With: Tobi (born 1979)
Date: 12 November 2016
Where: Carcassonne, France
Having previously met each other for less than 24 hours Tobi and I planned for them to come and join me at La Fumade for a week. Sounds a bit crazy but my current lifestyle means such madcap schemes will continue to feature if I'm to maintain my relationships or establish any new ones. So, they flew to Montpellier, I got myself to the airport by bike and train, and hired a car for the week. That meant we could do things like buy loads of food at the supermarket before heading back to my dacha, drive up into the mountains (fun!) and have a day trip to Carcassonne.
Carcassonne's medieval citadel, La Cité, is entirely pedestrianised, which made for pleasant strolling. I was surprised how busy it was with - I think mostly French - visitors, on a Saturday in November, and dread to think what it must be like in high season. When we arrived I told Tobi I'd be better company if we could prioritise having lunch instantly. The weather was so nice we were even able to eat lunch on a restaurant terrace. Trying to get lunch in France while vegetarian is a challenge, to be sure. We thought asking for the ham, cheese and mushroom galette 'sans jambon' for Tobi would work but... well you can probably imagine what arrived. I had a cassoulet and all was well with the world again.
La Cité is small, so we were easily able to see all of it during the afternoon and to walk around its fabulous high walls with views over the modern town and stretching as far the Pyrénées. The day's lowlight was our visit to the Torture Museum, which for some reason we thought might appeal to us but in fact was probably the most poorly curated museum I've been to anywhere. Unforgiveable really, given the entrance fee.
After that Tobi bought me a massive ice-cream - I think they've got the measure of me, don't you? - and a bow-and-arrow as a souvenir for their five-year-old.
We talked about everything under the sun that week including in the car, but in Carcassonne itself... you know I'm not sure we actually talked about all that much! I like that we can spend time together not talking, as well as talking.
Thank you Tobi for coming to see me in France. Well worth the risk, don't you think? Let's do it again sometimes.