AFTER a few weeks spent on, or near, the ocean wave, it was very much a case of planes, trains and an automobile last week.
I was due to be busy in Limousin, a beautiful part of France, and a fair old journey – about 400 miles south of Paris.
During the busy summer season, there are numerous flights but, in May, my journey was an interesting jigsaw beginning with an Air France flight at the crack of dawn from Newcastle.
The travel fairies have a sense of humour, so an overnight closure of the A19 near Sunderland meant going the longer way round via Bradbury and the A1(M) – and heading through a rainstorm.
Happily Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport has its own mainline railway station attached and the whole system clicks together wonderfully well.
I had some time to kill and was able to catch up on the essential emails and enjoy a coffee or two while admiring some lovely ideas – like the clever contraption in the photograph.
As you may be able to work out, it’s a triple exercise bike which uses the power generated to charge your mobile phone.
As you can see, there was an empty seat available and, sadly, someone jumped on just before I could get there – honest!
I haven’t seen one of these in England yet, but what a neat concept to get us lazy modern people to break a sweat to get our precious mobiles back to life.
I’m now writing the column on the top deck of a high-speed TGV train heading from the airport to Poitiers, where I’ll change trains to Limoges to pick up my hire car.
That extra height is giving me superb views over the green fields of France and, if you are old enough to remember local double-decker buses, you’ll know the very different perspective of the world from above.
It should be about an hour’s drive from Limoges station to my hotel near St Vaury.
I’ll be driving on the “wrong” side of the road in a manual car, first time for years, so what could go wrong?
I’ll tell you next week - or keep an eye on the French travel news.
The trouble with whizzing around the world on planes is that we miss so much, and this train trip is reminding of the sheer size, and frequent beauty, of our French neighbour.
I’m hoping to get some time off over the next few days to look around the charming Creuse and Limousin areas, and to catch up with a couple of old friends.
Derek and Anne were living in Wheatley Hill when we first knew them, later in north west Durham, and their great company and sense of humour is legendary.
They took the big step to move permanently to this area almost 10 years ago, and are clearly loving the life.
This train is so peaceful and just plain comfortable, and I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I doze off for a few minutes and concentrate on two targets for the trip.
One is to bring home some splendid local produce, mainly cheese and wine, and the other is never to mention our little French monkey friend.