- Despite dire travel warnings in the wake of car bombs in Glasgow and London, I pack my bag and prepare for my friends’ wedding in France. Bernard buys train tickets so I can go from Guildford to Gatwick via train, rather than fight the traffic they say is due to increased security. The day of my EZ Jet flight arrives, and Bernard sees the wrong date on the tickets. Rather than deal with the delay of changing the train ticket, we drive directly to the airport. The traffic flow is diverted, but is not inconvenient, and there are very few cars. I get out at the usual drop off point. Meanwhile, we have realized we looked at the train tickets wrong, and the correct date was on it, after all.
I have registered on-line so I go directly to security. The line is long, but moves quickly. People dutifully remove jackets and shoes and put them into baskets; we all know the drill, now. The extra police are everywhere, but there are no delays. The plane takes off on schedule, leaving a rainy England behind, and the flight is smooth and uneventful.
- I pick up a car at the airport and drive the familiar A8 west towards Fayence. Once again, I feel as if I have never left. I had customers in Nice, Vence, St. Paul de Vence, Cannes, Antibes, and drove these roads weekly. The peage (toll booth) looms, and I panic. Do I have euros to pay with? Yes, I have enough left from our last trip, toss the coins into the basket, the barrier lifts and I’m through.
At the Fayence exit, I go through another peage, and I’m onto the winding road alongside Lake St. Cassien which leads to the villages . It is nearly 2:00 pm, so I stop at the snack truck for a delicious pan bagnat, an olive oil soaked bun with tuna, tomatoes, onions.
The woman who owns the van has parked at this spot in the road for years, and I’m glad to see she is still here.
My hosts are sunning beside the pool when I arrive, and invite me to join them.
I have not brought a bathing suit, I tell them. So many months immobilized on crutches has not done my already growing waist line (and thighs, upper arms, and belly) any good. It is pretty hot though.
- The following day we do some shopping in the big supermarket, LeClerc, also remodeled since we left here two years ago, and I surreptitiously buy a plain black bathing suit from the rack for 20 euros. If it doesn’t look too hideous on me, I might expose my body. Cathrina has stayed slim and elegant, as has JP, so I feel even more like a stranded whale.
That evening I go to the Brownings in Seillans because their son, Martin, who works in Hong Kong, is there, and so is their daughter Monica, of whom I am very fond.
It is Martin’s birthday, and also the birthday of a friend of his. We are 11 for dinner, mostly mates of Monica and Martin, and we, the older generation, revel in the youthful vitality around us. Tomorrow, Monica will return to Australia, where she is living right now.
- More Weekend Wedding