L’Escapade. Episode 4

John’s first reaction on hearing where we were going to be living was “Great, cheap Jack Daniels in Andorra!” Not only cheap JD but the fuel was only 0.95 Euro a litre. We chose a very sunny week-day to head up to Pas de la Casa, just over the border. Weekends in the ski season get very busy.

Although a lot of snow has fallen in the last couple of weeks the authorities do a great job keeping the main roads clear. The first time we visited we thought, “How tacky, all brash tax-free shops, hotels and restaurants for the skiers”. Now our attitude is less judgemental. They’re in business and that’s what sells here in “Skeggie-sur-Neige”.

Delicious Galettes Completes were our choice for lunch. Although the restaurant was busy the waiters discussed a variety of topics with us in French and English. Came out thinking we’d made new friends!


Colin’s farewell dinner was a very French affair. Shamay (his occasional cleaner), Hugo and four of their children, along with family friend Pierre, arrived around 7.30 pm. Drinks and nibbles had been laid out on the table in the lounge. Almost an hour later Bernard the builder turned up and then Tori, an Australian lady who’s staying at the Château. After another round of drinks, indoor smoking and a little more chat we were called to the table for the starters: Coquilles St Jaques…delicious. Then they all got up and went back to the lounge for another cigarette. Called again to the table for the main course: roast pork and dauphinoise potatoes, then another break in the lounge. Re-assembling after the pause for the cheese course and continuing the pattern for desert, coffee and chocolates.

The food was all excellent. The family were very boisterous and spoke no English so it was hard to follow their chatter most of the time. However, conversation at our end of the table was more inclusive. Bernard and Pierre were prepared to talk slowly and explain words or phrases. Tori, whose French is very limited, was glad of our help in translation and we all got on very well with plenty of laughs.

The meal lasted until nearly midnight. The youngest child (about 11) was nodding off. It was a school night and they had buses to catch the next morning, one at 6.30. Although I was yawning whilst waiting for them all to arrive, adrenaline saw me through.


On Monday Colin showed us an email from his African employers saying they couldn’t afford to pay his full salary before May; we wondered if the game was over. He’d previously been told he was wanted as early in January as possible, hence our urgent start. Living so closely together for more than a couple of days, initially due to a delayed visa, has required admirable patience and tolerance on all sides. Our interests, daily timetables, degree of tidiness and cleanliness, are very different. Will he call the whole thing off?

We decided to wait a few more days to see if they could reach a compromise. They did. Visa arrived. Flight was booked. He’s leaving on 3rd of February, returning for the month of April. That’s good news, as packing up our Coventry house by April 29th could now be done together instead of fragmented solo trips. Every cloud…


This blog is based on truth but for privacy and security many of the names have been changed and some of the story may be embellished at times for dramatic effect.