A new adventure

Our friend Adrian has  played in a rock band for years; they’re good, they write their own songs and are all very proficient musicians. A few years ago Michel, the lead singer moved away; they found another singer, a nineteen year old girl called Nadia. She had a fabulous voice and for a while all went well; but gradually Nadia’s mother took over, installing herself as the band’s manager, wanting them to buy lighting systems and smoke machines; after all they were her daughter’s ticket to stardom. Eventually the base player and one of the guitarists walked out and the band folded.

In 2019 they got back together, minus Nadia and her mum, of course, but their resurrection was short lived thanks to covid.

A while ago, Adrian phoned me to say they’d started to play again, they’d got a gig booked, so would I like to go along?  I thought about my divorced friend Jan’s words; that the best advice she was ever given was NEVER to turn down an invitation. So I said yes, I’d love to.

I saw Ade at Kieran’s a couple of weeks later; he mentioned the gig again and I assured him that I’d be there. Well actually, he said, they wondered if I’d like to do some backing singing; I thought of Jan’s words, took a deep breath and said yes, I’d love to.

They’re a great bunch of guys and real perfectionists in their music; at my first rehearsal I asked what they’d like me to do, only to be told “whatever you like”! No pressure then!

The original gig was cancelled due to covid and rearranged, but I then had covid, so I haven’t sung with them in public yet, but I love rehearsals, when I can immerse myself totally in the music and forget everything else in my life.

As they say, as one door closes, another opens.

In Jean Marc’s purpose built studio
They’ve got all the gear, even a special room for the drums!

That was quick!

Houses don’t generally sell very quickly around here; in fact one estate agent who came round told me in no uncertain terms that my house would take a very long time to sell. Obviously that wasn’t the agent I chose.

I felt I needed to put it on the market as soon as I could and certainly before winter set in; eventually I found an agent I felt comfortable with, tackled a few bits of DIY that I felt would be useful and signed the forms. It went live one Friday evening.

The following Tuesday morning the agent brought a couple round; they’d travelled down from Le Mans and had another two viewings that afternoon, after which the agent promised to call me. He didn’t hold out much hope as this couple had been looking since June and had seen nothing they liked, but while we were speaking later in the day, he received a text….. was I sitting down?….. they’d made an offer. 

We haggled a bit over the price, and agreed that I didn’t need to have the back wall crepied. But the best bit is that they don’t want to move till mid February, giving me some time to clear stuff out and visit Gemma. I’m still reeling a bit at the speed things are happening; we’ve signed the compromis de vente (the initial commitment) and they’ve been back to choose items they want to purchase, the mower etc. So all I can do now is get on with the clearing out, a massive task, and start the search for somewhere to live.

Moving out is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; this house has been such a labour of love and is absolutely full of precious memories, but it’s far too big for me to cope with on my own, so I must be practical. Life goes on.

There’s a link below to the advert for the house; I don’t know how long it will work, but the photos are nice.


A Montgolfiere flight

Last Christmas Gemma gave Nick and I an amazing present; a voucher for a hot air balloon flight over the Dordogne. Obviously we hadn’t taken it by the time of Nick’s death, so Gemma agreed to go with me.

The date we booked was very close to the end of Gemma’s stay and the weather forecast wasn’t great for the Thursday morning, so the company suggested we do Wednesday evening instead. 

What an experience it was! 

There were several balloons flying in the area, it seems to be quite a centre for it.

Our balloon was enormous, as was the basket; big enough for 16 people plus the pilot. We were 12, so we had plenty of space as, once the balloon was inflated, we climbed aboard.

I don’t think I was the only one wondering if our pilot knew what he was doing at the beginning of the flight; we lifted a bit, but then stayed on the same level as we crossed above a road. We needn’t have worried however; on the far side of the road was a big field of maize, which we skimmed, the top leaves of the maize just brushing the bottom of the basket as we flew over the field. We then rose quickly before a row of trees along the edge of the Dordogne river, again just skimming the topmost leaves. 

Our pilot, a New Zealander, had done over 3000 flights in 87 countries over the past 23 years; he certainly knew exactly what he was doing. 

We rose higher and higher, though there was no sensation of movement, just a feeling of total peace and tranquility, ending up at 2200 metres altitude. No wonder everything looked so tiny below us!

All too soon, we began to descend, landing in a farmer’s field, where everyone helped to pack up the balloon before we were offered drinks and nibbles. 

An unforgettable experience.

Another late post

It was Gemma’s 40th birthday in August, so she and Chris planned to visit that month, at the same time as Alex and Immy (Graham and Belle don’t like the heat).

Alex and Immy were the first to arrive; we spent some time making and hanging birthday banners and other tacky decorations which Gemma certainly appreciated when she got here.

We spent a lovely couple of weeks, swimming, eating out and doing all the other normal holiday activities.

One important thing we wanted to do was to say our final goodbyes to Nick; it would have been his birthday on August 28th, so we decided to go to the top of his favourite col, la Hourquette d’Ancizan, to scatter his ashes in his beloved Pyrenees.

The logistics took some working out, but worked perfectly in the end. We dropped Kieran and Chris in Ste Marie de Campan, at the bottom of the climb, from where they started cycling the col, carrying Nick’s ashes in a rucksack. Gemma and I drove a bit further, to Payolle, then shared the riding and driving from there, my bike only needed a slight adjustment to the saddle height to suit each of us. Alex drove Kieran’s car, with Alice, Immy, Artie and Emily, to the top of the col, from where she started walking down to meet us. We picnicked near the top and reminisced about happier times, before finding a lovely space, away from the road and overlooking the mountains, where we scattered Nick’s ashes.

It was, obviously, very emotional, but we all felt that this was exactly where he’d have wanted to be. It felt a very fitting tribute.