|Bonjour mes amis,
I hope everyone is fine. I'm happily settled into village life and socialising again. It's like I haven't missed a beat. But before that, there was my trip from Australia to France; a long story of its own. Luckily, I've edited to only replay the highlights/lowlights.
I flew out of Melbourne at 5am Sunday morning and was due to arrive in Paris at 8pm Sunday night, given the time difference. I actually arrived 10:15am Monday morning. It had all started well, particularly after the girl seated at the window moved, I got a three seat section to myself on the Melbourne to Dubai flight. I even stretched out and tried to sleep for a while. But several hours into the flight there was an announcement asking if there was a medical doctor or paramedic on board. That didn't sound good but I merrily tuned out and watched a movie. About 30 minutes later, the pilot announced that we were diverting to Singapore as there was a medical emergency and they needed to get the man to hospital asap. When we landed, people started to talk each other and bond over whether we would make our connecting flights. Two doctors and four paramedics boarded and in due course, the patient was taken away with a suspected heart attack. The pilot said that we needed to refuel but we'd be away shortly.
Then there was a problem with the electrical system and air-conditioning while on the ground so we sat on the tarmac for hours in a hot, sweaty plane. However, the passengers were all getting friendly and even sharing advice and phones to be able to contact friends and relatives who were due to meet them at the end of the trip. The time extended to three then four hours without change. The next announcement from the pilot said that there was bad news. By this stage, everyone seemed resigned to the situation. Apparently there are usually two runways in Dubai on which our plane could land. One was out of action for renovations for five weeks. The worse news was that the remaining runway would be closed for two hours so there was no point in us taking off from Singapore until we knew that we could land in Dubai. We were all chatting to each other and even laughing about the unfortunate set of circumstances in which we found ourselves. Maybe an hour later, the electrical system was fixed and we got cool air. Thank goodness! Then we were cleared for takeoff. Yay!
When we finally landed in Dubai around 6:30pm Sunday instead of 1pm, the staff were well prepared to deal with rescheduling flights for many hundreds of people. I had flown Economy on the first leg but a while ago I'd been offered a cut price upgrade to Business on the Dubai to Paris leg which I had taken. So I took the short line with First Class and Business passengers to be given a dinner voucher and accommodation at a 5 star hotel and a chauffeur to take me from the airport that night and return me at 2am for my 4am Paris flight on Monday morning.
On board I was offered welcome champagne, slept on a flat bed seat in my own little cubicle, ordered my freshly cooked breakfast of the best waffles and raspberry jus I've ever tasted, was served on crisp white table linen and enjoyed another champagne. I had to get my money's worth. They had given me a wine list and a menu of snacks but because of the timing of the flight I didn't access these. All in all, it made me miss the olden days when I could afford to fly Business Class.
My original plan had been to land in Paris at 8pm Sunday and spend the night at the airport hotel, have a leisurely breakfast and take the train to Poitiers (my closest city) at 11:18am Monday morning where Garry and Glenda were meeting me to take me back to Saint Savin. I was told that my new 4am flight was supposed to arrive in Paris at 9:25am so I
would probably still have time to clear Immigration, collect baggage and get to the train. Well, we arrived a little late, didn't we? It was 10:15am by the time I exited the plane and quickly hustled my way around other passengers to the front of the line. I flashed through Immigration and dashed to the baggage carousel. Luckily, my bag appeared within about 10 minutes (benefits of Business Class) and I was able to catch my train with time to spare.
Garry and Glenda met me at the train station in Poitiers and brought me home. That afternoon, I cleaned the house to make it liveable after having been closed up for months and I unpacked then started to contact friends. That evening I caught up with Hilary and Keith, Dick and Helen as well as Garry and Glenda at David and Virginnie's bar. They greeted me with a big hug and kisses like a long lost friend/good customer. The socialising has barely stopped since then.
As an aside, on the first morning in Saint Savin I woke to find that my hot water heater was not working again. The plan has been to replace it asap but I thought I might have had a little time of it working before I had to do that. Glenda offered her shower which I gratefully accepted. The next day was a public holiday but the plumber came later in the week to do another temporary fix while he sorts out a quote for a replacement unit.
Garry and Glenda have taken me to a couple of vide greniers (second hand markets), a shopping trip to Montmorillon (only accessible by car) and we've shared stories over coffee and drinks. They also took me to lunch in a lovely old village called Preuilly-sur-Claise, at a restaurant run by a former two Michelin star chef. This was their treat for my 70th birthday, a celebration that never ends.
I've also caught up with Betty whose sight is very poor now. She can't drive, nor read and is a bit unsteady on her feet but her spirit is still strong. She and I had lunch with Mollie who came from her home in Antigny to pick us up and delivered us back five hours later. There were lots of stories and laughter as well as delicious food.
G&G and I have met up with Paul and Shaun to look through their bed and breakfast establishment in Saint Germain, across the river. It's looking really good now that they've finished the renovations and they are welcoming guests at last but it's been hard setting up their business. Hopefully it's smooth sailing soon. Paul was particularly keen to welcome me back as Shaun said he's missed the banter with me. Paul and I have had more one on one time and he contacts me every day on Messenger. What can I say? He's drawn to my magnetic personality!
I've also given a small dinner for Hilary, Keith and Vicky. H&K have now gone to Spain for six weeks so I had to get some time with them before they left. It was a lovely evening. Hilary and Keith left my place just before midnight so they could get home before the street lights went off at 12. Vicky, on the other hand, was enjoying herself so much that she didn't leave until 1:40am. I must admit that I was starting to flag after having cooked most of the day.
Well, today I've vowed to keep to myself and not over indulge in anything. However I did meet Paul for a coffee that turned into two and a couple of hours of chatting.