Well at last - it seems to have been a very long absence, and I can't hope to catch up with everything and everyone at once. (And thanks to all of you who have been checking in to see where I've been.) I'll try and give you a summary of my trip, and fill in the details later.
Flying to Toulouse was the easy part, and I was met by my France BF at the airport.
We hadn't seen each other for nearly 7 months, so it was great to catch up with what had been happening to her. She drove us to the gite we were renting for May, we dropped my suitcase (literally - it was so heavy) and then did a flying visit to the two houses she is buying there. The first one, in Cordes-sur-Ciel, was still pretty much a building site (though it improved dramatically during my stay), but in a lovely situation on the south side of Cordes, and with a fabulous view over the countryside. It will be just great when finished, but has been going slowly and has I think been pretty frustrating for her. Then we went to look at the second house - a converted barn in a blissfull little village called Labarthe Bleys, just outside Cordes. This was, it seems, an impulse buy when my BF was faced with the option of having to either rent in high season there (very, very expensive) or return to Blighty to sort out her stuff here. Great on paper, but pretty stressful when you're faced with French bureaucracy and the reams of paperwork involved. I won't bore you with the details, but rather her than me. She does seem to cope with it amazingly well though, and is juggling builders, electricians and plumbers, buying materials and bathroom suites, dealing with notaires and legal matters and also her garden photography, and is managing to keep all the balls in the air! Aside from all that, we did have some lovely meals (both in restaurants and home-cooked), and I did a good survey of the surrounding areas and villages. Sadly, the weather wasn't being very co-operative, it was the opposite of idyllic. We had some sun, but mostly clouds, more clouds, thick grey clouds, rain, thunder and lightning and torrential rain. Actually, I did spend one whole gloriously hot day by the pool, when I dipped in and out of the water to keep cool. And we did have some two-hour spells of basking in the sun. We managed to eat outside quite a lot, including breakfast on the terrace fairly often, but on the whole it was english weather. Disappointing as it was, it actually gave me a reality check. The grass is not always greener, and by the end of the three weeks, I was more than ready to come home. What I also realised, is that for me, three weeks without a hug is too long. That was actually very important. And of course it was something I already knew - I don't like doing things on my own - I prefer to share experiences and I don't really want to be far from my friends and family for very long. Yes, I needed a break and getting away from the previous year's stresses and strains was vital. But once I had put those behind me, I realized that I need to think carefully about what I do next and not rush into anything simply because I want to get away. Luckily I have options - I don't have to move immediately. I can take stock and live in the present moment. Lucky me.
The journey back was not the best - my flight from Toulouse was delayed, so we arrived at Gatwick at midnight on Wednesday (28th). I managed to catch a train to Hove at 1 am and arrived home just after 2am on 29th. When I woke up after a few hours sleep, I realized that I had just one day to prepare for Grandson's Birthday on Friday 30th. I had totally forgotten that Daughter and the Boyfriend were going to a wedding at the weekend (he was Best Man), and that I was having my Grandson to stay. I was so looking forward to seeing them, and I certainly caught up on the hugs and kisses. We had a little Birthday lunch in a local Italian restaurant, and then a Birthday tea here before they went off to Hastings. Grandson and I just had the most wonderful time. I didn't even care when he woke me at 4.30am!! We ended the weekend with a proper Birthday Party yesterday. Son drove down from London. My Sister came from London too, and lots of Daughter's friends came, with their partners. We had cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps, jelly and cake and lots of fun. It was just wonderful; everyone had a great time. My lovely Grandson is four. And I'm counting my blessings.