Planes, Trains and Vintage Automobiles : A Quinssa Trip to the South of France
Part One: BatQuin goes blonde in Beziers
One fine day in the middle of the night, a very sleepy BatQuin got ready to leave for Beziers. After watering the garden at 4.30am to confuse the neighbours (HA! They thought it was raining!), she wasnt quite ready when Innuendo Andy and AJB turned up to give her a lift to the airport. BQ zips up her bag and the zip gives way. Ooooh, noooo! A bit of luggage rearrangement and the case shuts! Finally, with BatQuin and her baggage duly loaded into the car, off they went. Five minutes down the road . . . Erm, can we go back? I think Ive left my purse in the house. About turn, and back to BatQuins Bombsite. Frantic searching of the flat by BQ and IA yielded no purse. Perhaps you packed it in your case?, says IA. I wouldnt be that daft, now would I? What CAN I have done with it?. More unsuccessful searching and so BQ agrees to open her case. Now, what would that be hiding on top of the towel? Er, yes, it was BQs purse! Several suggestions made that BQs brunette hair colour was fake!! What a great start!
On arrival at Gatwick, BQ, IA and AJB met up with BaldRick and Sleepy Hollow, Simon, Anne and Tall Sharon and BikeQuin. Prof joined them later and related how hed spent 5 hours looking for his passport. Hed left it in the jacket hed worn on his last holiday (shouldnt go on so many holidays, should he?) which is not where it was supposed to be. Hurrah! Its not just me! We all checked in. The BA check-in lady looked sympathetically at BatQuin as she checked in with IA, AJB and Prof.
In true Quins style, we found the bar for a quick pre-flight drink before heading off for the Departure Gate. Mannequin had already been stopped at Security for having a spanner in his hand luggage! Prof, IA and BQ were on the second bus to the aircraft which seemed reluctant to leave . . . because the flight was delayed. There was a problem with . . . oh, I cant remember now, but Mannequin could have fixed it with his spanner! We all trudged back to the bar where Prof & Co ordered breakfast. Worried that wed get left behind, Sleepy Hollow returned to the Gate, promising to let us know when we needed to leave the bar. Sadly, he called before Prof had got his breakfast. Never mind, we say, therell be food on the plane. Finally we get on our little plane, heading for Toulouse and the first bit of info we get? Sorry, ladies & gentlemen, but due to the change in aircraft to a smaller plane, there will be no food served on this flight. EEEK! Still, to cheer himself up, Prof asked the Steward to bring him a BA questionnaire which he took great delight in filling out. Lets just say that mislaid luggage from last years trip got mentioned a couple of times!
An uneventful flight and we all made it to Toulouse, and piled onto the bus to take us to the train station for our journey to Beziers. It was HOT, in fact, it was VERY HOT. During the journey, Sleepy Hollow, our very own Pevsner, gave us his considered opinion on the architecture . . . Im glad they blended in the concrete with all this other sh*t. He had a point.
The train was revolting. It was far too hot, there was not enough room and, worst of all, there was NO buffet car. Obviously, SH, Prof, AJB, BaldRick and IA were wasting away by this point! We asked Sleepy Hollow why he didnt have any food stashed in his case, but were informed there was no room as his case was really full of several pairs of glasses and a kettle. Hmmmm, a SAGA holiday methinks!
Eventually, tired, hungry, hot and sweaty (nice image eh?) we all arrived at our luxury accommodation for the next few days LHotel Formule 1 on the outskirts of Beziers. After much faffing around outside trying to work out how to get in, we finally made it. It was a bit like an upmarket youth hostel to be honest, but aircon would have been nice. The rooms were also a tad small. If you opened the window fully in the vain hope of letting in air, whoever was standing at the sink got smacked in the back.
We investigated the local shopping centre in search of food (those svelte DGs were getting faint now) and beer and scared a number of locals by laughing too loudly, something we were to experience a lot! Home, via the supermarche for some water (12 1.5 litre bottles to be precise), and we allezed off back to Formule 1 for a wash and brush up to hit the town!
Dinner was a sober and quiet affair. Ah, come on, you didnt believe me did you? For a start we couldnt decide which direction to walk in to find an eaterie. Tall Sharon was getting quite exasperated at the general indecision. Eventually we found a table big enough and sat down. Lots of giggling, disjointed conversations that I either cant, or dont want to, remember, and a fair amount of the local rose wine later and for some reason we were talking about the old kids TV programme Skippy . . . and then it was Flipper. Why? Who on earth knows. Anyway, BatQuins blonde phase continued as she started singing the words Flipper to the Skippy tune, realising halfway through that shed got it wrong. A new creature was born Flipper the Bush Dolphin! Sleepy Hollow was desperately trying to find some people older than him, and was very chuffed indeed to discover that he wasnt the oldest there. Indeed, there were TWO people older than him. Just to prove his youth, he then purchased a glittery dummy from one of the passing street sellers which flashed red and blue. He looked very, very, erm . . . silly!
