Bridging time

“Take a look at that bridge, Poppy. What d’you reckon to it?”

“It’s long… very long. So long I can’t see the end of it through the mist.”

“Two and a half kilometres give or take. High, too. Apparently one of the supports stands 343 metres above its base in the valley. That’s 23 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.”

“Full of facts today, aren’t we?”

“Don’t know about you, but I have a few more tidbits for you.”

“Such as?”

“Such as Sir Norman Foster designed it.”

“Isn’t he a British architect?”

“He is. He teamed up with a French structural engineer called Dr Michel Virlogeux.”

“Well, colour me fascinated.”

“Thought you would be. Did you know it was opened to the public three years and two months after construction began?”

“That doesn’t sound long for something that big.”

“It wasn’t. And it opened nearly a full month ahead of schedule. Go on. Ask me how much it cost to build.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. How much did it cost to build?”

“Just shy of four hundred million euros.”

“How much?”

“Just shy of four hundred million euros.”

“It’s a fabulous structure, but there must have been other things, better things they could do with that much money.”

“Have you ever had to drive down into the valley and back up again?”

“Can’t say I have.”

“Believe me, it’s money well spent. Avoids traffic jams in the valley, saves fuel and knocks hours off the journey time.”

“Is that important in such gorgeous country? I mean; look at it. Who’d want to rush through that.”

“If you’re on holiday, touring in this area, probably not. But not if you’re headed to the south coast, or to Spain; and not everyone is a tourist. Especially in winter, when the snow and ice can make the valley route not an option. Nightmare for truckers.”

“Okay. You’ve made your point. Perhaps it wasn’t a waste of money, after all.”

“I’ll tell you what else. Do you know, if you look to the left past the city, you can see into the Gorges du Tarn and beyond that to the Gorges de la Jonte, where there’s a large population of vultures – Griffons, Egyptians and Cinereous?”

“I thought you only saw vultures in the Pyrenees or the Alps.”

“And here. They’ve been working for decades to reintroduce them after they were all shot out early in the last century.”

“Wow. Ron – can I ask you two little questions?”

“Sure, Poppy. Ask away.”

“Well. First, how do you know all this stuff?”

“That’s easy. I’ve been here before, and I was so impressed that I read up about it.”

“The bridge or the vultures?”

“Both. What’s your second question?”

“Why are you telling me all this right now, rather than when we get back on the road? And why are you standing up there to tell me? Come down.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“For exactly the same reason I’m spending as much time as I can telling you stuff.”

“And that’s because?”

“I had a bit of an accident when we got up here and I’m waiting for it to dry out in the sun.”

“The big puddle down there? No-one will know that was you.”

“No, they won’t. But you will if I can’t get the sun and wind to dry the front of my trousers!”

“Ewwwwwwwwwww.”

 


I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 164, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.

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