While I was reading my neighbour wandered over and said that her daughter, Mathilde, had invited me down for an apéro and if I was interested they would be going down to her house at around 4 pm. To put this in perspective, when I had my second son this neighbour, Marylène, approached me and asked if I would be interested in having her look after him when I went back to work. Now I would have given my right arm to stay home with my kids but it wasn't to be since I earned more than my ex-husband and it was me that had all the expat benefits. So I jumped at the chance. Initially I thought I would be jealous but when I saw how happy he was with her and her family and how much he was loved all that jealousy vaporized. Now she and her husband had two children who were 12 and 14 when Jordan was born - Mathilde (12) and Seb (14) so Jordan grew up with them as older brothers and sisters. And so did André actually, since when I was at work during the summer holidays they looked after both kids. So both my kids grew up knowing and loving this family!
Anyway, in January of this year Mathilde married an Englishman, Ben, who she met at work in Switzerland, so when they got married Ben had to go through the whole "post-Brexit" shenanigans of moving from Switzerland to France to move into the home he and Mathilde had bought together. So the other day André was saying to me how complicated it was importing his car into France from Switzerland so I told him to give Ben a call. He was just a couple of months ahead of André and could tell him what he had had to do to get his car and belongings into France. So long story short, Mathilde and Ben invited Jordan, Jen and André for lunch on Sunday. The house that they had bought had a swimming pool so when we got there the atmosphere was fairly popping!
Now Ben's dad, Chris, has lived in France for about 20 years I guess, further south, in a lovely area near Montpellier where I studied when I was 19. Ben's mom died last year of lung cancer so Chris has spent more time "further north" with Ben to overcome his loneliness. Anyway, when I got there Chris and André were in full throttle talking about UK/US politics and Chris was absolutely cracked up laughing. I had forgotten how funny André could be, to be honest. Well both of them. André and Jordan are great mimics and very politically minded so if you think "Talking Heads", you've got a rough idea of what they're like!
Anyway, I sat with Chris for a while as we discussed the merits (none) of Brexit for us Brits in France and then I asked him how he was doing. He told me ok, but that he missed something. So I said, "I bet that's human touch isn't it?" and he said "what made you say that?" So I said, "that's what my brother said after losing his wife of 51 years"! So he and I got to talking and he ended up crying laughing when I told him my stories of internet dating. Now, it's different for me, I'm divorced and was very happy to be so, but he was widowed so not the same thing. So I told him that I had a very good experience of internet dating, meeting maybe eight guys for dinner or just a coffee, with just one weirdo. So we ended up composing an internet dating profile for him and he just cracked up. I don't know if he will use it but it certainly felt good to make him laugh again!
So today I decided to take a trip down to Annecy to go shopping. The other day, at our AGM, I learned that our former neighbours had had a new baby that very day (he's French, she's German) so I wanted to get a gift for them and thought Annecy would be the place to go. Actually, while Geneva is beautiful, I still think Annecy is more stunning. Trouble is, while it is stunning, it also gets very crowded along the lake so when the lockdown was lifted the Mayor of Annecy very wisely (in my opinion) decided to delay lifting lockdown around the lake until it could be determined how the virus was evolving. OK, whether people went into the mountains or not was outside his remit, but the lake definitely was. And so the lake was beautiful - but abandoned for the time being. But now, it's open to everyone so off I went for a wander and God it's beautiful!
|The "pointy" building is the old prison, first mentioned
|Château de Menthon Saint Bernard, above lake Annecy
So after a wander round central Annecy I headed off to the hypermarket there to get a few things I can't get locally. I do this maybe a couple of times a year but I don't think I would bother more often. I know my local supermarkets/markets and can't see me heading down to Annecy to go grocery shopping in order to save a couple of euros.
When I arrived there there was a big sign saying that masks were mandatory. Apparently they have become mandatory since today (20 July) but since I don't have French TV I didn't realize. Anyway, not to worry, as I had a couple of masks in my bag. Again, what I hadn't realized until I looked it up, is that now it is mandatory to wear masks in enclosed public spaces, otherwise the fines start at €135 a pop. Good on them, I don't have a problem with that. My only problem is that since I don't have French TV I might have missed it. Oh well!
As I was driving back home I realized how relaxed I was, and how much I appreciate not having to rush anywhere any more - one of the great joys of being retired I guess. So then I sat out in my garden reading and I realized how much I had missed the buzzing of the bees and the amazing butterflies that are now coming round my back terrace. Maybe due to the lockdown and no more pollution - who knows!