On Saturday morning we packed the last of our things and tidied up a bit before starting the return journey. I closed the door behind us with a heavy heart, already missing the view over the lake and the dips in the pool.
For the return journey I had booked a hotel in Bourges, and on the way there we drove through the beautiful landscapes of southern France, stopping a few times on the way. My boyfriend had not eaten any breakfast but refused to buy anything at the first gas station, saying that the products were grossly overpriced. Yes, true, but it is a gas station. What do you expect? I tried to convince him that driving the entire day with no food in his stomach was a bad idea, but he would not budge. I was feeling slightly worried for my safety as we continued our journey. Luckily the next stop had an actual café and whether it was the hunger or the smell of pastries and coffee my boyfriend reluctantly allowed me to convince him to have a sandwich. Meanwhile I enjoyed my first cup of Earl Grey for a week, while watching Chateau de Sévérac through the window. A successful break all in all.
We arrived in Bourges at 19.00 and had dinner at the Courtepaille Grill restaurant right next to the hotel. Although we were happy to have found a restaurant near the hotel, the experience was far from satisfactory. The welcome salad was just lettuce with dressing. The plates consisted of only a piece of meat with french fries, no vegetables whatsoever. My hamburger was good but my boyfriend’s lamb was rare rather medium done as he had requested. And as we were finishing our plates we were asked if we would like vegetables… After dinner I took Loki for a walk, while my boyfriend, tired after driving the whole day, went back to the hotel for a rest. The area was not particularly dog friendly but there were some fields in the vicinity so I walked in that direction. The first field seemed to be only grass, so I decided it was a good playground for me and Loki. By the time I had walked to the end of the field and saw a real patch of grass I realised that what I thought was grass was in fact not grass at all. Having lived in cities all my life my knowledge of farmland is minimal. I then used the grassy strip between two fields for the rest of the walk avoiding trampling on any precious crops.
That night I did not sleep well and finally at 5 o’clock I decided to get up and take out the dog while my boyfriend rested after the drive. It was a cold grey morning and I returned to the strip of grass dividing the two fields which I had discovered the previous evening.
I was feeling slightly worried about the possibility that I was trespassing on someone’s land. This strip between the fields probably belongs to someone right? But there was nowhere else to go with the dog (the only road leading anywhere except the highway turned into a private road), so I continued, while expecting an angry farmer in a tractor to appear at any minute. At one point I discovered a nice little path leading into a clump of trees and I decided to follow it, until I saw rows of strange boxes ahead. I cautiously walked closer, trying to figure out what they were. Loki was running ahead of me when I recognized the boxes. They were beehives. I quickly turned around and called for Loki to follow me. The idea of Loki rushing in among the hives did not seem like a good idea.
On the way back to the hotel Loki begun rolling around on his back. Initially I thought it was cute, until I remembered that dogs generally roll in something smelly. Indeed, afterwards there was a distinct smell of manure around him.
As we left the field the sun momentarily broke through the clouds illuminating the the sky above the peaceful French countryside.
The second day of driving did not begin too well, since we were stuck in a car with a dog smelling of manure. We kept the windows open even if the cold air of the highway was anything but pleasant. But on the upside we had eaten our fill of breakfast at the hotel and did not need to buy food on the way so our progress was good. As we came nearer the Belgian border my boyfriend became increasingly annoyed at the drivers. The quality of the driving decreased as increasing numbers of Belgian licence plates joined the French ones. Perhaps the signs at the side of French highways stating obvious rules (stay on the right, keep enough distance between cars, do not overtake on the right etc.) were actually useful. The traffic situation got even more frustrating once we passed from the French toll roads to the badly maintained Belgian highways. The addition of potholes to the bad drivers sent my boyfriend into a frenzy of angry mumbling.
I was very relieved when we finally made it home, letting out the frustrated driver and the frustrated dog from the confines of the car. Brussels was as grey as ever, but my first cup of Earl Grey at home tasted like heaven.