Next stop…Languedoc

As I write, I’m sitting in a enormous garden, surrounded by apple, plum and pear trees, a pool, hammocks and a three legged dog. I’ve arrived in Languedoc for my volunteering. But, before I start, at Bogspua’s request, here are some photos I took in Monaco. 

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So, after the splendour of Monaco, I’m now in the countryside. After arriving in Nimes on the train, I went to catch a bus to meet my host. Except, because the train was late, I missed the bus by two minutes. No problem, I’ll jump in a taxi – the next bus wasn’t for an hour and my host would be at the bus stop to meet me. Sitting in the taxi, we soon caught up to the sodding bus and since there were no stops betwen Nimes and my destination, I sat watching the meter run while the bus passengers sat having paid only 1.5euros for the trip. Oh, the irony. When I finally arrived, I had to stop at the cash machine to pay the driver. Only, the cash machine wasn’t working. Nor was the next one, or the next. After running around the town, I finally found a working machine, paid the driver and jumped into my hosts car, apologising profusely for the delay. Not the best of starts. Oh well.

In any event, she’s lovely and as she drove us to her house, I sat back and took in the scenery.

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The downside? Spiders. Fuck me, the spiders. One as big as my palm jumped out of the sink at me. I’ve been attached to the hoover since I got here, I must have sucked up around 70 in the 2.5 days I’ve been here! But it’s been ace so far. I’ve helped change over the gite in preparation for their next guests, got my fingers green by doing a spot of gardening, picking fruits to make into jam, and prepared dinner using the many, many vegetables growing outside. Earlier, I took a walk and explored the local countryside with my host’s three legged dog. He’s an absolute peach, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed with just the sound of the breeze in the trees and horses whinnying in the fields around me. Sigh.

It’s quite busy here though. Lots of friends coming and going (all of whom are lovely) and my host’s daughter is here from Australia. Her husband and 3 friends are coming at the weekend for 2 weeks, and there’ll be a massive garden party to celebrate their wedding.

I’m looking forward to it. The characters around here are colourful to say the least. A bit eccentric, tattoos, piercings, not at all what I would have expected. As is my host. The first morning here I woke up and could have sworn blind I smelled mary jane. But of course not, that would be silly right? Erm, no. I swear she smokes about 3 joints a day and has a huge amount of if in the garden. Like I say, she’s pretty cool. But the work is hard. I’m dog tired writing this right now, albeit happy.

xx

 

 

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!

x

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!