Notes from a Shellshocked Jim

In the UK we needed 2 bottles of Shiraz plus 2 straws. Here it is a goon bag each. (a goon bag is a 4 litre cask with the cask ripped away!). A brilliant trip across the Channel and a pleasant stay in Cherbourg did not prepare us for the journey ahead.

Geeves has been replaced by Jean Paul (JP from now on). We picked up our hire car and discovered it was a manual not an automatic for which I had hoped. Do you realize that in a left hand drive car the gears are on your right? Just sit there an imagine it, go on try it.

Do you know how many times I tried to change gears by opening my door? Then there’s the side of the road they drive on – the wrong side! I’ve put my watch on my right wrist in the hope it will help me remember which side of the road I am required to be on to prevent mayhem, misery and death.

Then, coming out of Villedieu-des-Poeles I had to turn left, so I did, right into a one way divided road down which careered a delivery van. Aarrgghh! Luckily we somehow managed to avoid each other. In fact he was quite a polite chap and waved to me!

Interestingly it was the same type of wave that an English driver had also given me, just using one digit on his hand. Funny people these Europeans…

We discovered a number of (obviously) very new motorways on our way to Saint Malo, not only new to us but also to JP. He kept trying to tell us to turn down non existent roads and would then sulk in a very Gallic fashion for a while.

When we came out of VdP we went around the one roundabout about 5 times because he refused to acknowledge the lovely new motorway only a few hundred yards away.

We ended up tricking him by driving part way down a country lane and coming at it from another direction – and it worked!

The journey continued uneventfully until we hit Saint Malo itself. This little village is so magnificent it deserves it’s own blog, so it shall have one another day.

Poor old JP regressed again and had to be spoken to. Eventually we were lead right inside this cobbled walled city – and what was there? Bloody tourists! All over the place, most of them walking in the middle of the road and they couldn’t give a stuff about us!

Somehow we managed to find our hotel (Hotel San Pedro) and a hotel lady who can’t speak English. What is wrong with these French people???? I mean how hard is it to learn English? 3 year olds can do it back in the land of Oz!

Cheryl has deciphered from her where to park our car at no charge (it’s miles away) and I’m getting up about 6:00am to head over in the hope I can find a spot.

On some bushwalks I’ve been on, I’ve rocked into camp cold, exhausted and shivery. Interestingly, whilst the trip was very traumatic, I was able to just keep going. But once I arrived here I started shaking, was very cold and felt ill.

So, a cup of tea, some nuts & fruit then some chocolate and I felt better – same approach as on a b/walk.

Cheryl who has navigated marvelously (she admits to struggling with terms like ‘left’ & ‘right’) even struggled today. I can only think of 1 or 2 occasions when the wrong direction was given in England.

However, today close to 10 times she would raise her right hand and say, ‘in 500 metres turn left.’ I would patiently indicate that perhaps she meant right and the correction would be made.

So, obviously the stress affected both of us.

In the midst of all this we have seen some amazing French sights:

* 1st sight of man exiting Boulangerie avec baguette under his arm,
* Man walking French Poodle
* Man using pissoir – think about it. C was horrified.
* Man riding bicycle with baguette in basket.

When in Barfleur (beautiful town) I went to make my 1st purchase of a baguette. Told to come back in quinze minutes. Well, so was half the town. Shop was crowded when I arrived and crowd continued to arrive after me. But, got one – and still warm! Yummo.

In VdP I tried out my first pissoir – interesting. Waitress in cafe opposite gave me a funny look though. Wonder if it was just a lamp post?

We are parking the car for 3 days whilst in Saint Malo. Then I am driving direct to Brionne where we are booked into a B&B for 4 nights. Parking the car and spending time in the village the whole time!

Anyway, must dash, some undies to be washed out!


ps: C disapproves of my concluding sentence….



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16 Responses to Notes from a Shellshocked Jim

  1. Ah Jim! I detect the effects of shock and horror. I am in deep admiration of your coping with the wrong side of the road >and< a manual car! Recover, and enjoy France.

  2. Jim Wilson says:

    Big Al it was much more tricky and traumatic than I’d hoped. I’ve decided on New Zealand for my next overseas jaunt!

  3. merinda young says:

    Wasn’t Jean Paul driving the car that crashed and killed Diana in France????
    I would have understood Cheryl’s directions… good on ya girl – but these visually illiterate male drivers need better education – think of it as an impressionist style of navigation Jim (you are in France after all)
    Take care.
    Take Care!

    • Jim Wilson says:

      Thank you for the reminder of the Lady Di incident Merinda! My concern is that my driving may be a tad too impressionist! C says to say she loved your response and hopes all is well.

  4. BILL PERRY says:

    They can all speak English Jim but they won’t. (or so the saying goes).
    Enjoy the food and wine. I feel for you having to cope with the gears on the wrong side.

    • Jim Wilson says:

      Ah Bill, I was thinking of you in Villedieu when I was using the pissoir. I was dying to yell out ‘Bill Perry, put that thing away!’ and watch you come out all red faced as you have from many trees in the Tassie bush. Ah, another time!

  5. Gail Foster says:

    Dear Jim
    I have the heard that the trains are very good there!!!!????
    Bon courageux!!
    I shall keep praying!!!!
    love Gail

  6. Jennifer says:

    Oh Jim, I do feel for you and Cheryl having to deal with the traffic and the rude hand gestures, ever watched the movie European Vacation ? LOL

    As for the pissoir well lets not go there, least I hope Cheryl doesn’t go there.

    Hope the next leg of your journey is less stressful
    Jen x

    • Jim Wilson says:

      Cheryl assures me she won’t go there Jen. Good day on the buses today. Tomorrow a bus and a ferry – woohoo!

  7. Greg SIMSON says:

    Ah Jim, you culturofile you. Enjoy.

  8. Lynne OCB says:

    Hi Cap’m and KCB
    been enjoying your little reports tho less angst and more about the scenery please! I empathise with the scary driving: in Alaska I drove down the main street of Sitka amazed at all the friendly people waving – then when I saw traffic in my lane ahead I realised – oops!
    Sorry we haven’t been in touch – a drama in the house this Easter break – will send more info by secret carrier pigeon!
    enjoy France – wee wee (that’s yes Jim, nothing to do with the pissoir!)
    love L and P xx

    • Jim Wilson says:

      Arr Cap’n & OCB good to hear from you. M trying for more commentary re scenery, but when one’s nerves are somewhat rattled, they need help to settle. Help in my case is writing about them. More drama today, but we survived and are in Brionne.

      Awaiting secret carrier pigeon and hoping all is well.

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