All posts filed under: France

Blog tales for the Over 50s with positive ageing, dating & relationships

My bed. My cat. My pillow. My son. Yes, that’s the correct order.

  I’m home in Australia after 3 weeks travelling. I left my cousin’s place in London at 5am Sunday after minimal sleep, and used taxi, train, plane, 3 travelators, plane, bus, & 2 cars to get here. It was by far the smoothest return journey I’ve ever had, and I know not why. Everything just flowed, for the entire 28hr door-to-door ordeal. We even landed 30 mins early from Singapore, which meant I could catch the earlier airport shuttle bus rather than sit around for 3 more hours (which would have felt like a slow torture at that stage). I was deliriously happy to see my Australian sun setting: But not as happy as my cat when he saw me! He even woke me in the night purring and snuggling, but I didn’t mind. I felt the same. I missed him so much But not as much as my BED. And pillow. I can’t begin to tell you how much I  missed my bed and pillow… Son ’17’ is coming over this afternoon after school; I …

Final French flurry of fotos

12 glorious days in France has wound up, filling my heart. I was born there, in a tiny village halfway up a mountain, looking across to the snow-covered Alps, so it’s always special to celebrate an actual birthday there. I’m a very lucky woman, I know. I spent the entire time sucking the language and culture in through my pores. I literally feel a craving I can obviously quench no other way. So I just delight in all things French, especially the local markets and food. Cue the slideshow (except I don’t know how to do it, so a nice even-paced scrolling is now up to you):     I wish I could upload the smells.     And cheese galore, incl that end one which was as big as my entire upper body:     Plus everywhere, the passionate, poetic tumble of language that makes my soul sing.   And feel truly at Home.    

By the way, I’m being teased from afar

It’s my 51st birthday in 5 days. Last year I was in Paris, watching fireworks at the Palace of Versailles, and cycling all over the city with my old lover, staying in 2 different apartments. This time, I’m choosing the simplicity of staying still in the Barn with family. But my dear, sweet, online love ‘H’ will [obviously] not be around to celebrate with me. A few days before I left Australia however, H handed me a package: ‘I made you this for your birthday. Don’t open it till the actual day.’ ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? That’s so cruel! How can I resist it? ‘And don’t hassle me about what it might be; I’m not going to tell you.’ But H, how can I not try to guess? Obviously it’s a book of some kind… Maybe I could just peek in a corner? Later, my son ‘17’ said: ‘You could just open it before your birthday but not tell H.’ [This suggestion reveals so much about the teenage brain, doesn’t it?]. For a naughty moment, …

How to cook Paella for 100 guests in one easy step: hire the local experts

We’re here in the Dordogne for a weekend of family, friends, fun, and the long-awaited 50th. Saturday evening was the big gathering, with long wooden tables and benches spread under the trees outside: We hung fairy lights, tiny candles in jam jars, and foraged greenery from the woods and fields around us: Someone even came up with a creative solution to that dangerous rusty farming implement right near where we’re sitting: The views completely sucked: It was a pleasant 22 degrees or so, and the sunset was as always stunning (such soft light here compared to Australia; I can’t describe it any other way than it looks like it’s been smudged or half rubbed out): There was a mojito bar set up in the ruined BBQ area, plus trestle table bar inside with kegs of wine and champagne bottles. And then of course, everyone had to be fed. So the triumphant organization of this celebration peaked with the Paella King & Queen. We cleared a space in the centre of the Barn, and they just …

Long haul air flights: an utter privilege which sucks

It started so well. Good house/petsitters; efficient packing (roll don’t fold); timely train transport to the airport. The cute gay boy at the check-in counter asks me if I’m staying in Paris? No I’m not. Since 1980, my favourite Aunt ‘M’ (who lives in Sydney) has owned a 300-yr old barn in the French countryside. For years, we have all travelled to and from The Barn (Australians are so good with names aren’t they?) in the Dordogne region; Dad first took me there when I was 15, and I took my son there a couple of years ago when he was 15 (we sat there for 2 months, reading/eating/playing badminton LINK HERE & HERE TO OLD STORIES). Now we’re all gathering again, for my cousin’s 50th celebration weekend July 14-16. She lives in Sydney too, but has been telling us about this party plan for 3 years, supremely organized being that she is; thus approximately 85 people are turning up- mostly from Australia! A HUGE EXCITING EVENT. But first, I have to get there. It …

