May & June 2010

After a trip to Antibes early last month we are again on holiday. Thumpah has taken the first part of her annual Summer holiday early. In fact with her maternity leave we are set to be spending a good 4 months together from August to December. That is due to end early December, but her boss has hinted at stretching that through till Christmas.

So we spent 10 days down in Antibes, in Thumpah’s Dads appartment down there. From a personal point of view I didn’t really appreciate the traffic down there (worse than Paris???), nor the show-off mentality near the millionaires yachts. But that is just me. However I really enjoyed seeing the arrière pays, we visited Gourdon which has spectacular views of the coast although it was a bit hazy. Also liked our visit via small ferry boat to L’île Sainte Margueritte – we were lucky as the place wasn’t packed with people.

One of our days was taken up with going to Marineland, which Rémy seemed to enjoy. He loved the dolphins in the show, although the whales decided to go en grêve. An expensive day out, but as long as Rémy enjoyed himself…

On the trip down we stopped overnight in Saint Etienne, which gave us the opportunity to drop in on Karine and Michael, our Franco-Ecossais friends who I met via Facebook. Great to meet them at last, along with Zeberdé… I mean Maya, their dog. They took us out for a meal in a local caféteria, although as we got to desert the lights were switched off in the place! Quite why they couldn’t tell us they were due to close when we ordered, I don’t know. Still we shared some drinks together back at their place and had a lovely chat about life in France and our experiences so far amongst other things.

Coming back up from down south, I had also arranged to meet up with a few internet friends. We stopped off at Bollène to see Tish, a South African who has been living in Europe for over 20 years. After chatting with her online for so long now it was wonderful to meet up in person finally. For me that is what makes the internet the most rewarding. As we watched Rémy playing on the climbing frame at the McDo next to the autoroute, we had a good chat – just a pity we had to rush off to meet the next internet friend!

The next stop was a farm near Mirmande, again, just off the autoroute along the RN7. Here, my friend Dave is staying there. I can’t remember how many years I’ve been talking to Dave on the net, but it seems quite a lot now. Finally we got to meet, which was brilliant. We sat behind his Albion lorry enjoying a cold beer, having a chat about his job at the farm amongst other things. Rémy got to sit in the cab of the Albion, he was over the moon.

As a result, we were late arriving back in St Etienne where we’d planned to meet up with Karine & Michael again. In the end we got to their place at around 8pm, which is evening meal time here in France. So not as bad as it could have been. When we trudged into their place, they’d laid on a buffet and a few beers. We handed over a few English goodies we’d bought for Michael in Carrefour Market in Antibes… surprising where you can find English foodstuffs sometimes!

I hope that one day we’ll be able to return the hospitality of our friends if they are ever here in the Paris region… but wait… I spoke too soon. Dave visited last weekend to attend the nearby Locomotion en Fête event – he was going to sleep sur place, but we offered him a bed here instead. Then on the Saturday night we were joined by our friend Dominique and his daughter. Then Thumpahs parents. So we all ate together.

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