I left my heart in Monaco…

Ah, what bliss! I’m in France – woohoo!! It’s been bloody fantastic so far, I have to say. The flight was good, apart from a particularly rough take-off. I’m not the best flyer in the world but when the whole plane gasps aloud as the plane jolts back down a few feet it’s very un-nerving. I made it to Nice in one piece though, and met up with the lady who’s apartment I’ve rented for the week. It’s lovely, in the Musician’s Quarter about a 7 minute walk from the beach. Right now, I’m sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon sun – it doesn’t get much better.

I’ve found it quite nice being in my own company, and I’ve been speaking French every day. I negotiated my way to Grasse on the train alone, strolling around the tiny maze like streets and soaking in the atmosphere. I’d wanted to go ever since I saw Perfume: Story of a Murder (not because of the story but because it looked so beautiful). I did rather imagine at least a few fields of lavender around but no. Still, it was a lovely little place. On Wednesday night, I went t a restaurant for dinner, the first time since i’d arrived as I’d bought supplies from a nearby supermarket. I’d had lunch alone, no problem, but not dinner. Not even in London. And, you know what? It was fine. More than fine, in fact, it was great. I chatted to the waiters, ate a good dinner and watched the world go by, and there were a few lone diners dotted about so I didn’t feel out of place. Wednesday also happened to be a bank holiday, one of the most important in France, so it was absolutely heaving! Over dinner, fireworks were let off across the bay and as I walked back to the apartment in the middle of the road along with hundreds of thousands of other people, I had the goosebump moment:

This was actually for real. I was really in France after months of planning. And I felt immensely proud. Ok, so travelling to a neighbouring country and dining alone might not be the most difficult thing to do, but for me, it was epic. I went home with a smile on my face.

Yesterday, I went to Monaco – possibly the beautifullest place I’ve been to yet. I absolutely adored it. As soon as I stepped off the train and walked down to the port, my jaw dropped open and it stayed that way all day.

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I’ve never been a fan of yachts. I don’t like being out at sea and I just didn’t see the point of them. I do now. These things were amazing, like actual houses on water. The size of some of them took my breath away and with Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s parked up outside them, it made me wonder just how rich you have to be to own one. A lot of them were marked as being from Georgetown and when I saw a family just chilling, having lunch (including a boy of about 3), it just brought it home how different my world was to this one. For the rest of the day, I wandered around Monte-Carlo and ogled at the Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s and Maserati’s parked up outside the casino. I took lunch in Cafe de Paris and eavesdropped on the conversation of my neighbours (very yah dahling, I’m going to take the chopper to the Amalfi Coast tomorrow) and then went to wander around the exotic gardens in the royal palace. Literally every angle made me sigh with pleasure. It was so beautiful, so clean, so peaceful, so…everything. And the fact it cost only 7 euros to get there was the icing on the cake.

So, my sightseeing is done for the week. It’s really tiring walking up and down hills all day in the sweltering heat. Even first thing in the morning is ridiculously warm and I’ve tanned to within an inch of my life.

But, I am loving it. On Monday, I start my volunteering in Languedoc…I’m excited to meet my hosts and get down to some work!

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My exciting news!

So in my last post, I hinted at exciting news.  Bogs, one of my readers reckons I’m pregnant or engaged. I can confirm that for five days, I tried not to fret waiting for my period to arrive. Me, who’s normally bang on to the day was late by five days. Not anymore. So no, I’m neither engaged nor pregnant. No ring on it. My exciting news is…I’ve applied for a career break this summer to go do something in France.

I’m not sure what doing but I’ll hopefully be doing some kind of volunteering and I’m not sure where I’ll be going either. It depends on what’s available, so I could be in Marseille or I could be in Paris. Or Normandy or Burgundy. Either way, its hugely exciting for me.

Of course I spoke to The Frenchman about it and we both agreed it’s something I should do. After all, my desire to live and work in France pre dates him by about five years. And now I’m relatively conversational, I really want to step the language building up a gear.

So no, no immensely life changing news but life altering (I hope) all the same!

Back To Reality

So I’ve returned from my weekend in France. And I really, really don’t want to be here. I’ve done literally diddly squat all day. This is not good!

