Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Sunday and Monday

We had ordered breakfast for 09:00 on Sunday morning, so that we could be away in good time, and were away before 10:00.  We needed petrol, but Madame in the hotel didn't seem to know about any 24-hour stations at supermarkets (French petrol is far, far cheaper in the supermarkets than anywhere else, even a service station across the road from the supermarket), but said there was one open on our way out, so we filled up there (and of course found a plethora of supermarkets on our way out of town, so typical).

We were on our way to a little town called Lezay, where we were to meet a very old friend - in the sense that I have known her for over 40 years, not that she is particularly elderly - who lives in that area, and had recommended this restaurant called l'Assiette for lunch.  We had plenty of time so decided to drive on the N and D roads, which are, of course, a lot slower, but arguably more interesting - although on the outskirts of towns one does get a little bored of the endless supermarkets and "zones industrielles" lining the roads, and the satnav's endless instructions to "Cross the Roundabout; 2nd exit".  However, we also went through some beautiful countryside on what were archetypal - or did we mean stereotypical, we couldn't decide - French roads, very straight with trees either side.

We arrived at the restaurant shortly after our friend, and after a good meal we went back to hers, where we were spending the night.  We took the dog out for a walk, rejoicing in the lighter evenings, France being an hour later than we are (although it doesn't try to get light before 08:00, which must be thoroughly depressing when you have to go to work in the dark for three months of the year).  And watched a bit of British television, and ate supper, and then talked and talked and talked until the wee small hours, just as we had done forty-odd years ago!

All too soon we had to leave next morning.  The hotel had very kindly telephoned us to say that the Swan Whisperer had left his alarm clock behind, so we had to call in there en route.  We also wanted to go back a slightly cheaper route than we had come, which had cost the best part of €50 in motorway tolls, so we went via Chartres, or the outskirts thereof, which is arguably slightly slower, but very much cheaper as there is little or no toll motorway, but quite a lot of dual carriageway.

The journey seemed, to me, practically endless!  We ended up with plenty of time to shop in Auchan and then a quick bite to eat in Buffalo Grill before getting our planned Shuttle home, but that last two hours.... oh dear.... and I wasn't even driving!  I love to see my friend, and if we go to Tours again it does seem silly not to go and see her, when she is only a couple of hours away, but it does make for a very, very long day's driving home.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Long Day

The competition started at 08:00, but as we were not involved in the first session, we ordered breakfast for 8.15, and didn't get to the rink until 09:00. To find, of course, that things were running slightly late, but they always do, and the delay wasn't bad. We also found that we were the only foreigners, as the Austrian couple who had planned to give the Masters skates a run for their money had withdrawn.

The Swan Whisperer was skating after the break, doing Bronze solo dances. We realised when he was warming up the 14-step that he was fairly obviously the weakest skater in the group, and he duly came 5th out of 5. However, his European was good, for him, and another skater had a disaster trying to make it one lobe instead of the two everybody else had sensibly settled for. So the SW was Not Last, which, considering he is at least 20 years older than any of his competition, was very gratifying.

Lunch was provided at the rink, and after it we went back to the hotel for a break. I fell asleep and then had indigestion caused by Too Much Cheese at lunch (well there was a fantastic cheeseboard), so stayed in while the SW went for a walk. Finally it was time to go back to the rink and get ready to skate out free dance.

We already knew we had no competition, but we wanted to see what sort of marks we would get, with a view to skating at Oberstdorf if we scored about 8 or thereabouts, which is normal for us. The ice was hard and fast, and I found it scary and didn't think we skated that will. We fluffed the spin, and I rushed the highlight after the step sequence, and didn't even try to be on one foot while the SW did his spiral. So imagine our delight when the scored were announced - not the 5 or 6 I thought it deserved, not even 8 or - wildest dreams 10 - but 14·32! A personal best by a mile! Oberstdorf, here we come!

After that, there was (a stiff drink and) a lot of hanging about until the presentations, after which we got changed and went to find a restaurant that would do us a meal after 10:00 pm, and fortunately there was one just found the corner from the hotel. Not exactly cheap, but seriously worth it - I had the most delicious fish, and a beer. And so back to the hotel, and bed. And trying to wind down from an exhausting day.