I think it was somewhere near Toulouse that we hit it. Somewhere above chaotic megastorm and just short of armageddon. The whole world decided to instantaneously turn into rain and then hail and fall from the sky at the same time.
You probably think I'm being dramatic. Well yes I maybe hamming it up for bloggist needs but the truth is it took us off the road!
We were driving along and we hit the wall of precipitative madness and the bug quite simply became a boat. I aqua planed all over the place, slowed down to about 20mph on a motorway... Mad locals who apparently had no interest in living went whizzing past. I basically lost steering as the bodykit hit pooling water and we ended up drifting into the hard shoulder. Whacking the warning hazards on quicker than a fat kid downs a maccy d we were quite concerned that we would be rear ended as there was no way people could see through this.
So we sat and filmed the lightning until the hail eased up.
We saw a gap in the weather and blue sky in the distance and gunned it for climatic freedom.
We were heading for the next checkpoint, The Pau racetrack sat in the depths of southern France.
We now had rain and hail on and off until we reached the checkpoint. When we got there it was full on raining but we didn't let that stop us.
We turned up where the sat nav indicated we should and all we could see was boarded up walls and a big church. 'hmm are we in the right place?' then we heard it. The whine and rumble of assorted V8 power. We could not see it but we could hear it. It was then we realised we were right by the track. Unfortunately so were some security staff for the circuit. I had to pull out all of my francais prowess to sweet talk the middle aged french female security guard into letting us somewhere near the track. "Le photo sil vous plait madamoiselle"
Eventually she waved into an area we could park and said we could walk round some barriers and take a peak and some photos. The photos are rubbish, but the cars were awesome! there was some historic racing going on with Cobras, Daytonas and many more. We got a few shots with the video camera and as the local staff were getting techy about our unsubtle trespassing we decided to head off.
Coming into Pau we'd met up with the lads in the red XJS. This stately thing was one of my favourite cars on the rally. To my knowledge it was the first time an XJS has done the rally and this thing was great! We were also touring around with the graffiti'd blue and gold merc. By the time we'd got to Pau I think we'd lost them though.
We headed back out of town running on fumes. The XJS was in need of some fuel too so we were hunting. It was then that we found the most obscure of things. An electric recharge only 'petrol' station. Ie it looked like a petrol station but all it had was plug sockets!!! Have I missed something? I rarely ever see an electric car on the road, yet they are building stations purely for them? Well bugger me, maybe I should go and buy a couple of 4 ways and setup one in my drive.
This was not good, we needed fuel.
Some gentle cruising out of town to the next services and we stopped. Still with the XJS we also bumped into the Scumtaxi white peugeot 306. We refueled but also got some lunch.
Microwave burger. Win.
It was at this PETROL station that we had a bit of a debate about our routing.
To our left was the pyranees, it ran from one side of our view to the other like an inviting set of lady bumps calling us to head straight into the middle for some mountaineous antics. The sat nav did not agree, It swore blind the best route was heading along to Biarritz and down, basically driving right around the mountains!
We eventually concluded that we had enough time to take the detour (or so we thought it was a detour)
The XJS and the Scumtaxi headed off, I'm not entirely sure what route they took in the end but we didn't see them again until the evening.
So loaded with food, filled to the brim with the finest octane fuel they had and the sun beating down we were all set for a few hours of driving that we were never going to forget...
To be continued - sideways