The rather unglamorous life of a traveling engineer and his wife.

So this week I traveled with my husband as, apart from the weekends where he has had a brief bit of time at home, he has been away the last two weeks and we were starting to miss each other terribly.




Naturally, cue a huge argument that, as far as I could see, came from absolutely nowhere and stemmed from absolutely nothing which pretty much ruined our first evening. Isn’t it odd that there are twenty-four hours in the day but just ten minutes of appalling behaviour is all it takes to completely ruin it in its entirety? Anyway, with evening one completely ballsed there was nothing much for it but to retire to bed and quickly relegate the episode to the past.

Will it happen again? Of course it will.
Will we have learned anything from it? Highly doubtful.

As my man-child husband retorted to me in reply to my suggestion that he “Bloody well grow up!”

“I’m forty-nine years old, I’ve done all the growing up I’m ever going to do”

It could have been funny but sadly by that point, we were in no laughing mood.

So, that was Monday….well not all of Monday, of course, but as it happens the only bit that ended up counting.

Tuesday started off a little better. Having woken feeling fully repentant and having mumbled his apology, I told my husband to forget about it and move on (the mention within said blog, completely exempt of course) after which he then chose to spend any available time having a cuddle in bed and as such missed his hotel breakfast before having to jump out of bed, hastily dress and drive to work. He kissed me goodbye and told me to make sure I took breakfast at my leisure later that morning.

It is prepaid as part of his business expenses so whether I took it or not, it was already paid for and not being one to waste money, I obediently bimbled along at about 9 am to see what the fixed fee of 12 euros get’s you at this particular establishment.

As it turns out, not an awful lot!

Everything was in miniature, even the plates were tiny. A very small side plate was the largest on offer. The croissants, pain au choc and madeleines were positively Lilliputian, the scrambled eggs for the entire breakfast room were being kept warm in a small, shallow soup bowl (not a soup server, a single bowl) the sausages were cocktail sized, everything was minuscule. I half expected to have my tray removed by a singing Oompa Loompa.

Thus, that was breakfast. It was pleasant enough, the coffee was good, the pastries were fresh (albeit bite-sized) and it was all very clean, but it is such a racket it really is, or maybe I’m just completely out of touch.

In our small hometown, where literally nothing ever happens, we do at least have a very good little restaurant called The Chabatz It is open seven days a week for lunch and for the very reasonable sum of 13 euros you are served four courses plus wine and coffee. More often than not there is a seafood starter, a good chunk of Limousin beef for the main course, a small plate of cheese and a choice of home cooked pie or flan or an ice-cream of some description for dessert. The wine is actually some of the best ‘vin de table’ that I have consumed (trust me I am quite the connoisseur of cheap plonk!) and a dainty cup of espresso is served for those wishing to partake.

All in all, it is difficult to beat on both quality and value and as such we go there relatively frequently, which in one respect is great but in another gives an entirely false perspective of the true cost of dining out so I am often shocked when I do actually visit the ‘real world’.

This week we were in Lyon. Well, in a sprawling suburb of Lyon which to all intents and purposes was so very far removed from the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the central and presumably old city of Lyon that it may as well have been anywhere. There was no sight-seeing, no tourist trail, no trips along the Rhone or La Saône rivers.

There were, instead, three full days of the inside of a business hotel for me and three full days of the inside of a factory for my husband after which there was a seven-hour car journey home owing to the fact that he had to take a detour to another customer on the way.

When asked if we have ever been to Lyon, we will now be able to say “Yes”, which will probably promptly be followed by questions of “and did you visit….. La Vieux Lyon, La Place Bellecour, the Museé des Confluences, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Parc de la Tête d’Or, the ancient Roman Amphitheatre at Fourvière or the Renaissance quarter?” to which we will, of course, have to answer
“No. We visited Lidl and a Pizza kiosk”.

Ahhhhhhh the not so glamorous life,
of a traveling engineer and his wife.
Though for luxury they strived,
they were mostly deprived,
and the shitholes were exceedingly rife

We do occasionally try to inject a bit of sightseeing into some of these trips.

Recently on the way back from a business trip to Orange, which is geographically the South of France but neither the interesting or the beautiful bit, we decided that rather than heading straight home we would visit one of the many places on our return route. The two that stood out for me were Volvic or Vichy since neither was much of a detour from our route and I had specifically heard of them both, though I know them only for the bottled water and for the white, chalky mint pastilles (respectively) and of everything else I was quite ignorant. After googling them both and looking at images, we decided to give Vichy a miss since it had its history steeped in Nazi rule, so instead we decided to visit Volvic because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t like the idea of standing on the crater of a wonderful, volcanic site that was formed some two million years ago and was last active around 10,000 years ago. That surely beats visiting a faded Spa town that is rather unfashionably linked with Nazi collaboration.

So off to Volvic we went, however, far from finding ourselves at a magnificent, majestic site of historic awesomeness, we found ourselves in a very small and quite unremarkable
French town, the epicenter of which was a huge Factory.

Compare the pictures below and tell me which one you would have preferred!

What I expected to see.

What I actually saw.

As it turns out you have to visit Puy de Dôme for the lava dome and volcano experience, not the town of Volvic!

This is just one in a long line of laughable episodes of our attempted explorations of France (or anywhere for that matter).

Once we drove a full hour from home looking for the perfect picnic spot. We took the Honda S2000 and our willow picnic hamper and were intent on doing it properly, finding an idyllic spot in which to spread ourselves to enjoy a vintage, outdoorsy afternoon that would have made even the Famous Five (George(Georgina), Julian, Dick, and Anne and Timmy the dog) a bit envious.

The reality was that after driving through miles and miles of green Limousin countryside, all of which was fenced off or inaccessible, we gave up and turned around just a kilometre or two short of Brenne national park (at the time we didn’t even know it existed) and returned back home only to sit by the river just five minutes from our house.

Somehow, we always manage to miss the main event or not quite hit the mark.

We are the couple that will manage to go to Paris and be the only people who won’t have seen the Eiffel Tower, we won’t even have clapped eyes on it, let alone taken a trip up it and, in all honesty, we won’t really care.

We will spend almost six consecutive weeks in a famous hotel in Broadstairs and the one week we are not staying there will be the week that Ricky Gervais and his team end up staying there and filming one of our favourite programmes ever, the brilliant Derek.

We will book a holiday somewhere and upon arrival will learn that either the day before we arrived or the day after we are due to leave some brilliant festival took or will be taking place…and not only that but we would probably sigh in relief and think “Phew, that was lucky!”

We will be the ones slipping away at just after eleven pm on New Year’s Eve because we can’t be doing with ‘all that fuss’.

That is us. Thank God we found each other because I’m certain that other people would surely have killed either one or both of us by now if we were each one half of a ‘normal’ couple.

In a world of eternal hedonists and thrill seekers, we are happy to be Howard and Hilda.

It’s true, sometimes we irritate the shit out of each other, sometimes we get our wires crossed and sparks fly, sometimes my husband totally malfunctions and completely blows his fuse but more often than not we are completely on the same page, we like a quiet, peaceful life devoid of drama.

Bed by nine is perfectly fine,
In fact, bed by nine is simply divine,
Don’t make us wait,
Because ten is too late.
Please respect our deadline to recline


The Virtual Recluse



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