The town of Montrueil-sur-mer. Where Victor Hugo spent a few summers and whence he based some of his epic "Les Miserables."We are back from France.
While it was freezing (saw the first snow I've seen this winter), grey and dreary, it was so good to spend a long weekend away from the building works of our house, just me and the Brit.
Throwing two small suitcases into the back of the car early on Friday and driving down to the Eurotunnel was easy as baked apple pie - and was conscious that our next holiday will be about 8 000 times more planned, organised, orchestrated and luggage-filled.
It really is. The sign doth not lie.
You just drive right onto the train.
Woke up sad this morning. This was our last little sojourn together, just me and him. Not that we could get drunk together on a magnum of champagne, or even nosedive into a bath tub of France's finest blue cheese together, but it was wonderful to dine out, eat no less than two star Michelin food, and just drive around exploring the countryside.
We would drive to a town that looked nice, (although mainly empty due to the cold and it being January), stop for something to eat and a pee, and then carry on.
The chateau was decorated in toile from top to bottom - both excessive and dreamy - and I managed to catch up on some sleep and get over the worst of my cold.
It's the trips where there isn't much going on to-see or to-do wise that are sometimes very necessary for us mortals. Lately, all the Brit and I have time to talk about between ourselves is the building progress of our house, what we have to do next (basically battling through a never-ending To Do list together), and the babies. Admin.
This trip, we managed to get away from that and just be me and him again. We really needed that. Where we could laugh about stupid stuff and really just appreciate each other - all other life shit aside - again. Do this. If you have lots going on, and stuff you just can't seem to escape as a couple, I say go on a trip to the middle of Nowhere, France.
Or Nowhere, Anywhere.
Where there is nothing but the hotel, the vast countryside and just rolling emptiness, punctuated by the odd welcoming building/a place that sells croissants.
You'll find each other again. The place must be free of theme parks, people, sites, hell, even sun. It'll put everything right. Tried and tested. You're welcome.
For example, I forgot how eccentric my husband is. We're both a bit odd in our own ways, and perhaps we are the only people in the world that can put up with each other, as a result of this.
Lille. Was last here in 2005. Weirdly enough.
I love his little foibles though. I almost forgot what a funny little oddball he can be. And maybe this would drive anyone else a bit batty, butI [mostly] find it quite amusing.
The man is extremely fastidious about the car. He is a tinkerer anyway, always having to tweak things, or play with them, or make them better than they are.
Anyway, he won't allow me to fill up the car with anything except Shell. He's read about 8 000 forums about it apparently, and as a result, whatever long journey we go on, he will find out how many frigging Shell's there are on the way. Or if there are any at all. ("Detour. No Shell stations.")
A friend of ours asked me the other day: "Peas....I thought he was taking the piss. Does he really only fill the car with Shell no matter what."
"Yes. Until I go on maternity and I start using the car on a more regular basis. Then he'll think it's Shell, but what he won't know won't hurt him."
In his little bobble hat in the town of Arras. It was near freezing.
It hit a new level, when I found he had downloaded the Shell app (there's an app for that?) for this journey.
Brit: [Face lights up] There she is! The Shell, right over...here.
Peas: Hang on, I see what's happened here. When we shortlisted which chateau we were going to stay in, did this Shell have any bearing on your decision?
Brit: No. I only found it afterwards.
Peas: After we confirmed or before we confirmed.
Brit: ...Before we confirmed.
Peas: I knew it.
See?He also spent about 40 minutes trying to fiddle with the air vent while we were on the train under the Channel, and another 40 minutes talking about the fog light that had blown on the way down to Dover.
Brit: This fog lamp, well according to the manual it uses a DF-20..
Peas: Babe. Not another bulb conversation.
Brit: It's just that the light has come on again and I think the bulb is the wrong size.
Peas: You know when Ross talks about dinosaurs in Friends?
And you know what? I love him for it. I also noticed how handsome he was on this trip. My little Brit is a handsome piece of ass.
On our second night, we treated ourselves to classic French Michelin star gourmet food. The chef was a French Heston - he didn't cook, he performed science on the food. It was out of this world. Molecular cooking and flavours that your mouth has never identified before. All at eye-watering cost, and at morsel-sized portions.
Either way, the Brit pushed the boat out and decided to try things on the menu he wouldn't usually eat otherwise.
I went safe and had truffles and bird; my Brit had veal sweet meats.
Brit: What exactly is sweet meats Peas.
Peas: You just ordered this you realise that.
Brit: Yes, well the waiter kind of made me.
Peas: Did he? No he didn't.
Brit: He says it comes highly recommended.
Peas: Yes...but he didn't have a gun to your head.
Brit: OK... [breaking into a sweat], what am I going to do, what is it exactly?
Peas: It's baby cow's insides.
Peas: It'll be OK, I'm sure it's going to be very tasty. You'll be fine. It'll be great. [Secretly gagging, but keeping poker face for spousal encouragement.]
Brit: [On edge] Shit. I feel like I'm about to go bunjy jumping.
Peas: It looks like you are too. You're seriously on edge.
Peas: ..And? How is it?
Brit... [Careful, thoughtful chewing, protracted concentration] Yeah...it's nice. Really rich flavours though. Not quite sure what I'm tasting. Or meant to be tasting.
Peas: You look a bit shaken up. From your wild culinary experience, if I'm honest.
He managed to actually enjoy it in the end. Then claim the adventure afterwards. Again, I can't help but just love this.
They may be small, silly things, but it was so nice to focus on the little details, laugh until our stomachs hurt and just love each other right at face value.
Peas: You know they said I could ask to have music in the maternity ward? I've decided what birth music I want when I'm in labour.
Brit: Really? You've sorted out the playlist?
Peas: No. Just the one song.
Brit: Oh dear. What is it.
Peas: The Top Gun Anthem.
Brit: Good one.
I am [kind of] joking. But there is a piece of me that thinks it would make for 1) the most memorable birth ever 2) would be suitably distracting.
Anyway, our babymoon away was glorious. Leaving me with a personal aim to find something to laugh about and be appreciative about with my partner everyday, even if life takes over.
PS: Just got a message from She Who Also Hates Socialists: Dude, are you going to be one of those people who eats their placenta(s)?
(Yes dude. Both of them actually. I have two. How did you know?)
Just about 28 weeks.