On Saturday we made a quick trip to Toulouse to visit a recent church plant called Saint-Cyprien.
After a fitful and restive night I woke and considered calling off our trip. We hadn't booked tickets or accommodation and, more substantially, I woke with a raging sore throat - in France, une angine. I gargled with aspirin and got on with it.
Some reflection : budget hotel or AirBnB? We opted for the former. Hang the 20€ extra expense!
Train or coach? That was easy. Fares and timetables obligent, we went by coach and returned by train.
We hurried to the station to get a train from Pessac to Bordeaux and waved it goodbye as we narrowly missed it. So Bus 4 then 9 it was. We were in plenty of time for our coach and settled ourselves in. Arrived in Toulouse I consulted Google Maps to see how to get to our hotel by public transport. "Search me!" said Google Maps, "but you could hoof it in half an hour."
So hoof it we did. It was a pleasant walk through the brick and stucco elegance of Toulouse with its wright iron balconies and the ever-present fragrance of burning compost heaps - so it's not just Bordeaux. Exotic tobacco is everywhere.
We easily found our hotel and got in. Room 310. "No Smoking" scolded the sign. The stale smell and the cigarette ends on the windowsills said otherwise. We opened the windows wide, put the air-conditioning on high and ventured out to find food.
Tripadvisor listed three possibilities and so we found ourselves in a very popular pub where I had a super chicken curry with the biggest onion bhaji you ever saw and Pat ate a big burger. We chatted with our waiters, from Sheffield and Illinois and wondered at the world today.
Toulouse seems much more full of traffic than Bordeaux and there's quite a bit of traffic noise at night but we slept OK then left to find our breakfast.
An elderly man took advantage of one of my sneezing fits to pass us on the pavement, then decided to stop for a chat.
"Where have you visited? Have you seen the Cathedral? Les Jacobins?"
"Yes, we visited them in the summer, we paid our respects to Thomas Aquinas. Where is good round here for breakfast?"
"Just up there on the other side of the road there's a good baker and you'll be sat outside in direct sunshine. Where are you from."
"Well I'm English and my husband is Welsh, but we live in Bordeaux."
"Oh, my children live in Bordeaux where my son is a percussionist and my daughter a violinist. I was a harpist."
Breakfast was a massive pain au raisin with orange juice and a big coffee, then off to church.
The church was started in 2014 and meets in a nightclub in the centre of the city, but on the less fashionable side. Since then they've grown to capacity in the nightclub and started another group over the other side of the city, but two congregations of one church.
The service was fine, with good preaching from Ephesians 4. Our friend Aaron came and sat by us and introduced us to his charming son. It was encouraging to see how things can work out.
Then off we hoofed back to the station, calling into a bargain-price pizzeria on the way where we got a big salad and a small pizza with a coffee for 12€! For students with a student card it's 7€50!
The train was on time and we got home a little earlier than expected. Then more gargling with aspirin, a quick paracetamol and off to bed...