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.

Here’s the thing, when I finally arrived, I simply didn’t ‘feel’ it.

Interestingly, the apartment I had in Brive la Gailliarde was beautiful.

A circular staircase snaked upward through the centre of the building, it’s steps worn from the imprint of many footsteps that have tread upon them over many years, and quite 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. Unlike my wanderings through Toulouse where the energy was intoxicating.

However rather than wallow in the disappointment, I embraced the fact that I was meant to come here and make the realization: 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 stopped at a street cafe for a beer after a long walk to the hostel.

Still wearing Kevin, (Daphne didn’t suit ‘him’) my faithful pack, we had to squeeze ourselves in between small, round tables and bright red chairs. I guess I could’ve just off loaded Kevin, in hindsight it may have been easier, but I didn’t think I’d be there long.

Just as I took my first sip, a group of people approached me and asked me something in French. Now having perfected my spiel, ‘l happily blurted out (and no doubt butchered, their beautiful language).

‘… ah je suis australien, et je ne parle en petit peu Français, parlez plus lentiment, s’il vous plait.

Basically 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 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 soundly sexy!!! Too many Pernods perhaps?

There you go, learn a little French and cut yourself loose in France: you never know your luck 😳😳🤣.

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.

I was touched by their praise, however I never feel my solo travels are brave.

It’s interesting to see yourself through someone else’s eyes: I would never have thought myself brave – ah c’est la vie…

So as dusk begins to ascend upon my travels and my time in Europe draws to a close, I can look back upon where I’ve left footprints.

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

Brave? Personally I don’t think so: challenging, inspiring & humbling are words that come to mind.

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…

❤️❤️🐾🐾❤️❤️

life

Dipping toes…


street14©jenhammer copyIt’s good to take risks, don’t you think?

At the same time, dipping toes into unclear waters is frightening for one can’t see what lurks below the surface.

But in order to grow, to learn and to embrace the new, risks must be taken.

Toes should be dipped. For who knows, that unknown water may turn out to be brilliant.

Crystal clear and filled with endless opportunities offering love, laughter and endless happiness.

And those ties that hold on to the past?

They can be released.

Given permission to float into the yesterdays, taking with them those long held regrets that blanket the todays …

 

 

life

Wanderings with my IPhone….


My teaching schedule here on Penghu is Mon-Fri from 4pm to 8.30pm, allowing me plenty of time to wander and explore my new surrounds. Sometimes I take my DSLR, sometimes just my IPhone…