What is the best thing to do when driving around France, if you climb? Sport climbing! So, after nearly a year holed up bouldering, mostly inside, we threw ourselves at some of the finest cliffs we could successfully navigate to.
First, however, a detour through a small village called Bazas was necessary, to visit Jon and Gill. We first met them last year when driving south, and once again we turned up a bit smelly and not the most tidy of guests, and once again their hospitality was fantastically warm and lovely. We stayed for dinner and a long chat through the evening over Gill's rather amazing food, and left with a bit of sadness the next afternoon.
Our first destination, after being spoilt so thoroughly, was near Cordes-sur-Ciel, where we were to be spoilt again, so one night in the car really wasn't too pitiable, but did prove a little difficult to find a spot - our first choice had a toilet resident who we suspected to be using the facility for the consumption of hard drugs, and the second had THE peakiest of neighbours. We stuck with option two, and they kindly refrained from calling Le Gendarmes. We fell asleep to pissing rain, and woke up to a dribble. Our day's scheduled climbing in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val was consequently ousted by the powers that be.
On-on to Bob and Kathy's; after a ten minute welcome we were put to work... But then fed like Kings that evening, which continued throughout the week along with plenty of hard digging and such. Luckily, a couple of Aussie's came and gave us a hand, or perhaps it was the other way round, either way it was awesome to hang out with Rory and Emma for the week too. Fast forward to our final night, a fiesta of caipirinhas, chilli and lots of vin rouge which left us suitably useless the next morning. A teary goodbye later, we went.
Overall, the generosity of others has been overwhelming and we would be a lot skinnier and a hell of lot less well-conversed without it. We are writing this from Uncle Guy's (a week into the future...!), who is doing his best to keep us fat and chatty. Thanks to all of you from us.
A spring evening in the French countryside