Sunday, November 12, 2006

Four Days and a Douche

I wish my short foreign trip had been half as exciting as imaginations would have had it. I was in a strong rugby area, very close to Perpignan and Beziers but I didn’t get so much as a whiff of wintergreen let alone a warm, moist jock strap. I might have made a more concerted effort if I thought Mrs. Roger's mother, my travel companion, would have been happy to amuse herself of an evening.

Hertz had very kindly programmed the radio for me

Instead, I sampled Cassoulet and Orkina Sabatier in Carcassonne, tasted eponymous sausages in Toulouse, nougat in Narbonne, a very lively Blanchette di Limoux within metres of its vineyard and ultimately exceeded my luggage limit with cheese, wine and foie gras.

The view from my hotel room window in Carcassonne

I watched flamingos pirouette in the Etangs, while a couple of very large, completely unidentified birds of prey circled above the enigmatic ruins of Peyrepeyteuse. The wild boar kept out of my path on the twisting wooded roads of the Corbieres forest but I did disturb a lone badger, the only other living thing out after dark for miles around. I think the last tourist had turned the lights out as they left at the end of October. It was bliss.

My schoolgirl French served well, even allowing general conversation over and above the usual retail exchanges as fortunately no-one asked me my age. I doubt I'd have got away with " J'ai onze ans", my imprinted response.
We stayed in the most amazing 12th Century castle for the first 3 nights. I won't say where exactly. Anyone outside Europe would struggle to believe something so perfect, romantic and evocative could exist outside Disneyland, and anyone else would be close enough to take advantage of such a fantastic discovery ( 45 Euros, bed and homemade breakfast for 2 per night, 25 Euros for a gourmet dinner including wine and liquers) and hike up the prices before I have the opportunity to return.

The biggest lesson I learnt from this trip is one which any aspiring traveller would do well to heed. When using a public toilet, the modern, self-cleaning type beloved of town planners, do not open the door to speak to your friend until after you have made full use of the facilities and are ready to exit. I spent an entire afternoon sightseeing, looking as if I'd used a car wash, without a vehicle.

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Blogger Pete said...

pleased you hd a good time CP. the view looked stunning!!

guffaw re the toilet

8:26 pm  
Blogger andrea said...

What can I bribe you with to get the name/location of your perfect getaway castle?

I just read the comments on your last post. It was like reading about a party to which I wasn't invited. Of course, I was too lame/lazy/misinformed to join in when I had the chance. Now I feel so lonely. :)

Glad you're home safe and sound!

8:44 pm  
Blogger Tiger Nation said...

welcome home CP. Glad you had a good time. hope you are going to save some cheese for this Cat?

8:52 pm  
Blogger Ces said...

Welcome home Cherry Pie. You were greatly missed!

11:23 pm  
Blogger kj said...

well well well, cherry pie is back. and none to soon. her friends and admirers had a field day with their comments while she was gone.

and andrea, you never need an invitation. never! i should have come looking for you.

11:55 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Thank you for reminding me that I so need a holiday.

8:14 am  
Blogger cream said...

Brings back memories of my June trip to Carca! But you'll have to let me know the name of the castle where you stayed for my next hol there!
I was drinking Blanquette last Sunday with our Didier!
Glad you enjoyed the shower!

11:25 am  
Anonymous Sharon J said...

You've gotta go into more detail about the toilet episode, Cherry. Try as I might, I just can't figure out what happened. Am I dense?

12:36 pm  
Blogger Cherry Rolfe said...

Welcome back Cherry - Mrs Roger's Mother??

12:57 pm  
Blogger Mise said...

Welcome back Cherry .... I spent a full week one March by myself travelling all around that whole area (on the pretext of looking for a house there) ... didn't stay in your castle mind, but had coffee (and beer) inside the walls of Carcassonne castle ... It was a lovely trip that I wish I'd had someone to share it with ... not Mrs Roger's mother, though!

Thank God for Ryanair who fly into Perpignan. You're right to keep the name of the guesthouse to yourself (and me of course by mail ;D)otherwise Mick O' Leary would probably buy it!

4:34 pm  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

That is my idea of a perfect holiday. And we Canadians hardly find Disneyland to be anywhere near a good comparison to a trip to ANYWHERE in Europe. We all dream of a time when we can make it over the great pond. I've been lucky enough to go twice. Disney has never been a temptation for me.

Reading your lovely words about wines and cheeses makes me want to start a club to meet regularly and sample what the world has to offer.

9:21 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Andrea - you have an open invitation and I'll trade you the address for another piece of art

Pete - hope you're felling better

Tiger - I shall be serving pre-Ball cheese hors d'oeuvres on Saturday night. Shame I won't be able to save you any.

Ces - funnily enough Jack said the same, right before he asked me to wash his rugby kit and give him a lift to the cinema.

KJ - I loved the party you all had in my absence. Makes me think I should go away more often.

Dave - has your doctor not prescribed one for your stone? French wine and mature cheese are a well-known calcium catalyst. I am happy to come along as your nurse to administer frequent doses.

Cream - it was a real gem of a find. Address is on its way.

9:54 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Sharon - the first time I went to France, when I was 10, the public toilets were the pedal style, like a shower tray with spaces for your feet and a large gruesome hole in the centre which I feared I would fall down. I was constipated a lot on that trip.

