It all started off innocently enough. “Let’s drive up to Chateauroux.”
Great idea, but it became fraught with a triple whammy of complications:
1. Driving a different car for the first time (minor adjustment)
2. Driving on the wrong side of the road (major adjustment – as Australians use the left side, since we are one of England’s colonies)
3. Using our brand-new Tom Tom navigational system, which we had barely tried out in Melbourne, and suddenly we are supposed to know how to use it here. Fortunately the lady in the machine giving us directions kept her calm. At least that made one of us.
We can laugh now, but a couple of days ago it wasn’t nearly as funny. Dutchy has mastered the art of reversing. Taking wrong turns here is fairly easy, until you become accustomed to the way the signage operates. The arrows seem to point in a vaguely different direction to what you expect.
Before we even got onto the A20 to head up to Chateauroux the mood in the car became quite stony: his because he was not happy about turning the wrong way and having to reverse, and me, because of course I felt like I was unfairly getting all the blame. There and then I decided perhaps we shouldn’t be going on road trips together, when we had been having such a lovely time taking walks around Argenton, with no arguments. Trust a trip in the car to fuel a fight, or at least a stony silence.
However, we managed to get to Chateauroux safely, and even managed to find some free parking, due to the seasonal holiday of many businesses in France.
Coffee and cake, some retail therapy for me, with him tagging along helped alleviate the tension, and then a nice lunch at Patapain made the day improve further. I know which segment he preferred! We even broke our one-cake-per-day rule since it was our Big Day Out in Chateauroux, which is actually less than a half-hour drive from Argenton. It served as a good trial run to get to the station to pick up our Canadian friends in a couple of weeks.
Because the TomTom’s battery was running low, we had to find an auto shop to get a cigarette lighter connection, which he admits he didn’t bring to France. This was just outside Chateauroux near Brico Depot, a large hardware place similar to Bunnings, a home improvement DIY business. It took us a while to figure out they don’t seem to have actual driveways moulded into the kerb and channels. Rather, you just drive up over the shallow kerb, making it easy to miss the entrance to the place you want to go because there isn’t one. We managed to buy a cigarette lighter adapter, only to find that the cigarette socket in the car didn’t work when we plugged it in. Ah the joys of travel.