I had some important admin to deal with so I phoned up the relevant department. It costs 12 cents a minute to talk to someone but it saves driving an hour, round trip, on the off chance that someone might be available to help in a branch office in Tours.

A helpful lady listened to me on the phone and then advised me to go to the website and do my stuff online. I tried. The language on the website made me go cross-eyed so I telephoned again. This time a very helpful gentleman said that I only had to write it all in a letter and send it to them. Cool.

I wrote the letter and then had a good hard think. Two phone calls; two conflicting pieces of advice; deadline in four days (has to be done before 2018!). I drove in to Tours with my letter.

I was received immediately by a lady who looked at my letter. She advised me to make a few amendments which I did promptly and she stamped it and put it in a pile on her desk. She also answered a few questions I had by telling me to ask someone else.

Result: I am now in administrative limbo, I have no idea what I have done and neither do they. We’ll be in touch, said the lady as I left her office.

It seemed important to get some fresh air afterwards. I parked at the train station in Montlouis to try something I’ve wanted to do for ages. With the children in tow we climbed the steps up to the Amboise-bound platform. From there you can take the rail bridge across the Loire. On the north bank of the river we checked out the lake replete with herons and egrets and then followed a footpath upriver. A bevy of swans on a branch of the Loire kept pace with us as we walked until we found a way down onto the muddy flats at which point they turned around and took flight. Six swans taking off at once is a truly impressive sight.

The picture is from the foot of the bridge on the Vouvray side looking towards Montlouis.

I was a little disappointed we didn’t see any trains crossing with us on the way back but considering the state of the bridge it’s probably just as well.

Here’s some frosty green stuff.

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