Photo: A border of a different kind. The ‘confine’ between us and the road
President Macron obliged. He confirmed that the French border would open on Monday 15th June. We planned to leave on Tuesday night. A couple of friends crossed the channel on Tuesday morning, no problems. Encouraged, we packed the car, had lunch, then a sleep ready for the long drive.
“How long are you leaving the country for?” was the only question from UK Border Force. “Where are you going?” was the only question from the French border control. As soon as they heard “Italy” we were waved through to board the train.
We arrived on French soil at 03:00. Colin’s ‘through the night’ cycling came in handy as he drove in the darkness, though at this time year it was getting lighter again after a couple of hours. We had enough food, water, masks, sanitiser, along with a thermometer and oximeter for the whole journey but the motorway services were open. Croissant and coffee for breakfast. We sat at a public table, the first time for three months.
With no hotels open we agreed to share the driving for the 1,600km journey. We also agreed that we’d take plenty of rests. We crossed the Italian border at Mont Blanc. We just drove through.
On Monday we received news that the aunt of a friend of ours, Gino, had past away, aged 99. Gino couldn’t get to the funeral. As we drove past her village near Parma we slowed down a little, opened the window and blew her a kiss from Gino. Ciao zia Valentina.
Several espresso stops later we arrived at our Italian home, 22 hours after we’d left London.
We’d been away for seven months, the longest time we’ve not been to the house since we bought it in 2003. One of the reasons for coming this week was so that Colin could ride the final two Stages of the Giro di Muscoli (now postponed to September) on their originally planned dates, finishing on the 21st June, Global MND Awareness Day.
As you can imagine nature has been re-establishing itself both inside and out.The house has been cleaned from top to bottom and now we’re working on the land.
The shed roof blew off during the winter so we now have a very Italian style temporary solution; the hedge at the front had run wild so took hours to give to give it a hair cut; evidence of a snake making itself at home whilst we were away; a mountain of grass cuttings; the vines needed thinning to give the grapes more sunlight.
It’s all worth it though…