|When we landed in Toulouse the sky was blue and we felt warm at last and delighted in packing away our jackets. We picked up our little Fiat and headed directly to the apartment in Albi, an hour's drive north east. Once we had done a few circuits of the one way street system we were outside the door and made our way up a set of fabulous rickety old stairs to throw open the shutters on our wonderful home for the next two weeks courtesy of Bill & Jacinta.
Albi is a UNESCO town with many features including the oldest brick cathedral in the world, the oldest working bridge and some fantastic buildings dating back to the 12th century. It is also the birth place of Laparouse who was on the heels of Captain Cook in 1788 hoping to make Australia a French colony.
We settled in to the apartment and headed straight to the main square for an aperitif followed by dinner in the cloisters of St Salvy. When it came to deciphering the menu we wished we had put more effort into listening to our French for dummies CD. Tripe is a specialty in this region which I have no interest in experiencing by accident.
We woke to the sound of church bells and relished throwing open the shutters onto the private garden below and allowing the sun to stream in after a cerry 'welcome' from the chap downstairs.
We spent our first day wandering the streets taking in the ambience of the old town and along the river Tarn stopping at every real estate window to fantasize about splurging on an old stone farm house and purchasing a pair of espadrilles because, according to Fred, nothing says you are on holiday as much as that. We also spent an hour or so swooning at the produce on offer at Le Clerc a fabulous supermarche that makes Coles and Woolies look very sad. Dinner was outdoors again and I enjoyed Magret which is duck with foie gras. We strolled the streets and watched a bit of French TV before turning down the bed covers very content to be on holiday.
Day two in Albi began with a cool breeze and more technical frustrations as we could not connect to mum on Skype. She is in Box Hill hospital after having her lungs drained of almost a litre of fluid in a procedure she claims she'd not wish on her worst enemy. Basically it is the result of her ailing heart and kidneys not functioning. At last she has been read the riot act regarding her salt intake so in sympathy I am off it too! She was in the oncology ward but taken off chemo for a few days as she got her equilibrium back. Pam was very pleased with her care and we expect she will go to a palliative respite place until early next week and resume chemo, which she seems to be responding well to. By then Pam will be able to concentrate on mum again. Currently she is minding Christian, Grace and William while Shelley & Dan are in NZ dealing with legal matters in relation to accessing his children. So for Pam and Gil it has been full on! Mum said on the phone today that her aim is to get back home to her place so her determination can't be faulted, bless her.
Prue who is scheduled to meet us in Albi next Monday has similar woes as her mum is also unwell and in hospital. We are waiting to hear if and when they will arrive so our French sojourn is all a bit topsy turvy at the moment - literally!
Today after a visit to the market to suss out the produce and plan just how much foie gras we should reasonably consume in a few meals we'd like to cook, we headed off up the pretty Tarn river valley. The first stop was a place called Ambilet. We went for a walk and as Fred was once again pondering the purchase of a house in an environment like that I got dreamy and distracted and missed the curb ending up on the pavement again. Ouch and merde. The rest of the day was spent at 'urgences' back in Albi and I now have my ankle in a removable brace for three weeks and I am on crutches until I can weight bare. Not the sort of extra luggage I'd hoped to accumulate. I am soooo embarrassed and angry. There were tears of pain and frustration as I tried to negotiate my way up three flights of stairs on crutches. I am now laid up on the sofa and Fred has produced a delicious treat from the patisserie as a reward for being so brave. My ankle is very swollen, blue and painful but I am assured nothing is broken - but I've heard that before! Like mum I am determined to get back on my feet and will not let this stop us getting out and about albeit at a slower pace for a while. Surely it can only get better......