Oh my God. I feel great.
I am just pumped full of endorphins.
I’m in bed. Tout ça change, but this bed is in France. It’s all natural fibre with beautifully reupholstered antique bedware in a little tiled nook in Champagne. Chez Fred et Cecile.
In season these guys are gonna be sold out, even at this price. Out of season this is still a luxury first stop on any journey south from London. It was an easy day driving. The later sunset helps, as Chartres was roughly equivalent and it was dark when I got there. This time I had a bit of light on arrival.
I’m on another mission to Barcelona and beyond. I decided to treat myself this time as last time I stayed in budget places and ended up spending loads on meals. Fred fed us. It was extra, but I was happy to pay. This journey is less stressful now I understand it. A working holiday, en effet. I choose whether or not to come home with profit, and I choose not to.
Leek and potato tart, pork entrecote, local 50% Armagnac and CHEESE.
Everything very well presented and very convivial. It was me, Fred, and an antique Polish couple who have lived a lifetime in France. We ate and mostly I tried to let conversation flow. I was perfectly happy but my ear is not so quick yet that I can immediately keep up. Add to that the fact that I hate small-talk in English. They were talking about jam for ages, then livestock. French landowners. After the cheese they got onto COVID and how it is scientifically impossible for the disease to have speciesjumped from pangolins in the protein form we first had it, so it must have been adjusted in a lab at some point and therefore was it released on purpose or by mistake? In this day and age that’s still small-talk, unless you’ve got a friend who has indoctrinated themselves one way or other and speaks in certainties. Still I hate the potential for smug in that conversation. “Do you understand us?” “Yes, I’ve got you well enough about pangolins and proteins etc but I’m not really sure if you’re saying it’s deliberate or accidental, but don’t worry on my account I’m happy with the cheese.”
Then the old fellow got onto Brexit. He wants something similar for France. My my this goats cheese is remarkable what is it again? I must message my girlfriend about it. If my French was better and I wanted a long night, yes, there’s material. But I was already tired out from live translating. I took myself into the shower and from thence to this bed and these endorphins.
We are in The Marne, where the trenches started. Occasionally I go past fields of white crosses. These quiet hills and plains carried so much death to so many. Now much of what is left is this – stone houses, beams, the smell of burning logs. Good wine. Light. Warmth. Happiness. Whatever those boys were fighting for, I hope their spirits are happy with this peace, here, far enough West for now from where the death is raining down once more.
I’m back in my wonderful warm room now, cosy in these excellent sheets after a good hot shower. I’ve eaten my fill of local produce. This is half a day’s drive from London and it feels like another world. Not as neurotic, nothing like as polluted. Good food, friendly people, heated houses, clean products to consume. Surprisingly though, the petrol prices here are worse than London – although that’s maybe on the exchange rate too. I filled up at Applegreen Vauxhall on the way out at £1.43 and again locally to here, between Reims and Paris at €2.08. Although I guess motorway stops in UK want £1.88 and Applegreen is the best in London.
Ahhh though. I’m so relaxed. Gonna sleep like a baby. I’d stay here again happily on the quality of the bedding alone. I want a duvet like this at home. And it is SILENT. Mmmmmm.