road trip, travel diary, revisiting old places, creating new memories, travel blog
Road Trip Diary Day 8: Revisiting old places and creating new memories. Photo: @marclepenn

Today is the day I go back to the gîte we used to rent for our summer holidays. To say that I am apprehensive about it, would be the understatement of the century. I really don’t know what to expect. I don’t even know if I am going to feel anything at all.

I did consider extending my stay at Le Moulin de l’Abbaye by a few more days. It’s in Brantôme and I could use it as a base to explore the rest of The Dordogne valley. We both know that if I did this it would be purely to avoid going back to the gîte. If I didn’t go, I would regret it and I can’t afford to come back with regrets.

MORE: Le Moulin de l’Abbaye in Brantôme

The point of this road trip is to create new memories about old places. So, let’s pack, check out and hit the road to Bergerac. It sure is a great day for it. Sunny and hot. The hottest day of my trip so far, in fact.

It’s a relatively short drive, compared to the rest of my road trip – just under 60 miles. I should be there in under two hours, according to the SatNav. Unless it decides to take me on one of its diversions or through someone’s vineyard 🙂

Either way, I have plenty of time to get there and to call in at a supermarket to get a box of chocolates and flowers for my hostess.

… I failed to note the fact that it is Sunday which means closed shops! Schoolboy error and I feel stupid and embarrassed for turning up without a gift!!!

The drive was easy and uneventful except for when they played Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler (link here). This is the last song my partner and I listened to together. I shall never forget it: I was gardening and on one of my breaks I went in the house. My partner was listening to the radio and they played this song.

We had a good laugh about it because I belted out the only two lines I knew:

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I’m only falling apart

My singing voice is as bad as they get and my partner was in stitches every time I sang. Listening to that song on the way to our favourite holiday retreat was too much for me and I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out. It was good though because it made sure I had no more tears left for the day.

The gîte was as beautiful and tranquil as ever. Set on top of a hill, surrounded by woodland and vineyards overlooking hundreds of rows of vines growing up the valley opposite. There is a small chateau on the other side of the road from it, just to highlight the fact that you are in one of the most beautiful parts of France.

I was very happy to meet the lady who owns this magnificent property and to catch up over coffee and cake. Neither of us could believe that it was almost four years ago when we last met. She showed me around and left me to have a moment to myself. I had a good cry and a flashback of all those wonderful memories that we created there.

In many ways going back to that place, seeing it again and remembering the wonderful time we had there, was the point of this whole road trip though France. The very last thing my partner did, hours before the heart attack, was to type up the itinerary for our holiday. I needed to come back to France – as a last mark of respect and to honour that itinerary. I felt like I achieved that and with it, reached another milestone on my grief journey.

On the way to the hotel, I stopped at Château de Monbazillac (link here) because we used to drive past it every day on our holidays here. It was too late to go inside but they let me into the gardens to take pictures.

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