Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Jul 19, 2005

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Friday 8th July cont....
We ate a good few kilometers today and most went down well. There was a little indigestion in places where the annual summer road works campaign restricted the flow but generally the drive was a good one. One major plus was that when we finished we were still driving on the same side of the road as when we started. Even better, it was the right side. Something that caught our interest was the fact the roads here can be just as delinquent as those in NZ. There were two long stretches of highway that were being "rehabilitated", no doubt to be released when their course is complete. It seems they had become a little cracked and potted, eventually falling apart - they reminded us of our Mayor.

Saturday 9th July
We spent Friday night at another "aire" (serviced lay-by/rest area) and drove to Angers to arrive at about mid day Saturday. Before telling you of Angers I must share some of the knowledge that this trip across France has gleaned. If our observations are correct then the major crop grown in France is wheat. This wins by a clear margin and is also obviously the major crop grown in all Northern Europe. It is followed, not necessarily in order by barley, sugar beet, canola, peas, sunflowers, maize and lupin, the last two being fodder crops. Apart from inland Belgium all the land we have traveled across since arriving in England could be termed flat to gently rolling. It is all cropped, except for buildings, roads, the odd tree and occasional dog droppings. That's one heck of a lot of cropped land (several times the total area of NZ) and I would guess that close to 40% was in wheat. Just how many croissants and baguettes can a poor boy eat? Actually, not that many - subsidized overproduction is why we have trade wars.
So, we are in Angers and it's getting hot and I ring Caroline and there is no reply and I leave a message, and we wait in the camper van and I say to Janice "It may be a long wait" and there is a knock on the door and it is Caroline and Bruno! We have not met Bruno before. He is a real nice guy. We have met Caroline before. If we could choose another daughter she would do nicely.
We chatted, had lunch and a rest and then walked the streets of Angers together.

Sunday 10th July
This is a recreation day and Bruno, who is our chauffeur for the long week end, drives us around the region. We see numerous chateaux. These are places that the bourgeois build to impress the peasants with their wealth. If there is an expensive way to do something, like building a roof or a garden, they will find it. The architecture is flamboyant and often forebidding. The overall impression is that you have been transported to a fairy tale and that there is still a chance that the handsome prince will notice you lying in the gutter, impart a very gentle, very French kiss and carry you off to his castle - be you male or female! Very scary it is. This threat aside, everything is very beautiful and surreal. We inspect a troglodyte village finally abandoned only ten years ago. We have a great day.
There is no need to fantasize. Everything is, in a way, strange. Caroline and Bruno are treating us royally and giving us a taste of real French cooking. I'm gaining weight by the minute. Breakfast, second breakfast, dinner, afternoon tea, evening meal and everything followed by, or including the most delicious cheeses.
I forgot to tell you. The rain of the past few days stopped on Saturday morning and has given way to glorious, warm sunshine.
Janice's bit: On Sunday our itinerary included a visit to the rose production nursery where Bruno works, the pictures I have included show Caroline and Bruno with me in the rose fields. These plants are flowered once in the ground and then dug up for sale to retail nurseries. We also visited a craft shop that had some quilts for sale - the one I've put in the photo album is about 3 ft x 4 ft, machine appliqué, polar fleece, no batting and the asking price is NZ$300. The tour of the troglodyte village was extremely interesting - i've included two photos of a babywalker found in one of the living room caves - the square frame holds the baby upright and the frame moves freely around the centre pole which is fastened to the ceiling and the floor. Baby can walk in a circle and leave mother free to work without worrying that baby will come close to the open fire!
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