A walk in the woods

A walk in the  woods

I got up fashionably late … Dany said not to hurry and we had breakfast together at 9. We managed to talk in English/ French, a little about our families and our travels. She’s a very nice,  calm, refined lady, and gave me some great hints on Cotignac. I said I had walked yesterday and was intending to have another walk today. So she said “you are fit?”  And not wanting to admit that possibly I’m at my most unfit, I agreed that, yes, I was fit. So she got out a map of the area of Cotignac and prepared a route for me. 

Off I went with a piece of fruit and a water bottle. No sign of the Brannocks as yet!
 I walked up the side of the town past the cemetery and continued on what I thought – hoped – was  the right way. 
Come along with me:

I walked down a leaf littered trail and over a fast moving stream or small river. It had that lovely gushing whooshing sound. I climbed up the other side for a while and then spotted the waterfall feeding the stream. Other than the water it was so quiet.

I passed the only person I’d seen so far – a man working on his property.

I came across some flat ground with vines growing in yellow and red –

and then along to Chappelle St Martin.

It is covered in red leaves and and sat proudly on the corner overlooking the vines. I turned right (although instinct told me to turn left) and crossed another stream, rounded a corner and had to jump out of the way of the big tractor with a friendly wave from the driver. And probably an “Allors”

I came out onto Route 22 and walked along till it met Route 13 and, wanting to head towards St Joseph’s, took that route. I sat on the fence for a minute and watched the horses in the nearby field. No cars came along and it was quiet except for the water as I was crossing the river once again. I continued on up the hill and met the road coming up from St Martins where my instinct had been right before and I should have turned left! But never mind the road was lovely … I came to another left turn where I consulted St Joseph before turning towards the monastery. It was now a shaded road, very quiet, with several little altars along the way. I felt watched over! I caught sight of St Josephs monastery and then took the turn which said Notre Dame which is where Dany had said to go. 
It was a walkers’ path and before long I came across some pools of muddy water almost blocking my way (shades of San Gim- remember?  Steve, Peter and Carmel). 
I was hoping no more flooded roads and then of course there was one. I had to scramble up onto the rock wall to pass it and hoped I wouldn’t fall in! I took a big stick with me to help balance and hoped I didn’t look like a crazy German trekker!  Mind you I had been walking now for an hour and half and had seen one person. 
I came across a barn of sorts used for farm machinery for the vineyards nearby and then another intersection. Decision time. Paved road or walkers’ track? The adventurer in me said walkers’ track so off I set. 
Allors more mud! More scrambling, climbing fences, balancing and hoping my shoes would hold up. I was wearing my new boots from Paris which are a cross between a pair of slippers and walking shoes. So far so good! 
Fortunately “our lady of the way ” was there  to guide me along.

By now I had eaten the fruit and drunk the water so I was seriously hoping I did fall off one of the walls. 
I saw gates for a vineyard and even through I didn’t see anyone it gave me hope. 
The views were magnificent out across the valley and in the distance I caught sight of a building.

Then I came upon another altar. This one had a little glass door which I opened to have a better look. Inside were flowers and mementoes and two cards with pictures of loved ones.

I must say I was hoping they had not come to grief on this path as by now it was very rocky walking. The little card for Jeanne said (and I think this is what it said, as it was in French) pray for her, she disappeared! I sincerely hoped that I didn’t disappear along this track. I saw a rocky shed – possibly for the lost and weary to shelter! Thank goodness it was blue and sunny weather. The path was now up and down and very rocky. 

Then another intersection with an enormous cross and a little chapel for St Bernard. I think he was the patron saint of lost walkers? It had a little altar inside so I sat a moment and hoped I was almost at Notre Dame.
And I was. The stations of the cross appeared as if by magic and I followed them and there in front of me was Notre Dame.

I didn’t know what to expect but it was gorgeous. A real sanctuary with a special outdoor area for silent prayer. As it was now 4 hours of walking I said a prayer of thanks.

I can’t tell you how lovely it was walking – so silent – so rocky up and down hill. I was greeted by one of the priests just  before he jumped on his scooter and went off – probably for lunch. 

I decided after visiting the church to complete the pilgrims walk into town. 

So downhill I went over a rocky path with St Therese  to guide me through the woods. 

I passed several altars  and caught sight of Cotignac getting closer. 

I crossed the river yet again and walked in through the main street and low and behold a market! 

It was now nearly 2pm and I was hoping the restaurants were still serving lunch. They were! 
I treated myself to a delicious lunch – a gourmet salad of the area’s produce, including a fresh artichoke, aubergine, pumpkin, leaves etc YUM; a glass of wine YUM,  and then headed home to get the iPad to let you know about my adventures. 

As I passed through the little square I saw the local council men talking down the remembrance flags from yesterday. Lest we forget.

Tonight I am off to a movie. Dany asked if I would like to go with her and Martine,  her friend who runs the restaurant I had lunch in yesterday. Such a treat. And the movie is in English. There is a movie festival here at the moment and one or two of the movies are in English to cater for all the local English people who own houses here. Dany said it will have French subtitle for her and Martine! it’s called Paperboy with Matthew McConaghy and our own Nicole Kidman. 
I’m sitting in the sun writing this at the local bocce club . The men are in full competition mode. The autumn trees are amazing. 


Last day in Sanremo…. Out if order! Just this before Cotignac!

