Chris Part Deux

by Vanessa on August 8, 2011

Picture of Chris as he is writing this entry. I guess I am half geek too!

I’ve decided to let Chris guest post again on the blog. (I guess his driving has been okay.)  Enjoy – I think he may have written a short novel below.  Here is He Said, She Said Part 2.

Bien aller. (They say this a lot here in Marseillan.)





Well, our trip is almost over.  Our 10 weeks are almost up, and it will soon be time to leave the south of France behind, returning to Toronto to face the onset of Fall, the back to school rituals, and “real life” … whatever that means.

I have mixed emotions about it.  Part of me doesn’t want to give up the good life we’ve been living here.  Our living expenses have been quite moderate and we’ve been eating like Kings & Queens on fresh fruit, great cheese and cheap but very tasty wines.  We’ve been having full 3-course meals at very good restaurants twice per week.  We sleep in until 9 a.m. Yet I’ve also got an itch to do productive stuff back home.  Lots of projects to do that are aimed at keeping me successfully self-employed.

You all know by now that Vanessa schedules posts in advance, so I’m writing this on Wednesday Aug 3rd.  We’ve still got 10 days left.  We’re determined to make the most of them.

I think we’re done with day trips, save maybe one more short sightseeing day.  Maybe.  We’re enjoying just hanging around our village and hopping in the car for the 6 km drive to Marseillan Plage.  It’s so awesome to be in a busy-but-small village while being so close to the ocean (le mer .. see I’m learning French).

The beach will probably be a daily ritual from now until we go home.  Gotta maximize our natural Vitamin D intake. Didn’t you know that’s why the women go topless on the beaches here?  It’s for health reasons, dammit.  Health, I say.

But today we gave the beach a rest and made the relaxing 20 minute drive through the wine fields towards Pezenas, where the municipal pool has become one of our favourite ways to playfully waste the afternoon away.

Pools in France are quite different than in Ontario. I’m sure you all remember reading about my return to the land of the Banana Hammock …er … Speedo bathing suit.  Remember it’s the law here.  They do make boxer style suits, so it’s not all bad.

This law, as it was explained to me by the pool employee, is for hygiene reasons.  They don’t want  guys wearing their sweaty gym shorts to dive into their clean pool water.  Understandable, right?

I’m not so sure anymore.  Today, as I was enjoying a swim with the girls, Vanessa starts screaming at me, “Get out of the water!  Chris … get out of the pool … you gotta get out now!”  The immediacy in her voice had me thinking a hungry family of sharks had accidentally been released into the pool.

Nope.  It was puke.  Vomit.  Somebody’s kid had just blown massive, colourful chunks all over our pristine pool.   Reverse peristaltic water pollution of the utmost quantity.  Most of it was floating in a large, coagulated clump right beside us.  Another bunch had sunken to become debris scattered like a bad boat wreck.

So I got out, as did the two Angels.  A minute later the lifeguard finally notices the gastric oil spill.  He casually walks over to the pool supply shed, walks in, and shuts the door behind him.  He emerges with one of those long poles with a net on the end of it – the kind used for skimming junk out of the water.

He scooped up the bigger floating mess, deciding that it was too much bother to clean the stuff that had settled.  No whistles, no shouts for everyone to clear the pool.  Just complete calm.

In Ontario, Vanessa’s reaction would be more common.  The guards would shut the pool for 30 minutes and shock it with chlorine.  That’s the law in Ontario, and supposedly THAT law is for cleanliness.

Different strokes, right?

Aside from a nice kids pool, the Pezenas municipal pool also has a great adult sized lap pool (25m).  We’re training for the Try-a-Tri (mini triathlon) coming up the weekend after we get home.  And I use the word “training” loosely because I think I have spent more time training my left bicep by lifting my wine class to my mouth.

The Try-a-Tri involves a 400 m swim, 10 km bike and 5 km run.  None are much of a challenge but all three together, after 10 lazy weeks in the sun, are bound to be tough.  Yesterday we felt like we could barely do the 16 laps of the pool (400 m).  I actually did swim 60 laps total, but I was taking breaks.  Too bad they didn’t serve cold glasses of rose at the side of the pool :)   [Vanessa here:  I did 40 laps.]

You know how they have lane ropes in pools for lap swimmers?  At home if any kid tries to sit on these ropes they get yelled at by the lifeguard.  In France, large groups of kids (usually 13-14 year olds) will not only sit on the ropes without so much as a glance from the lifeguards, but they have no regard at all for the lap swimmers.  They’ll jump into your lane to play, or cross your lane just as you’re about to collide with them.  My freestyle arm and their cranium have not quite intersected yet.  But I think one of them got a good scare last time.  Lesson learned?  We’ll see.

The lifeguards also have no hesitation in letting little kids go into the deep end wearing arm floaties.  This is never allowed in Ontario, where kids must prove they can swim before being permitted in deep water (and never with a floatie).

I side with the French here.  Ontario rules are idiotic.  We can allow babies in the shallow end, but it’s still WAY over their heads, so why not let me take my 4-year-old in the deep end?  Here I’m allowed, and I love it.

I was able to get Angel #1 to swim the entire length of the 25 m pool today, on her own.  So awesome to watch her smile as she notices what she just accomplished.  I was also able to get Angel #2 to swim about half a width, which is a huge accomplishment for her.  Same huge smile when I held her in the middle of the pool and she glanced back to the wall she started at.  Back home they’d have been stuck in the kiddie area unable to stretch their wings and learn.

More reason to love France.

The only triathlon event we haven’t yet practiced here is the bike ride.  As of tomorrow we are renting two bikes with kids seats.  I’m hoping this works out well.  The last time Vanessa and I rented two-wheeled vehicles was in Victoria, BC almost a decade ago.  They were motorized scooters, not bicycles.  Vanessa mixed up the gas and the brake handles.  She approached a left turn and got a bit scared, so instead of braking she hit the accelerator full throttle.  She hit the curb.  She flew off the bike.  She landed on her head.  Thankfully no injury was sustained….we think :)

Tomorrow we will NOT be renting anything motorized :)

See you all soon!



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