We were invited to spend the weekend 'a la campagne' with a french friend in whom AM has spotted many personality similarities to yours truly. These being a propensity to talk quickly and at length, a lack of awareness for most things practical, fondness for a drink and a maternal need to look after everyone and make sure they're happy at all costs. Her partner, who purchased a crumbling barn from the local village madman for approximately €50 and a sack of potatoes, has converted it into a fabulous living space, with wooden beams, wet room, decking and mezzanine office (note to self, be on the look out for crumbling barns housing madmen or crazy old cat ladies) and lives in the countryside near Dax, an hour from Biarritz. Rather than simply give us the postcode and house number for google maps to find, she proceeded to send us detailed driving instructions featuring such gems as "at the next roundabout look out for the pottery shop and the green and white house. Wave to Marie who works at the bakery and take the first left." Okay, so I made up the bit about Marie but you get the picture. Sadly enough for us, I was in charge of reading said directions, plus consulting the map, and I didn't really get the picture. We took the wrong road five minutes in, rendering her instructions for the most part redundant, carried on fairly successfully for about 40 minutes (fluke) until I read the map wrong again (it can't have been turned round so it was in line with the direction we were driving. Yes, that is how I read a map) and we found ourselves on a twisting village road, devoid of signs. When we finally reached the next named patch of civilisation and I located it, we pulled over and had a conversation that proceeded as follows.
Me: "I'm not sure where we went wrong"
AM: "When we put you in charge of reading the map?"
Me: Icy stare
AM: "did you not wonder why the straight road you thought we were on was so windy and wasn't next to a river?"
Me: "I thought it might straighten out" *ignores river comment*
AM: "well, let's see how we can get there from here. Shall I take the map?"
Me: "yes please"
The next two days were spent gloriously either shopping for, preparing, eating or clearing up for the next round of food. We stocked up at the local market (after sustinence in the form of oysters and white wine. At 10:30am? Sure) and enjoyed glasses of rosé with clams and persillade (the secret to French cooking) in the 20+ degree weather still happening in late October. AM was in raptures over the hunk of beef cooked briefly over hot coals and served with dollops of Béarnaise. This was the life! Speaking only in French for the entirety meant by the end of Saturday evening I had convinced myself I was completely fluent. It's amazing what a nice glass of Sancerre can do to your sense of achievement and self-worth...