Back in September I was scrolling through Facebook, as you do, when a post by @LesAmisdesAnimaux caught my attention. Looking for a forever home were 2 kittens, they not only wanted a home but also wanted a dog, I should have know at that moment how demanding these two were going to be!
As chance would have it, we had been talking about getting 2 cats, we finally felt it was time (read Blog A Tail of 2 Kittens) and we also have 2 dogs, one of which, Missy our Collie, had been on at us for ages to get another cat... careful what you wish for Missy Moo!
So I immediately responded to the post asking if the kittens were still available, The answer came back yes and that they were in the Dordogne. Disappointed as I thought the kittens would have been an ideal fit for our family, I let the rescue know that I was a long way away in Sarthe, Payes de la Loire, and couldn't leave the farm and the Llamas for that length of time to drive down and collect.
The rescue were keen for us to take the Kittens, so amazingly within a few hours a covoitureur had been arranged for the following week by volunteers and fosterer's of the rescue to transport the kittens across France to their new home with us. All I had to do was drive just south of Tours to an Aire and collect.
In the meantime, the rescue had been contacted to assist with transporting 5 feral kittens north to Caen as they had found forever homes in the UK. Yep you've guessed it, our little carpool for my soon to be kitties was becoming a big, slightly stinky, hissy covoitureur.
I agreed that I would take the 5 UK bound kittens from the collection point south of Tours, to an Aire North of Le Mans where I would meet Kim (the lovely lady who had found the kittens, paid for them to be sterilised and found homes for them in the UK) She was travelling from her home in the UK that day.
Cue the big day, I set up google maps to find the collection point and arrived just 5 minutes late, google had become confused at the entrance to the paege... yes google not me, I took my paege ticket, stored it in the glove box and within a couple of minutes met the lovely June for the kitten handover.
We have a Citroen Jumper Van and having done a little bit of stacking magic, I managed to secure all 7 kittens into the cab and we were on our way.. now at this point things started to go less smoothly. Maybe it was the excitement of seeing my new kitkats, maybe it was the lack of oxygen caused by the overwhelming stinkyness of kittycat poo poo, maybe it was that with every "challenge" I faced I became slightly more hysterical and my brain function reduced to barely functioning... I don't deal with stress well!
Just as I pulled out of the Aire, the indicator thingy that's in the wing mirror decided to jump out of it's fitting, travelling at 70mph the flipping thing was smashing about in the wind, all I could do was wind my window down, grab hold of it and drive one handed until I could safely pull over... As this early stage my anxiety was rising, I mean who wants to be driving with your window part down when you have a cab full of 7 kittens in crates secured by someone else...
At last I saw the exit of the paege, relief was swiftly followed by panic. The flipping toll ticket was in the glove box, in front of which was a mountain of carefully stacked, jigsaw like cat baskets. Right, this will not beat me, I pulled up to the unmanned booths, pressed the button and explained I had lost my ticket... No problem the voice came back, pay the displayed fee. WHAT! a fee of over €50 was displayed. Non! I have been on the toll road for just one junction, but she would not budge on the fee. Right... wait.... I will find that ticket I'm not paying €50.
At this point I had about 5 cars queued behind me, all staring at my British number plates... anxiety upped a notch, whilst I tried to re arrange all the cat baskets, on a flipping motorway, without any of my precious charges escaping, having been lucky enough to be rescued and find homes.... women of a certain age will understand the hot flush that this bought on, my brain was frying and I could barely think straight (for those about to comment, I did have the presence of mind to do this juggling act with the doors and windows closed... no kitkat was losing its chance of a forever home on my watch! Having all the windows and doors shut also dulled the now frequent horn bipping of the inpatient drivers stuck behind the stupid English woman with the tomato face.
So eventually I found the stupid ticket and inserted it into the machine, now I am not embellishing my story here, but the machine swallowed my ticket, honestly I could not believe it.. I told the voice in the machine what had happened and I could tell she didn't believe me, like I said I didn't believe it myself so couldn't blame her. Brain fog, my hot flush and the fact I can't really speak French anyway, stole any last chance I had of communicating with the voice and so I resorted to my last hope, my trick up my sleeve that has helped me out so many times in the past.... I sobbed! Luckily the voice had good hearing and heard my cry over the horn bipping of the inpatient drivers stuck behind the stupid English woman with the tomato face, the voice reduced my fee to €10, this was still more than I should have paid but I had some sense left to accept her kind offer.
Now I am not normally an abuse throwing person, but as I climbed back in the van (yes to top it all I had to stand on display to everyone throughout this ordeal due to stupid right hand drive) I mouthed an extremely rude word at all the inpatient horn bippers, although they probably didn't understand as I don't know any french rude words.
There is more to this story, but I don't think you would believe it. Can someone really end up driving south for nearly a hour when they are meant to be going north? (the answer is yes by the way, remember my brain was fried) and can the person for next handover really drive from Caen to La Mans thinking that they will just happen across the meeting place (again the answer is yes, although is impossible to be miffed at kind cat rescuing woman)
And are the kitkats worth all this stress? of flipping course they are!