In spite of our hotel being right next to a large church, their bell stayed silent and therefore it didn’t wake us up in the morning. ‘No Sunday survive, today?’, we wondered as we got ready to check out from the hotel.
I left mum and some of our luggage on a side street and went to the car park and retrieve our car. That morning, we were heading to Bourges, 342km away from Lyon.
After 4 hours on the road, we arrived at Bourges in early afternoon. The streets were virtually empty and the whole place seemed to be having a nap after a Sunday lunch.
I left mum in a hotel lobby and moved our car to a cobbled side street. The inside of the hotel was as quiet as the outside. And it took for a while until a receptionist to notice our arrival. ‘So sorry. I didn’t realise that you are here!’, she apologised and handed us card keys.
Our room was on the second floor and it had a large window facing a courtyard.
After unpacking some of the luggage, we decided to explore Bourges’ old town centre.
Originally, Bourges was inhabited by the Gauls until Julius Caesar’s forces captured and destroyed it in 52 BC. The Romans reconstructed the town in the Roman style with aqueducts, Roman baths and an amphitheatre. Julius Caesar himself was fond of the place and as a result, the place was substantially equipped and fortified as a stronghold.
In the 12th century, Bourges became a royal city. It was because Eudes Arpin, the Viscount of Bourges, sold his possessions to Philip I, the king of France, in order to finance his crusade. In 1137, his second son, Louis VII, was crowned in the old Cathedral of Bourges while his young wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, presided. If you are into history of medieval Europe like me, the name like Eleanor of Aquitaine really excite you, doesn’t it? She ran away from her religious husband and into the arms of Henry II of Plantagenet! And this Henry, his feud with Thomas Becket, aka Saint Thomas of Canterbury! It’s so enticing…
After negotiating a few cobbled streets on foot, we reached at the perimeter of the old town centre.
Beyond the stone stairs, there was Palais Jacques Coeur, a palatial house of a (very) wealthy French man. And I am going to write about our visit in my next entry!:)
What an extraordinary period we are experiencing! The BLM movement which is happening globally is, for me, a very positive event and I love it to continue growing until racial discrimination is eradicated. Yes, we are still in amidst of the coronavirus crisis. But something as important as this can’t wait because it will be inconvenient for someone else. The tide is taking over all of us…
Now, let’s go back to one evening in Lyon two years ago.
In the past, I visited more than a few largish French cities such as Rennes, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, and they never failed to impress me. Unlike their largest counterpart, Paris, their streets were litter-less and beautifully maintained, and I loved their relaxed atmosphere. And if I were pressed to choose one French city I found the most charming, my answer would have to be Avignon. The city was packed with charm – their pedestrian friendly streets, leafy squares with cafes and restaurants, private boutiques with unique offerings, etc. I loved the place because they had everything I expected from a historic French city in one handy package.
Having said that, I still recall good vibes which I picked in the late afternoon air of Lyon’s city centre. Lively but civilised, sophisticated yet not snobby, I liked the place very much.
‘So what do you fancy for dinner, mum?’ I asked her as we left our hotel room. ‘Anything. I don’t mind as long as it is not too herby or spicy.’, came her usual reply. ‘Well, it’s very helpful, mum.‘, I sighed.
Can I tell you how my mom can be a real pain when it comes to food? she has so many foods she dislikes, and choosing a restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be very tricky. Her most pet hate is Asian herbs and spices in general therefore Thai or Vietnamese or Indonesian are big no-no. With her, there won’t be any culinary adventure. How sad…
‘Let’s check out rue Mercière. It looks like there are lots of restaurants, according to Google!’
The street was lined with many eateries and some restaurants’ alfresco dining areas were already snapped up by early diners.
Mum started to say that she wanted Moules-Frites with beer and we sat for a while at one of the outdoor tables of A Belgium restaurant. However, they seemed to be not quite open for business yet and we didn’t see much activities in the inside of the eatery. After sitting around 15 minutes, we gave up and started looking for somewhere else.
‘How about Italian, mum?’ We found anItalian bar/restaurant on rue Thomassin which looked inviting.
