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Tuesday 30 January 2024

Travellers' tales

We are in the UK for the second time since Christmas, this time visiting Jeff and Fi in their new home in Uttoxeter. Like the first trip to Sam and Sas in Wirksworth, over new year, we are driving which has all sorts of advantages. However, this time things are complicated by the French farmers' protests. We set out from Lunel at 7.30 a.m. last Wednesday, but what should have been a quick 2-3 hours' journey to Lyon turned into 9 hours, and we eventually arived at our hotel in Cambrai around 9.30 in the evening (original plan, before 5 and in daylight - we are frequently caught driving after dark however much we try to plan to avoid it). 

Most of the motorway closures were officially organised by the Préfectures, so we drove most of the way south of Lyon on routes nationales, interesting but much slower. After that we just trundled on fairly empty motorways, but continuing on Thursday we were held up again by closures even on the short stretch to Calais and the tunnel. But there was no major holdup and we arrived at our friends Elizabeth & Nigel in good time, well tucked away in rural Surrey. 

 Despite the tedium of the Wednesday morning journey we were glad to get a different perspective and view of the northern Rhône vineyards around Crozes Hermitage whhich we have known for many years on occasional visits. Later on the town of Cambrai seemed interesting, with a splendid redbrick railway station just opposite our hotel - we resolved to exlor in the future when less pressed by travel unknowns. And the hotel itself was, as we found out on our earlier visit, very comfortable and friendly, with an excellent and welcome range of bar snacks to make up for the lack of a full meal. 

We have gravitated towards the Logis de France chain over many years because it always welcomes pets, and although we left our current dog Edmond in kennels on these trips the familiar ambience still attracts us. The farmers' protests look likely to continue, and we don't know if we'll be delayed on the way home next weekend. But luckily we have plenty of time. 

Our first day was delayed by official motorway closures, but more often the hold-ups are caused by long slow queues of tractors, one of which we saw heading south as we set out for Calais on Thursday. Shortly after that the authorities closed the A26 motorway for a short stretch, but we had a short journey and good alternative routes to the Tunnel. So after out overnight with friends on Thursday we drove at a leisurely pace to our home for the week in Uttoxeter, where we are very comfortably housed by Jeff and Fi who find a bit of time for us despite their busy working lives. We saw Sam, Sas and Ben for lunch on Sunday and shall see other friends and visit Wirksworth again before we leave for home at the end of the week.

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