Ok, it’s not really a cottage we’re staying in. Unless cottages are three stories high with six bedrooms, three bathrooms, multiple living areas and medieval turret. I just though “manor” might sound a bit pretentious and lessen sympathy for our medical crisis. And while it’s not quite as glamorous as the pictures on the website (surprise) suggested, it’s pretty great until you open the front door and see the communal courtyard complete with assorted junk including white goods, miserable dog chained to a tree surrounded by his own turds and dog owner glaring balefully out his front window. They didn’t mention those things on the website either. Travel websites, guidebooks etc have the own special languages – and omissions – a bit like real-estate-speak. The local wines are described as “sturdy”, the nearby village’s biggest selling point is that it has “all the usual amenities”. Yesterday’s destination, a medieval ruin 70km away was “the least ruined of the area’s castles” and “one of the marvels of the Corbieres”. Being a bit Cathar obsessed – tragic religious sect forced to perch on windy, rocky mountain outcrops to avoid being burned at the stake by Catholics, what is it with religious fervor? – Husband was determined to see it. What the guidebooks didn’t mention was that 70km on winding goat tracks takes a good three-hour round trip to traverse and leads to car sickness and inconsolable sobbing in small children. It also means the lunch promised in the “lively town” of Limoux, particularly during its carnivals, which are “particularly jolly” doesn’t eventuate. Instead, lunch is a bag of three-day old croissants found in the car, leading to sulking on
my part. The ruin? Husband reckons it was magnificent when he finally clambered up the muddy, slippery hillside with the Sprogs. I stayed in the car, but had a lovely view of it
through the windscreen as the rain sleeted down. Hopes are
high for today, however. Just a 15-minute drive to
Carcassone, a “very convincingly restored medieval fortified town” where I’ve been promised a lovely hot lunch, preferably “lip smacking” cassoulet.
LAST NIGHT’S MENU: Cracked out the raclette machine again as too late to cook anything after marathon trip to wet ruins. My colon (and waistline) are protesting.