By Veronica

Art installation

We breakfasted heartily (it was so copious that we made sandwiches for lunch from part of it) and were on the road by 10:15. The journey went smoothly until we were only about 45 minutes from home. The information panels on the autoroute told us it was closed, and we had to take the exit for Leucate ... yet when we got there, there was no sign of closure, only light traffic, no traffic jam,  and many drivers just carried on. We were sooo glad we didn't do that. We had a plan B: the D611, aka the autoroute des Corbières. Arachne may remember this, it's the route we took to the art exhibition in Peyriac just over a year ago. 

As we drove along the Nationale I looked across to the autoroute and saw a kilometres long stationary traffic jam. At the point where we left the Nationale, gendarmes were directing another massive jam of lorries exiting the autoroute. We were very happy to be whizzing off along our traffic-free locals-only route. Crossing the autoroute I looked down and saw what I thought must be a horrendous accident -- a jackknifed lorry and a bunch of bikers hanging around on the hard shoulder. I couldn't help thinking the worst. I am relieved on checking the news to see it was actually a minor collision resulting in a dangerous cargo catching fire, and only one person was injured. But the drivers who ignored the road closed signs spent two hours or more in a motionless traffic jam with an external temperature of 26C.

As for us, we got home at about 5:30. Heaved luggage indoors, sat down for a cup of tea. What I may not have mentioned here earlier is that the rat damage I observed when I was here for the weekend at the end of February had got even more extensive. Our plumber friend V finally got onto the case three days ago. Pictured: the holes he made in the plasterboard to track the pipes. And I am happy to report that when we arrived the plumbing and the electrics were all functioning. 

Not only that but he found a spare phone cable to replace the chewed one, so we have an Internet connection too! Far better than I had expected. The only problem now is the chewed innards of the dishwasher and the washing machine, but V has booked a local electrician to come and fix those next week. And V's partner G had cleaned the house for us. Something tells me we'll be looking for a house sitter the next time we go away for months ...

We are knackered now. "Dinner" was oatcakes with smashed avocado and a jar of Spanish tuna, with a bottle of Martin Codax Albariño that I'd saved specially to toast our return.

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