Travel Diary: Beaujeu

It’s Wednesday and we were hoping to go into Limoges and check out the centre of the city and get a feel for it.

Unfortunately it’s raining and we aren’t in any mood to push the kids around in the pram outside when it’s raining.

We decide to take it easy and not rush in the morning. We’re on the road by 10 and we’ve got a 4.5 hour trip ahead of us to get to Beaujeu, a little village renowned for its wine.

We have a house sit here.

After 3 hours on the road we pull up at this idealistic service station/restaurant that has a small playground inside. We manage to get a table right next to the play area so we can keep a close eye on the kids.

We are there for an hour and a half trying to tire the kids out. 1.5 hours left and we aim to knock it out in one hit. We get to Beaujeu and the house.

The house is amazing! Such a beautiful big house that also would have been a bard or had a barn attached to it which still has stable built into it and 2 cellars.

Valerie shows us around the house, the little farm, the animals and gives us the run down on the animals and how and when they are to be fed.

Kids are exhausted as surprisingly they didn’t sleep much in the car, especially Tanami.

We decide to bath them and put them to bed before they can go too wild in this state. By 6:30 they are both down. How good!

By the time they are down and we go down stairs from the 3rd storey to ground floor and kitchen we meet Valerie’s husband Stephane.

They are actually going away for 3 nights with their horses to go to a farm and do some cattle work, more so for recreation and leisure, but they like cutting the cattle and being taught and practicing how to do that.

Valerie is an amazing cook and has cooked some local dishes. Turns out they have a guesthouse a few K’s away that can accommodate up to 25 and she occasionally cooks there too.

They also give us a run down of the region and how it’s renowned for its wine, and of course we sample some of the local stuff. Very impressed, one of the smoothest wines I have ever had.

They are great company and we easily talk with them for a few hours and they give us advice on where to go for good wines, good cheese in the town and district.

This is what I love about the house sitting, getting to meet the locals and have them give you the insights and local secrets, unbelievable.

Friday and we’re being shown around the house and how to feed the animals, what they get fed and the amount.

We’ve got to feed the chooks scraps, feed 2 beautiful dogs, a cat and a horse, that also needs to be taken out every morning and brought back in in the evening.

The stable is through a door which can be accessed from the living room!

The kids get up and we feed them but they are once again very restless and tired after the big day off travelling the day before, this is even after their 13 hour sleep.

So we cut the walk short come back and put them both down together. Oh how I love when that happens!

When they wake up it’s more food and we decide to take them in town to go for a kick around.

But the Valerie and her neighbour are loading the horses and having difficulty. They are loading them on the road to go to town too so access is blocked.

I go down there to give a hand. It turns out they’ve got a young filly and it’s either her first or second time travelling. To make this worse they are trying to load her into a 2 horse truck, which is something I haven’t come across in Oz, as they are putting a float on the back for another 2 horses. Problem is the horses are expected to walk on from the side and then swing their rump around. The filly doesn’t want a bar of it.

In the end, thankfully, they try to put her on the float. It still takes a bloody long time and they decide to give her a break and load up all the other horses first.

Finally get that done and so we duck into town to a playground and kick the soccer ball around, for almost an hour and a half and Tanami still doesn’t want to leave.

Load him into the car, finally, head back home for a feed and shower the kids and put them down. But later tonight, Tanami goes down at 8.

Ewelina and I end up catching up again on some emails and other stuff that needs sorting on the computer whilst we’ve got some undistracted free time.

Big day planned today. Valerie has written down some things for us to do whilst here. First thing in the morning after we’ve had brekky and sorted the animals out, prepared the kids, we head off for a drive to a little village 10kms, but 30 mins away. This had been recommended due to views along the way. Although it’s not the clearest day the views are absolutely spectacular.

Kids unfortunately have already fallen asleep, which means no quiet time at home. We hear back for lunch and pretty much after lunch head to a cellar door less than a K away. The wine we were drinking from the first night is from here. This is Ewelina’s first cellar door experience and she’s excited. It’s not like a traditional cellar door. It’s literally a farmer and his wife’s house and we knock on her door. She speaks very little English, like very little, but I think she understands who we are and what we want. Through a shed and back behind the house is this massive cellar. She pulls out a few wines and Ewelina samples a few. Tanami is going mad again so I have to take him outside to run around and the lady is becoming nervous with him in his current state and fair enough too.

