Wow this is a tough one but as I sit on board Etihad flight EY 32 from Paris De Gaulle airport to Abu Dhabi on the first leg of my trip home I have about 7 hours to think so here are a few of my thoughts.
Firstly try to find a title photo for this amazing Tour of Discovery, impossible so I think I will go to a favourite activity of my last day in France. A beautiful sunny cloudless day, around 28 degrees Eric and I, breeze in the hair, scooting around the French countryside in his beautiful MG. What a memory, what a host with a fabulous family!
Those of you who have travelled with me will know that I have been from Scotland to England, Spain and France and it has been wonderful all the way. I have caught planes, trains and automobiles (no boats) all with no problem, thank goodness!
So many wonderful friends have given me the opportunity to cry a little and laugh a lot (fortunately as time went on more laugh and less cry!). Long time and new friends you are all equally important in my life.
Before I left home people kept asking me how I know so many people around the world. Well the secret is out:
Be interested in people, talk to everyone you meet (even the young boy on a train in Italy who had a head full of wire and more ink than a pen factory who could not understand why he did and we did not, on arrival in Italy, get a lecture on drug use in Italy – Sandy Robinson) they all have an interesting story (although some may think they do not), welcome people into your life and your home and do all you can to stay in contact which is much easier these days with modern technology. Pay hospitality forward at every opportunity. You can even spill the glass of red wine a lovely young man has bought you on the plane because your money is in the overhead (fortunately spilled on the man on the other side – not happy Jan!!!). Such a nice guy he said just blame turbulence, what a man! Thanks Adam.
This is how my circle of friends around the globe is ever increasing. Language should be no barrier, after Two weeks in France with non English speakers I realise that Google translator is a long way from getting it right, hand gestures and weird descriptive noises work wonders (Charades anyone?). You soon learn by the look on your friends face that you have said yes when no is required or laughed in the wrong spot. Conversely when they frown and say no when you know oui is the correct answer.
The exciting thing for me is that I have received such amazing hospitality I will over the next couple of years (if they all keep their promises) have wonderful opportunities to return this hospitality. If anyone knows of Century old villages, Chateau, theme parks, champagne house or other major attractions in the Cooma area please let me know because I am trying to put together a list of good things to do (of course I have started that list in my mind and have some awesome ones on it). Even an easy way for a dumbo to learn Français would be good. I do have an app on my iPad which assures me I can learn French in 24 hours, what a load of …………. that is!!!!!! Maybe I should have concentrated in year 7 instead of arsing about!!!
I have learned to drink a round with the lads in a Scottish bar without the necessity of a Vodka and what is that iron stuff??? chaser, the difference between Tapas and Pintxo (Pinchos), how to pour Champagne correctly and the correct glass to drink it from – direct from the champagne maker, the correct way to eat a baguette, never throw away the left over baguette but slice and oven dry it for eating with fromage, crackers are to eat with dip not cheese and the correct way to cut your cheese, it is a beautiful greeting to do up to 4 cheek to cheek kisses when greeting almost anyone (I love this one but find I get a bit lost when going for more than 2!). This is also a beautiful way to start and end the day, any recruits for training as I will surely miss this one! The need for an aperitif before a meal and sometimes before each course. That great pleasure is to be gained from cycling around the Loire Valley and exploring exotic little French villages. If you are not seriously fit there is no place for you in the Pompiers (although I think I saw a couple that could do with some work).
What I have taught in return: how to make good scones (how are they going girls?), it is nice to eat banana with cheese (I think I only have 1 supporter on this one). It is also good to eat banana on your Brioche with café for breakfast. As the guest it is ok to take the man of the house to the pub when he would not normally be allowed out of the house, Malcy loves this one!! A woman can get showered, dressed and ready to go out in 5 minutes when necessary.
What I have forgotten: how to go to the Supermatket, prepare a meal, make a cup of tea, drive a car, clean a shower, change sheets, do my own washing, sweep and vacuum etc. OMG the first week or so is going to be long trying to reskill myself!!!!
A mighty thank you to those of you who have kept me company and particularly those who have offered words of encouragement and gratitude. When I embarked on this blog I was not sure what the response would be and whether anyone other than myself and my family would be interested. You have all kept me going and given me a lot of satisfaction making me excited to write whenever I could. Sorry about the last week but as you would have noticed from Facebook there was just too much going on, the way I like life to be really.
Some have asked me what has been the highlight? Well everyday has had a highlight and no matter how much I try to think about it for me it is impossible to single out any event to be the highlight of the trip. I have had time with so many wonderful people, been to many fabulous places, tried lots of new food and had many new experiences. A super, super big thank you to you all.
Kath Bisous xxxxx
Now they are calling us to board, not looking forward to this long one. Love to all. Xxxxxx