Travelling again

After a gentle weekend, today has been another mad travelling day, and considering it was only organised in Friday, it’s actually gone rather well.

This weekend, it really did feel as if Spring was forcing her way forward, with me stopping in my tracks, whilst we were out walking, on hearing the lilting (and simply joyous)  ‘hup-hup-hup’ of the first Hoopoe of the year, in the woods above the house. I was so happy, that I started the Merlin App on my phone, just to capture the sound and the date too, for future reference

The Merlin App is so good

The first dark purple Flag Irises were in flower, on a particularly sunny bank …

A first Flag Iris

And the honey-scented almond blossom, was filled with the sight and sound of bees, dapping from flower to flower, busy in the warm spring sunshine…

Almond blossom and lavender

There were even brightly coloured butterflies, lazily flapping their wings, whilst resting on old logs, enjoying the sun.

It really was the most perfect weather. On Saturday morning we popped over to the always excellent brocante at Villeneuve-Lès-Avignon, enjoying ambling around the stalls, and fuddling through boxes of paintings & other fascinating little bits. Join us for a little amble around the brocante

I managed to be good, dragging myself away from the pieces I would have loved, but didn’t really need , as the forthcoming house-purchase, renovations and wedding were really pricking my conscience.

Then on Sunday, I joined friends for brunch at Les Davids, a rather excellent Domaine, set in the hills above us, between Viens and Simiane La Rotonde.

Last summer, we had taken a tour of the winery there, and had spent a couple of hours, sitting on the terrace, with its incredible views towards The Luberon, enjoying the wines and a rather excellent selection of home-produced nibbles too…Our trip last summer

But this was the first time that I’ve headed up, to enjoy Sunday Brunch and I have a feeling that it won’t be the last…

The selection of dishes that were brought to the table was amazing, with a big basket of croissants, pains au chocolat & chaussons de pommes… Which alone, would have been more than enough…

Where to begin?

But it was joined by pancakes, fruit salad, and platters of cheese, salmon and charcuterie….

Just some of the food

Then there were bowls of petit epautre risotto, with mushrooms and soft-poached eggs, with others filled with a broad bean salad

Beautiful broad bean salad

And there was more …. Including peach jam, apple juice and bread produced on the Domaine and of course, wine…

It was the perfect setting for a convivial and delicious brunch, with us all leaving with ‘doggy-bags’, sufficient for lunch the following day, as there was no way that any of us would be able to eat another crumb, for the rest of the day … In fact, I thought my doggy bag may have to wait in the fridge for a couple of days, before I would be able to eat again!

Brunch with a view

It was a perfectly gentle weekend, which was just what the doctor ordered, as today has been exactly the opposite, as it has seen me on one of the mad travelling days, leaving our little home in Provence, to head back to Devon.

We are quite seasoned travellers now, and it feels as if we are commuting for work, rather than travelling for fun. That said, I still enjoy the process of getting from A to B, especially when it involves just about every possible form of transport, on the way.

I left home just before 8.30 this morning, my coat tied around my waist and my tightly packed, little rucksack on my back. I don’t think I’ve travelled quite this light before, and my ancient little spotted backpack is straining at the seams….

On my way

The first stage saw me walk along the forest trails, taking a route down from the house to the Veloroute Du Calavon, for the walk into Apt Gare Routière.

There had been quite a dramatic thunderstorm during the night & for the first time in months the woodland smelt damp and mud gathered on my shoes and trousers, as I made my way down.

Stormy sunrise

It’s about 5km from home to the bus station and friends had offered to give me a lift, but I enjoy the walk, so I ambled along, happy that I had plenty of time and was under no pressure at all.

Arriving in Apt, about an hour later, I wandered through the Tuesday morning Farmers’ Market and found a table at the café overlooking the stalls, enjoying a well-earned coffee and pain au chocolat, before catching the 915 bus that goes to the TGV station in Avignon.

Well earned coffee, waiting for the bus

It never ceases to amaze me that the trip from Apt to Avignon costs just 2.50 euros, and was less than I had just paid for my coffee. It’s such an easy way to travel, all you have to do is sit back and watch the valley roll by, arriving at the station just over an hour later.

Heading through Avignon

From Avignon, it was time to catch the TGV for the short hop to Lyon. Originally, I had booked a TGV that would take me directly to the airport, but due to the ongoing workers’ protests against the proposed rise in pension age, that was cancelled. So we managed to re-book me onto a train that would take me directly into Lyon, from where I would be able to catch a shuttle to the airport.

Onto the train

As ever, the TGV was on time and dropped us in Lyon an hour after we pulled away from the platform in Avignon. As I walked into the station from the platform, I was met by the sound of a crowd singing, as if the concourse was filled with rugby supporters, still celebrating their win against England on Saturday. The sound though, was coming from protestors, making their way through the station, ahead of the next large-scale strike day tomorrow…

Happily, I quickly found the signs for the Rhone Express, which took me in the opposite direction to the crowd, taking me out of the station to a large outdoor area, with team and shuttle stops. I managed to time it perfectly, as there was a shuttle for the airport at the platform and I was able to buy a ticket from one of the machines, just before the doors opened to allow the passengers on.

The airport shuttle

The shuttle is quick, clean and smooth, taking a route through the city to the airport, arriving there just outside the structurally beautiful TGV station, within 40 minutes of leaving the city.

Such a beautiful station

Having never done that part of the journey before, I was impressed with how easy and quick it was, and at €16.30, it wasn’t hideously expensive either.

Arriving at Lyon Airport it felt as if I had returned to winter, untying my coat from around my waist and putting it on, as the wind whipped my hair and the rain blurred my view. I’m sure it’s just life’s way of preparing me for being away from Provence for a couple of weeks.

Not a hair out of place !

So, all has gone smoothly, I’m now sitting at the gate, waiting for the plane to arrive and if everything goes to plan, I’ll be back with Andy at about 6.15, for the final ‘rush-hour’ drive back down the M5, to East Devon, which I fear, will be the most difficult and stressful part of the trip.

Days like this are quite full-on and certainly aren’t totally stress-free, as there is always the nagging worry that one part of the plan will fall down at the last minute, sending everything else into a tail spin. But, with that comes that sense of actually travelling, perhaps much more so than simply going from ‘A to B’, using one or maybe two forms of transport.

As it is, it’s all gone to plan and I’ve even had time for a couple of coffees and a bit of cake too….

Don’t mind if I do

Next stop, all being well, will be a happy reunion with Andy in the carpark at Bristol Airport and a large glass of wine, before bed ….

Missed being together

After another mad day!

2 thoughts on “Travelling again

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