I always, always take out European breakdown cover for these trips, and it was well worth it on this occasion. The scooter was whisked away and I was found a hire car (you never get a hire bike).
Now, bear in mind that since passing my car test two years ago I have driven my mum's automatic Clio perhaps half a dozen times, for a maximum of 9 miles in one go. Suddenly I had to pilot a left-hand drive manual 200 kilometers, some of it in the dark. I was frankly petrified.
(There was one good omen: the car was a Twingo, a model about which my best friend and I have had a running in-joke for the last fifteen years or so.)
It was a long, long drive. I must have stalled at every Stop line and traffic light between Poitiers and Cahors, including a hill start at a junction that Howard eventually had to get off his bike and do for me.
Howard coped exceedingly well with seven hours of bipolar behaviour (manic when I was driving successfully, depressive when I wasn't). We reached our final destination at 11:15PM, to the sound of barking dogs.
A late, fraught, bikeless arrival wasn't the first impression I'd wanted to give my longtime LJ friend wosny and her husband, but they welcomed us kindly and showed us to the gîte which would be our home for the next week.
I have seldom been so grateful for a drink as I was for the carafe of red wine which waited on the kitchen table.