June 3rd, 2006


The end of the Italian adventure and beginning of the French cruise

Our journey back to the boat at Pont de Vaux was wonderful, terrifying, majestic, exhausting and exhilerating. As we approached Mont Blanc on the second day of travel, we knew there would be no opportunity to pull over and take photos. Pull over! There isn't so much as a hard shoulder on the link roads - cheerfully labelled 'motorways' on both sides of the tunnel - let alone any laybys. I went into 'David Baily mode', clicking furiously through open side windows and zooming past splodges of insects on the windscreen, to capture the sheer variety of terrain whizzing past at 100km per hour.

I had thought that the roads would be busy with trucks, and so they proved to be as we passed through the paddy fields of Piedmont. Our cry 'move that barrier/roadsign/crane/building became more frequent as the scenery demanded more attention than the speed, and bumpy road surface, and maniacal Italian tail gating allowed.

MWNN is still coughing like a champion but refused to allow me to drive so, once again, I was in the 'white knuckle ride' seat with a view of all impendinig disasters but powerless to do anything about them. The tunnels are frightening enough - overtaking trucks at high speed in narrow lanes is bad enough but in the tunnels there is no hard shoulder for 'escape' should anything go wrong. For one terrifying moment I thought we were going to die for sure. As we came out of a tunnel into bright sunshine, MWNN braked suddenly. I closed my eyes against the sight of a stationary car in the fast lane ahead, a man standing beside it and the evidence of the result of his 'tail gating' some yards ahead on the hard shoulder. Luckily the traffic was light at this point, it being lunch hour and most pf the trucks having left the motorway to head for Turin, a late luch, a siesta, or all three.

Despite the dangers, MWNN wants to return to explore the area between Carara and Chamonix at leisure. I have yet to check the 203 snaps taken to see just how many of them are in focus.

The sun was with us all the way into France when the promised clouds began bubbling up over the mountains. As we neared Pont de Vaux, the sky grew darker and, as was expected, began a downpour just as we pulled in to the marina. MWNN checked the repaired electrics but couldn't get them to work. We were just contemplating checking into a local hotel for the night when I decided to check the shore power trip switch box. Our power switch was off - and so we had power. By this time MWNN had got very chilled and needed a box of soup, gallons of tea, and a hot water bottle in his bed to get warmed up again.

This morning started overcast, dark and bitterly cold. with a strong northerly wind chilling the temperature to just below 10 degrees. Our neighbour boater 'The Pear Crumble Baron' reported that May had been a bitterly cold and wet month, with only a few days of sunshine. We have been so fortunate with our 2 or three days of rain in that was otherwise a gloriously warm month in Tuscany.

We have just returned from lunch at our favourite restaurant I (which has changed hands and is now a Bistro/Grill) and the sun is breaking through the clouds. MWNN had a haircut this morning, I am booked in for a haircut (2 months overdue) at 4pm, the French phone is working again, we have power, water, gas and lights.

Things are looking up again.