You know how sometimes, you look back and say, "That was a good week"? Then, there are the rather more rare occasions when you look back and say "That was a GREAT week!" I have just had a GREAT week.
It was my birthday. Well, actually, that is not true. It will be my birthday in a few days. It will be one of those birthdays that are "momentous".
Some years ago now, I decided to give up trying to fight my way along in the rat race. I sold my house, collected all my belongings together, packed my car and drove off into the sunset.... or, at least, the cross channel night ferry. I had some small savings and the proceeds from the sale of my property. I guess, the crunch moment for making that decision came whilst I was on vacation. In an idle moment, whilst drinking coffee on a pavement somewhere, I suddenly realised that, even though I was working hard, I was neither enjoying myself, nor making enough money to put up with the grief. I also realised that, after selling my property and buying something in France, I would have more left over than I would earn between then and retirement.
For many years I had idly dreamed of buying a little place in the sun and living a long and happy retirement. My own psyche never seemed to quite come to terms with when that should be, so, at just 53 I upped and left. It's well known amongst my friends that I left the UK, and came to live in France, but only had a holiday cottage which I had rented for just two weeks. I guess it worked out, as I have now lived here for over 7 years.
To get back to my birthday, those of you with an eye for numbers, will by now have realised why it is a "momentous" birthday. If I had not taken that decision back then, this week is the week when I would have been given my carriage clock and sent off into bewilderment. As it is, I took the tent I was given back in 2004 and started to forge a new life here in the Kitchen Garden in France. Oh, I still have that tent, just in case!
But none of these ramblings explain why it has been a GREAT week.
About a month ago, I started to think about these things and decided I wanted to celebrate this "coming of age". This coming of a new era in my third age.
I guess I entered my third age back then when I moved here. But there is the third age and there is the seven year itch, so all in all, seven years after entering the third age seems a great excuse to throw a party. So that's what I decided to do.
For personal reasons I chose to celebrate it a week before my birthday and so it was, that I had about thirty of my friends here to celebrate with me. Their were some old friends of more than 20 years standing, and some new friends, met on the day for the first time. Their were friends I had met for the first time at the start of my adventure here, and friends and neighbours I have met along the way.
It was hard work, but fun, preparing food and drinks for my friends and I had great help from everyone. And then, as the thermometer edged into the upper 30's C (about 100F) I filled the newly imported garden fridges and waited for the guests, who turned up determined to give me the best birthday ever.
Well, They succeeded.
Erm, I'm sure none of you will be surprised when I mention that I didn't take a single photo.... Sorry!