Last day at school 

It’s funny that by the last day of a week  you are finally feeling comfortable and it’s time to stay goodbye. 
I can see why it’s better to come for two weeks to any language school! 
Anyway Adrian, Mr French teenager (permanently attached to his telefonata) and I had our last session. Mario the teacher was calm quiet, sweet and shy. He had no girlfriend he told me because he was waiting for the right girl to come along! Sweet. I bought him coffee today during our break. He was most appreciative. These little breaks are great. You get to go to a neighbouring cafe and enjoy a coffee. They encourage you to go so you can do the ordering etc and feel part of the local community. By the end of the week the people in the cafe know you and greet you with smiles and usually even remember your order. Probably to avoid having to wait patiently for each class member to get it out! 
We returned  to class and the second half is spent doing the last part of our serialised  story – in this case the final part of a mystery. All very exciting. 
We had just about finished when the school director Daniel (looks like italian Steve Martin)  and the school secretary (an adorable Brazilian girl called Simone) arrived in class to make a presentation. They gave me a certificate and a “piccolo regalo” – a little present of two locally made soaps all tied up with ribbon and flowers (Sanremo is known as the flower city). Such a lovely way to end.

[l to r]             Principal Daniel, Francesca, French Pierre, Teacher Mario, Secretary Simone, Swiss Adrian.
Though it was not over yet. I had the afternoon booked to visit the Villa Nobel where Alfred Nobel lived and worked after he had blown up several other locations in Europe. 
But before that  I took a little visit to the post office to post a small box home – its always an  interesting experience in an Italian post office. This was no exception as the man behind the counter adopted me. I had forgotten to bring my passport so had to dash back to the apartment. When I returned he greeted me like an old friend but then it took a full 15 minutes to arrange it to be sent. And I had already completed all the paperwork. They almost had a whole file just on me by the time it was over. And I had a new friend. 
Finished the afternoon at the Villa which was interesting and then walked back along the waterfront and had a drink with Robert, the Austrian, to plan our trip on Sunday. Robert happens to be going to Cotignac where I and going to stay with the Brannocks so I’m going with him. Can’t believe how well it’s worked out. I was not looking forward to trains and changing trains on Monday. This way I arrive early – before the Brannocks, but I also have a day to explore and rest. I’m staying at a local B&B. 
Tomorrow last day in lovely Sanremo. 
Oh can you believe – while I’ve been typing this I have been watching the final episode of Junior Masterchef Australia! Dubbed in Italian! What a hoot! George sounds funny but not as silly as Mr Cravat Matt sounds. 

Cotignac – a lovely village in Provence

Sad to leave Sanremo but as it was raining it was time to go! 

Yesterday I got the train and went to Monaco. Thought I’d drop in on Prince Albert! Went to the Casino and didn’t break the bank, had lunch and a walk but it was a bit wet to really enjoy. The place appears to be dripping in money. Lots of good looking sports cars being driven around the streets and lots of women all dolled up with high heels ! Not really my scene.

Packed up the apartment and said a fond farewell to Hilda , the lady upstairs who has kept an eye out for me. Have made arrangements for Robert, an Austrian man from the school, to drive me to Cotignac! Poor man – I literally jumped at the chance for a lift. 


Arrived yesterday – before the Brannocks as I was able to get a lift from Austrian Rob. He has a friend here who has a vineyard just on the edge of town. So too good an opportunity not to miss the train changes! Got here at 11:10 in the rain, but driving up the main street it looked so lovely and inviting I knew I was going to like it. 

The B&B is at the top of the town just off the little square with the Hotel de Ville and the war memorial and as it was the 11 November there had just been a little ceremony . 

I booked a B&B with a lovely lady called Dany so I found her place with Robert’s help. It’s an amazing old house in the village … just before the cliff goes up. 

She showed me my room which is like a grandma room- old furniture, big bed, rugs, heating, kettle, old tv, and bathroom. The house is a one room only per floor- literally. The staircase winds up and at each little turn(landing) there is a door. I’m on floor 2, so left my big bag on the ground floor in her workshop. She does lead lighting and has all the gear set up on the street level – though there is a main entrance in another street where you come in just above my room! 

After I settled I went for lunch with Dany at her friend Martine’s restaurant. It’s on the little square near the B&B. A lovely place and Dany is so nice. That’s the good thing about being on your own, people are more open and kind. 

After lunch I took a walk, and then a sleep was needed and it was so quiet I went off to sleep. Then by late afternoon when I was reading and about to go out for another walk I heard voices. The Brannocks had arrived at their new house and were talking to the other owners the Smiths. Unbeknown to them I could see them out the window and nearly called out but didn’t want to disturb them. They hadn’t seen the house before purchase and had a fair bit of business to do and as I wasn’t expected till Tuesday I  thought I’d lie low!!!! But now I know where they are! Right on the corner in the little square next to the Hotel de Ville ( town hall) . Great spot. (Ginetta you will love this village) 

The Brannock’s brown house

When I got going I had another walk this time up the street leading to the hills behind. Really lovely views of the town. I wandered back after walking for an hour and decided to have a glass of vino (“vin here) soup and an early night. 
Watched a French movie with Vincent Lindon and even though it was all French I could just make out what was happening . It was really good, moving and sad. 

So off to sleep and sleep I did!