Now they have modern, new purpose-built hi-tech affairs which automatically flush the entire cubicle clean with disinfectant after each use. There are no traditional toilet bowls but rather a scene reminiscent of the public conveniences of my youth but with a toilet seat-shaped metal bar that pulls down. The system is activated when a person exits the cubicle whereupon the unit seals itself and gallons of soapy, cold water gushes through ducts set around the room thoroughly cleaning it ready for the next occupant. Unfortunately, its intelligence only goes so far as to know the door has been opened, not if anybody has actually exited the room. I decided to pass my handbag and guide book to Tamara ( Mrs. Roger's Mother) just as the door clicked behind me so I automatically pushed it back, having called her already.

I realised what I had done as soon as the door closed fast again, this time with a magnetic seal preventing it from being opened whilst the jets, and subsequent industrial dryers did their stuff. Tamara was reassured that nothing serious had befallen me only by the wild laughter that was bubbling through to the outside.

Phew! That should have been a post all by itself. Apologies for the long explanation.

10:05 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Cherry - Mrs Roger, formerly known as Eva, is one of my best friend's. She was single and my partner in crime for many years before meeting and marrying the divine, nigh on saintly, Roger, he of stand-up fame. She has now become a professional married person and has all but abandoned me and her mother, Tamara, who has also been single for a number of years.

A chance conversation a couple of months back found us planning a short trip away. It started out as a 2 night dash to Budapest and almost became a fortnight cruising the Carribbean with a moment hovering over a cruise down the Nile. A compromise was struck, one that suited my budget and we had a lovely time. I'm not sure that I would want to do it too often but she's already looking at deals to Hungary in January.

10:10 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Mise - I'd go again. Ryanair fly straight into Carcassonne now. From Dublin and Shannon too. It cost me a fiver over 100 quid for 4 nights including car hire, airport parking, flights, insurance and accommodation. It would have been less if we'd stayed in the chateau for the last night but we opted for a hotel within striking distance of the medieval city walls.

How are you fixed for the Spring?

10:14 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Brian - please can I be a member of your club. Please.

10:14 pm  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

Definately...anyone who enjoys wine and cheese as much as you (and not just any wine and any old cheese) is more than welcome to join. Hell, you could probably teach me a thing or two about selection.

3:39 am  
Blogger Dave said...

Strange, I had already written a post for tomorrow, saying, inter alia that I need a holiday, but haven't got the energy to organise one. So, you sort it out, and pick me up on the way, OK?

8:43 am  
Blogger Sharon J said...

Blimey! Richard tells me that these loos can be found in London and Ashford too, so possibly also in other parts of the country. I must be living in a different age because I've neither seen nor heard of them before. Should I ever come across one, I shall remember to never EVER open the door and then remain inside. I don't like getting wet.

9:11 am  
Blogger Mise said...

lol...that loo experience is hilarious....I'd give anything to see that on video :D

3:53 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

I expect it's on You Tube, somewhere.

5:27 pm  
Blogger ziggi said...

tell you another thing about those loos, 2 of you can't sneak in together - it knows and won't shut the door!

6:02 pm  
Blogger Joyce said...

gee. thanks for taking all the wind out of my sails after driving through Saskatchewan...
I wish we'd driven past a castle or two. Saw a lot of hydro poles though, and even a deer.

2:59 am  
Anonymous Marjory said...

You lucky person! I've madde plans to go to that part of France for years (Cathars, m'dear!) and never quite managed it.

German has killed my French (grumble), but too could dust off, "J'ai trois fois onze ans!"

10:40 am  
Blogger Pendullum said...

Thank you so much forf that post...
You brought me back to CARCASSONE... last timeI was there was 17 years ago... and you gave me a wee taste of nostolgia!!!!
Simply Beautiful...

12:56 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Brian - I doubt I could teach you anything on such a subject but after a few glasses of wine, I'd probably think I could.

Dave - have your passport and your wallet at the ready.

Sharon - I think I'll stick to smart hotels in future.

Ziggi - funny. Jack was surprised to see a young man leave a disabled toilet in our local Range department store at the weekend, followed a few minutes later by a slightly older lady. You never said you were visiting North Lincolnshire.

Joyce - a car journey with you could never be monotonous, no matter how many hydro poles

You Tube? I knew I should have objected to that video camera Tamara insisted on taking.

Marjory - get yourself there while Ryanair are so cheap.

Pendullum - thank you for swinging by - I hope it's not another 17 years before I get there again.

5:25 pm  
Blogger homo escapeons said...

Qu'est-ce que vous dites de ca?
Je voudrais te parler au de la papier hygienique? or do giant buffers descend from the ceiling followed by hurricane force winds from some monstrous dryer/fan thingamabob?!

I am also delighted to hear that France has managed to preserve and protect a single Badger for it's 60 million inhabitants to enjoy..Bravo!
Sounds like an enchanting radio station!

8:22 pm  
Blogger cream said...

La même chose est arrivée à ma femme à St Tropez en 2001!
Très amusant!

9:11 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Rwady when you are Cherry.

9:46 am  
Blogger Dave said...

That should be ready, of course. Although I am rwady most of the time too.

9:47 am  
Blogger ziggi said...

nope it wasn't me, a) I'd have come out first and b)we were in Bath. Had I been up north surely we would have been shopping? :)

6:37 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Ziggi - of course we would.

Dave - you must be feeling better if you are rwady alrwady.

8:06 pm  
Blogger pieterbie said...

Amazing, are you trying to tell us that you stayed in the fortified city of Carcassonne for only 45 euro per night? I would have thought that spending the night there would cost a fortune. I visited Carcassonne a few year ago when I was holidaying in Vendres Plage, beachside of Bezier. Your post brings back fond memories. I loved Bezier as well, not just for its great Cathedral, perched on a hill, but for its central town square, where you can enjoy a Richard in a swing chair in the shadow of the giantesque trees.
I love France.

7:18 am  

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