There are many aspects of visiting family of someone you don’t really know which are not availing to good.
Some aspects, indeed which are positively deleterious to your health. There is, after all, a limit to the length of time for which you can keep the rictus of a smile approximating to good humour stapled to your face. Add to this sense of boredom the overlay of a foreign language in which family members you don’t know are speaking about other family members you have never met and the slide into hysteria is always tempting.
But the final horror is saying goodbye. Not, obviously the escape which is inherent in the word - but the length of time with which individuals can draw out the period during which the farewell takes place. During the last of our three (3) family visits I lost the will to live three times on successive moments and also tried physically moving the car without the ignition keys in a desperate attempt to escape choosing anywhere in the wilds of Normandy to where I was!
But like all things, even school meetings, an end eventually arrives and you can then look back on the horror and pretend that you now laugh lightly when you think about it.
The much vaunted meal in the lorry drivers’ café was something of a disappointment. It turned out to be one of the places in which we had attempted to get a meal when we first arrived. The iron rule of nothing after two pm defeated us, but we ensured that we arrived with plenty of time to spare this time and we daunted to see that the whole of this part of the world had made it to the restaurant part of the café well before the end of the time to be welcomes and they had filled the place.
We were not, however turned away and we were quite satisfied to sit in the entrance at a plastic table and drink away the time necessary to be served. The white wine was excellent – even if it was served in a glass without the natural accompaniment of a bottle.
We were offered the choice between tuna salad and terrine. The salad was a small plate of chopped lettuce with mozzarella cheese and flakes of tuna with the oil and vinegar already added. The terrine was paté.
The second plate was beef with yellow rice which was served on a metal plate for the three of us who ordered it to serve ourselves. Good thing we didn’t choose the pasta as that looked desiccated and tasted worse.
The saving grace of the meal was the proffered plate of three different types of cheese: a Camembert, a chevre and another with which I didn’t bother. We attacked these goodies (which were good) with an enthusiasm which obviously frightened the waitress who eventually snatched the platter away from us!
The dessert was cold rice pudding with rhubarb – which actually tasted better than it sounded. But not much.
The wine, of which I had lots, was not included. Neither was the coffee. So the reasonable sounding €11 for the meal ended up costing more like €25. Which, for what we had was not a good bargain at all. So far Spain is winning hands down in the provision of good quality, reasonably priced food. Tomorrow Paris and we shall see what the city can offer.
At present the girls are trying to download the photos that we have taken onto their computer system. Once again this has necessitate a telephone conference and much heartache.