Greetings from a very chilly south of France! Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of bright sunshine to carry us through January, because we’ve been bundled up to our eyeballs in winter coats for a good few weeks now… But the view of the clear skies on the Mediterranean is “pas mal” not bad, as they say, so not a lot to complain about during “winter in Provence”!
And I’m equally cheerful to present a giveaway (love those!) and it’s especially nice because there are 5 copies of the book, Gullible’s Troubles, to win by leaving a comment on this post – très simple!
Gullible’s Troubles is a charming travel narrative about one couple’s adventures, and “mis-adventures”, while traveling through France and Sicily – with side trips to England, Wales, and Italy. If you ever wanted to experience the ins & outs of European travel (via a bumpy campervan) this is the book for you.
The author, Suzi Tooke, is a native of England but currently lives in Brisbane on 10 acres of bush with “a mad dog and an Englishman”. An IT user manual author by trade, she’s traveled to more than 20 countries and with her current travelogue, she hopes that now “someone will actually read what she’s written” – ha, love it!
Half the fun of the book is that Suzi sets off from Australia with a rough idea of where she’d like to travel – ie. all the pins have been placed on the map – but then lets the trip take its own course with unplanned stops, sidetrips, and somehow a single detour to a snail farm (in France of course, ohh la lahhh).
From the start, she takes us to England and Wales, where they stay in a spattering of hotel rooms, some quite “posher” than others, pick-up their famed temperamental campervan, see old friends, and share more than a few pints while winding their way cross country. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the book as I’ve only been a casual traveler to England and know nothing of Wales whatsoever. She sheds light on the history of the two countries with plenty of anecdotes from their travels – from villages in Wales with old castles and well-preserved buildings that are things of rare beauty, “not only the unusual and unique, but the commonplace and the ordinary”, to stops at weathered churchs, muesums, and more than a few pubs.
From there, they ferry to France, where of course I was the most intrigued to read her impressions and see how they managed the cultural (and language!) shift while having to tackle driving on the other side of the road. Suzi does not disappoint, with tales of stops at towns along the river Seine – full of “cobbled streets and half-timbered fantastically leaning buildings with overhanging first and second storeys” and run-ins with French locals.
As they head further south, the couple discovers the towns of Orange, Avignon, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Gordes, and Roussillon – just to name a few! One of my favorite moments from their travels in the south is when they stop to eat at a local restaurant and the owner appears and declares that the next drink is on him. They thank him and remark how much they appreciate the gesture. To which he replies, “C’est normale, c’est le Midi”. – To mean, it’s normal, that’s what we do in this part of France. Couldn’t agree more!
And as they travel through the country, Suzi proclaims, “All of rural France is full of places you think, ‘Yeah, I could live there!'” Quite right Suzi, quite right indeed…
This book is chock-full of so much detail, it’s hard to believe that this was just one trip! Suzi talks about tackling one-way traffic in Carpentras, the brief history of the popes in Avignon, amazing views of the citadel built into a rock at Sisteron, ramdomly driving through a lavender field, and camping (and later wine-tasting) at a vineyard outside Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. And I haven’t even touched on Italy!
eBook giveaway – 5 copies
If you’d like to enter to win a free digital copy of Gullible’s Troubles, just leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite road trip – one you’ve taken or one you dream about taking!
5 winners will be chosen at random on Monday, February 1st and we will email you an access code to download your free eBook.
And if you don’t have an eBook reader, no worries, we’ll send you directions on how to download one for free.
Good luck chers amis!