Anyway, now that that adrenalin rush is over, what else happened the past couple of days? Oh yes, I heard from Ginette (the lady I met at the market) and she asked me if I wanted to meet up on Thursday for a coffee. I told her I couldn't make it at 10.30 a.m. because I had my pilates class but I could meet her at 11.30 if she was still up for it - which she was. We ended up going for lunch together and she asked me if I wanted to go out for a walk with her and a friend of hers "who knew a good walk up through the woods near Chatelet", and I thought why not. So we drove out to Chatelet to meet her friend and parked near a little flour mill, but as we were about to set off she noticed three men firing up a very old oven in preparation for Saturday's Fête du Pain, or Festival of Bread. The two ladies got chatting to the men, one of whom turned out to be Ginette's son's neighbour, and he turned out to be a real character. He said that every year they fired up the ancient ovens and started running the flour mill as a way of celebrating the old bakery there. They would have lunch and drinks for all the locals and any profit they made from their little fête would go to keeping the old mill in working order.
|The old flour mill|
Anyway, "Mr. Personality" called the other guys over and we ended up standing there chatting to them for about 20 minutes - not that I minded, but so much for "walking" right! They invited us to go into the oven area to have a look round and get warmed up, and then one of the guys told me not to worry as "they hadn't burned any English at the stake for a long time"! Ho ho! That's usually a pretty common go-to joke for the French - always a reference to the English burning Joan of Arc at the stake in 1431! Still, they were nice enough and actually invited us to come along to their "do" on Saturday. When I said that I wasn't a local the "Joan of Arc" guy said "I'm inviting you, come as my guest"! What was so weird though was that he actually looked very much like an older version of Steve - it was uncanny!
Anyway, after a while we set off on our walk, only to find out that Marie-Christine (the friend) hadn't got a bloody clue where she was taking us. We wanted to try to stay in the sunshine as it got quite cold in the shade, but she had us going off on these woodland paths, then doubling back and trudging along trails that in the summer were probably quite nice but in the winter!!! Bloody hell, I could feel my shoes getting sucked off my feet every step I took. By the time we sloshed back to the road I/we looked like we'd done a "tough mudder" race!
|Picture courtesy of The Hull Daily Mail|
At one point we stumbled across five youngish men who had built a camp fire and were roasting what turned out to be duck on it. They were collecting dead wood for the fire and had a few beers in the trunk of their car but weren't in any way "threatening". Ginette asked if they had hunted the "pheasant" and they laughed and said "no we just got back from the supermarket" (as evidenced by the styrofoam trays) so we wished them bon appétit and headed on back towards the road. Buuttt by the time we'd got back to the road Marie-Christine had decided they were poachers, they were making an illegal camp fire, they were Eastern Europeans in the country illegally, probably unemployed and/or selling drugs!!! Say what??? First of all I didn't notice any "foreign" accents and if they were "poachers" they appeared to have shot that duck in the poultry aisle of the local supermarket! So then she asked if we should report them, so I said "for what"? It's not illegal to make a fire here, they're only collecting dead wood, and the place is sopping wet anyway! So we agreed (or so I thought) that it wasn't any of our business! Well that was until a car pulled up with a man asking if we had seen his runaway dogs (we hadn't), at which point Marie-Christine went into great detail to tell this man about the evil ax murderers in the woods!!!! He just laughed and said they often made camp fires between shifts! By this time I was starting to get the "lay of the land" as far as "nut job" was concerned but knew we had to keep going as we wanted to get back before it got dark. Further along the road we passed an older man pruning his apple trees and stopped to talk to him. Again I don't mind stopping and chatting at all - well that is until nut job started going off about French politics, local politics, how dreadful Switzerland was and "as for the Swiss" - it seems they are arch enemy number one! At that point I just had to speak up so I said that if this region was as wealthy as it was it was largely because the locals had the possibility of going into Switzerland to work and paying French taxes on their Swiss salaries. Otherwise what was there in this region? A little bit of industry in the Arve valley and the possibility of making a bit of money off the skiers if (and that's a big "if" at the moment) there was any snow! After that I thought I'd better just shut my mouth so I pretty much walked back to the car in silence. When we got back the Steve look-alike guy again invited me to their drinks on Saturday so I said I'd think about it. We said goodbye to nut job and then Ginette drove me back to my car. On the way there she said "you were very quiet", so I just said I didn't know much about French politics and in any case talking about politics (anybody's politics) got me all worked up so I preferred to keep my mouth shut! But then she asked if I would like to go out walking another time with her (and here I'm thinking "I'd rather have all my teeth out without an anaesthetic") but next time we would go without nut job because she was hard work! I told her I didn't want to interfere in their friendship but she said no, I'd rather keep my distance too, so who knows, maybe there will be a next time!
One thing she did say though is that she had broken up with her partner over the Christmas holidays. On New Year's Eve he had told her he had a bad back and didn't want to go out (which she didn't mind at all), but on an impulse she drove over to his place at 4.30 p.m. and he wasn't home. So she sat there until he rolled in at just after midnight and broke up with him there and then. Seems he had been out dancing (looking for his next victim she suspected), and since then he has been bombarding her with phone calls and showing up at her house begging her to take him back! Not in a million years was her answer, and I have to say she seems much happier now to be shot of him!
And talking of the Steve-lookalike, I sent a message to Steve's daughter on Christmas Eve to say that I was thinking of them at this sad time as I knew they all used to get together at their dad's house for Christmas day. I then went on to tell her the story of how her dad had this God-awful jacket that I hated. It was bright red on one side and reversible to dark blue but it looked horrible on him and I told him so. Then when I was coming back from Colmar and we had stopped off at a service station for a potty stop, I saw a "mac in a pac" for sale. It was a rain jacket that folded up into a very small pack and was ideal for keeping in your bag "just in case". When I got home and opened it up I realized I had bought the same bloody God-awful jacket as Steve had - and it looked just as awful on me! So Josie wrote back and thanked me for my message and said that they'd got a good laugh out of the matching jackets story. I think if things had turned out differently and Steve hadn't died so unexpectedly Josie and I would have gotten on a treat, but it wasn't to be, sadly!
Then yesterday Jen asked if she could come over because she was trying to book their flights to the States on British Airways and was having a hard time so would I help her? We got online and booked their flights Geneva/London/Pittsburgh (so it would seem that BA are now offering direct flights London/Pittsburgh again then - they stopped doing that some years ago) and they've decided to give New York a miss, sadly, because the flight New York/Pittsburgh was almost as expensive as the flight from Geneva to Pittsburgh and it was probably beyond their budget! Shame, but there's always another time I guess. So then I helped her fill in her ESTA visa request for the US, but I had to laugh when it asked for her town of birth and I had to type in "Bitche"! No kidding! She was born in a place called "Bitche". I guess we'll see if they decide to let her in then!
And finally, it's been a year today since my brother died. Gosh hasn't that year gone fast. And four years to the day since his wife died too. Yep, they died on the same day, three years apart! Still can't believe it, but I know he/they are still around us all the time. Miss you both so much! God bless!
|Brenda and Phil|