Friday, June 17, 2016

The real France

Now I am in the heart of France in a very rural setting in the south west, almost in the Midi, in the Lot region. 

Six weeks in Montpellier went by in a flash. I met some wonderful people at the Le Bookshop's French-English conversation evenings on Mondays and Fridays. One turned out to be a close neighbour, Jean-Antoine, who lives in the apartment just across the courtyard, so close that we could have continued the conversation from our respective windows had we wanted to. When Nicholas came down to the city from his place in the countryside, the wife, Marie-Christine, invited us to visit them. The invite was for after 8.00pm and I assumed that would mean we were invited for an after-dinner drink. Silly me, it was a dinner invite. Pity I  had already eaten - lucky I hadn't had all that much. Marie-Christine speaks no English so I was forced to display my appalling accent but I managed to mostly keep up with the conversation and at least I can make people laugh with my mistakes and misunderstandings. 

Then there were some great rides to places around Montpellier on the back of an older BMW motorbike - places I would never have got to on my own.

I had to drink a lot of coffee during the last few days in Montpellier to be able to set myself up in one or other cafe to use the WiFi for hours on end, and with help from Nicholas I took the plunge and bought a bicycle and a tent. 

Two years ago I was living on hospital nutrition drinks that went directly into my stomach via a syringe and tube. I could only manage short walks and was just starting to be able to drink a coffee when I went out. I slept most afternoons and was challenged by the gentle yoga sessions at the Cancer Council in Rotorua. Now here I am enjoying a really wide range of French foods, walking up to 20 km a day and seriously planning to cycle down the Dordogne River. I don't take any medications, I sleep well, I'm making new friends and living my dreams. I don't know how to say it without sounding simple, but very single day I count my blessings and wonder at how far I have come. And every day I thank the friends that supported me when I really needed it. I wouldn't be here without the kindness of my family and friends in Australia and New Zealand and I am so grateful. 

The new bike went into the back of a van for it's first trip. So far I have just been doing short rides from Nicholas's farmhouse in a tiny hamlet called Candes in the Lot. 

I'll get back to my usual blog posts soon. Unfortunately I had to ditch my little camera. The lens got stuck, and I couldn't fix it so now I just have my phone. One less thing to carry on the bike. Faster blog posts ahead. 

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