Turned out it wasn't, and a plan conceived on Sunday was booked by the end of Monday and carried out on Friday.
Howard wanted to visit a castle and I wanted to buy cheese. Evreux, in Normandy, seemed like a sensible base for doing both these things.
We met at the Eurotunnel terminal on Friday evening, sneaked on to an earlier train than we'd booked, and rolled out into Calais in good time to check in at the Coquelles F1 Hotel, a clean and comfortable no-frills establishment where we slept soundly until a Czech coach party began the process of getting itself on the road at 4:30am.
It was slightly later when we hit the road ourselves. We reached the subterranean city of Naours, which we'd picked from the tourist brochures in the hotel, in time for a late lunch.
We made our way through the complex of caverns, once used to hide the inhabitants of the town above while raiders rampaged, then said hello to the goats in the adjoining park before moving on.
The threatened rain arrived in the late afternoon, just as the participants in a 2CV rally passed us in the opposite direction. We stopped to don waterproofs for the last hour and a half, at the end of which waited a hotel room, a hot shower and a late dinner consisting of the entree buffet followed by the dessert buffet.
It was still raining the next morning. We sallied into town to look at the cathedral, and I had a sablé something, which was a biscuit folded into a triangle around a layer of raspberry jam. Then we set off for Château Gaillard.
Constructed by Richard the Lionheart, it perches high above the Seine and the town of Les Andelys. To fortify ourselves for the walk we had lunch at a bar, where the friendly proprietor encouraged Howard to play the instant lotto. We picked seven numbers and won 8 Euros from a two-Euro stake (not quite enough to pay for our sandwiches).
The sun came out as we climbed the hill, making the walk uncomfortably warm but the views from the top spectacular. Reenactors in chainmail guarded the sandy stone and distinctive scallops of the castle walls.
My plan had been to dine in the pretty town of Lyons-la-Foret, but everywhere was expensive/not open yet/run by a weird creepy guy, so after a drink we returned to Les Andelys. Here a brasserie owner waved to us, beckoned us in, and provided a plate of cheese, meat and pâté.
We made our way back to Evreux along country roads in golden evening light, slowing to admire an enormous hare as it bounded away across a field, and later braking sharply when two roe deer hurtled from hedge to hedge right in front of Howard's bike.
Our hotel was close to a military air base, and I'd gathered from Google Maps's satellite view that they had an interesting gate guard (this being the term for a decommissioned aircraft that sits outside a base where the type was formerly in service). I very much wanted to photograph it, but when I politely asked the security guy whether I could, he said no, presumably in case I captured on film whatever secret squirrel stuff might be going down on a transport base at half past ten on a Monday morning.
It was one of these: Breguet Deux-Ponts
I was disappointed, but at least I had seen the thing. We pressed on to the supermarket where I bought the cheese of my desire, plus sweets for the office and a rosé cider. Our route back to Calais was leisurely, with coffee in Rouen, lunch in Neufchatel and a quick stop in Agincourt.
We emerged from the tunnel at a quarter to six UK time to discover that it was raining.