08 Feb Les agriculteurs en Colère !!!
It is now week Two !!!! Yes, we should have taken the train, but guess what ? We just did not think about it till it was too late ! It took us almost 3 ½ hours to get to Toulouse last week as the Farmers had blocked the auto-route at Montauban. The sky over the town was blanketed in a thick, choking black mass of billowing smoke, the beautiful fresh air poisoned, permeated with a nasty putrid odour of burning rubber, as the Farmers set fire to barricades across roads & motorways made of old tyres and hay-bales to stop any traffic passing. The Gendarmes stood and watched, unable to do anything they just stood around chatting and laughing, probably extremely pleased that they were not stuck within the growing number of cars blocked from getting to where they needed to be . The gendarmes did not think it necessary to tell traffic that were diving down all roads trying to find a way around, that those roads were blocked too !! Nor did they place any signs to let motorists know that those routes were blocked too. They just watched enjoying their chatty get-together. Huge numbers of haulage lorries pulled up on the side of roads, as there was just no where to go, the drivers looking tired and frustrated. Stuart drove down quite a few little roads, which of course led us no-where, except to more lit fires & destruction. Then, fortunately he caught sight of a local registered car, going down a road we would not have chosen to drive down. Fingers crossed and having nothing to lose except more time, we followed him and hoped for the best that he knew a secret route. Thankfully he did and after many, many kms of beautiful countryside that was not alight, we arrived the otherside of Montauban with a hugh sigh of relief. On arriving in Toulouse, it was no better, there were no fires but traffic was everywhere, stuck in one direction roads, lost, having bumps in their cars as concentration was lacking just trying to find their way around a blocked city. City & town Police were everywhere, they had blocked many roads as they were expecting problems with Farmers that were heading for Toulouse to demonstrate there too. With our appointment time looming closer and not wishing to be late -when lost & all else fails, ask a Policeman, Right ? Wrong ! Every single road we needed to use was blocked by police vehicles. When we asked them how to get to where we needed to be, they just shrugged their shoulders, either saying that it was not their fault, or they were not from that area or use our sat nav. The latter being OK when the roads were not blocked ! So helpful !! All they wanted to do was talk amongst themselves, & it was plainly obvious to us that we were just another irritating motorist ! As for the chaos with the traffic, well hey, let the drivers sort it out for themselves !! We thought of parking out of town, but with time not on our side it would not have made any difference. However, with no help from the Police & just a little bit of flukey luck we made it, arriving just 10 minutes late for our appointment. And yes you have guessed it, we then had to get home. No time to go shopping that day. A drive that normally takes us just 1 hour 20 mins, took just over 4 hours, but at least we made it home, it was such a bitterly cold night to have been trapped in a car and not to have been moving would have been worse. Fortunately for us, the two times we did sit motionless on the motorway wondering just how long we were going to be trapped there, the wait was alleviated after not too long, as those striking at that moment in time, at that place, decided it was time to go home, thank goodness. However, we knew the motorway was still blocked further along in several places, so we headed off in a direction which was miles out of our way, albeit incredibly long, through miles and miles of winding country lanes, we at long last made it home. This protest is still going on now, and is well into week 2 ! We are so pleased we live away from big towns and so thoughtful of all those poor people that have to commute everyday trying to get to and from work, or going to the hospitals etc. For the Farmers in question, it is not for me to criticise, they have their reasons. But !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!