So we’ve had the Montagne, then the Métro, but why the Manche et moi? I am not begging (faire la manche) – nor am I living by the sea (la Manche = the Channel) – but as I am going to be cross-channel commuting ‘dans l’immédiat’ (for the time being), it seems like a title ’propice’ (fitting) for this chapter.
Leaving ‘Le Métro’ was not hard. ‘Mon seul regret’ (My only regret) was ‘quitter mes amis’ (leaving my friends). One lovely lady insisted on giving me a proper ‘pot de départ (send-off) with champagne, melon balls and other little ‘amuse-gueules’ (nibbles). It was all delicious, apart from the slightly carbonated ‘pain grillé’ (toast) for the foie-gras which didn’t stop me from having a second, and perhaps even a third helping! As we tried to enjoy our last moments together, the phone kept ringing. ‘Gênée’ (embarrassed), my hostess promised that she would just ‘laisser sonner’ (let it ring) next time. Within minutes it rang. Then it rang again. The third time, I begged her to answer it. ‘A ce moment précis (just then), there was a loud ‘cognement’ (banging) at the door. Her neighbours were ‘regroupés’ (huddled) outside, about to phone the ‘pompiers’ (fire brigade) as they had smelled ‘la fumée’ (smoke) – the toast!- and were concerned that she ’s’ était évanouie’ (had passed out) from the fumes – why else would she not answer the phone?!
I spent an increasingly stressful ‘quinzaine’ (fortnight) preparing for the move; painting, polyfillaing (mettre de l’enduit) and discovering the fine art of interpreting French electrical ‘normes’ (regulations). Le jour-J (On D-Day), I frantically cleaned the floor of the house we were leaving with minutes to spare before ‘confier’ (handing over) the keys to the ‘huissier’ (bailiff). I cleaned the floor ‘à genoux’ (on my knees), backwards from the front door towards the bathroom where I had a shower and changed in to some clean clothes. One slight problem -my ‘culotte’ (knickers) were in a suitcase in the car! I managed a fairly decent exit, but didn’t fancy a 12 hour drive practically ‘à poil’ (naked), so my last somewhat defiant act (acte de défi) in the sleepy suburban street where I did not belong, was to slip a pair of M&S’s ‘best’ on (une culotte de chez Marks & Spencers), hidden, ‘on l’espère’ (one hopes), by a rather full removal car.
My Kangoo and I moved to the Alps in two ‘étapes’ stages . The first carload was full of my teenager’s essentials plus ‘ladite’ (said) teenager. The second carload had my essentials plus the household items, the books, the furniture and three ‘jardinières’ (window boxes) of lavender. Bringing lavender to the south of France is much like bringing coals to Newcastle, but as I drove the 700 km south, the scent ‘me poussait à avancer’ (spurred me on).
And now I am back in my little village in the mountains, preparing to ‘faire la navette’ (commute); a mere 2,800 km return once a month. I dread to think what my ‘empreinte carbone’ (carbon footprint) will be by the end of the year. And so I as I teeter ‘à cheval entre les deux pays’ (straddling the two countries) I ask myself if I can really ‘nager entre deux eaux’ (run with the hare, hunt with the hounds)? ‘On verra’ (we’ll see).