We were swiftly ushered to a table next the open window by a smiley staff and we eagerly ordered well-earned cold beer…
For dinner, we opted for a platter of antipasto and a plate of multigrain and roasted vegetable salad…
Mum seemed to enjoy her beer and food. ‘Italian is the safest bet if we are not sure what to eat.’, she smiled as she munched on.
After dinner, we made a detour to a mini supermarket before heading back to a hotel.
‘Look at these apples!‘
We would have bought a couple of them if the season was right…
It’s my day-off from training so I am writing another post.
I imagine some of us indulged in retail therapy during the last seven weeks in order to alleviate the hardship of the lockdown.
I was certainly one of those people and treated myself a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
In fact, I was considering about buying the pair long before this coronavirus business. ‘Do I really need them?’ I was asking myself every time I came across people who were sporting the pairs. Wouldn’t they be another wasted tech gadgets, like my AirPods? (unfortunately, my ear shape wasn’t suitable for Apple’s wireless earbuds.)
Then, I noticed one of my teammates came to the practice with a pair of Beats’ noise-cancelling headphones. He was commuting to the ice rink using public transport and therefore the headphones were essential for his journey. ‘Hey Dennis, can I try your pair? I’m pondering about buying one for myself.’ He handed me his pair and I was blown away by the comfort of the over-ear headset as soon as I tried them. ‘Wow, they are so nice! Much better than on-ear or in-ear types!’ I was sold…
A few days later, I visited a local Currys PC World to sample headphones. My budget was £170 max and as far as I researched the web, Sony’s MDR-1AM2 appeared ideal. ‘Can I see noise-cancelling headphones, please?’ I was led to the far end of the store with a wall a full of headphones. ‘These are MDR-1AM2.’, the shop assistant pointed at one of the display models on a shelf. I duly tried them on and listened to a sample track. Hmm…, they are okay, I thought but not 100% impressed. Then, I tried Sony’s top range pair WH-1000XM3…
OMG! I was amazed. The pair was unbelievably comfortable. The part which sat on the top of my head was well-padded and the ear pads which encased my entire ears were plush. I felt the headphones securely fitted without scarifying the comfort.
‘They are nice, aren’t they?’, the assistant gleefully asked me. Oh yeah, I was sold except about the price tag of £269. I painfully realised what difference £110 could make. I loved the WH-1000 pair the most but £100 more was a stretch. So I walked out of the store empty handed.
Then, the lockdown commenced and my world had become very different from the one I knew – spending far long time at home. Hubbie was busy running his business at home and there were many Zoom meetings and phone calls. Even though we got on well as always, being together 24/7 could be testing as a couple. I tried to get by this “new-normal” by wearing a pair of old on-ear headphones but found they were simply too uncomfortable to wear all day long.
‘All right! I’m gonna buy these Sony pair for myself!’
Since I am not paying monthly subscriptions to our team, I should use the money to pay for the headphones, I reasoned. And it was the best decision I ever made!
Ever since the headphones were delivered to my door step, I have been inseparable from them. I just LOVE listening my favourite tunes through them. THEY ARE GREAT! My playlist lifts me up so much and literally, the music is saving me every single day of the coronavirus lockdown. And the comfort, oh my, it is heavenly. I just immerse into music and float. No more discomfort on my earlobes! The money was very well worth spent. That’s all I can say…
Despite the fact that I had more time on my hands, I was neglecting my blog until this morning and I do apologise for my laziness. It was not that I was being a couch potato, watching Netflix non-stop but I was on my feet most of the time, training or doing housekeeping.
I am always a bit of busy bee and hate sitting around unless I’m ill. So you can easily imagine what this coronavirus lockdown has been affecting my psyche? I feel like I’m a trapped animal and struggling to be free!
Exercising hard and feeling exhausted by the end of day does help to alleviate my frustration towards this house arrest. The fatigue makes me feel like I am getting somewhere and becoming a better hockey player than pre-lockdown me.
There is one image in my head which spurs me on. The image of me chasing a puck along the board, racing with my teammates and beating them. The vision really helps me pedal harder on an exercise bike and motivates me to keep on lifting a barbell.
I am sure all of us under the lockdown hold images like mine close to hearts which give us comfort and help us to look forward to future. Even though no one knows what kind of future awaits us, we have to keep hoping it will be a better one and we will rejoice together.
In the meantime, I will step away from my manic exercise regime time to time and update my blog more often…