Full Circle: Synchronicity!

I love travel, I always have done really, we have not really travelled much in the last 4 years as my partner & I have been busy establishing businesses and I have missed it. There is something I find awe inspiring when I go to other towns, cities and countries but especially when abroad, I love the UK but I don’t feel connected to it the way I do other places in foreign countries.

My travel is limited to Europe, I’ve never been to USA or Australia, they sort of appeal but they don’t grab me. I more recent years India, Thailand & Morocco have appealed more but no sign of that being any closer. I really want to go to Prague but again that is Europe so I sat and thought about the significance and could find none.

I have just come back from Carcassonne in SW France which is gorgeous and I commented on Facebook about it and a friend posted to say they had a place down there, we got chatting and then the synchronicity started to show and that is when I decided to do this blog. I’ll try not to ramble but there are a few threads which need to be woven together before you will see the full picture.

As a child I was raised in Norfolk and although we had family connections to Kent they were quite loose ones with us only really meeting for the usual weddings, christenings etc. My father loved his water sports and he had a good living as a window cleaner so holidays were really important.

We always holidayed in France around the border to Spain on the Mediterranean coast in a place called Banyuls-Sur-Mer but for years I could not recall the name of the place we would go to. My dad would take his scuba gear, replaced in later years by his windsurf kit, we would drive 24 hours through the night down to Dover over to France and all the way down stopping only when essential. I loved it down there and fondly recall a gorgeous little bay where to access the beach we had to walk through a vineyard that had signs stating that if we ate the grapes we’d be shot – very welcoming! This picturesque village called Collioure was always stuck in memory but again nameless. Over the ensuing years life changed and we stopped going there, yet I never forgot it. Many years later over dinner with friends the subject of France came up as did both these places that I remember so fondly, I was over the moon to now have the names of the towns so I could look them up. The thing is with nostalgia is that it can distort things, I worried that I loved the period in my life more than the actual place but as we were not going on holiday to France any time soon (my partner prefers Spain) the memories were shelved again.

My passion for France has never abated and although not perfect it is my second language, I suppose with my surname just one letter away from France it should be really! (I often get France on my mail instead of Fance).

I am an avid reader when I have the time, about 15-16 years ago I came across a book which appealed mostly due to the fact that the main character kept being transported back to the past around Medieval times which I have always been fascinated by. The characters ended up in France in an area called the Languedoc, caught up in the Cathar or Albigensian Crusades. Cathars, what are they? I adore history yet I’d never heard of this sect. The Languedoc turned out to be the region I used to go to on holiday as a child and the Cathars are a religious sect persecuted by the French not to mention the Roman Catholic Church! I remember thinking how interesting that was but thought no more of it. Over the years other books have crossed my path that are connected to the Cathars such as the Kate Mosse book Labyrinthe so it has not gone away which tells me I have not completed the journey.

I’ve actually known my partner 18 years but we’ve only been together for 14 of that so right after I’d read the first book on Cathars. France beckoned yet again in the shape of a holiday with friends in the Loire, so my love of France has rubbed off on him somewhat. Although the other half is partial to French wines and another French drink, much like a port called Banyuls, (synchronicity again as he has never been there but loves this tipple, I’d been there but had never heard of the drink!) he much prefers Spain having been there many times over the years.

I took him to the Armagnac region one year as a birthday present which is down near Tolouse in France so he’s adjustingto being in France! As a return present and after having read The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater (set near Cannes & Nice) & Labyrinthe by Kate Mosse he booked a trip to Carcassonne which no doubt you have guessed is bang in the middle of the Languedoc, only 40 miles from where we holidayed as children and the centre of the Cathar activity!

Whilst chatting with the Facebook friend who has a place down there it turns out she was taken there by her husband without much enthusiasm on her part only to realise she loves it. She also came across a book connected to the Cathars which she never read only for it to fly off the shelf when she was packing stuff for France so she read it!

Carcassonne and the surrounding area is my Spiritual Home and I truly feel I have come full circle by being there on holiday these days. Sadly my dad does not recall those times as I’d love to speak to him about the area, the castles we visited and the like. I shall have to make do with creating my own memories and talking to my partner about them. My next plan is to buy a house there and go live in the area permanently.