We set out for Stansted obscenely early on Saturday morning and boarded our Ryanair flight. I had the middle seat next to a crying baby, but it stopped when I said 'good morning' to it and was fine for the rest of the flight.
I was thrilled to spot a Beluga transport plane from my window as we taxiied; a good omen for the weekend of geeky delights ahead. We disembarked into a warm, sunny Toulouse and celebrated with airport coffee and doughnuts before walking to our Ibis Budget.
We took the tram into town, had lunch in a 'British pub' and wandered around a little, delighting in being abroad.
Late in the afternoon we'd booked on Let's Visit Airbus, a tour of the factory. This is so super secret that you aren't allowed to take photos, or enter without showing your passport.
The tour was in three parts: first we watched a video showing the first test flight of the A380, then visited the assembly line, then explored the military A400M stored at the museum. We'd booked on the English tour with a wonderfully funny guide: "You will see there is nobody in the factory. This is not because we are on strike or on coffee break, but because it is the weekend." She also complimented Wardy on his V-bomber T-shirt.
We spent our evening looking for somewhere to eat, eventually finding an Italian restaurant where we sat outside in the warm dusk. Afterwards we walked to a riverside bar for a nightcap.
On Sunday we headed back to the museum, via a bakery for breakfast and a supermarket to pick up sandwiches for lunch. I spotted a Beluga in flight from the tram and we fell over ourselves watching it pass by.
The Tintin exhibition was beautifully done, with pictures and models of the aircraft from the books throughout the museum, and plush Snowies hiding in various cockpits. Early art showed how Hergé had quickly cottoned on to the aeroplane as an exciting modern development. I found it especially interesting that the planes often changed model between the original magazine strips and the redrawn comic book versions, so a 1930s airliner becomes the 1950s equivalent.
After spending a fair amount of time and money in the gift shop, we rewarded ourselves for our frugal lunch by ordering coffee and waffles at the posh museum café.
This kept us going until dinner, which was at a Vietnamese restaurant and delicious. I'd never had Vietnamese coffee before and now I want no other kind forever.
We returned to the Ibis, and I suggested we slip over to the much posher hotel over the road, the Pullman, for a drink. At the bar we got talking to an American former pilot, now avionics engineer, who had come over to teach a course. We started off talking about planes and ended up looking at photos of his cat and dog.
On Monday morning we headed to the airport, where we got one last Beluga sighting as it took off and vanished into the low cloud and I had a tin of supermarket cassoulet taken off me at security because I was too stupid to realise it counted as a liquid.
Wardy kindly drove me home before heading back Oop North. We'd been abroad for just under 48 hours but it felt like a real proper holiday.
More photos on Flickr