If, dear reader, you have by some mischance just wandered into this blog, you find us in the middle of France - or thereabouts - spending the remains of the weekend at an hotel after our car had broken down. The story started only just down the page so, if you have a few minutes without anything better on offer you could quite easily catch up. Of course, I will fully understand if you prefer to hit the "next blog" link at the top of the page, but if you do, you might never know what you are missing. So I'll continue.
Monday morning. Could we at long last be on our way? Would our breakdown insurance company come up trumps? They did. A phone call alerted me to the fact that a taxi was on its way and, as I finished the call, I looked out of the front window and there, already, was our chariot. We didn't exactly rush outside - neither of us is fully capable of such rash action these days, but we made what speed we could.
Some miles later we were deposited in a rather grubby looking back street by a garage belonging to the car hire agency. There was a pile of snow and ice at least a foot deep beside the road by the front entrance so our taxi driver thought to make life a little easier. I climbed a few steps and pushed open the door into the staff toilets, then another door into the front office. After very few formalities - remarkably few given that we were in France - I was escorted back the way I had came and a young lady went off to fetch a large, black car. This was a top of the range model with leather seats, satnav, automatic gear change - the works. One thing it didn't have was a lever under the driver's seat to adjust its position. That made things just a little awkward as I balanced somewhat precariously on the front edge of the seat to drive a couple of miles to get out of town and find a suitable lay-by. Once there, I attempted to read the driver's manual. This, of course, was in French - an I had left the French dictionary in my car. However, I eventually discovered that the three buttons beside the driver's seat marked "1", "2" and "M" were not what I had thought. I had assumed that these referred to positions of the driver's seat that had been programmed into a memory. But no. The button marked "1", when pressed, caused the seat to slide forward. Button "2" slid the seat backwards. Just what the "M" did I never discovered. There was, however, still one minor problem with the seat adjustment. Whenever I switched off the ignition and opened the driver's door, the seat slid backwards of its own volition. It stayed back until I pressed the "1" button to move it forwards again. But as the seat moved forwards, the rear squab reclined! The handbook didn't seem to make any mention of this and I gave up worrying about it. I just re-adjusted the seat whenever I got into the car. I can't say that I saw anything funny about it, but the Dearly Beloved (well, she was before) thought it hilarious to see me gradually sinking back into an almost completely supine position every time I got into the car.
So we set off along the autoroute once more. This is a toll road, and the tolls aren't particularly cheap, but at least we know there are resting places with toilets and coffee at reasonably spaced intervals. And in mid-afternoon I managed to negotiate the layer of snow as I crossed the pavement and squeezed the car between our gateposts. Home. We knew that once the heating was turned on it would soon warm up. The two-foot thick walls do keep the heat in and make the house very cosy. We breathed sighs of relief as I opened the front door before helping the Old Bat across the virgin snow.
We should have known better.