Friday, 22 May 2009

Tune Ends Too Soon

Last summer, as we drove home from the Camargue in the south of France, where we'd camped on the beach at Sainte Maries de la Mer, I was keen to wow Nelly and Minty Fresh with a drive through the spectacular Ardeche Gorges, a series of dizzy canyons, with the river way down below, as it tumbles down from the Massif Central to the Mediterranean.

Glorious late afternoon, the colours of the landscape and the vegetation popping against the vivid blue of the sky, Minty fast asleep in the back, "Life Is A Long Song" by Jethro Tull playing. It's late in the season so there's not a lot of humanity in evidence and definately a Kodak moment. Nelly's videoing up a storm as the road descends to the bottom of the canyon, and we round a bend to behold the famous Pont d'Arc, an enormous natural arch spanning the Ardeche.

Nelly declares that everything is too beautiful, and that we simply have to turn round, go back and then drive down again so that she can do a better job with the camera. I do a u-ey whilst she cues the Tull, and we drive back a couple of miles, the road climbing steeply away from the suitably videogenic rock arch.

Now I need to find another turning place and it looks like there's one up ahead on the right, on the edge of a terrifying plunge to the river, several million metres below. Perfect. Now remember, I'm towing a trailer, and I need a bit of space to manoevre, and as I pull onto the layby I see that right in front of us is a great crack in the gravel surface, and I stop sharpish.

We have a problem here. Can't move forwards, can't move back as I'm not about to reverse a trailer along the narrow lip of the Abyss. Going to have to detach the trailer. Nelly hops out to keep an eye on things and I move forward just a touch, and as I do so the wheels spin in the gravel, the whole kit and caboodle lurches backwards, my foot slips off the brake and we hurtle backwards toward the edge and Certain Doom.

How ridiculous. Mercifully I find the brake just a split-second before sailing off into oblivion, and we're saved from total catastrophe, but not before the trailer has jack-knifed and slammed into the rear corner of the car, giving Minty a rude awakening and she's not happy. Nelly's not either, and as the dust settles, I can almost feel the steaming weights in my trousers.

Much of this episode is captured on DV and we can laugh about it now, as they say.

We're off to North Wales next week, and earlier today I gathered up the DV camera and tapes in readiness for the trip. Came across the tape featuring the above stunt, and was mightily disappointed to discover that some idiot has recorded over our adventure with an hour of Christmas Day present-opening.

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