With his tail tucked down

So we’re getting on the train at St Astier, ready to cross France for 8 hours to visit with an old family friend, and there’s some kind of problem on board with one of the other passengers. A young man, perhaps 25, dressed in black hoodie jacket, loose black pants, with a big, scruffy black suitcase. He’s white-skinned, sunken eyes, sweating slightly. He reminds me of a nervous dog, who got that way by being beaten. The conductor is standing in front of him, arms folded, legs wide apart, telling him he needs a ticket to travel, and where is it? A younger conductor is standing further along, in exactly the same pose, blocking the exit down the carriage. There’s only the door to get off, and the tight corridor surrounding us. Other passengers are looking over and away, then over again. Son ‘15’ and I are each lugging big suitcases, a small backpack, a bag of food, and my handbag, plus a 5 litre bottle of water. We are now in the middle of …

5 things we miss, and 5 things we’ve learnt to love and appreciate

Tonight is the Last One of Everything. Our last fire. The last dinner. Our last evening of badminton. Tomorrow we pack up all the furniture, empty the fridge, drain all the pipes of water (so that they don’t freeze and crack during Winter), cover the mattresses in plastic, and go stay with the neighbours up the road for a night (very kindly taking in the 2 cold Aussies, and asking us genuine questions like ‘Are kangaroos everywhere? Do they attack you?’) I feel melancholy. I know I’ll never have this time again. Not with ‘15’. Because soon he’ll be 16, then 18, then 20, and [hopefully] travelling the world by himself, or with mates and a girlfriend [I’m not assuming heterosexuality there, by the way; I’ve been referencing ‘boyfriends and/or girlfriends’ since he was about 9, and he finally sat me down firmly and told me he was definitely not gay, which I was very disappointed about- no marching proudly in the Mardi Gras with my child sigh]. ANYWAY, back to feeling sad by the …

“France is a desperate party girl.”

I thought that yesterday, as we drove home from the local village with fresh bread. Autumn is really here: all the trees are red, gold, yellow, throwing their leaves onto the road in front of us. France has become a fraught, older ‘woman of the world’, throwing one last drunken ‘soirée’ before the lonely slam of Winter. She’s piling on her jewels, strings of rubies and gold chains, wrapping round and round her big bosom, as she leans forward into our space, spilling cheap champagne, desperate for us not to leave yet. She’s talking too loudly, her perfume’s too strong. She’s painted her toenails Tangerine, clinging to the last cotton dress of summer, her last green lace petticoat. She’s straining to throw bright sunsets, ignoring the bite of chill in the air, laughing hard at our more introspective moods, which lower on us as the darkness comes sooner. France has a population of 60 million, and her visitors number 76 million a year. She’s busy, receiving them all, mostly from June-September 30. And now her …

I seem to have packed my routines as well

Ah yes, the freedom of Travel with a capital T: being ready for anything, meeting anyone, changing plans in an instant. No work commitments, no diary appointments, no regular routines getting in the way of spontaneous adventure… When we first arrived in the Barn, I was finishing a 2-month ‘cleanse’ of no sugar, almost no wheat, minimal carbs, and various herb concoctions before and after eating (on the advice of both a doctor and naturopath, trying to deal with a water-borne parasite I’d picked up somewhere- Hello Blasto 😦 ). Within a week I was having fresh bread spread with unsalted butter and homemade jam for breakfast, or croissants and pain au chocolat; incredibly rich and varied omelets for lunch followed by more cheese and bread; chicken or fish with garlic potatoes for dinner, finished with more cheese of course. The other day I even drank a glass of champagne in the afternoon, which honestly for me is the equivalent of Keith Richards going on a three-week bender. So we can say I’m letting loose …

Périgueux- home to perhaps the dodgiest Airbnb listing you’ve ever seen

Glorious day last week, with blue skies to rival Australia’s. Time to visit the mediaeval town of Périguèux, 40 minutes drive away, including its cathedral, built in the 6th, 12th, and 16th century: Time to be enchanted by the surrounding laneways, leading to the marketplace where son ‘15’ ate “…The best ribs of my whole life, even better than Dad’s, I’m sorry to say…” (no pics allowed, but let me assure you, there was Grease Chin, sticky fingers, and complete carnivorous delight): Time to take my favourite picture of the trip so far: Time to marvel at the unwelcome front doors they make round here: A chance to picture Juliet, calling down to her love: And then, walking along the river, we saw this- The Place You Don’t Want To Stay: We were flabbergasted. ‘15’ kept giggling, and imagining having parties inside, and getting everyone to run from one side to the other to rock it [Oh the way teenagers’ minds work huh?!]. Let’s look at it one more time shall we? Imagine turning up …