On the road again…

After our extended pause, we’re glad to be back on the road again. We’ve spent a couple of days heading westwards, from John & Steve in the Correze towards Paul & Janice in the Charente. 2cv friends, their house was our intended destination when the van had its little sulk.

With one exception, the route has been pleasant if not memorable, other than for the fact that it’s just the four of us together again. Ellie, me, the van, the map. A tight-knit little family group, not without our disagreements (especially the map – it can be a mischevious so-and-so…)

That one exception has to be dealt with separately – Oradour-sur-Glane, the “Martyr village”. It’s somewhere we’ve long wanted to visit, and now we have. We knew what to expect, in broad terms, of the village but not what to expect in terms of our emotional response. We won’t go into it in this post – read more about Oradour itself here, and our response to it here.

So, onwards we headed. One campsite was all but deserted – necessitating a trip to the Mairie in the village in the morning to inform them we’d been there, and would like to pay… Along the Charentes river, and past vineyards through into the town of Cognac, before heading to the tiny village of Chatenet. When I say “tiny village”, it should be remembered that this is the seat of the local Commune. It’s difficult to miss that fact, when fully one half of the buildings in the village itself is the local Mairie… After going round the village three times, we remembered that Paul had told us they were next to the church. Except there isn’t a church in the village. There’s one up on that hill, though – and there’s a tiny sign in the verge towards “Chatenet Bourg”…

So we’re currently having a few more days stationary. Yes, we’re waiting for some van bits again – one thing we found when changing the CV joints was a missing plastic bung on the gearbox output shaft. Apparently, it’s an oil seal, keeping the gearbox oil from washing the molybdenum disulphide grease from the joint – so not something to omit lightly. Whilst waiting for that to arrive, ready for a small and hopefully straightforward fitting, we’ve molished a special tool or two to change the gearbox oil, so we should be fully prepared and ready to head off again.

In the meantime, we’ve got the stropogram in the post to ADAC about their service and to reclaim the expenses. Any bets on whether it’ll achieve results? We shall – of course – keep you posted. That apart, we’ve had some very pleasant time here so far – a visit to the local night market (a bigger affair than that in Sarran, with food stalls and other vendors filling the streets of the nearby town of Montendre, and a live band in front of the old market hall, now the tourist office), a delicious pasta meal (Paul’s half Italian) with the families staying in Paul & Janice’s three thriving gites, the weekly farmer’s market, a wander through the other local town – Jonzac. The combine harvester has taken in the very dead and blackened sunflowers – to get the most oil, they must apparently be allowed to wither and rot thoroughly. In return for all this hospitality, the freshly ground spices of one of Ellie’s curries have wafted from the kitchen, and we’ve been helping with the turn-around of the gites between guests.

It’s been a(nother) very pleasant little break from the road. We’re now definitely fully refreshed and ready to go again. From here, we’re looking to head towards Carcassonne, then the Millau Viaduct and the Tarn Gorge, before heading through Provence and into Italy.

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