Saturday, 5 May 2007

Day Three: Paris to Berdoues

A word about Vauxhall Vectras. Ignore Clarkson, they’re an underrated gem. This one is the 3.2 GSi and it’s long-legged, comfortable, quiet and just plain sorted. So yah boo to you, you self-opinionated, pube-haired, nicotine-marinated Munster (says one of your biggest fans). Even after an uneasy night on a Formule 1 shelf there’s a pleasant absence of NBS (numb bum syndrome) as I pull, scratching at suspicious bite-like lumps, into Bergerac International Airport, comfortably on time to meet the boys.

A modernised arrivals hall is planned. In an even bigger tent
Bergerac is an international airport in the same way that a Shepherds Bush flat is surprisingly spacious. If it were a garden, the estate agents would describe it as easily maintained. Watching a RyanAir 737 braking on a runway shorter than my front drive is a spectacle to be viewed from outside the aeroplane. There’s a slight delay when it gets caught at the traffic lights in a nearby village.

Rare shot of a pilot praying to the great god Ferodo
Apart from minor whiplash injuries, Mart and Adrian have had a comfortable flight. Their last for some time I suspect. A couple of hours’ gentle cruising along French by-roads and we meet Jean - who owns the Cub’s home hangar - opposite the church in Berdoues. He leads us to his superb house on a private air park. Here we meet up with Ully Schuhmacher, the Cub’s current owner, and Jean’s wife Mary.

A candlelit one-course dinner

Mary has diction from Brief Encounter and vocabulary from The Commitments. She doesn’t completely approve of Martin’s and my choice of diet, “Oh my God, you f****ng vegetarians, what the f*** do you eat?” Adrian’s pleas of dietary conformity don’t do the job, and he’s condemned to joining us.

The first course is an exceptional home-made minestrone. This is accompanied by a mélange of basil and garlic. Magnificent. What was she worrying about? Can’t wait for the main course…

You just ate it. Several bottles of wine later I go to bed and eat the duvet.

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