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!
wow, beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing. How interesting hearing your stories from Europe.ReplyDelete
This region is very mountainous with lots of lakes. I'm so lucky as it really is beautiful!Delete
Nice pictures! The retailer I work for is making masks mandatory on Wednesday... however there's no fine. However, I understand that enforcement will be lax, we have a lot of Conservatives living here and they still believe the thing is a hoax.ReplyDelete
When I went to the hypermarket ALL the adults were wearing masks. Good luck your side though as I'm sure there will be a few "Karens" screaming loud and clear about their constitutional rights!Delete
Oh, I hope Chris has a good experience and just meets a few people to have a fee laughs with. that would be wonderful and he sounds like a very nice man. I doubt I'd ever remarry if I became a widow (can't say the same for my husband though) but I would still want to have a wide variety of friends and partners in crime. I think Andre is going to do OK-you have such nice kids.ReplyDelete
I think it's a male thing for the most part. Most men who have been in a relationship HATE being alone. I know my brother did. He was so, so happy when he met Margaret 18 months after his wife died. There is also the cynical "practical" side as sadly many men are just looking to find someone to take care of them too. Not all by any means though. When I was in Sicily for my 60th one of the men was on his second divorce and I remember him saying "but I'll soon find someone else" and I thought "what's so bad about being on your own"?Delete
You sound so relaxed!ReplyDelete
I think I'm finally getting there. My friend said it took her about a year to finally relax after she retired and I think I would agree with that. I've definitely slowed down as I realize I don't actually HAVE to dash anywhere any more!Delete
You live in a fairy tale land! I’m glad you are learning to relax.ReplyDelete
It isn't easy slowing down when you've been used to running all the time, I have to admit, but at least I'm getting there. And I do so love it here. I've moved around a lot but this is the place I'm happiest!Delete
What a gorgeous place to have "wind down" time. It has to be wonderful to stroll around with no regard of time.ReplyDelete
I am still trying to figure out what my happiest place is!
Having no time constraints is probably the biggest plus about being retired, and not having to try to get EVERYTHING done on a Saturday (washing, cleaning, shopping etc.). I love Annecy but it does get crowded. That being said I adore going up the mountains and just listening to the silence. I guess we can have more than one happy place can't we!Delete
I used to visit Annecy when we stayed with my aunt. It's beautiful isn't it. It must be one of the most photographed places! I think lockdown has slowed us all down a bit too. I must be honest and say I was perfectly happy in lockdown (other than the anxiety of going to the shops once a week!) I think I found we looked at the clock much less and didn't have that feeling of having to be somewhere else. To be honest I'm keen to keep that sense of slow quietness we had but I already see things reverting back to normal. We've had mandatory face masks for a couple of weeks now and I feel much better in the shops now and so far most people seem to be adhering to it. I've promised my family I'll make some more for them so I need to get my act together! I hope your relaxation remains and you continue to enjoy retirement, you're certainly in a beautiful place to enjoy it! xReplyDelete
Annecy is stunning, but of course that means it gets packed when the weather is good (a bit like Santorini I guess). In fact, I met Brian in Turkey in 2010 and he came out to visit me for the weekend. Second time he came out he said I don't care where we go but can we please at least go to Annecy again as he loved it. And like you I didn't mind lockdown either, but then I guess we weren't worried about working from home/job security/home-schooling were we. It was definitely a better pace of life!Delete