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FRANCE BLOG: There’s no flies on us!
Warrington Guardian sports editor Mike Parsons, somehwere between Spain and France on a four-hour road trip that internet sources said would take two hours. Picture by Mike Boden
Warrington Guardian sports editor Mike Parsons telling tales as he and chief photographer Mike Boden set the scene in France ahead of Warrington Wolves’ final league game of the season against Catalan Dragons
WE’VE got history me and Mike.
Whether it’s been sitting on reading glasses travelling on a plane over to France, or stumbling 20 yards along a high-motion tube train after reporting on a match at Wembley.
There’s always been a tale to tell when the two Mikes have been in town.
And then there’s the arguments and winding each other up.
“You’re like a married couple you two,” said one kind colleague at the Academy office in Bridge Street yesterday.
It felt like that on arrival at Hotel La Fregate in Canet today, opening the bedroom door to the frightening sight of a double bed.
“Where are you gonna sleep, Mike?” was my first thoughts.
Thankfully, there had been a mistake – a big mistake in my eyes – and we’ve now got our own beds with a two-inch gap down the middle.
Oh well, it’s been a long day, we’ll crash anywhere tonight after a 3.30am start to catch the flight from Manchester to Gerona (Spain).
The fun and games started earlier in the week, actually.
The weight restrictions on the cabin luggage was leaving us with a dilemma – heavy cameras and lenses and laptops were taking us well over the 10kg limit.
And what’s the point of the company’s special effort in sending the intrepid duo to the south of France if they can’t do the job when they get there because of not having the required tools.
I admit I was getting stressed. We wanted two cameras just in case one decided to act up, the same with the laptops in case of any issues with connecting to the internet.
The wise one, Bodey, decided to try another set of scales just to make sure we weren’t stressing over nothing.
“Hey,” he said. “My digital scales at home reckon your scales are well off the mark – we’ve got plenty of weight to spare.”
Thinking quickly, I retorted that it may be his scales at home that are wrong – not mine.
In the end, both were right. Stupidly, I’d been reading the weight in ‘lbs’ instead of ‘kgs’ – he’s never going to let me forget it.
Amazingly, with luggage weighing skills as poor as a Wolves home performance against Widnes Vikings on a rainy night, we’ve obviously made it to the south of France – even beat the team by about 24 hours (just clearing the way for you boys!) And I have to say it was a fine tribute by Ryan Air in honour of approximately 50 per cent of their customers being of a Warrington Wolves persuasion. The plane was all decked out in primrose and blue, from its livery on the outside to the cabin-baggage lids inside. Even the crew had made an effort with their clothing colours.
It was an interesting journey across the border in our little blue Fiesta hire car. We took the coast road hoping to find some ‘Wire’ in every town, take their pictures, gather their thoughts and move on. No such luck – the majority are staying in Spain.
But as the conversation in the car switched between Wolves bringing Kevin Penny home and who are our favourite Wolves players of all time, a tractor appeared in the mirage of the road ahead.
Bare in mind, we were starting to climb a hill between coastal towns and nobody wants to get stuck behind a tractor going uphill, right?
Indicators were on and I started to steer over to the left to overtake when it suddenly became clear it wasn’t a tractor at all – it was one of those Noddy trains you sometimes see dashing down the promenades of seaside resorts at 3mph. And, it was towing six carriages of sun-burnt holiday makers. It just hadn’t looked like that from the distance and angle leading up to it.
And then there was a car coming the other way? Do I slam on and tuck back in behind ‘Le Train Touristique’ or carry on and squeeze through, while also thinking about the £1,100 excess insurance on the car.
I knew what Mike was thinking. Normally a driver and not a passenger, his leg was pumping up and down trying to push the non-existent pedal through the floor.
As it was, there was bags of time and there wasn’t an issue at all. But what the hell was a vehicle like that doing on the road. Health and safety experts in the UK would have a field day with that one – no signage on the back saying ‘extra long vehicle’ and travelling slower than a snail racing a slug. Not sure where they were heading but they must be still trying to get up that hill now.
After a stop at Platja De Grifeu for a Diet Coke break, we passed through Colera and headed to the other side of Port Bou wondering what was in store for us at the border with passport control. Two dodgy-looking Englishmen, we’ll pull them in for a car search, or, on you go lads we’re not going to spoil your day.
No fears. The old border control station was a wreck, windows smashed and covered in graffiti. It was no different crossing from Spain to France than from England to Wales, apart from they don’t speak Welsh in France, of course. I have to admit, I didn’t expect that but I suppose the European community has changed considerably over the years and we’re all one big happy family now.
We decided to stop in Port-Vendres to seek out anyone of primrose and blue persuasion, but not a sausage. So we had lunch, and this is where the title of this blog comes in.
I noticed Bodey twitching and was wondering what was wrong – first his shoulder, then a head shake. Of course, one or two flies had been attracted to the marinated anchovy offerings on my plate.
And then, whoosh! The one who points his camera and clicks decided to play air tennis in an attempt to swat the pests away.
The only problem was he missed. But he didn’t miss the top layer of his salad as lettuce leaves and some funny looking white bits went flying across the table! Can’t take him anywhere, but at least there’s no flies on us.
I’ll blog again tomorrow, when hopefully I’ll be able to tell you all about the atmosphere at Le Wembley Bar where Wolves fans are congregating tonight to watch Wigan play Leeds in a play-off to decide which poor fools have to come and play Warrington Wolves at The Halliwell Jones Stadium next weekend.
Not seen Sue Whitfield yet? She’s a Widnes fan who’s been dragged kicking over here by her Wolves-supporting partner Neil O’Brien. I promised her I wouldn’t tell anyone she’s a Black and White, so I’d best keep that a secret.
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