The adventurous Daveys ride again

We left the flat at about 2, laden with cabin bags, sleeping bags and a bag of snacks. The following eight days would be filled with travel and adventure, but we began by lugging our bags down the stairs. The lift was out of order.

Tram C took us to Quinconces. Tram B took us to Doyen Brus where we met the other intrepid members of our party and clambered into Uncle Eli's elderly but valiant Renault Espace. Bags, suits, a guitar and a barrel of beer filled the boot. We filled the seats. We ventured off onto the motorway system to do the six hour or so journey to the Cévennes.

We were to stay overnight in some holiday flats in a little village not far outside Alès. The funny thing with the Cévennes is that whatever the distance you have to travel, it takes at least 30 minutes. And that's without diversions, alarmingly narrow village streets and doing the same circuit twice. Diversions, alarmingly narrow village streets and doing the same circuit twice became the leitmotif of our weekend as we hunted for our flats, for the mairie where our friends would marry, for the function rooms where the service and reception would be held, and then for our flats again. It is the first time I have arrived late for a wedding that I was conducting. But then, as I remarked at the third time round the same roundabout, it's always good to have scouts doing the navigating.

The wedding went off well. The maire of Saint-Christol-les-Alès was charming. The service was lively and prayerful. The reception was immensely long, full of delicious food and many, many speeches. I ate snails for the first time. It was hidden in the middle of a savoury cookie. I only ate the one. Somewhere in the middle of one speech a weary Pat laid her head on the table. I wanted to do so, too. Then I imagined a room full of people all with their heads on the table while the speaker continued with his fourth point for a happy marriage. I started laughing uncontrollably. Pat started laughing and left the room. Someone saw her tears and came to give her a hug. The next course came round. "Please don't make me eat any more", she pleaded.

The next day we had a delicious brunch of left-overs, then went off to Nîmes to await our buses and trains on the following day. We had found a glorious AirBnB right in the middle of town. It's only flaw was that it had no lift, so we hauled our bags resignedly up the flights of stairs.

Monday saw our friend Sally taking the train to Northampton all the way from Nîmes, changing at Paris and London. We had a morning to kill before our coach to Nice, so we spent it at the excellent Musée de la Romanité.

Then off through the pouring rain to Nice where we were joining the folk of the International Churches for a week of retreat. It takes five hours to go by bus from Nîmes to Nice, because France is big and Nice is almost in Italy.

The retreat was held in a holiday village where once more we were regaled with vast quantities of delicious food and hauled our bags up and down stairs a lot. It didn't rain the whole time, and although the schedule each day was gruelling, starting at 8:30 straight after breakfast and continuing till 22:30  - I have suggested that the organiser switch to decaffeinated coffee - we had a wonderful time with our mainly American colleagues from France, Italy, Russia, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, etc...

We flew home yesterday - it only took just over an hour to fly from Nice to Bordeaux, and we were glad to unpack our bags and stow them in the cupboard. Pat is nursing a sore back and I'm medicating my poor aching knee and I think we'll put our bags in the hold next time we fly.

Here's some photos:


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