The next morning is a difficult one again. The four of us have an early breakfast, get packed and then it is saying goodbye. Goodbyes are always hard, in particular when it is your only brother you say goodbye to, and you know that again it will be a while before you see each other again.
We pick up the car from the parking area and start our trip home. Wim and Gerrie take it easy, they catch the train home later in the afternoon. It's raining. An hour down the road it is still raining. It rains all day long and it's not the most pleasant of drives. It is very tiring driving in the wet, but luckily our hire care behaves quite well. Halfway the trip we pull over at a road restaurant to have something to eat. It's horribly expensive and I choose the wrong food: a huge sausage that looks like it has been put together from offal. Suffices to say that neither I nor Frank feel like eating it, so we stay with what food looks safe enough to eat.
|What can I say? Rain, rain and more rain and plenty of warnings...|
Eventually we make it just in time to get petrol and drop off the car at the hire place at the TGV station in Valence. It is still raining and very windy. We feel like a cup of coffee, so drop into the station and have a cuppa with a nice piece of some type of custard cake. Feeling somewhat refreshed we pick up our car and start on the last bit. Unfortunately it's peak hour, dark and wet and we get lost twice, even with the GPS on board. Frank is very tired. Finally we get home and walk over to the neighbours to pick up the house key.
Mireille is home with her old mother. They invite us in and we accept the invitation. Even though they don't speak English we have a pleasant hour with them. The farm house is as old as the one we are staying in, but so much more cosy. They also live in the kitchen, but they have one of those old wood fired stoves which gives off so much heat, you feel quit pleasant instantly. The doors and walls are painted in bright colours, like René's rooms upstairs. The room is full of cabinets and nick-nacks and Christmas cards everywhere. In the corner there is even room for a small Christmas tree, brightly decorated. It's a room you feel instantly at home in. We have an aperitif (Martini Fiero, a red martini), but go home at a reasonable time, because we are both tired from the trip. Unfortunately we have to walk in the pitch dark on a gravel driveway and I trip over something or I step in a hole. I don't know, but before I know it I am flat on my face, since I was walking with my hands in my pockets because of the cold and couldn't buffer my fall with my hands. No, don't say it: there was no alcohol involved in my fall. I was still pretty level headed! :-) Anyway, a lightly sprained left ankle and a huge carpet burn on my right knee and a sore head were the result, so back at home I went to bed early.
Friday 21 December
The next day we are pretty naggered and keep quite for most of the day. Frank has to go to the garage with the car to have the mechanic have a look at the brakes, but returns with the message that even the mechanic isn't sure what the problem is. He has taken off one of the front tyres, has done a short test drive and reckons it would probably be best to replace the brake pads (although they should still be good for a couple of thousand kilometres), but for that we need to get in touch with René. Frank has had a look as well and thinks that also the discs need machining, because they are full of grooves which produce lots of wear and tear on the brake pads. Well, let's just wait and see what René decides.