life, travel

Realisations & friendly strangers…


For quite some time I’d entertained the idea of buying a house in or around the Dordogne region of France.

I’d spent countless hours scouring the pages of Rightmove bookmarking properties, yet when I finally arrived, it simply didn’t feel ‘right’,

The town of Brive la Galliarde was exceptionally beautiful, as was the apartment I rented. It’s circular staircase snaked upward through the centre of the building, stone steps worn from the imprint of many footsteps that tread upon them over many years, or possibly centuries.

A Juliet balcony overhung the cobblestone street that carved its way through buildings dating back to the 17th century. It was historically mesmerizing: but again, I didn’t feel it.

However rather than wallow in the disappointment, I embraced the fact that I was meant to come here and make the realization that this is simply not my place.

And that’s okay.

Yet still my love affair with France continues: it’s language, it’s people and it’s culture pull me into its melodic web.

And that sentiment shone brightly yesterday when I arrived in Lyon and stopped at a street cafe for a beer after a long walk to the hostel.

Just as I took my first sip, a group of people approached my table and asked me something in french. Obviously not understanding their quickly spoken words, yet as I’d perfected my short, french spiel, l happily blurted: ‘… ah je suis australien, et je ne parle en petit peu Français, parlez plus lentiment, s’il vous plait.

Basically saying, but probably butchering their beautiful language: ‘I’m sorry I only speak a little french, could you please speak slowly’.

There were no raised eyebrows or sly sniggers, quite the contrary. They graciously responded by speaking perfect English with oh so sexy accents.

Funnily enough, after exchanging stories bestowing them with more of my childlike french, they said when I spoke french, for them, I sounded sexy!!! Too many Pernods perhaps?

What I found most humbling during my time with these lovely people was their kindness and willingness to help me with my french. I was also extremely touched by their praise for my apparent bravery at travelling solo, however I never feel my solo travels are brave.

It’s interesting to see yourself through someone else’s eyes as I have never labelled myself as being brave.

So as dusk begins to ascend upon my travels and my time in Europe draws to a close, I’m humbled as to where I’ve left my footprint.

I’m grateful for where I’ve been, who I’ve met and what I’ve achieved.

So for now, I’ll spend my last few days in France enjoying the company of an old friend.

And the next chapter? That remains unwritten…

life, travel

A French love affair…


Walking along paths framed by wheat fields, climbing across majestic mountains and traversing through forests whilst being stalked by horses was an experience I’ll never forget.

And already, I deeply miss walking the Camino.

I miss the feeling of knowing the morning heralded another day of simply being in the present. Another day of simply placing one foot in front of another, hour after hour. It was so humbling and and so rewarding.

I truly wish I’d had more time to finish the entire Camino: unfortunately I did not.

But like others before me, I will return.

Instead, I’m continuing my love affair with France, a country I adore. The language, the landscape and the friendliness of the people.

Some may ‘tut tut’ at that last sentence, but I’ve always found French people to be warm and friendly.

This visit is no different.

My chance encounter with a French couple who’d just completed the entire Camino [Le Puy en Valay to Finisterre, approx 1600kms]. They happily shared very useful advice on walking Le Puy.

Bruno, my Airbnb host who warmly accepted my very last minute booking ( 1 hour), and who then praised my poor French language skills.

The wonderful people who invited me into the masses to enjoy and support Gay Pride.

And today: the wait staff at a restaurant where I stopped for lunch. They chatted animatedly with me before inviting me to join them later for drinks and dinner. I declined as I needed to get back to my Airbnb, however I was humbled by their kindness.

Tomorrow I head further north for a few days of walking through old villages, before heading to Lyon to spend time with an old, dear friend who I’ve not seen in quite a few years.

And just as my love affair with France continues, so does my love of travelling solo.

I’m never lonely, never frightened and despite missing my precious sons, special friends and of course my beloved sausages, life is sweet.

