Never felt such relief to be on a Brittany Ferry...

Seven days later I’m at the vet in Ruffec getting the Iggys checked in preparation for our return trip.

We have had a full week of working on the house. Four days in a row white washing walls to start with. Roddy then gave up suffering snow blindness and decided to paint the stairwell instead using all sorts of left over paints he’d mixed from old pots in the garage.

Finally, I have finished painting the dormitory, landing, the front bedroom of the gîte and am making progress on the back bedroom of the gîte. However I have now sadly exhausted my supply of brilliant white dulux matt (can't do the watery french paint.)

This calls for a change of colour for me


“How about this?” I decide I better get Roddy’s approval.

“Yeah, great, go for it.”

Seems I’m experiencing more illogical thoughts again, after painting the back bedroom in the gîte from blue to white (above), I am now painting a new blue wall in the white gîte bedroom at the front... confused? Me too.

We already have a room in the main house we call the blue room... so we can’t call this the same. Or maybe we could have different blues as this seems to be an ongoing theme throughout the house. We need names for other rooms too, so Roddy and I both know which room we are talking about and when booking people in. So this bright blue is kind of typically Greek, though not sure we’d get away with calling a room in a french house ‘Greek ‘Blue. We could go mad in here with the decor and name it Kahlo? But it’s not the blue of Frida’s Mexican home either.

Interesting, it is just like the blue on this particular shade chart called Bleu de France... but we can’t call the room Bleu de France, that would be daft...

So if you are not bored reading this yet then I'm guessing you like the colour blue - if you don't then perhaps you might want to move onto the next blog post (if you can be bothered) I'm still not convinced anyone actually reads blogs anymore. I'm not sure why its a suggested good idea to have a comments box at the bottom of the page. It's all about vlogging now isn't it? Sorry to disappoint but you won't get my face fronting a vlog I'm afraid...

Maybe we should just call one of the blue rooms Pantone 2925c? no, maybe not.

However this potential strike tomorrow is playing on my mind.

I suggest to Roddy “Um, it’s just an idea but do you think we should perhaps travel up during the night? Just in case some of the motorways or tolls are blocked?”

“No, I’m chilled about it, we shouldn’t need to worry about the tolls because of our auto tag. We can always leave earlier and if major roads are blocked we can go via B roads.”

Ten minutes later with salmon steaks tenderly sizzling in the pan on the hob and fire at full roar in the living room where the Iggys’s are curled up on the sofa, Roddy comes in from the garden where 4G is easier to obtain on his mobile (had a slight blip with the ‘wee fee’) and declares “We’re going tonight!”

We dash round the house in hast - after 16 years, we have the ‘closing up’ art form down to a T now.

Once on route, I ring the IBIS hotel we are staying at tomorrow night and book another room for tonight.

After a four hour drive we pull off the motorway onto the large round-a-bout where the Ibis hotel sits.

We’ve made it! We’re not really into high fiving as such, but oh, ok just this once then. A real hand slap confirms our joy as our smug grins to one another celebrate the fact that we’ve beaten the looming blockade.

The following morning I am up early to walk the dogs. Well judging by the red tape crossing every road exit, it looks as though you won’t even be able to get off the round-a-bout from the hotel let alone onto any motorway...

The tribe of ‘gilets jaunes’ are certainly making a point. I ask one of them if we can get to Falaise Chateau but they apologise saying ‘Non.’

Looks as though we’ll spend the day walking around Falaise then. That’s not such a bad thing after all, William the Conquerer was born in Falaise... wasn’t he? Might be interesting.

Luckily it’s only a twenty minute walk to the chateau and town via this gorgeous lake.

After a short walk around the grounds of the Château Guillaume we hunt for a café just by the square. The château is more of a fortress really, and by no means romantically ‘fairytale’, so I come away with a beautifully illustrated fairytale book instead. Always good to practice one’s french with illustrated books!

We are soon met in the town by a stream of gilet jaune protesters as they gather here in the square in their hundreds ending their march, their raised voices repeatedly shouting and chanting protests against Emmanuel Macron. I find myself joining in, I don’t really know why. It’s just a pleasant chant.

The following morning Huxley has me up at 4am crying in his bed... Damn, he needs a poo.

At least the round-a-bout is now clear, thank goodness. The blockade is over. Phew. Still, we leave by 6am to make sure we’re in good time to catch our ferry.

Still feeling smug from our wise move yesterday we pull off the motorway taking the exit onto the périphérique at Caen for the road to the ferry port. For some reason there’s a no entry sign on the road we need off the round-a-bout... strange, we go further on wondering if we missed something. No, we haven’t been down this road before. So turn back realising we do in fact need to go down the ‘no entry’ road. Perhaps a few stragglers of protesters had just planted the sign there for a laugh after the strike.

And that’s when we hit it. (The strike we thought was officially over) We grind to a halt behind a white transit and the rest of périphérique is gridlock. Fire pits are blazing and numerous men are in their yellow gilets are not letting any vehicle through. A few seemingly unofficial protesters have decided to carry on with perhaps a slightly less official Macron protest.

The silent smugness from yesterday’s wise move is swiped off our faces burying it’s ugly head rapidly into the ground.

I wind down my window as a young guy approaches the car. He says they’re not letting anyone through - well, he then decides, maybe one vehicle at a time... slowly.

We contemplate turning around but it’s not an easy task for Roddy with our small trailer attached behind on this narrow slip road. So we hang on for a bit - what else can we do? - chatting to others who are out of their cars, assessing the situation as they share our predicament, scratching their heads, pacing, seeking answers that can’t be found.

The same young french guy motions us to move our car in towards the kerb. The white van in front wants to turn around and go back up the slip road, it looks as if we may have to follow suit and find an alternative route too. We will definitely miss our ferry now.

Roddy slaps our own gilet jaunes on the dashboard as another guy approaches the car window. Roddy states his support and the guy punches the air shouting “Revolution!”

But just when Roddy starts to manoeuvre the car into the side of the road, allowing the white van to disappear up the slip, I spot cars slowly crawling through along by the central reservation.

“Roddy! They’re letting some through! Don’t turn! Go for it! Go through! Go through!”

With a slick turn of the steering wheel Roddy swiftly guides the car between two stagnant lorry’s.

We are now faced with an angry looking group of men, some sort of makeshift barrier across the road and more fire pits. A couple of men bang their hands on our bonnet indicating us to stop and I’m not quite sure how the next bit happened but it left me completely gobsmacked, as I witness Roddy suddenly ranting on emotionally about his mum dying and we just have to get back to England. I’ve never heard french roll off his tongue so fluently before now! “S’il vous plaît! S’il vous plaît!” He repeats, his hands in prayer begging the protester. Bizarrely the young french guy seems to be gullible enough to believe him - well the facts are true, just a few months later that’s all - and takes sympathy with this conceivable performance warranting an Oscar nomination from Roddy at least as he wails in emotional pain, waving his hands in the air as crocodile tears fall.

In fact Roddy was SO convincing, he actually fooled me too. The guy had a word with his colleagues and just like that, they let us through.

“Did you like that?” Said Roddy in normal Roddy tone again, smirking.

“What?! Was that?!” My mouth still open in shock.

The road ahead was dark and empty and we were so definitely on our way to the port. We made it just in time, and you know what?

I have NEVER, ever been so relieved to be back on a Brittany ferry again!