London -> Herefordshire -> London -> Calais -> Rouen -> Le Mans -> Angoulême -> Clermont-Ferrand -> Dijon -> Ronchamp -> CERN -> Geneva -> London
English cider country and its wonderful artisan cider farms, followed by mouthwatering French and Swiss wines and many types of cheese fondue.
Got caught in two insane lightning storms whilst on the road - like something out of a movie, with one lightning bolt per second across the flat countryside of south-western France. Drove though a solid wall of water. Slept in the back of a van in all sorts of locations from a village cemetery to a vet's back yard. Van coffee from a tiny portable kettle was one of the best parts of waking up.
Shovelled calcium stones in a village barn-cum-chateau in progress for the Cyberdog designer Dominic Elvin
Saw many ancient, giant cathedrals and basilicas and one *little* church from the modern times, by a certain French chap, in a convent in a tiny village only architects have heard about. We broke the convent's rules and sat on the grass outside Ronchamp's Notre Dame du Haut drinking perry we had brought all the way from Herefordshire, then peered into the nuns' quarters controversially designed by Renzo Piano.
In the true spirit of Italo Calvino, we passed through a city of black lava stone, a city of mustard and chocolate, a village of spectacles, a skiing village, a town of nuclear physicists, a city of banks. We drove atop of Mount Jura in milky fog, with glimpses of mountain villages hundreds of metres below, then over the giant circle of the Large Hydron Collider into CERN.
Now home in London N8 eating hiyayakko tofu, a dish impossible to find in the land of meat, cheese and snails. I left the two boys driving through the Alps into the sunset of distant Germany. Wish I had more holiday time left so I could stay with them, but the hamster wheel of London-work-life wants me back.
As usual, bits and pieces and photos are on Twitter
, I've been posting these throughout the trip.( A couple of my drawings of Le Corbusier's Ronchamp behind cut. )