Moving back to England is one huge learning curve. I thought I was English until I came back and realised that everything was alien. From driving on the wrong side of the road to bakeries opening at 9am instead of 7.30am enabling you to have fresh bread for your breakfast.From no-one having a siesta to combat the exhaustive heat of the midday sun ( don't let's go there) to people eating their evening meals before 9pm and sitting inside. There is no-one having the audacity to lounge around pavement cafes enjoying a carefree bottle of wine or two.
Yes actually I do miss the South of France and my friends and family. I look back to days spent at Le Chateau and Carcassonne and it seems a lifetime ago because in reality it was all a lifetime ago and yet there are countless exotic pictures, and some not so exotic to remind me 'I did it'. And that's what makes it all so much easier to adapt, 'I've done it', I have the stories and memories that fill my head and now I'm busy creating new ones and learning afresh.
When I awake in the mornings it's not to the sound of the dust cart emptying some of the city's wine banks or the screech of a late night revellers tyres accompanied by thumping music, the bass making my thin windows rattle. I don't wonder whether I can briefly open the windows lest the air is too hot, . Here I awake to the sun rising (it can sometimes be 5.30am) and listen to the seagulls screeching overhead and I look out onto hills gently covered in sea mist.
Here, supposedly, I don't have to explain myself or apologise to anyone. People didn't enquire as to what I did with my days back in France because I never stopped moving, I simply did not have time to think. And perhaps this is what is so alien to me and so puzzling to others, I have the space to breathe, to sit down, look around and survey the landscape of life. It is both uplifting and painful in equal measures.
It is approaching the year anniversary since my life stopped hurtling along at break neck speed and I was required to climb off the merry go round and stop and evaluate what was important to me. It is a peculiar road and one that requires you travel it alone. There have been casualties along the way, but as well with the inevitable disappointments come the surprises which keeps the scenery fresh and interesting as you meander along.
You learn that you can only cover so much ground in a day and that some days/weeks it can all go horribly haywire for any number of reasons and I am having to get used to this. But there are times when it all flows so fast you can't keep up. Ideas pour forth at an alarming rate and you scrabble to keep up with them. Folders are purchased, files are opened, notepads are furiously scribbled in and you go all topsy turvy again as a fresh idea swirls around your head.
You feel like a piece of clothing going around and around in a tumble drier and that's fine with you because this is who you are, whereas you learn that some people are best pegged out on the line and left to dry...