Despite having the heaviest TNF bag ever, together with numerous side bags, I endeavoured to struggle up to Waterloo despite an ancient and decrepid transport system staffed by rude and recalcitrant morons - all I asked for was porterage service at Clapham.......Bastards.....and the shitty weather.
Is it all worth it?.............Yes ! The bar at Waterloo is open - 1st beer of the holiday........is on Bloomster ??
Sadly the first beer was not on Bloomster ! All Tigers, Hippos and Starfish lovers assembled and were provided with superb Pendle issue t-shirts. Webbo had ensured that Swamps had recieved his spring clean and he almost resembled a member of the human race, rather than some substrata. Beers were gulped and Webbo and Swamps dispatched to ensure adequate refreshment for the journey ahead. Onwards to France............!
Managed an uneventful Eurostar journey. Vin rouge and blanc scoffed. Sadly only two bottles were sourced. Any remaining nutrients were devoured before our big meal in Paris......... Arriving at Paris Gare de Nord, we were met by the loverly Clare who looked in very fine shape... She had even turned up with a car to convey us to the Gare d'Austerlitz. Had she turned up with a minibus we might have stood a chance. With 5 Pendle members (4 paid up ones anyway!) now owning kit-swallowing TNF bags and assorted accoutriements, the important equipment was dispatched by wheels and the self-loading freight boarded a journey of discovery on the Metro.
Arriving at the other end, we wasted all the eating time sorting out left luggage with some sweaty Pig Dog. Luckily Clare had picked up a few basic phrases during her stay in Paris. Quick beer then back to the SNCF to discover that our sleeper train resplendant with disco car, restaurant and dancing girls had been cancelled as some fuckers wished to ruin our holiday by going on strike. Clare found us another train, last used to convey troops to the Russian Front, so Pendle's finest boarded sans food, sans drink and with the news that we would have to get up 2 hours earlier at silly o'clock to transfer trains............ The stinking Pig-dogs !
Found a free sleeper and piled all our debris in. Bloomster felt it important to check out the sleeping facilities and duly passed out to ensure a full 8 hours undisturbed kip. Andy and Swamps scoured the train for supplies - but no joy. Luckily in the next compartment were two agricultural Frenchmen, who had a bottle of honey flavoured moonshine. Swamps and I had a few scoops with them, then the big feral retired to his pit and for the good of the club I stayed up to swap late night high grade shite talking with them. They seemed pleased to have met me.
A few hours later we arrived in Toulouse where we had another hell-hole journey to Tarbes. Now tired, hungry and in need of some rocket fuel style caffine we are here....Fantastic ! PISS 2002 is on the road...
Well, almost. The car, a Renault Scenic isn't quite big enough for 2 x X-Large TNF bags, 2 x Large TNF bags, 4 rucksacks, other assorted bags and 5 hairy cavers. Still, after much pushing it all went in and so we set off for Tarbes south-central, hopefully providers of breakfasts, Brookhouse style of course !
Found a "non-stop cafe", but the breakfast menu was off until mid-day. Settled for a bagette, stuffed with local cheese for local people. Oh, on the train from Toulouse, some sticking pig-dog caused a huge bag to fall from the roof, awakening me from my slumber and giving me a sore head. I, even in my tired state, found it amusing, but the pig-dog called me what later turned out to be "a cunt" in finest french...........What a twat !!!
Slumbering journey across the wasteland-like plain separating Tarbes and Pau, snow-topped mountains visible in the distance, then the gradual climb into the Valle d'Aspe, our home for the duration. Found the village our gite owner lived in, Bedous, and so began the waiting game. With 3 hours to kill we saw the entire village several times, went in the numerous (well 3) shops on the main drag numerous times and strained to see the mountains through the clouds.
Eventually Madame Lernou's house was approached and with my finest French we were eventually taken to the gite by her maid, a strange women with a distinct aroma. Eau d'Open Toilet, I thought. The gite was superb and huge, with wooden floors, dishwasher, rope-drying attic, double garage for kit and car, washing machine, power shower etc and big rooms with a double bed for me in one room and another for Thuggo in another room. Webbo and Bloomster decided to share a room (separate beds!) and it speaks volumes that Swampy got the remaining room to himself !
It was better than ever before !
First Night Out
All we wanted was chicken dinners. Enough said really. What we got was…….
We all searched round the centre-ville of the one donkey town we had ended up in. Restaurant Chez-Michael turned us down - apparently they finish serving the evening meal at 7.30pm, of course they would. La Creperie, fully directed, wholly closed. That left Le bar de John Michael.
OK…..damm we walked past this place a few times hoping we'd not have to enter, but anyway Pendle's finest walked in.
" DO YOU SERVE CHICKEN DINNERS ? " asked Pendle.
" NON, " replied Mr J.M. " BUT I CAN MAKE YOU SHRIMPS, WHISKY, GARLIC AND BLAH…BLAH…BLAH…DRUNKEN WORDS….."
"NON MERCI " retorted the Pendle brave boys " WE'LL HAVE JUST THE ONE BEER. "
Sadly this led to yet ANOTHER night of madness. Mr J.M. was France's top alcoholic (quite a feat ) he made us drink more than our fair share of Bier, Despardoes, Cognac etc etc….Finally he served us up a few stinking shrimps and a bit of actually been to the Catholic tat fest rice….cheers mate….. Anyhow J.M. made it clear to us that he was the region's top mad-man and Pendle made another friend !
We failed to find anywhere decent to eat (anywhere in France), so we headed for Le Bar de Jeanne-Michelle á Bedous. This has a reputation as a class hostelry providing a warm welcome for international travellers and those who appreciate fine cuisine. Well, perhaps not.
Four staring locals craned their warty necks to gawp at us and a pack of scabby dogs howled out a welcome. Food was finished for the evening, but the friendly barman promised to knock us up a meal we would remember forever. How right he was !
Rotting rancid prawns, fried in grease, flambéed in Ricard, edible at a push but unpleasant at best. Served with maggoty rice and slug salad.
Broken down hovel, furniture snapped up, dog grease everywhere.
● Jean Michelle - The remains of a man, worn by a life of alcohol abuse, progressively worse as the evening passed, emerging as a ranting incoherent madman. Breaking chairs, shouting at us, pouring green formaldehyde-based Ricard into himself. Misunderstanding what we were trying to say because he couldn't concentrate for more than a few seconds. Sweat and smell, dirt ingrained in his chin, covered in self-inflicted cuts, tormented by his cheating wife and a failed and broken man. One of life's bystanders.
● Michelle Marsaux - A 100 year old French peasant, preserved only by an unstoppable habit of stealing other peoples fags and drinking from the out-fall of the local nuclear power plant.
● Fanny Fraise - The amorous and insatiable wife of JM, who wanted action from Weaner and wanted it now.
● Lots of dogs and some lesbian types.
● Us, five hungry and confused English-types, hopelessly struggling out of our depth, whirling round in a crazy vortex of madness.