The 29th of April (remember this trip was supposed to be a four day one from the 2nd of April) came and I was in a very comfortable room in a hotel somewhere in the middle of France. Frankly, if you had asked me on waking which city I was in, I could not have told you. It was just that kind of trip and I was frankly questioning my sanity by then but my mental state has always been a moot point anyway. I reckon that by normal definition I am completely insane but at least I am not dangerous except to myself.
I was just “on the road”, going completely native and thoroughly enjoying it. I was travelling again after not feeling much like it for a while. I did not really give a damn when, if ever, I returned home. I had to go to Canada later in the Summer but I could do that from anywhere here. That would be another great trip. As long as I had access to a washing machine, a bed for the night and somewhere to wash my stinking bones then I was good to go, to use a hideous American expression.
Once again I didn’t do much of note except walking around, taking a few pictures and just being totally happy. That is really all I require from my travels. Naturally a couple of bars were visited and I ended up back in the Milton for another catch up with the writing. I was still grievously behind but making a bit of progress.
Everything was good and it was a happy Fergy that eventually turned into his very comfortable bed and as that was such a short instalment I’ll head straight on to the next day.
The last day of the month (were there 30 or 31 days in April, I could no longer remember?) appeared and I was still on the road, remarkably well rested and up and running to face the day. This four day trip was certainly turning into some sort of mad odyssey and I was loving every moment of it. It was just a thing of joy to me, a realisation of the way I had always wanted to travel when younger but work usually got in the way. OK, I was very lucky and had extremely sympathetic bosses who would let me run around for perhaps five weeks even though the rules stated no more than four. It helped that I was usually going away in January or February when nobody else wanted time off as most of my colleagues were married with children and so tied to the school timetable.
This time I was totally free. I was retired, had some money in my pocket, had my passport safely stowed and I was just going to take this for all it was worth. I think it was about this point that I even stopped thinking about going home. I was just going to roll as far as I could and, when I wrote this some weeks later, I still had no clue where I would end up. I reckon there is a decent book to be had out of travelling to, say, Singapore with four days worth of clothes! Frankly, the mood I am in then it was possible.
It was my last full day in Nancy and I was just having another stroll in this beautiful city when I came across a funfair, carnival or whatever you want to call it although I believe the correct term in French is Foire Attractive. It may certainly have been described as attractive but the word I would more readily have used was huge. I have seen many such events before and this was easily the largest I have ever witnessed. It was centred on the Cours Leopold which is a reasonably large space and literally took it up completely. Naturally I had to have a look round which I did.
I was actually lucky enough to find the fair when I did as subsequent research shows that it visits Nancy annually for the entire month of April and this was now the 30th of the month.
Walking around, I saw every kind of ride and attraction you could imagine from pretty tame carousels etc. for the youngsters up to some pretty terrifying looking pieces of equipment for the hardier adult souls. I must say that I love rollercoasters and the likes in theme parks but I am just never convinced about the safety of something that is moved about on the back of a lorry and stuck up in the middle of a park. I just cannot see how they can be stable enough. I have no doubt that the French have some very efficient health and safety types to check such things but I thought I’d give it a swerve, unlike the beer tents.
Obviously with it being France, food and drink were very much in evidence and I visited one or two of the beer establishments although it certainly did put a strain on the wallet but I suppose that is to be expected. As for the food, well, it was certainly several steps up from the greasy hamburgers and two-day old hot dogs you would be likely to be served at such an event in UK. The French really do know how to do food and apart from all the usual tooth-rotting treats for the kids, there were entire family groups sitting down to meals that would not have looked out of place in a permanent bistro a mile down the road. I think my favourite was the two complete sides of meat awaiting barbecuing. Judging by the amount of wood laid out for fuel, it was going to be some ox roast.
As always, I hope my images do the Foire more justice than my meagre prose does. Again I shall construct a gallery entry with my surprisingly new-found skill to give you a look round the place through my slightly scuffed camera lens. I do realise it is a once a year event but, if the reader happens to be here in April, which is not a bad month to visit, then it is well worth a look even if you have not got the little ones with you.
A slow amble round the environs of the fairground yielded a few more images and points of interest. This is a statue I( found of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc).
I read a lot and have a head full of strange facts, most of which are probably not factual at all but I shall run one past you here. Don’t ask me where but I read years ago a plausible explanation for the actions of Jeanne d’Arc who I am sure you are all aware of and so I shall not recount the tale here. It is suggested that the “visions” which led her to actions so totally unusual for a female of that era were caused by eating diseased rye which was the standard bread flour in her area at the time when bread was very much the staple of the diet. No, I have not totally lost my mind here although she may have.
There is historical evidence that the rye crops had been diseased by poor weather and in such a condition would have produced a substance akin to, if not indeed exactly, ergotimine tartrate. Unless you are a chemist or a dyed in the wool hippy you will probably never have heard of it but it is a precursor compound for synthesising LSD.
Was Saint Joan, as she is now, simply tripping when she decided to lead an Army? Who knows and more to the point, where do I collect this stuff from? Anyway, yet another example of all my travels offering up things that relate to what I already “know” or which become relevant later on. I have long since ceased to be amazed by it. OK, enough of the philosophy although travel must be arguably the most philosophical human endeavour and so I shall return to my own trip (merely alcoholically induced).
Another series of bars led me back to my abode via a meal and yet again it was La Patate Gourmande and another great plate of kebab meat and their excellent sauteed potatoes which I was becoming inordinately fond of. They are good at frying potatoes in this part of the world. Those that know me know that I am not renowned for eating a lot so it was good to get something in me.
This little trip was becoming madder by the day and I just did not want it to stop. I was on the road, I had no clue where I was going and I had become myself once again, the usual Fergy, the lunatic road warrior of old. I was reasonably clean thanks to a decent shower, had clean clothes if in limited amounts and I just wanted to roll. This is what I reckon I was made for.
I get into a second month in the next instalment so stay tuned and spread the word.