I had another bus adventure this morning. I took the 25 instead of the 4 and found it took me lots of different places I didn’t expect! Like the newer part of town and past the cemetery. I was sure I would be late to school but I was too nervous to get off before it got to some place familiar or I would be later still! It was quite interesting and though a bit nervous I new it’s final destination was within walking distance to school. In the end I was only 2 mins late.
We received our tests back and I was chuffed to get an A. It was a fun class today and I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of new words I have absorbed. Everyone says I have improved so it isn’t just me who thinks so.
After class Hannah (Finnish), Merel (Dutch) and I went over to the tourist office to take a wine tour we had booked. We were pleasantly surprised when four other students we knew turned up. Rene and Josef are Swiss ( German), and I had met them earlier in the week. Josef speaks excellent English but Rene doesn’t speak English at all. We have been bumping in to each other all week at school and got quite friendly. When I told them I was leaving tomorrow they were sorry to see me go and Josef said it was because I was fun to be around. How nice is that?
Merel and I have been having lunch together. She is young but we get on well and we have been supporting each other all week. She is staying for two months but living in an AirBnB on her own. Her landlord kindly invited her to join friends to watch the football at the pub and to dinner with other French friends. She has also found it a challenge being with only French speakers but her confidence is growing all the time and she is also socialising with the crowd from school, a much busier and more interesting social life than mine!
The wine tour was very interesting. and we got to taste 6 wines over all. Josef didn’t drink all his wine (he only drinks with food, very European), but Hannah, Merel and I did. They were delicious but what was so fascinating to me was how controlled wine making is in France. They can only plant the particular varieties that have been there for years. They can only make a specific amount. Excess wine must be given to the government for distilling into medical alcohol. They must mix two types of grapes. The appellations are so strictly controlled even to the fact they must blend the wines. I admire the pull of tradition but it must be hard to innovate! I felt my senses bristle at all the ‘musts’ , must do this, must not do that about winemaking. It certainly ensures consistency which is important but very different from Australia.
The grafted vine after frost decimated the vineyard last year.We all snoozed on the bus between Château de Cérons and Château d’Eck then we enjoyed the next lot of red wines. The last (their premium of course!) was our favourite. We had lots of conversations about wine, learning French, life etc and so we decided to go to dinner together afterwards. I had arranged to meet John, an Australian guy from Sydney, who I had met on the first day but he didn’t show even after 15 minutes so we all went off to find a restaurant. John had asked Valarie the social director, to find me because we started in the same class but he had decided to go into the next level up. After a week he was returning to my level. He had had a shock. His credit card had been defrauded several times to the amount of $5000. He was feeling rattled and thought he would not be able to continue his classes but the school encouraged him to stay.
I think he just wanted to have a bit of emotional support ( in English) but I had to rush back to class and he wanted to meet afterwards but I was going on the wine tour. Our arrangements were very rushed and in his distracted state I am not sure he really grasped that I was not continuing classes. I was not impressed with CommBank Visa, his bank. Having had two similar experiences recently that had been queried immediately by my credit card companies ( ANZ and AMEX) where the transactions were immediately halted and the cards cancelled, I could sympathise. Even though the whole process was a saga I was grateful for their vigilance. It isn’t always convenient to keep checking your transactions I guess but I only use my credit cards infrequently when travelling and rely on my travel card most of the time. He thought his card had been copied. I felt for him because that is a lot of money and most of his budget for Bordeaux and his stay in France.
We all went to la Place de Parliament and our group had ‘collected’ Andreo a young Italian who had been working in Amsterdam and had got talking to Merel and Rene. Rene speaks Italian so our dinner was so funny with French, English, Franglais, and Italian being the languages of communication. Rene translated the French into Italian, Andreo translated the English into Italian, and Merel, Hannah and I spoke French and English. Hannah speaks German too and would sometimes speak German with Rene. We had some very interesting and in depth conversations despite the lack of one common language, about politics in everyone’s countries, refugees, education, our families. It was a joyous evening really because we were all in great spirits. Rene and Merel had been to a concert by a Creole musician the night before beside the river which they said was attended by about 500 people. Merel had said it was so much fun because everyone was dancing and the atmosphere was great.
I was really sad to say good bye. Merel even welled up with tears and we had two hugs! Hannah also gave me a warm farewell such that I felt quite emotional. It has been a fantastic week despite the strain I felt initially. I have a few more email French speaking friends now!
I bought a local cake delicacy for Astrid and the family as a farewell gift
Canelés are rum cakes with vanilla custard inside.
I gave Alexandra the insect repellant I bought for the C2C because she seems to attract mozzies. Astrid had the bird on her shoulder and was repairing a fabric bracelet of Alexandra’s.
In the process of the conversation I grasped that Alexandra had had an incident at school which caused her to change schools and gave her nightmares. The bracelet was linked with a Saint and prayers for recovery. In the end it was actually 12.30 before I got to bed. My IPad was on English time an hour earlier!