But enough of that - my battles are well documented in this blog. So now I'd like to update you on the quite extraordinary twists that have happened over recent weeks. All of which have brought me to the conclusion that yes, I HAVE won. I CAN move forward - and for the first time in my life I can move with neither baggage nor the need to prove myself. Instead, just to enjoy who I am and embark on wonderful new adventures - just for me.
A couple of weeks ago I secured all the signatures from my ex that have been necessary for me to get closure on the mess that was left for me to deal with. As you know, I have had no contact with him since the day I discovered the truth - and he has steadfastly refused to respond to any number of solicitors letters. Yet on 20th April he came to his senses and agreed to put his signature to every piece of paper that was put in front of him. No mean feat - but mission accomplished. And two days before the two year anniversary of my discovery as well. Full cycle. Job done. The relief was indescribable - when I received the call to say it was done I dissolved in to a heap of grateful tears, having been told by numerous ill-informed professionals that this would be an impossible route, with no hope of achievement - Pah!
That evening I collected Dylan from Angouleme train station (he'd been at a friend's house for a long weekend) and told him what had happened. Tears rolling down both our faces, we hugged each other and he asked "so is it really over now mum?" Nodding, and holding him closer, I managed a quiet "yes, my darling. It's over. We can move on now" before we headed off to the local supermarket to choose some suitably expensive champagne and a delicious supper of baked fish, salad, and asparagus.
That night will stay in my memory of one of the best nights of my life. He and I spend the evening sipping champagne, listening to music, eating some of our favourite foods, and chatting - about everything. We shared secrets, we laughed, we cried, we told jokes and - most importantly - we were just 'us' together, finding out so much more about each other and both thoroughly enjoying each other's company. My beautiful son is still only 15 years old, yet he is wise beyond his years and fantastic company to boot! Quick witted, mature, and growing in to such an amazing young man in front of my very eyes, I am so very proud to call him not only my son, but my friend as well. Thank you, Dylan, I love you beyond any words I can find to explain.
The next morning I dropped him back at Angouleme train station, since he was staying with his father in London over Easter – a journey that takes him north to Lille where he changes and gets the Eurostar over to England. It’s only the second time he’s done it on his own, so I was a little nervous. Leaving with plenty of time to spare, our journey had been hijacked by unexpected roadworks and an interminable queue of cars in front of us. Patience doesn’t seem to be a word or attitude known to the French, and there was much tooting of horns and revving of engines, accompanied by shouting and waving of fists out of car windows as many decided to turn around and find an alternative route. There was no alternative route for our destination, as we were literally a couple of kilometres from the station – so we had no option but to sit tight and trust that we’d find a solution. Warning his dad that we may miss the train, we battled on through and finally arrived at the station ten minutes after the train had been due to depart. Chucking open the doors and urging Dylan to “run for it!” I went to park the car while he scurried off to his platform, in the thin hope that perhaps the train was late. Just as I was locking the car, Dylan called me to say he was the luckiest boy in the world because his train had indeed been delayed, and he was just boarding now. Phew – what a relief!
But my relief it had been short lived. Because less than 5 minutes later he called me back. The tone of his voice said it all, before he even explained what had happened. He was on the wrong train and was now hurtling towards Paris, rather than Lille, his intended destination. My stomach on the floor and panic coursing sharply through my veins, I reassured him that all would be well, that his father and I would get on the case, instructing him meanwhile to stay calm and find the on-board attendant and explain what had happened. Flurries of texts and phonecalls followed, until finally we found a solution. Dylan was to get off the train at Poitiers and re-join another one that would take him to Lille. As it happened, timing must have been with us, because he ended up on the original train he had been due to board at Angouleme. Phew again. All’s well that ends well – and some useful extra information learned as well. We now know that there is more than one way to get to Lille should we be faced with similar challenges in the future. Good.
That afternoon, bags packed, I set off for Jonzac, to the Thermal Spa where my friend Anna had started the first of her three weeks of treatments. Covered by the French equivalent of the NHS, this is a place where people of a certain age come - often on a yearly pilgrimage - to relax in the natural healing 'thermes' and receive treatments for their aches and pains, bronchial disorders, arthritis and general aches and pains. It's an amazing place, and a wonderful service. No wonder all the residents looked so perky!
Anna had suggested a while ago that it would be good if I could join her for a few days. I wasn’t completely sold at first, it must be said, as I wondered what it might entail – and part of me was also nervous at the thought of going to a spa. At the time, my internal policeman wagged his finger and admonished me for even considering such a thing “What? Who do you think you are? You’re thinking of going off and spending valuable time being pampered? Don’t be so ridiculous – there is work to be done! Mustn’t take your eye off the ball!”
So I turned up on Thursday afternoon to be greeted by a beaming Anna who already looked as though the years were falling from her – and she’d only had two sessions! Her accommodation was a small but perfectly formed little bungalow that was to be her home for the next three weeks. It has a reasonably sized white-tiled kitchen and living room, double bedroom, bathroom and terraces at the front and back. There is a click-clack sofa-bed in the front room, and a welcome note that encourages all visitors to help themselves to the array of herbs that are growing in the surrounding grassed gardens – where there are small tables and chairs dotted around among the trees and shrubs. Immediately there was a sense of peace and tranquillity that welcomed my weary body and soul, whispering a promise that this was only the beginning.
My sessions were due to start at 11.30 the next morning, and Judi filled me in on what was to be expected. I simply turn up – with my costume, rubber flip-flops and the obligatory ‘bonnet’ (swimming cap) that can only be described as a religion at French swimming baths. I count myself lucky that I'm female, as the men have to wear not only the bonnets, but also the nations favourite swimming attire, the Speedo trunks. Practically antiques in the UK, these tight underpants are less than flattering to even the most finely honed physique. To people of a certain age, I would call them torture!