Sleeping under a foil blanket is akin to lying beneath an enormous crisp packet. Each time one of us stirred, I vaguely expected the aroma of salt and vinegar to assault my nostrils. Sadly, the noise was more disruptive than the heat benefit of it’s being in place. Neither of us got much rest.
In the early hours, whilst the sun still slept, we were both aware of car engines and muffled French voices nearby. Instantly awake, always conscious of our potential vulnerability we listened, waiting. Nothing happened…
When I later stuck my head outside, I found us surrounded by boat trailers, our pit stop clearly a popular fishing venue.
Walking Stan along the riverbanks, not even the birds were willing to sit up and sing against the dense, early-day fog. All was still and eerily quiet. Peering between skeletal tree branches, I saw one of the craft on the water, slowly working its way along the shores of the River Saone. Despite the mist, I just caught the action of fishing poles casting for recalcitrant prey. Stan meanwhile, snuffled his way through the undergrowth, found no less than three plastic bottles and carried each, as a trophy, back to the van.
Eventually we came to, got going and wound our way back toward the A6, destined for Lyon and beyond that, the A7 further South. Determined were we, determined to find solace from the enveloping grey and gloom. An hour and a half, 75 miles and the outside temperature gauge started to drift upwards from its 1.40C overnight low. It nudged to five degrees, then up to seven. The dial stuck at 9.8 for what seemed an age and then just as the sun triumphantly blasted a hole through the canopy of cloud, we hurrahed, as the thermometer reached double figures!
Hunched, cold-anxious shoulders dropped and relaxed. We fumbled for sun glasses as the light bounced through the mud spattered windscreen, onto tired retinas.
And we smiled.
Now the conversation was “Why Perpignan today?” If the weather is clear we don’t need to hurtle our way across the country, we could stop awhile and explore the names writ so black and large on the roadside as we trundle by.
Tonight we’re in a seaside spot just east of Montpelier. It’s the sleepy off-season, so our beach-side residence for the evening is quiet and calm. Tomorrow we head for Carcasson and hopefully more sunshine. Temperature at 9pm: 1.40C – urgh – break out the crisp packets once again…