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Beaune Beginnings

I have just touched down in Beaune after an uneventful drive.

The day started very cold in Wiltshire: minus five or so, giving a heavy ground frost and a car that needed to clear its throat on starting and then a good 10 minutes to warm through and clarify the overnight situation with its windows.

Just over two-and-a-half hours took me to Folkstone and the channel tunnel, with enough time before my train to buy a book and those little sticky items for the headlights: a uniquely (as far as I know) French requirement. Other requirements include the red triangle in case of breakdown, a set of bulbs for the car in case any of my lights blow up and, just in case (I have heard that the flicks can get shirty on this one) a fire extinguisher in case I find a French person on fire. Lastly, I included a day-glo reflective jerkin of the sort that a fork-lift truck driver would wear. Carrying one of these has now become yet another legal requirement in France. And note that it must be in the car. In the boot and you're busted.

The train was as quick and smooth as ever it is and it poured me out into more glorious sunshine. I headed south over those interminably flat lands in France's far north, passing village after village of inappropriately ugly housing huddled around pretty churches that craned upwards, perhaps in an effort to expose their clock faces to the winter sun.

There was some warning before I entered the thick fog that was to cloak the motorway for a good hour of my journey. Cars coming in the other direction had their lights on and then I passed a field that was wearing a sliver of cloud like the sticky icing on a slab of green carrot cake. The fog lasted until Reims.

As I neared Dijon I guess that I was travelling more-or-less due south. Suddenly the sky cleared and full ahead, low in the sky, two planets swung. One was certainly Venus, glowing with her characteristic greenish cast, astonishingly steady and close; the other, who knows. Mars perhaps.

It was a warming celestial welcome to Beaune, where the night is unexpectedly warm: four degrees. Tomorrow's forecast is for nothing higher than freezing point. Now that's more like it!
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