Monday, July 30, 2012

The six hours of Le Mans

Last week, we finally got some nice weather, hot (up to 34 degrees) and sunny, but it only lasted a few days. Today was pretty cold and drizzly again. Sigh. Anyway, as well as the Garlic and Basil Fair I blogged about, I had a barbecue at my old work on Wednesday, for them to celebrate the end of term. I wasn't super keen about going, I still feel a bit bad about how things worked out there and I didn't really want to answer endless questions about how the job search is going (it's not, really) and what I do with myself all day (pester Bob). But I thought I should suck it up, because it was nice of them to invite me and there's no point burning bridges even more. In the end, it was fine, I did have to answer the same questions over and over, but they are nice people after all, so it wasn't like a horrible grilling. The atmosphere there is pretty dismal, it seems. The other girl my age has a couple of days' work after the holidays and then her contract will be up too, someone else is being moved to another department, and it seems the rest are just hanging around serving out their contracts.

For the next little while, it's busy times for me. Tomorrow I am in Paris for the day, then I'm taking an overnight bus to Amsterdam (dear god, what was I thinking?? At least I'm over the dreadful cold I had all last week, that would have been a killer. Actually, I know what I was thinking, I was thinking 5€ to go to Amsterdam? Why the bloody hell not? I got a touch of buyer's remorse as soon as I bought the ticket, but fingers crossed it won't be too bad). I'm in Amsterdam until Friday night, then overnight to Paris where I'll spend the day again on Saturday. Then I'm back home for a couple of days and next Tuesday it's off to Manchester to meet up with my parents, and then after a couple of days in England we're heading to Norway (must stop saying Denmark) for a week! Yay!

Just as excitingly, I spent the afternoon today in Le Mans. Yes, voluntarily. An old friend of mine, who I used to share a tiny room with when I was living in the north of France back in 2007, is currently staying not far away from here, so we decided to meet in the middle and see what Le Mans had to offer. We hadn't seen each other since seeing in 2008 together in Leeds, so four and a half years in other words. You always worry a bit that time will have taken its toll on the friendship or whatever, but after the initial sort of awkward "how's work? how's your family"-type stuff, we were back talking about important things like Favourite Discontinued Chocolate Bars. (Confusingly, I have vivid memories of a chocolate-mousse filled chocolate bar called a Secret bar which I loved when I was in England as an 11 year-old, but no-one else seems to have heard of it. It must have been very secret.)

We didn't really have any idea what there was in Le Mans. I'd never previously heard there was anything exciting there apart from the 24 Hours race, but I knew from a post on Ksam's blog that there was actually an old town somewhere. However, at first we just ended up in a particularly desolate, wind-swept square on a Monday lunchtime. Nothing was open, every street we went down just ended up in construction work or non-descript closed shops, and in the end we had to ask a copper for directions, after aimlessly walking for quite some time. As it happened, the old town, or Cité Plantagenet, wasn't far from the aforementioned square, and it was really pretty. Full of old, well-preserved medieval buildings, narrow lanes, and the cathedral.

It didn't take all that long to look around, and we finished off with a couple of hours in the pub before catching our respective trains back home, which gave us more time to catch up on the last couple of years. Hopefully it won't be another four years!

The back of the cathedral - it had quite a weird orientation. It's huge and we came in on one of the side-aisles, on the left-hand side of the picture. I'm not really sure where you're meant to attack it from, it didn't really seem to have a big main front to it

Not quite giving the finger, but a bit weird

I know Jesus got a bit pissy in the moneychangers-in-the-temple debacle, don't remember him whipping people though. Not very WWJD

The beautiful painted chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Chevet in the cathedral, painted at the end of the 14th century

I loved these especially colourful stained-glass windows

I would love to have a turret!

Weird creepy saint in an abbey. Alice wondered if this was a game of hide-and-seek gone terribly awry


  1. I think he's just removed the finger from the nostril and is about to sample the contents thereof!

  2. Seeing an old friend always runs that risk of having not much to talk about after the initial "catch up". I recently saw a girlfriend I hadn't seen since 2000, and with a little wine, we were back to being 13 year old girls laughing about when we were convinced that our technology teacher was having an affair with the gym teacher...good times.

    So your big Amsterdam trip is coming up! Wow, how time seems to be flying. I look forward to reading about the adventures of this bus ride. Please be careful!!!


    Top secret chocolate and Not very WWJD. Hahahaha. I love of all your little Gwanisms!

    1. Ha, you talk about (fake) sex scandals, we talk about chocolate, what does that say??

  3. Thanks for telling Gwan to be careful, Ella. I am not allowed to :)
    GM x

  4. Thérèse definitely was a Secret bar. I don't think I ever bought them because they were really small and I was a quantity-over-quality kind of girl but reading your description, I kind of wish in had!

    1. Hurrah, someone to back me up! Yeah, still thinking about them 18 years later! And I was only in England for a month (but I bet I ate them every chance I got!!)


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