feeling like a plum in Agen….


Nothing concentrates my mind more than nothing. After a short time, the nothing of this pale rain distorted image seen through the windscreen as I waited for something yesterday, took me away to another moment in time when I sat waiting and looking at another nothing that in its turn took me on another voyage. I have suffered or, as I now realise, benefited from day dreaming for as long as I can remember, which may or may not be very long at all as when I try to remember anything in particular, after a very short time, I start day dreaming. This time I went back to Agen.

Squinting against the brightness of the sun, out of the corners of my eyes I would, on occasion, catch a glimpse of a chateau perched high up on a wooded hill, but more often it would be the ochre colours of burnt earth  mixed with the blurred shapes of olive groves close to the road’s edge as I drove fast towards Toulouse. I was already thinking of my destination, a beautifully renovated old manoir, where I would be staying for a couple of days, taking pictures and eating and drinking with good friends. Then the engine blew up. If a car’s engine is going to blow up, it’s best that the up blowing should occur as close as possible to a place which specialises in returning engines to their pre up blown condition and such was my luck on that day. After the bang, and a post coital cigarette which was allowed in those days, I and the injured car rolled to a stop in a garage sensibly situated exactly at the point where our gathered momentum finally expired. Amongst the vagaries of French car insurance I had found that the insurer was unwilling to offer a replacement car, in the case of breakdown, but would pay a king’s ransom in other forms of transport to get the insured back to his home or to his proposed destination. Of these two choices I opted for the former which entailed an over generous portion of waiting which, in its turn, offered the exciting prospect of some extended mind travel. Instead of a replacement car the insurance company proposed the following itinerary. I was to wait at the garage for a tow truck to arrive which would transport me and the car to a recognised Jeep dealer in an ironically styled, “nearby”, town where the necessary repairs would be undertaken. Once there, I would be left to my own devices for two hours as it was now midday which is the beginning of the sacred two hour lunch break. I was told by the insurance company’s agent that a taxi would pick me up later. I questioned the “later” and was duly asked why I imagined any sane taxi driver would want to work during those hours when he could be having lunch and what sort of dangerously insane person would be looking for a taxi during that time when he too could be, and jolly well should be, enjoying a lunch of his own. So I had lunch. As I finished my coffee a taxi drew up. Was I being watched or was I day dreaming? Rather than interrupt the flow by answering the question I just got into the dream and the driver of the dream took me Agen station which itself seemed to be part of a pretty weird dream.


The dark train that towered above me ( I should mention that I was not dressed as a Chinese girl) duly took me, in a first class seat, from Agen to Bordeaux where my dreams changed tracks once again. There I was guided to another train that whisked me a further 3 hours up the line to the town of Niort where a Peugeot Pumpkin, drawn by rats as opposed to Banksy, hied me some 60kms to my home. A week later I would have the pleasure of travelling the same route in reverse to collect my repaired car. I would have liked to have stopped at the restaurant where I had enjoyed lunch the first time around and to have asked them if they would serve me the same meal starting with the coffeee, onto the dessert and so on but sadly I didn’t.


I’m not well known for my financial acumen but the round trip by first class trains and taxis must have amounted to at least 8 or 900€ whereas a hire car is around 50€ per day….or maybe I’m just dreaming.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2016, Art photography, Digital photography, Dreams, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Reality, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to feeling like a plum in Agen….

  1. Lovely story. Thank you.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I’m glad you had the good fortune to be taken to a town with a decent restaurant 😉

  3. Nadia says:

    Might not have been such a great experience if you had hired a car.

  4. bizzyella says:

    Great story. Better photos. Thanks!

  5. Gerlinde says:

    Nice story and fantastic photos.

  6. Bonkers insurance companies but sometimes it works in your favour! Didn’t realise we pass so close to you on our drive to and from England/Spain – Niort is on our route, we’ve stopped there for the night once or twice!

  7. ardysez says:

    Lovely story, well told.

  8. I think that would not have been a hard decision – i LOVE first class! .. the girl and the train is a beautiful shot..

  9. catterel says:

    Your car blows up and you then enjoy a post-coital cigarette (they always tasted the best) – I like your philosophy of life! Is that a “gangsters’ Citroën” in the beautiful blurred photo? (My imagination is starting to run riot …)

  10. Sally says:

    Day dreaming is a very under rated pastime

  11. Conor Bofin says:

    Lovely story. A pity it had to be written. You got me with “extended mind travel”. Lovely.

  12. Francesca says:

    Now I know what a plum means, thanks to your explanation last week, I now understand the title- well both senses of the title. You are a feeling like a tool in Agen, or you are pruneface, or Boche, though the dream like aspects of your voyage suggest you are neither. Train rides do that to you- it’s a wonderful way to travel, and your train photo captures it well.
    My Prune d’Agen plums will be ready next week.

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    I suffered through a similar situation last fall, Roger, and couldn’t believe the money that was being thrown around. So, this is why premiums are so high. I would have complained but I’ve been paying the inflated premiums for years. I wasn’t about to insist my insurance company become fiscally responsible just when it was my turn to reap the benefits.

    • The strangest thing, John, is that car hire is so incredibly cheap here, as I’m sure it is in the States….maybe they just don’t trust their clients to be driving cars, so any excuse to get them sitting in the back seat is worth the money:)

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