Today I drove to an from le Vigan several times in my new car.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is four and a half months since I have been behind the wheel, and being able to drive is essential if you live in a country area like this.
The ten-day silence is because I have been pampered by the unexpected arrival of my brother-in-law who is spoiling me rotten doing all the shopping and cooking. But I have been busy too: I did a return trip to the garage in Montpellier, to negotiate the purchase of the new car – a Smart automatic convertible (I like the name of the particular model – ‘Passion’) and the sale of the Citroen Berlingo, which has served me so well for the last seven years. Inevitably I did not get as much as I wanted on my old car, but still, it is hard to see another way I could shell out ‘just’ 12000 Euros on an automatic. Rivals were coming at quite a lot more and without the reasonable reviews of this car.
Yesterday Peter and I went to Montpellier to hand over my old car and collect the new one. Quite an eventful day: on the trip into the centre of town for lunch our tram screeched to an emergency stop as it hit a car crossing the lines. Luckily the driver, a young girl, was not hurt. Her car, on the other hand was a write-off, wrapped round a set of traffic lights, the same ones she had failed to see were red.
Then, a last minute administrative drama when we tried to ring my assurance company with details of the new car all their numbers were ‘unobtainable’. Much to the hilarity of the efficient and charming garage secretary ( the garage sells mainly huge and expensive Mercedes and is very swish) I rang my pharmacy, next door to the insurance office, and asked if someone could pop next door and get them to ring us! It turned out later that France Telecom had inadvertently cut the wrong lines and they had been enjoying a strangely peaceful day until my attempts to contact them
at last I was in my squeaky clean tiny car and we were given a quick tour of the controls. Only point against the very nice salesman: he had failed to check the instruction manual was included – we will have to wait for this
I did a brief detour to visit my friends in le Centre Maguelone. A strange experience as the long termes were still there, with Marie Laure and Cathie the maths teacher both having endured yet another operation since I last saw them I will try to return in a month
And then the open road. A strange experience, not only because I am driving mainly with my left hand, but also because it is decades since I last drove an automatic it behaves quite differently, but is very responsive not the cars fault that my left foot occasionally twitched, seeking a clutch pedal
Peter took over half way home, but I am reassured that I will be up to the three times a week trip to Ganges for pool physiotherapy
Today I went into le Vigan three times, first for a blood test, then to give a bottle of wine to the pharmacy staff and later to the physiotherapist . Wonderful. Not only was I self sufficient at last but it was a joy driving in the sunshine with the hood down