Twenty years ago as Doug and I were cycling around Europe, we reached a real low point one evening in a campground in Belgium. It was pouring rain, we had been on the road three months rarely staying more than a night in one place, and the campground was overly depressing. The bathroom/shower facility is worth describing. Imagine a 6-slice pie-shaped facility, 2 showers, 2 toilets, 2 sinks, one in each piece of the pie. The pie, however, was painted black (yes, black) and had no doors, and was in the middle of the campground. The shower was a garden hose sticking out of the ceiling. We could take a shower or sit on the toilet and wave to the other back at the tent.
Suddenly, almost like that light bulb going on, we remembered some relatives that were going to be in The Netherlands just about this time visiting their family. If there ever was a snowball's chance....we made the phone call from an equally depressing phone booth. The next day we were gloriously pedalling our way to Amersfort just outside Amsterdam to connect with David and Mathilde Oldham who were staying with her parents, Ma and Pa (in all the years we were lucky to know them, that's what we called them). They took us in for a week, entertained, fed, toured us around and told us stories of their WWII resistance activities. It was beyond heavenly when we needed it most.
We just heard from Mathilde the other day. She will be in Amsterdam for her 50th birthday, and is catching a flight to Toulouse for a "working holiday" for a week in Leran. I can think of no better way to celebrate a major birthday than by hoisting floor joists, drywall and subflooring. Except perhaps by hiking to Montsegur or Peyrepetusse, checking out the border collie time trials in St. Martin d'Oydes, or maybe watching the canal boats on the Midi. Maybe we can do it all.