After buying some mini mustards we decided this area of France just wasn’t doing it for us. It was burning holes in our pockets and the flat agricultural land wasn’t making up for the fast disappearing, hard-saved cash. We wanted to see a new landscape. We needed to see a landscape that justified this strange new life we were living. We got a train 240km from Dijon to Chambéry.
I sat and stared out of the window for a long time. It was so satisfying to watch the uninspiring scenery flying past on the other side of the glass. This wonderful machine was shooting us through the landscape that we were so bored of. It was disappearing behind us now and now and now. Sat comfortable in a French train seat. Eating a morning croissant. A train had never felt so fast before. Never felt so luxurious.
A few days earlier we had sent a request to stay with a guy, Alexis, in Grenoble. He explained that he wasn’t there at that time but suggested that we come and stay with him at his parents house not far from Grenoble, in Le Bourget-du-Lac. He explained that his Mother and Father were cycle tourists and that they had just come back from their most recent (yes, this was not the only one!) world tour from their home in Eastern France to Japan. We were amazed. What an incredible coincidence. Could these be the cycle touring parents we had dreamed of?
Alexis came to meet us at the train station in Chambéry. From the first warm handshake, I knew we were going to get on. Sometimes the openness and kindness of certain people just emanates from them, like a good-human-glow.
We squeezed all the bags and bikes into the back of the family car and he drove us to his house. We ate a wonderful lunch, sat outside under the shade of a fig tree. We met his older sister, Mylise, who had been a national runner but due to an injury had changed course into studying environmentally friendly engineering. Alexis was studying medicine and was an accomplished uni-cyclist and slackliner in his spare time. His parents, Bridgette and Nicholas, told us that they had done three world bike tours. One when they were in their twenties through Europe and Africa. One when all the children were small but old enough to ride on the back of a parent-led tandem or on their own small bike. And the most recent one, to Japan, they had only returned a few months ago. We were sat at the table, jaws on the floor. Woooow. What an incredible family. And we hadn’t even met his younger brother, he was probably a neuroscientist or an astronaut or a famous musician or something.
We asked them all the questions we had been burning to find answers to. It was so interesting to meet a family in which the concept of cycling to New Zealand was not strange or scary, just another venture out into the world like so many they had done before. It turned a light on in my head about taking a new approach. A more relaxed, less anxious approach that could change everything.
Later Alexis took us to the edge of Lac du Bourget. A vast and beautiful lake. He set up a very advanced slack line between two pontoons, crossing over the deep water. Haydn stripped off and watched Alexis perch on the top of a white pole over the water. He began walking across, making it look easy, arms waving above his head to counterweight his body. I lay my towel on the ground and took in the scene. Haydn tried over and over again. Walking a little way, falling in to the water, clambering back up the metal poles of the pontoon to try again. I was very happy to observe this spectacle and not participate. I felt the tiredness heavy in my limbs. We stayed there until the sun set and the water shimmered deep indigo.
In this moment a wonderful feeling washed over me. I felt far from home and amazed at what series of events and coincidences had happened to mean that I was here right now but as if there was nowhere else in the world I should be.
A magical and mysterious rightness of being.
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