We end up buying a few bottles of quality wine that work out to be about a $5 a bottle. Winning!

From there we head into the village to find a playground and do something for the kids… Kick the football around. We find a little playground that has also a basketball court and a fence around it. We spend almost an hour there kicking the ball around between 4 of it, with Ori especially loving it as this is the first time she’s been capable of doing this.

By now it’s starting to get pretty cold so we head home to get the kids bathed, changed and fed.

Friday we head off for a drive to another village about 10 kms away, but takes about half an hour. Valerie recommended this to us due to its scenery and although there are plenty of clouds and it’s not a clear day it is unbelievably picturesque with very extensive views that unfortunately we didn’t get to make the most of. It’s starting to slightly rain by the time we get to the village so we decide to pass on getting out and walking around and head home to have some lunch.

The afternoon and the weather is better. We go into the village to do a bit more exploring and visit some shops that Valerie again suggested might be of interest. The village is buzzing as they prepare for their annual festival that celebrates the first day of last seasons wine being available to buy. Whilst in town we check out a butcher and baker. The bakery did not disappoint again with the fresh bread and a few pastries and what not. I’m not a massive fan of pastries, but they are unbelievably good in France and have since changed my stance on whether I am a pastry fan or not.

Finally we spot another playground and Tanami is not letting us walk past this one without spending some time investigating it. 45 mins here and again it begins to rain, this isn’t a deterrent for the big man though and he doesn’t want to leave, so once again I’ve got a battle on my hands.

Saturday we’ve got a trip planned to Lyon, about an hour or so away. I’m going to catch up with a mate who I played with in NZ actually, Kenny Lynn. He’s now a coach at Lyon, and coaches 2 of my former teammates from the Reds, Mikey Harris and Liam Gill.

Great to catch up with him again and meet his family. Have a coffee with him, and talk a lot of rugby, especially culture, tactics, philosophies and best places to get further information to keep learning. He passes on some great books and podcasts for me to go and investigate which I’m very grateful. Awesome to see him doing so well as it’s not easy going to France and coaching and learning the lingo, so I admire him for how he’s going with it.

It hasn’t been a straight forward getting to Lyon with 2 phones crashing and the Navman not working again, that combined with trying to find a park as Kenny lives right in the middle of Lyon means it has been a long day.

We are in the car headed back to Beajeu, when approaching the toll gates I see a campervan parked in between 2 toll gates. Ewelina is oblivious to what’s going on but I remark to her that I think that might have been a Polish car.

We pull up at the toll booth and are inserting money into the machine when this blokes comes from over my side of the car (because my steering wheel is on the wrong side) and approaches Ewelina with her window down.

He starts speaking frantically and looks stressed. I can’t make out what language he is speaking he is speaking that quickly which goes on for about 30 seconds without taking a breathe. It turns out he is speaking Polish! How do I realise he’s speaking Polish? Ewelina gives him a quick response and then he looks at her as though he’s seen the Lord himself and swears in Polish. He cant believe his luck!!! We haven’t come across a Polish person since in France, I haven’t even noticed a Polish car or number plates. What are the bloody chances!?!?! If you can’t speak the local language, that if you could, you would try to speak English in the hope that the person you are talking to can grasp a little help to offer assistance. This bloke has out of all of the cars he could have asked for assistance, has come across a fellow Pole. A miracle!!! And you can tell the weight of the world is off his shoulders.

So what was the issue? He simply didn’t want to pay for tolls. He wanted to get off the tolled roads. How he had found himself in Central France whilst avoiding tolls, which is understandable because they are ridiculous, I’ve never come across such expensive tolls in my travels, ever, but for some reason can’t work out how to avoid them now…

He’s actually got a Satnav and I tell Ewelina to set the settings to avoid toll motorways and just like that he’s off. Where’s he going and who he’s going to see? Who knows…

I can’t get over what has just happened, how lucky is this bloke to come across a fellow Pole… Unbelievable. I’m laughing all the way home and there are so many for questions I would loved to have had answered.

Once back home it’s tending to the animals again, feeding the chooks, bringing the horse in and feeding him, topping up all the animals water, seeing if the cat his food in his bowl. Ewelina and I also start packing the car and tidying everything up as we know, knowing our luck it would rain the next day just as we were trying to pack up the car… And it did. Thankfully we did do it Saturday night!


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