Thursday, 4 February 2016

South of France in February

I read a statisic yesterday: 17% of people are planning on travelling on their own for the first time this year. That doesn't even include folk who've already done any solo travel. Which means... There are starting to be quite a few of us.


There was me thinking I was different. Special. That's what it always comes to in the end: just another member of the herd. But that's OK. I like to think that I came to where I am – that is, a woman of a certain age who is trying to pack as much life into her life as possible (yes, I admit I kind of wasted a few years back there during the sort of age when nowadays folks go on gap yahs or take off because they don't - yet - have responsibilities. So, fair dues, I'm making up for lost time, but surely it's better to be making it up, cramming it in, then just thinking that ship has sailed...?)....

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, so I came to this point in my life all by myself. No, wait, I did have someone who was an inspiration. A housekeeper.

It was, oh, let's see... Must be 8 years ago now? I wanted to go skiing, but didn't know anyone else who wanted to. Also, I wasn't exactly dripping money. One evening I came upon a website that answered all my wants: I could be a peak week rep, taking school groups out to the Alps for a week's skiing during their holidays. Perfect!

Then, while I was out on one of these weeks, I met an older woman working as head of housekeeping in the hotel where we were staying. She'd been a PE teacher, been married and divorced, and had two grown-up sons. She didn't want to just sit at home and she liked skiing, so she'd come out to do a season in the Alps, running a fleet of young gels who did most of the actual cleaning and she oversaw them. Best bit? She looked like she was having the time of her life and we had a couple of days skiing together, talking and enjoying the mountains.

I looked at her and thought, 'That could be me one day'. And that made me happy: the idea that I could just do what I wanted to, that age and finances didn't have to rule my life; that I could just follow whatever looked like it would be fun.

And so... Here I am. About to take off for a 16-day dog/house-sit in the south of France, heading there from London by train – something else I'm looking forward to. It came together through another website, where pet owners advertise their away dates and responsible people who like animals apply.

When I tell people what I'm doing, I literally get this response: "You have the best life."

Isn't that amazing? Me, the one who used to be too shy to go to the movies on my own, who spent too many of my younger years waiting... But enough of that. It's like I'm not just having another chapter – I'm having a whole other book.

If this has read like it's all me, me, me, it's only because I'm trying as best as I can to say it could be all you, you, you. Anything else I say now will come out like pap, so I'll just end with letting you know I will be reporting back on the experience, so do check in again. Oh, and please do let me know what dream you're living – or would like to...

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