Padern and Cucugnan

Soon after 4, knowing that Sophie would be getting itchy feet, I proposed moving on to a potential Park4Night I’d seen about 15 minutes away at Padern. What a find this has turned out to be. It almost feels like we’re in a different part of France, with an incredible 180 degree backdrop, that makes us feel like we’re in the set of a spaghetti western. We also have a lovely river right in front of us, and tonight was the first time this trip it’s been warm enough to get the chairs out for sundowners. 

Definitely more of a slow start the next morning following the mountaineering exertions of the previous day. 

Now I need to fill you on something from the previous evening. As we did our usual walk around on arriving at Padern, I’d noticed to my annoyance that the vehicle’s fresh water supply lockable cap was missing. When we were leaving the aire at Duilhac/Peyrepertuse I remembered checking the cap after topping up. I noticed it wasn’t locked and so knew that I had definitely locked it. Clearly although I’d locked it, it hadn’t fully engaged prior to this and hence it must have dropped off after we left. 

In order to ensure that we had a very pleasant and cordial evening I had to work out how to play this. The minute the cat was out of the bag I knew that there’d be no other subject discussed but that wretched cap until the next day. 

I felt that the odds were that it had likely dropped off at the aire service point, & motorhomers being the friendly bunch they are, someone would have found it and kindly put it on the side out of harm’s way, ready for those poor people who’d lost it to be able to find it again, and all would be well again. 

I realised that my odds of retrieving it would be better if I went straight back now & it was only a 10/15 minute drive after all. However, I also new that if I did fess up and we did go and look for it and it was an unsuccessful trip, the return journey would be uncomfortable, as would the rest of the evening, as I’d definitely be in the doghouse. 

So, in both our best interests I thought I’d leave the subject to the next day to tackle and I’m pleased to report that a very pleasant evening ensued. 

As it happened, Sophie was keen to explore the little hilltop town of Cucugnan, which was only 5k back up the road we’d come along last night. This would leave us only 4k short of Duilhac. So I prepared my speech, which I delivered just before arriving at Cucugnan. This meant only a 5 minute tense drive. 

On arrival at Duilhac aire, we searched high and low, including the bins, under hedges, along the roadside and Sophie asked a few motorhomers, but nothing, so that was that. Even driving the 4k back to Cucugnan I couldn’t keep my eyes off the roadside, just in case, even though the chances seemed ridiculous. 

As we approached the last turn to Cucugnan, I saw it at the side of the road. Couldn’t believe it – 4k on from Duilhac. We were delighted and carried on into the town, where I had to prove to Sophie that it was definitely ours and not another random fresh water tank cap. It admittedly felt a bit loose but I raided my “shed” of oddments and found a perfectly sized washer and it was as good as new. 

We then ventured into the lovely Cucugnan for a wander. We soon came across a “logis” serving a reasonably-priced set lunch and so headed on in. We were pointed in the direction of the dining room, where we selected a table with a suitable view. However, the owner was having none of it and brusquely returned the chairs we’d pulled out back into place & pointed us at the only table he’d allow us to sit at. Not at all impressed by Mr Grumpy’s less than cordial welcome, Sophie decided that we wouldn’t be staying and so there went my chance of lunch. 

After a pleasant walk we came across another restaurant & all was well again. 

After lunch we did note, as we always do whenever we’re in a French village, wherever in France we might be, that we wondered where all the locals were, and the usual comments about alien abduction followed. I make this point because on the way out of the village, we had the misfortune of passing Chez Grumpy, at which point I was thinking less than charitable thoughts about the chap we’d encountered there. Clearly, deserving nothing less for this bad attitude, I fell off the pavement, only just rescuing my position at the last minute, so all was well. However, despite the speed of recovery, 4 people had magically appeared in this otherwise comatose town to witness my humiliation. 

On returning to the motorhome, curiosity got the better of me as I considered why the water cap had not initially fitted so well, so I thought I’d take a stroll down the road to where I’d retrieved it, in case I could see any mystery missing component. The grass verge yielded nothing, bit as I turned to come back I saw a black washer in the middle of the road this time. I then returned triumphantly to discover that it was the washer that went with the cap. Sorry for such a long saga, but it did amuse us.  More travelogue tomorrow. 


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