To those who fear solo travel, fear not, for it truly is an amazing experience that heightens the senses and soothes the soul…

❤️❤️🐾🐾❤️❤️

travel

The kindness of strangers…


Travel affords wonderful experiences and at times, unfortunate ones.  And it is the latter that often allows the true spirit of human kindness to shine.

In the last few days I have bathed in that kindness and I’m so very thankful.

Last week I started to feel those tell tale signs of a cold and sure enough within a day, I was reaching for the tissues and beginning to look like Rudolph’s long lost sister.

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Cambodian workers opposite my hotel who wave and smile as I walk by

Even though I felt a little more lethargic than usual, I simply put it down to environment and whilst I did feel lousy, I pushed through. But as the days progressed, my lethargy and fatigue levels increased to the point where I could barely stand.

Alone in a hotel in Siem Reap with a raging fever, I realised I was very ill and needed to see someone.  I went to the reception desk and instantly Paulo the manager was at my side.  Without hesitation he called his tuk tuk driver and took me to hospital.

My simple cold has manifested into pneumonia, which although debilitating at least it’s now clear as to why I am feeling so ill.

So even though I am still alone in my hotel, I’m actually not for the wonderful Cambodian staff are continually checking on my welfare.

It is not in their job description to do so and I’m overwhelmed by their kindness.  It is so comforting to know that people, albeit strangers, have taken the time to care.

Yes, the kindness of strangers is truly humbling…

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Suspended umbrella’s on Pub Street…

life

Bargaining for the bucket…


My experience in India went up a notch yesterday.

Needing to buy a bucket and a case of beer, I set off on the back of a moped with one of the wonderful women from Animal Aid.

Of course that doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, but when you add a 3 – day old piglet, Julie’s son, a case of beer and 2 very large buckets, it becomes decidedly different.

I’ll explain.

The piglet is Maya, brought to Animal Aid 2 days ago traumatised with several puncture wounds, she was part of our moped entourage as she’s currently staying with Julie for rehabilitation.

So as I shuffled onto the back of the bike, I was handed Maya, who was safely housed in a pink crate similar to a supermarket shopping basket. Carefully placing her on my thigh, whilst my other hand grasped the treasured bucket we set off on our 10 minute ride back to Animal Aid.

However, I need to complete the picture.

On the ride back, Julie’s son Max (who’s 5) was perched in front of her with his feet on the treasured case of beer, whilst the other bucket (yes, I neglected to mention that), which was considerably large blue number, was squished in-between Max and the front of the moped.

It was quite an achievement to manoeuvre (for want of a better word) ourselves and our purchases on one small moped, then scoot along a semi busy road in India.

But manoeuvre we did.

Later, as the beer was consumed with friends over candlelight and good conversation, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was in the right place.

What had started as a bike ride to bargain for a bucket, ended with a night surrounded with like- minded people who shared my passion for animals, and a passion for experiencing all that life has to offer.

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life

Reconnecting…


Life takes us down different roads. In our travels we connect, disconnect and reconnect.

Reconnections can be precious moments that shine light and laughter upon those whose life’s paths have crossed.

Over a year has passed since Isobella & Eddie connected.

Yesterday they reconnected…

 

 

 

dogs, photography

Adventure…


I love dogs. They are always on an adventure of sorts: sniffing, hunting, playing, searching or simply being the beautiful beings that they are…

life

A little routine…


There is something to be said for routine.

Having made positive changes in my life, I am now a silent and content witness to watching life unfold, through routines that are complete and solid in nature.

Free to now shape my own routine, I fall easily in step with the established routine of others.Malaysia

He walks with bowed legs, a crooked stick aiding crooked legs. His smile is wide, shining its light upon those who share his morning. His frayed cap is tipped ever so slightly, a silent acknowledgment of my presence with his.

He runs. Panting, sensing and sniffing his well-travelled path. A worn, tattered rope connecting her to him, keeps him close and without flight. She too smiles and bids me good morning.

They are there with me, sharing routines.

As I walk, Regret does not walk alongside me. There is simply happiness and fulfilment for having chosen a routine that is reflective of who I am, and who I have always needed to be.