A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was telling me about a road trip to Portugal that she would soon be making with her husband and newly born daughter. They would be driving in an original Charleston 2CV to attend the 2CV world meeting near Lisbon. “You should come with us.” she excitedly mumbled into her cup of tea. I smiled and nodded because I hadn’t fully heard what she’d said but was too busy struggling to eat crumbling chocolate cake to ask her to repeat herself.
Three weeks later, I found myself sat in Birmingham airport with only the clothes on my back, a few hundred Euros and whatever camera equipment I could manage to squeeze into my leather satchel. My friends had already begun their journey a few days earlier but I couldn’t get the time off work, so I was flying out to meet them (and my rucksack of clothing and bedding) in France.
Eventually, the tinny tannoy announced that my boarding gate was open, so I proceeded down and out across the tarmac to a tiny propeller plane. As I squeezed myself into my window seat, I was feeling quite pleased that I only had a small amount of luggage with me. Any sense of smugness was duly knocked out of me when an incredibly cheerful lady accidentally whacked me on the side of my arm with her duty-free Prosecco. She enthusiastically apologised, the bottles clanged together in her canvas bag and she settled herself down in the seat next to mine.
Fortunately, the rest of the flight was uneventful and we all safely arrived in Limoges, France. My friends were there to meet me and we traveled to ‘base camp’ in a borrowed Berlingo. ‘Base camp’ was a house in Jussas, owned by some friends of my friends. There’s an often quoted Roald Dahl sentiment that explains that goodness will always shine out of people and be visible for those around to see. The people who I met that evening, and was fortunate enough to spend the next couple of weeks with, are burning beacons of loveliness. I was immediately made to feel welcome, treated to excellent food, plenty of wine and good conversation.
The next morning, just after 9 o’clock, we began the next part of the journey. We drove in a four car convoy down through France and just over the Spanish border. I sat with camera in my lap, taking photographs from the passenger side window and realising that agreeing to this slightly bonkers and out-of-my-comfort-zone idea was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life.