After hopping on the Eurostar and changing metro lines in Paris like a pro, I jumped on the TGV to head south to Marseille. It was six and a half hours in total before I finally got to Marseille St Charles and saw the smiling face of The Frenchman as he waited for me on the platform. It was so good to see him again. It had only been 3 weeks but it felt like forever. My train had actually arrived a little late, which he was thankful for because he was late himself. The reason, he told me, was because he’d been busy making a pie. He’d never made one before but he wanted to have dinner waiting for me since I was arriving so late in the evening. I have to say, I was mighty impressed. His pie was delish and went well with his salad and home-made dressing, chocolates and ridiculous amount of wine. We spent the evening eating, catching up, having obscene amounts of sex and generally chilling out. It was so nice to be back there with him (and his cat, of course), it almost felt like I’d never left.

On Saturday, he woke me up quite early. “Have you finished sleeping?” he asked. I hadn’t but being kissed awake put an end to my laziness. What a wake up call indeed and let’s face it, sex is a perfect alarm clock. He fell asleep afterwards and because I’d brought my laptop to keep me occupied on the train, I decided to get some writing done. When he woke up, he asked to read some. My writing was a major bone of contention with my ex and he never once showed an interest in it, until I left. He ended up reading some on the Sunday and while I was embarrassed, he seemed genuinely interested in the story, asking about this and that and for translations around English expressions he’d never heard of. It was nice for him to show an interest in something that means so much to me. It was a really nice, chilled out day. We went for a drive into the mountains to see a Calanque (kind of like a bay) and even though I got a bit chicken at the idea of going all the way to the top, it was simply stunning. He goes running up there all the time and it made me feel pea green with envy. I’m not sporty at all compared to him (he runs, plays squash, tennis, golf and football on a regular basis) but just the fact that he was able to go running with that kind of scenery around him…it made me realise just how different our lives actually are. By the time we got back to his apartment, I had a headache from the freezing cold, windy weather, so we both lay on the sofa, him to watch football and me to nap. I knew he was a massive fan of Olympique Marseille but, actually, I think he’s just a football addict all over. This is a new one on me. My ex didn’t really watch it at all, but I’m thinking a football addiction is better than a drug one? No?

Anyway, that evening, we went for Pastis (a popular pre-dinner beverage. Bit aniseed-ish. Not that keen), then dinner and to a club. I had been curious as to whether he’d told his friends about me, not least because there’s this one girl on his Facebook who is just always there. There’s always one, isn’t there. In any case, I’m not bothered about her now, but still, I didn’t know if I was this dirty little English secret, so I asked him. He said he’s told his friends about me “sure, I have” he said. They think it’s great, apparently. Definitely and experience, if a little crazy. That said, he has friends who’ve ended up marrying their partners after long distance relationships, so it’s hardly out of this world. The main thing, he said, is that he’s happy and they can see it. When he talks about me, he has a smile. Aww. That was enough for me. It was a great, great night. Fabulous food, where we ended up staying in the restaurant until way past midnight, then onto a bar with live music and then onto a club. I really didn’t want the night to end but I was conscious of the fact that it was 3am and I only had one day left. I didn’t want to spend it all hungover, so we left.

We ended up having a long conversation about relationships, and trust. I’d made a friend in the club waiting in the overly long queue for the toilet and obviously, being English, I was more interesting than the run of the mill French women there. It was all super friendly and when I was back on the dance floor with The Frenchman, my new friend saw us and said hello. The Frenchman knows my last relationship was a bit…restrictive…and he seemed to struggle with understanding why. Sure, everyone says ‘oh yeah, I’m really trusting’ at the beginning of a relationship but with him, I believe it 100%. Just the fact we’re in this long distance set up means we have to trust one another and I still can’t get over the self-assurance which seems to ooze from his pores. I know he’s not sleeping with anyone else (I asked the question last week) and the reply I got was ‘there’s only one girl and that’s you.’ That’s more than enough for me.

I wish the weekend didn’t go so quickly. It felt like my feet hardly touched the ground. After getting in at 3am, speaking for another hour and half and then having a marathon sesh, we didn’t actually get to sleep til around 6am, which of course meant we woke up around midday on Sunday. By the time we’d dragged ourselves away form each other and out of bed, half the day had gone. Again, he slaved away in the kitchen (roast chicken this time) and we were both so knackered we decided to forego a drive to Le Vieux Port (The Old Harbour) and settled on the sofa with another bottle of wine and his cat to watch a film. The next thing I knew, it was time to go home. Almost. But the filler for this bit will go in a separate post – this one is long enough already.

