Sunday, 2 August 2015

Road trip

As I write this I find myself in the South of France, in a tiny place called Albignac deep down in a beautiful lush green valley, where I am teaching and playing at the piano summer school that my old friend and once-upon-a-time teacher Paul Roberts runs here. A bunch of pianists - half of them young conservatoire students, half of them amateurs all ages - have come from all over the world to play to Paul and myself and when we don't play pianos we get waited upon and served lovely French food prepared from local produce by Paul's family and friends, who have come to be dear friends of mine over the more than ten years that I have been coming here. Hardly surprising then that I have come to count this as one of the highlights of my year!

In previous years I have always travelled here by plane, but this year I decided it would be fun to drive, so that's what I spent the last three days doing. I left home in the drizzling rain on Thursday morning and drove southwards, stopping in Malmö to pick up my friend Henrik who lives in Hamburg. Together we carried on through Denmark and waited for a slightly undesirable hour and a half for the ferry at Rødby, followed by a horrendously rough 45 crossing accompanied by horrendous fast-food on the boat. In the end we came to Hamburg where I stayed over night. 

I left on Friday morning on an investigation of the Autobahn system that was to take me to Luxembourg. On my way I fitted in a short stop in Cologne complete with a bratwurst and a visit to the magnificent cathedral. Aided by my trusted friend, the iPhone GPS who bravely struggled with the foreign street names (some entertainment value there, I can assure you!) I eventually arrived in the remarkable fairytale landscape of Berbourg in Luxembourg where I was served a lovely meal and stayed the night with old friend Anna Dannfelt. 

The final stage of my journey took me through France yesterday, and to the remarkably hilly and stunningly beautiful regions of Aveyron and Tarn, down some of the bendiest roads our trusted Peugeot has ever had to negotiate and come six o'clock last night, I had arrived. Slightly knackered I was too, but after a some cassoulet a drop of wine and a good night's sleep I was ready for some piano action!

Here is the view I woke up to...

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