that handle housing, like some of the city councils for instance, who would have been happy to advise their planners. Still - we can pray...

Finally, when we had planned to stay a fortnight, our visit was cut short by my illness, which neceessitated us making a run for the boat about 4 days early. Still, as I said to Diane, you can only take so much of visiting the developping world before you become weary for the civilisation of home. Next year we thought we might go somewhere really up to date, like Birmingham for instance!

(Mes chers amis, nous avons fait un excellent sejour! Merci tres beaucoup!)