Waking up on Monday morning was hard. Not only was I exhausted, I just didn’t want to go. His cat was meowing and kneading his paws on my face after having accompanied me everywhere the night before (even to the bathroom) and I was so comfortable with The Frenchman spooned around me. I couldn’t believe it was time to go already. The good news is, I didn’t cry this time. I don’t know if it’s because I was going on a train and not a plane, but the goodbye didn’t seem so gut wrenching this time. It felt more like I was going away on a trip rather than all the way back to London. It was hard, of course, but I managed to hold it in. Until this morning. I have no idea why I was so emotional. Maybe it was hearing Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on the radio which now reminds me of him. Maybe it was waking up without him having gotten so used to it, so quickly.

Obviously, this is all reaaaaaalllyy condensed. I don’t want to bore anyone with minute details. Suffice it to say, it was easily one of the best weekends of my life. And now, I feel a bit lost. Which sucks arse. Because I really doubt I’ll see him before the end of the year, and it could be 6-7 weeks before I see him again. And that is a really, really long way away.

Et maintenant… (And now…)

What a weekend! It sucks to be back home! After a month I finally saw The Frenchman again and it was bloody fantastic.

He was there to meet me at the airport and straight away, the chemistry was there. We grabbed a quick coffee before he drove us to his apartment which was very french. Plenty of stairs (and he lives on the top, 5th floor), hard floors, shutters on the window, balcony, the lot. And, I met his cat, my new best friend. Since we were both tired we stayed in. He cooked dinner to go with the flowers he bought me and we worked our way through a bottle of wine. And had lots of sex. Of course! It was so nice to be with him in his own environment.

When we woke up the next morning, with his cat balanced precariously on my arm (!) we heard the unmistakable sound of rain. It seemed I’d brought the English weather with me because according to him, it’s rare to have rain in Marseille that lasts more than hour. It rained all day. We had planned to wander around town but neither of us wanted to venture out, so we spent the day lounging around, listening to music, having more sex and eating. Not a bad substitute methinks! When the rain finally stopped we went out and my french skills were put into practice with real people! I was nervous, of course, but I actually did ok. I was understood, anyway, and we had a lovely dinner before heading to a cocktail bar to sink mojitos and dance. By the time we got home we were both shattered but still found the energy to make use of his bed (again). Afterwards, we fell asleep. While he was still on top of and, um, inside me. That was a first! But a nice one 🙂

And on Sunday, I woke up at stupid o’clock. I don’t know why but I’m always up at about 8.30am on a Sunday so I left him to sleep a bit before waking him up in my own special way! The sun was shining through the shutters and the sky was perfectly blue. Finally, I was experiencing the sun! After breakfast we headed to Cassis, a gorgeous town on the coast. This isn’t a picture I took – I have photos on various social networking platforms and I’m trying to preserve my anonymity, but this is Cassis.

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I have to say, being on a beach with the sun blazing in my skin in the middle of November was a nice touch. As we sat outside a restaurant with a glass of wine, we had ‘a conversation’.

He really likes me. He feels comfortable and natural with me (rare for him) and I understand him. It’s hard for him to see me only once a month and until now, he hasn’t wanted to ask himself whether he’s ready for a serious relationship. This is his way of protecting himself and he’s told me before that he tends to put barriers up whereas I’m the opposite. And in a perfect world, I’d be with him in Marseille. Everything he said echoed what I was thinking, and I told him that I have to keep reminding myself that he’s ‘him’. I’m not sure if its because he’s French or because he’s him but things he says and does aren’t what is expect a guy to say or do. I’m used to the idea that attempting to have a ‘serious where is this going’ conversation could spell the end of a potential relationship but he’s the opposite to what I’ve grown used to. He’s incredibly affectionate, declaring his family ‘complete’ when we were snuggled with Icar on the sofa. So, the upshot is that he has to ask himself if he’s ready to take a risk with me or not.

He’s worried it would be difficult with our different cultures. I told him it would be. I did a relationship like that for nearly 10 years and it isn’t easy, but then good things generally take work. He agreed with that sentiment.

I’m going back for four days in 3 weeks and then he wants to come here mid December. After that, the plan is that February-ish, I’ll go for a bit longer so we can spend some proper time together.

So, are we ‘exclusive’? I didn’t ask. Strangely, I don’t feel like I have to. I trust him and I’m sure he feels the same way I do. Add to that the fact he says sex with me is the best he’s ever had and, well, I’m not worrying too much about him straying.

Of course, the weekend went far too quickly. And yes, I cried at the airport when it was time to come home. I’m a total sap. But it’s not long to go now until I’m back out there…

Exciting stuff!