The Incredible Hulk IS Scary


(Nice calming water picture… Vouvant)

Soooo there I was driving down to the supermarket. (By the way the Eat the Fridge thing is going great! – go to shop only once a week even if it seems there’s nothing left in the fridge… find creative ways to feed yourself from the nothing!) The lights were green on the t-junction so I proceeded behind the traffic, while wondering if maybe there should be a yellow box (road safety education: “don’t drive onto a yellow box unless the way ahead is clear.”) The traffic in front stopped because the lights ahead of them were red…. and I was in the space between one set of lights and the next.


(…. ommmmm… Green Venice)

Hasn’t everyone been there? The space where all seems fine, all us cars are having a fine time driving along and then it goes a bit quiet and it turns out you are the only one in the space where the traffic from the side road will need to be and you are in the way. It’s a lonely space.


(sigh… Green Venice)

So now I was… stuck and mortified. And the cars in front were also stuck or I might have inched forward to hide out-of-the-way. Slowly, very slowly the lights changed for the side road. And you know the bit in the Incredible Hulk, where something bad happens and you just know the Hulk is going to start loosing his clothes and turning green? Well, unfortunately for me something bad must have happened to the man in the car coming from the side road because he drove his car in a very Incredible Hulk way while gesticulating wildly… a lot.. at me.


(… just little ripples… Vouvant)

You know how, You know it’s gonna be fine and you know he’s not going to get out of his car and you know he’s probably not that much bigger than you and you know he’s definitely not green? And yet… and yet I was afraid. You know how horrible that is? No? It’s horrible.


(…peaceful… Vouvant)

So I just wanted to say if I do something really silly and it blocks your way for a few moments anytime in the future, could you please not lose your temper? Or if you do could you please not gesticulate wildly in my direction… a lot… like the Incredible Hulk? I’ll be driving any car and look exactly like the person driving any car that slows you down 🙂

Thanks from a slightly disturbed, Mairead.

The Green Venice

30 09a

(The embarcadère in Coulon)

When we picked this area in France for our September Retreat, I had noticed something on the map – the Marais Poitevin and in particular The Venise Vert  (the Green Venice.) You might remember how much I loved the real Venice, so I thought I might also love this French and green version.

30 09i

(Wrong way, paddle backwards…)

The pictures showed tunnels of trees (and you know I love tunnels of trees) over narrow canals with flat-bottomed boats. But it turned out to be a bit of an elusive spot, ok, not the whole area. To be precise I had a very particular picture of what it would look like (mainly the tunnels, sigh) but each time we drove to La Rochelle and through the Marais Poitevin area we would pass canals at the edge of the road with flat green farmland on the far side. Something wrong with that picture. No trees, no tunnels, not even one flat-bottomed boat.

30 09b

(Heading for my river bank… shriek, shriek, paddle, paddle…)

And so with only a week to go (I know, I know, 4 days isn’t a week) it was now or never! I set to work on Saturday evening attempting to pin down the exact location I had seen in the pictures (oh and disaster, I couldn’t find the pictures any more…) It was not an easy job, but I did locate a town possibly very close to but not exactly the right place. It would have to do. So on Sunday afternoon we put the name in the sat nav and set off to… Coulon.

30 09c


On the way we got a bit side-tracked when we found another of the places the French people go on a Sunday afternoon – car-boot sale or an empty-your-attic sale, there were no signs and I don’t know the difference. Suffice to say there was lots of very good bargains to be had. Can you guess what I got for €1 each? More tea towels. And they’re linen. And they have sweet little loops for hanging up. Did I mention that I love fabric? (Tea towels are fabric!) Especially in bundles. The very nice French lady who was selling the tea towels had ironed and folded each one and tied a little ribbon around a bundle of six. (Yes, I did buy six more tea towels. No, I’m not going to use them for drying dishes.)

30 09h


Now, even if we didn’t find Green Venice, all was well in my world. But we did! We arrived in Coulon and my investigations had indicated that we needed to find the area of embarcadère (I think it means where you get on the boats.) Long story short: we parked, we had lunch, we checked out the flat-bottomed boats.

30 09f


Finally, we found the perfect boat and got in holding a paddle each. First, it’s very funny. One person rows a bit and then the other person rows a bit and both people laugh a lot. But if one person is stronger or more competitive the boat soon starts heading towards the other person’s bank of the river. Huge shrieks of laughter from me and a smidgen of panic. Instructions from Denis. Paddles in the water again, huge smiles.

30 09g


Eventually, we started to match each other’s strength and competitive force and we stopped working so hard and the river took us along. And it was so cool and, really, really peaceful. And because each of us had our hands full and our feet firmly balanced it was almost impossible to think of doing anything else, except being there. We stopped wanting to take pictures. So we took very little. Instead, we had the experience, of floating, on the water, in the canals, built by 13th century monks. Sigh…

Sigh, Sigh, Sigh… Mairead.