mercredi 17 août 2011

An A to Z of Life in France

H is for hitchhikers, hobbies and happiness

I was driving contentedly along a country road in the middle of nowhere, keeping my eyes out for (in no particular order), deer, 2CV drivers, stragglers from the Tour de France, and tractors, when I saw a couple and two small children hitchhiking at the side of the road. Now, I would never stop for hitchhikers in the UK, especially when on my own, but I felt a bit sorry for them as it was a pretty hot day. I told them I was only going a few miles up the road, but they beamed and squashed in among the debris from our last trip to England.

We soon established a common language, ie English — they were Flemish-speaking Belgians. And they had a sorry tale to tell. They were on holiday, had been out in a pedalo on a nearby lake and somehow dropped their car keys overboard, never to be seen again. A duplicate set was being sent from Belgium, but in the meantime they needed to eat, so were hitching to the nearest supermarket.

“You are on holiday?” asked the father.

“No,” I replied. “I live here.”

He nodded. “That is better.”

I presume he meant if you were a local you would be less likely to deposit your keys in a lake.

I asked him whether there was no possibility of retrieving the keys from their watery home.

“No,” he said. “It is very black.”

Then there was silence for the rest of the journey.

They’ll undoubtedly see the funny side of it in a few years’ time, and it probably brought them closer together as a family, but now Gavin knows why I always insist on taking a spare set of car keys if we go more than 10 miles from home. Not that I have any intention of going in a pedalo any time soon, you understand. But you have to be prepared.

This all made me think of things I have done in France that I would never have done in the UK. The list includes singing in public (suffice it to say that in one school report the comment was ‘Doreen is an enthusiastic, though not very musical pupil’). But apparently singing is good for the heart, soul and general well-being, so a friend started up a group where we belt out such classics as Fernando and When I’m Sixty-four, have a cup of tea and a piece of cake, and go home with a new lease of life.

I also tried watercolour painting, thinking it would be relaxing. I went to a ‘taster’ class where we spent two hours painting a picture of a green pepper. I took the masterpiece home and asked Gavin what he thought it was. ‘Is it a frog?’ he asked, somewhat hesitantly. Better stick to the writing.

2 commentaires:

  1. Doreen

    That's more like it!

    And thanks for keeping an eye out for 2CV drivers!

    Fine upstanding people, all of them!

    All the best


    P.S. Isn't that weird? Whenever I try to paint frogs, they always come out looking like Green Peppers?

  2. Thanks Keith - I remembered the 2CV drivers. Am thinking of auctioning my green pepper aka as a frog! Doreen