Post Shingles Spain and Portugal 2018

2018 Journey though France


The idea was born out of Barry’s suffering. Caught in Mauritania, expressed in China, Barry was returned to the UK with full blown shingles in 2017, diagnosed and treated late, it had manifested in his head with terrible scaring on the surface, and deep pain inside. Even the tough East Ender could not deny the pain. Martina foretold it’s longevity, saying her mother never recovered from it. With Barry’s traditional remedy of alcohol, (a know supressent!) it lingered, and took hold. By the new year Barry had 7 things wrong, but the shingles was by far the worst, and the cold exasperated it.
‘Let us go on a joureny to the sun’ I suggested, in our camper van, the unloved one.


Romford Road, Folkeston, Le Shuttle,

Charlon sur Soanone

Charlon-sur-soaone, a huge river beloved of the dogs. As we discovered in the bar the first evening, where we saw a few contortions by some practicing acrobats, along with dancing, Charlon is famous for its street theatre and circus, Cirque Plume takes place in October in Chalon sur Saone. Remember then man who argued the difference between humanist and comedian, with his smiley eyes, his love of English, Gauloises breath?

Morning run along the river Marne naturally. Little venice water courses. Park to Park over bridges to dead ends and back through what was proudly called ‘An English Garden’, a rounded relief after all that regimentation of pollards. Although I am beginning my love affair with Pollards here, oh those great fingers of the hands, knarled. The French coppice. Passed Circuses on the river, Churches Synagogue oposit our IBIS. Inside out architecture, glass on wood. In the post office, they are so IN ADVANCE. Gone are the them and us structures of office and queue. Instead island desks . Such style.

I admire the rounded Romanesque but it to does not inspire me to pray, unlike the African black french woman there who stands then supplicates to a statue of the virgin mary.

Vast unhedged fields, cathedrals of grain silo’s in the distance. Automatic petrol pumps.

Nuits St George

The village camp site is unappealing to Barry, so we head back to town and end up in a budget hotel for E60 plus E5 for the dog. The girl at reception is friendly and recommends L’Etoil bar.

L’Etoile turned out good. Barry almost content with snails and steak tartar and I with Boeuf Bourguignon. The barman was the owner, who inherited it fro his old man, now 30 years ago. Are you happy here, I asked. There was an exchange between the father and the other bar man, who it turned out was his son, before he answered: ‘Yes. He is my son, we try, we start. May be I work mornings and he evenings.
I order a Chevery Chambatin 2007 wine, for E48. ‘What?’ says Barry. Values, I replied. ‘Wasted on me’, says B, but he paid for it at the end of the meal. The next day I bought some cases of fine Nuits St George wine for our journey.

The dogs and I walked up to the small vineyards above the town, which at this time of year, naked of leaf show their rigorous lines, some men pruning and burning their waste. It has a feeling of intimacy the small fields, easy climb.


Where is the sun, asks Barry. We decided against Nice, too far to the west, and Barry needed further south quickly, so we headed for Arles.
To Barry’s delight all Camp sites are all closed, so I get on the air bnb case, and we check into our most successful place, above a bar, in the centre of town, the Place du Forum. We have crossed the 8pm curfew for food, here it is any time and all night. It is full of young people. I feel very 5 foot one inch here, I say, among the tall and cool North Africans of this southern town.

I briefly contemplated what it would be like to be born and raised here rather than East Dereham. I tell Barry the story of my little rebellion of walking down Quebec Road in bare feet emulating my heroine, Sandy Shaw. ‘But they will think you are poor’, said Mary. ‘I don’t care what they think, I am Sandy Shaw’, I replied cockily. Sitting at the bar I watch the play between a cool dude, baseball cap, tortoiseshell sun glasses, mobile phone twitchy, juggled with cigarette. Meanwhile his girl friend pays the bill.

Saturday morning, someone is banging on our door. Car alarm outside. Dogs restless. Outside the window, Sapier Pompier, and the smell of smoke. We grab what we think is important (passport, diary, dogs) and run down our stairs and out. It turns out to be a car that has caught alight around the corner.

Morning run along the Rhone, I discovered the Vincent Van Gogh and Roman trails as I bump into the Amphitheatre. We will stay another night here. Barry likes the bar and bar man/owner, Loic

Like our patron at L’Etoil, Loïc lives outside the city with space and a garden. In the cafe below where we stay, Place de Forum, a mock bull fight with a young small bull takes place. I am a socialist, uncomfortable, watching sympathising with the beast, even though it will not die, who is sticked by the trainers for our entertainment, so the tradition is kept alive.

Barry, who does not suffer from any such sentiment, likes the Ampitheatre. Those gladiators, all that battle, excitement of the day, the people in power doing what they wanted, building this. Our Empire. Like them, you know, we owned half the world! He said, clearly inspired.

Here I became fascinated with Plane Trees. Our entrance down an Avenue of Plane trees was memorable. Looking closely. White spotted, hands with knobbly joints and what I found afterwards finger nails, the new growth from this year.

With Barry incapacitated, the dogs and I had much time to explore on our own, walking down the narrow stone flagged streets, Rue de Refuge turning into the old town. Rue des Arnes. Coming across the facade of Church of St Trophime. I gather that the sculptures over the church’s portal, particularly the Last Judgement are considered some of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture – Rupert surely knows this place.All men of course, men and saints, mostly being eaten or awaiting heaven.

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