Various things held us in the UK until the end of November, but on Saturday 26th, we finally flew the nest…
Travelling always presents you with a large number of serendipitous events so what better way to start this autumn’s journey than to bump into Jim and Jess on the ferry, two of Frank’s old-time friends from Cardiff. We share a meal together and catch up on each others’ news, after which Frank and I watch a movie while J&J have a lunchtime nap.
Time flies by, and before we know it, we are on the continent, reminding ouselves to drive on the right and looking for the way to Percy, the little town in Normandy where Frank’s nephew and his family have a beautiful house in the countryside.
Each time we get to Jason and Angie’s, we seem to be in a state of complete exhaustion, ready to crash and sleep for a few days. Often it’s straight after a Tango Mango… this time we are no less tired, having renovated our flat for the last two months, among other things.
Jason is a carpenter and we have some plans for further shelves in Emma (for those new to our blog, Emma is our lovely mobile home), having acquired a car radio from my old little car that had to be scrapped. Frank dug up some speakers too, from about 40 years ago and we’ve had them looked over and the wires fixed by our neighbour in Totnes who turned out to be a hifi specialist when we googled for someone. All the bits have gathered slowly across the summer – the speakers from Frank’s house, the wood for the shelves from my attic, the radio salvaged from a dying car… we also had an extra lot of leisure batteries added, to have more storage capacity for electricity from our solar panels.
Jason fixes the shelves above the bed, I fiddle the wire into position behind the panels, Frank connects the speakers and hey presto, we have a beautiful sound system in our Emma! This will make a big difference to our life on the road Now we just have to find someone who can help us with the antennae.
In the nourishing environment of Jason and Angie’s, we take a couple of days to recover our strength and to sort through stuff in the van, bringing order into the food store and stock up with fire wood (the weather has turned quite cold, with temperatures dropping below zero and a thick layer of ice on the donkeys’ water troughs by the side of our van). We also spend a day searching for Frank’s hearing aid that got lost somewhere, rearranging and cleaning everywhere he’s been in the last 24 hours, including minutely raking the embankment where he squatted down to stroke the donkey, plus riffling through a pile of leaves we swept together after stacking several cubic metres of firewood. The hearing aid is nowhere to be found. These are costly things, hearing aids… But you know how it is when you lose something – you have to completely tidy up everywhere and when you are all done, you’ll find it. Well, finally giving up the search, as we walk to the van for our departure, Frank finds it in the gravel of the court yard!
Looking online at Tango in France, I found that there is a Tango club called Braise Tango which runs events in Rennes and this Sunday, they have a p’tit dejeuner with Tango. Bring your children, it says, and some food to share. This sounds like our kind of Tango event! We prefer tango of the friendly, community variety to the one where it is more important how you are dressed and what level dancer you are.
We park Emma in a suburb and explore Rennes by bike. There is free access to the internet in a launderette somewhere, and from there we follow googlemaps to a little community dance hall by a modern block of houses. Just when we think we must be in the wrong place, there’s a little shack that says Dance Gallery, and upon opening a metal door, we find about 60 people dancing. I love the way Tango appears in the most unlikely places.
This is a very friendly community of dancers, and as we point out to them, we are practically Tango neighbours, with Devon being just across the channel. We chat and dance a lot and share our Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad in exchange for a few french bisquits and delicious other pastries. By the time we resurface, the grey morning has changed into a lovely sunny afternoon and we drive off into the sunset, on our way to a little town in Southern Brittanny, called Rochefort-en-Terre, to meet Hans and Heike, two fellow travelling spirits whom we met two years ago in Spain.
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