Autumn has hit - one week ago we were hot and happy in France and now here we are, wet, soggy, squelchy and dark - the West of Scotland has embraced the change of season and we are preparing for another week back in the office, basically I have ironed the absolute minimum to start the week and found my work pass and sorted some socks. I am not even heading back for a full week - I have a mini break in Paris planned for a long weekend with a girly friend, I planned this as a reward for a week in France with gravel-guy. Yes I am rewarding myself with a holiday for surviving a holiday.
So at stupid o'clock on a Wednesday, gravel-guy and I were up and off to Edinburgh for a flight to Lyon. We set off in darkness, arrived in Edinburgh for an overcast and waterlogged morning before flying off to emerge blinking and bewildered into sunshine - when the heck did we last see sun? It seems such a long time ago as we have had a crap summer.
So the holiday with gravel-guy went extraordinarily well, by that I mean we are still married. I put that down to my saintly levels of forebearance and long practiced ability to zone his more irritating habits out. It also helps we went somewhere quite lovely and fabulous - flying into Lyon and then pottering about the Ardeche and the Drome regions in a fairly haphazard manner - stopping and exploring wherever took our (gravel-guys) fancy. The first night we stayed on the outskirts of Lyon before picking up the hire care and heading down the Rhone, isn't this beautiful? Even the clouds in France are pretty.
Wherever you go it seems, there is something - caves, ruined towers, stunning limestone scenery and more of the lazy, sinuous Rhone curling this way and that across the enormous flood plane down below us. It's funny how being somewhere else gives you a burst of energy - why yes, I WILL gallop up that steep hill behind gravel-guy for a look at the view below, and WHY NOT scamper after gravel-guy as he hurtles off through a thicket in search of some really good limestone "thing", or even OF COURSE a ruined tower on the edge of a bluff - yes, I'd be delighted to be blown sidey-ways in order to afford a better view... Normally I would offer to stay at the bottom of a slope and maybe assist in his ascent by waving him off before I go in search of cake/wine/cheese/something more interesting than his toddling form retreating towards an interesting bit of rock.
But on holiday - everything and I mean everything, and I really mean everything has potential for great interest - that's why gravel-guy likes to get in the hire car and drive. I mean drive, and then drive with forays into the wilderness to admire the geomorphology, he knows that as a human geographer (before I saw sense and stopped geographing and became a librarian), I would be escaping after people in the local hypermarche to see where they lived and how they lived, once I had finished hanging over the sides of their shopping trolley and having a good gander (I must point out I have never actually rummaged but have been tempted). Thats why I suspect we drove through Privas but never actually stopped (yes - I think that's Santa stockpiling enormous amounts of crap to be seen in certain shops near you in the coming months... think about it - you know it makes sense, the only way Santa can provide those shops with the huge amounts of junk is to acquire it from somewhere and the refuse collections of the world seem mighty logical to me).
We stayed a couple of nights in Chomerac, Chomerac is a gorgeous base for exploring - pretty and quaint and well situated, I recommend it - but basically anywhere with wine is great when I am with gravel-guy. We explored a small and really sweet little town called Vogues - at least I think that is what it was called as by then I had had a reaction to the sunblock my pallid wee form requires and so my eyes puffed up so much I couldnt actually read the sign, then to add to my pinkness I also got sunburnt (stupid) and was pink and puffy and crusty - a bit like those sour sweets rolled in sugar, not classy.
Despite the puffer fish look, I still got out and about - there is so much to explore. I am never sure if it is simply a country with more sunshine equals more lovely opportunity and more ease to get about or it is simply holiday spirit but I am up with the larks first thing when away, this deeply annoys gravel-guy who would get up and going about 9.00ish, that's a fair bit of a day wasted! Anyway after a couple of days based on Chomerac, we were ready to move on for our next adventures elsewhere in the Ardeche.