Eventually we got the message. They started clearing up the tables, so we paid up and headed for a bar, all of which were pretty empty. We had a few lemonades and then made our weary way back to the Formule 1 Sauna.
It was still hot! GROAN! Anything that created a draft was a luxury. BQ was trying not to get decapitated by the open window while Prof strolled up down the room . . . creating a draft!! Can you just keep walking up and down? asks BQ. Only if you pay me says Prof. BQ retrieved all her foreign cash and credit cards and gave them to Prof. Yes, it WAS that unbearably hot. Feeling that he might have to do a lot of walking for his money, Prof declined and gave BQ her Euros back.
We cabbed it into town in order to do some sightseeing. We wandered up to the Cathedral to find that it was shut and so we sat around for a while under the trees trying to come up with a suitable plan. Obviously that was far too difficult so we ambled off to find somewhere for a drink. Tall Sharon commented that it really must be too hot because she was joining in with the inane banter rather than trying to ignore it! We found an empty café which had several tables big enough for all of us and proceeded to sit down at a table. About 10 seconds later, some fierce-looking French woman came out and shouted that we were not allowed to sit there. She pointed at a table towards the back of the terrace which looked like a tatty wallpapering table. Trying to be helpful we took our own chairs, only to be barked at again. Apparently at this café, if you took the wrong white plastic chair, you could be in serious trouble. The plaque in the Square commemorated some historical riot; we seriously wondered if it had been started by moving the wrong plastic chair!
We sauntered down to lunch and met up with Simon & Anne. A small group went up to the Cathedral for a nose around and climbed the narrow spiral staircase to the roof. There wasnt much room on the roof, but the views were worth the climb. Some indecision and general getting in the way followed and we then tried to find a cab to take us back to our hotel before the match. A rather large car was located at the station and BatQuin was put in the kids seat in the back! Yes, I know, best place for her!
Yippeee! Off to the stadium to watch Quins. We trekked up the road in the soaring heat, being hooted at by the passing cars and laughed at by the Beziers and Montpelier fans. None of the miserable gits offered us a lift though did they? We purchased our tickets and several gallons of fizzy pop (and yes, I do mean fizzy pop, Prof didnt have a drink until AFTER THE MATCH) and made our way to a prominent position to cheer on the boys. Youve all read Profs marvellous match report, so I wont go into details about the games. Pablo Cardinalli got a huge cheer from us though which utterly confused the locals. We wondered why Evs was wandering around with the initials MS on his back. Were the shirtmakers at Kooga dyslexic? Matty Moore made a great water boy . . . getting caught up in play and having to sprint off the pitch sharpish. That burst of energy meant that he then consumed all the water he was holding for the players! Still, at least he remembered his passport this time. The commentator also had a bit of a moment when he credited Ugo Monye with Andy Reays try. Like two peas in a pod really, arent they?
After the matches, Scotty came over to have a chat and to ask who had won the tournament as he had no clue about the rules. Neither did we, but we reckoned Beziers had won it. The Steward, however, refused to unlock the gate to let Scotty through. Hes the Team Manager we yelled, but the Steward didnt seem convinced. He obviously didnt know who we were! All in all, the supporters didnt do too badly on their first outing but some more pre-season training would be needed to get them match fit.
In the Clubhouse (or should that be greenhouse?) a strange event occurred. Prof drank lager! Still, it was his first alcoholic drink all day. After a brief time at the ground we headed off to the town and the Feria. Scotty let us know where the team were having dinner and that was it BQ & Tall Sharon moved faster than anyone had ever seen them move before. Sadly, in their hurry to find the team, they ran straight past them. DOH! The mystery of Evs shirt was cleared up. Hed done a Prof and he and his luggage had been separated en route, hence the Mike Scott shirt. Evs, Scotty and Ace came over to say hello and Andre waved at Innuendo. Obviously he was really waving at me, but Id turned round and so he waved at Andy!
As the tables stacked up around us for the second night running, we thought wed better leave, so off we bimbled into the night. The main street in Beziers was a selection of stalls selling beer and absolute tat and playing lovely music. Just ask Sleepy Hollow, I bet he has a large collection of Euro Pop CDs now! BaldRick , AJB and Prof were standing in front of some stall where a couple of girls were dancing. AJB and Prof were trying to convince Rick to card the girls, but he was too shy. AJB then went off to card the Beziers Ladies Team just to show him how it was done! The girls stopped dancing, and so BQ and TS decided to take their places. HA! We were MUCH better. OK, so we cleared the street, but what do these French people know?! Obviously were not so scary, because Innuendo threw money at us (TS moved fast I had NO chance) and Rick carded me! We thought we were good!
