Tag Archives: le puy en velay

Bread alone.

I love markets.  Boy.  I love markets.  I loved our market in Brixton (though it’s changed something awful now), and I loved our market in Cagayan, particularly once I’d learned to navigate it properly.  Enter here, it’s stinky hanging meat everywhere – blech (snobby vegan priviledge…I can turn my nose up at stinky meat), enter there it’s the too-quiet dry goods corner, ergo lots of people chit-chatting away right up to the point that those two really tall Americans (because Chris was always American to them…poor guy) walk up and then it’s stare-central and a couple of, ‘You’re so height, man!’  Nope, it had to be entry number 3 – eggs and fruits, and a ninja-like entry, speedy as I could walk, smile here, nod there, and off to the vendors with whom we most liked doing business.

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Running

I didn’t  run once in the entire time Ann and I were in the Philippines. There were two reasons for this.  First, I’m pretty sure people would have taken photos of me while running and I would have ended up on the local newspaper frontpage under the title “Tallest person in the Philippines seen running!” It was impossible to do anything anywhere without standing out due to being super tall and a foreigner, so going out for a run would be an invitation to attract tons of attention. I would not have been surprised if groups of childrens started running behing me, rocky style ;). I see running as a kind of mediation for me, and I prefer to be able to run in quieter places where I can focus on the moment without too many distractions around.. The other reason was the heat. Basically anytime after 5.30am the temperature would have made it  pretty unpleasant to run. Of course this is something that I would have got used to if I went running regularly but due to reason #1 above, I didn’t. I really missed running during that year. I had built up good habits with running and cycling in my last five years in London and I knew that not exercising at all for year would result in me losing the little fitness I had when I left. When we came back to Europe, both Ann and I were eager to get out and go for a run and it’s one of the first thing we did. That first run was painful and (at most) 10 minutes… but it felt great.

I’ve been trying to run regularly since, aiming for twice sometimes three times a weeks. I kept running as much possible throughout the last winter – something that I didn’t do in London. Running has taken quite an important place in my schedule since coming back to France. I don’t have a set time when I go run though I prefer the morning, and so it’s been more about going to run when I can rather than trying to stick to a schedule. I often complain about not having enough time to do things I want to do outside of work. I recently realised that I tended to see running as an activity that was taking time away from something else I wanted to do or should have been doing. But in the last month or so that perception has changed, and I realised that, actually, I do enjoy running very much and I’m quite happy to spend time doing it. I’m not sure why I had the idea that running was something I was sort of forcing myself to do rather than something I was enjoying.

This year was the 31st edition of my hometown annual 15K race which traditionally takes place on the 1st of May. It was also the first time I participated in it (and finished it).

Last year I remember I was working on the day and as I was looking out our window I could see the runners passing by on the street below, I thought “I should have signed up. I should be running right now, not working in front of a computer working.” This year I signed up on the day registrations opened and made sure I wouldn’t be away on a work trip that week (the 1st was a Wednesday). I did considered pulling out as during the preceding weeks I had picked up a little knee injury and I didn’t get the chance to run much as I was away for work on couple of occasions. Also the morning of the race, it was cold, grey and rain was coming down hard (a small “river” had formed on the street where 4 hours later the race was suppose to take place). It was not encouraging and I wasn’t really “feeling it”. But the weather changed in a spectacular fashion and by the time the starting gun went off it was beautiful blue sky and sunshine all around. It was really perfect conditions to run in and collective mood was firmly up. It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The winner of the race finished in 43:48 (Kitumai Kennedy from Kenya) and the first woman in 50:22 (Mekasha Waganesh from Ethiopia). They passed me when I was on my second lap (the race has three laps)… It was quite a sight to see them whiz by, it looked like their were not running but gliding. Very impressive, and beautiful in a way. I finished in 1:15:26. Not too bad and a timeI was aiming for so I’m very happy with that.

I don’t know whether I’ll go running more from now on following this little mental shift, and that’s not important anyway, but it’s good to now run with this new state of mind.

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Street is still wet from the rain but the emerging sun is taking care of that

Street is still wet from the rain but the emerging sun is taking care of that

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A completely different sort of Arsenic and Old Lace…

A long time ago, in the mid-19th Century, there was a very wealthy aristocratic family who lived in a castle just outside Le Puy-en-Velay.  The mother was very beautiful, and apparently quite adept at using that to her advantage.  She also wasn’t in the picture much, choosing to spend most of her time in Le Puy.  The daughter was somehow at once the spitting image of the mother and not pretty at all, so that the former was considered a sort of characature of the latter.  Nevertheless, when she came of age, her father was able to arrange a suitable marriage to another young aristocrat, who happened to be quite handsome to boot.

As the years progressed, the young couple learned to love one another, and together brought two sons into the world.  The girl’s father hired her husband as the manager of his estate, and all concerned were in the process of living happily ever after.  Eventually, her father died, and in his will left the entirety of his estate to his son-in-law.

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Home…for now.

So whether we like it or not (or whether we like admitting it or not), we have spent the last two weeks immersed in a sea of consumerism.  Since arriving in France we’ve stayed at Chris’ parents’ place while we looked for a flat that would work for us.  The right flat was really important for a couple of reasons – working from home means we spend a lot of time at home…and as a vegan in a pretty small town in France, eating out isn’t something we can do very often.  So while we do try to come out of our cave at least once a day, the flat needed to be a place we could breathe.

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C’est comme ça.

C’est comme ça.  Literally, “It’s like that.”  Probably a closer English translation would be, “That’s how it goes.”  The closest thing the French have to Bahala na, and really not that far away…Where Pinoys expect the worst and hope for the best, and thereby find a sense of peace in “leaving it to [fill-in-the-blank],” the French find their own peace in knowing – in much the same way – that things simply are as they are.

We arrived in Le Puy en Velay just over two weeks ago.  The leaves were vibrant, rusty colors, just really beginning to fall, and the weather was brisk and fresh, if a bit cold.  It’s now become wetter, with rain off and on throughout most days. Chris’ mother’s roses are in their last throes.  Winter is approaching.  C’est comme ça.

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