Rick and AJB had moved onto another beer stall where some guy seemed to be taking an unhealthy interest in Ricks Quins shirt . . . or Rick!! Onto yet another beer stall where we purchased more of this lovely Feria Rose Wine (very drinkable hic!) A huge paella pan was rousing the interest of Prof and Innuendo. It was suggested that MrsB would like to get her hands on that and that if SH misbehaved wed try to take it home for RugbyBird to clout him with. BQ did as she was told and went over to lift the pan for a photo. Great idea! Some local then soaked her with a hosepipe! A bedraggled BQ then rejoined the others, only to find that TS had added to her new dance move repertoire! There are pictures I believe. We then made our way down to what looked like an open air disco and BQ and TS joined the riot police in their rendition of YMCA without getting arrested while Rick held onto to BQs handbag. It suited him!!! We carried on drinking and chatting to the friendly locals late into the night and were rewarded with some kind of pie and some Festival neckerchiefs for our trouble. Feeling a little thirsty, Innuendo went off in search of some water and came back with a jug of beer. He reckoned they didnt understand his French! Likely story!
Back to the Formule Sauna and BikeQuin asked BQ why she was called BQ. On hearing that BQ had actually taken her poncho to France Innuendo tried to persuade her to show BikeQuin why she had chosen her Board Name (didnt he read her Profile??). After several hours, BQ finally put on her poncho back to front, prompting Prof to suggest that she now be renamed BatGimp (A tip for you all not a good idea). BQ then went running round the hotel at around 4am bouncing off walls and trying to kill herself.
It was STILL hot. BikeQuin and Mannequin went home and Sleepy Hollow went off to Narbonne to do some sightseeing. Narbonne, according to SH, is a bit like Norbiton but without the class. So now you know.
Simon & Anne had offered to drive those of us left to the beach (HURRAH!). Rick, AJB and TS went off first, BQ, Prof & Innuendo sat around outside annoying the woman who was trying to clear up the plastic chairs. Prof was toying with the idea of writing up his match report but didnt want to start in case Anne & Simon came back. He finally got out his pen and had written half a word when, yes, you guessed it, into the carpark they drove.
The beach was . . . hot! IA, TS, AJB and Rick roasted themselves while BQ and Prof headed for the shade. Thankfully the sea was cold and it was the first time Id felt cool in ages! When Prof couldnt stand the heat anymore, he headed off to type up the match report - twice, as it turned out, because the computer lost the first version.
Hot, sweaty and now sandy too, we headed back for our last night at the Fomule 1 Sauna, arranging to meet at 8pm to go off for a last night in Beziers. The others abandoned Prof and BQ because they were faffing around and would obviously not make it for 8pm (more like 9.30pm ooops!)
Our taxi ride into Beziers was held up by a very strange parade, so we ditched the cab and tried to walk to meet the others in the town centre. The Festival Parade was very, very strange to say the least. Ill let the photos tell the story! We were amused to be accosted by a Scottish Pipe Band though and took some video to show McBinky, MrsMcB and McRB on their return from Coldy Jockland (apparently they ran into two chefs from Toulouse wearing DG trews on their holiday!!). We met up with the others who were on their way to a bar, so we found somewhere to have dinner. This took ages because the waiter forgot about us! True to form we were the last in the restaurant and had to leave before they took our tables and chairs away. We found the others, in various states of sobriety, laughing at Sleepy Hollow. Why? Well, it appears that SH had become so upset with those French White Plastic Chairs that had been causing us such trouble that hed started breaking them. Obviously it was due to sub-standard plastic, but SH had leant back in his chair, and the legs had collapsed, leaving SH lying on his back doing (so Im told) a good impression of a tortoise lying upside down!
IA, Prof, BaldRick, TS & BQ waited until they started clearing away the chairs and then drifted off home, wandering along the streets of Beziers in the direction of our hotel. We attempted some singing but it was not up to our usual standard. Definitely more training needed to get match fit. On arrival back at Formule 1, BQ had a snoozette on the breakfast bar in the reception (well, it WAS 4.30am!) while some people who shall remain nameless acquired the hotel full sign. TS got fed up with the indecision surrounding going to bed, so she went to bed. Feeling this might be a plan, the rest of us went back to our respective rooms too, all ready for the next exciting instalment of our tour round the south of France . . . .
The Match Reports: 1, 2, 3