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Day 1: Home to Toulouse

Boring blog ahoy! Clare's not going to be authoring this series because we're holidaying separately. She's headed to Rhodes for roughly a week with Helen, her sister. That left me home alone: not at all a bad thing because I've got far too much on. I also have a similar amount of ill discipline, and so decided that I would probably google for some cheap flights ... and that I'd drop nephew Alfie a line. (You might remember that he came to Lapland with us to see in 2019. He was a lot smaller back then.)


I found flights to Toulouse, a city I've lived in twice: for ten months in 1999-2000, and a further ten months in 2001-2002. The cost was around £13 each way, which made the decision to go there an easy one.  Alfie's dad was indeed happy to tag along, so we're replaying ten years ago, when Matt and Alfie came with me to Italy. Alfie was much, much smaller back then:

._images_articles_2014_italy_pisa_pisa-7(So was Matt.)

Our flight was due to depart from Stansted at 08:45, which would mean setting off in the early hours. The easiest thing to do was for me to overnight at theirs, which would save an hour, meaning that the alarm could be set for 04:00. It also meant that I got to see Enzo; sorry, Clare!


We were well ahead of schedule, getting to Stansted two hours before our flight. Since we were travelling light, that would give us plenty of time to have a leisurely breakfast. Or so we thought, as we headed to Security:


We couldn't see until we finally shuffled to near the front but one of the two gates in our section was taped off ... and then we were instructed that we had to move elsewhere because they weren't going to allow anybody through the one remaining one! Security itself took minutes once we'd been able to reach it, and we were soon getting breakfast, and then heading off to the gate. There was a bit of a novelty; we were the last people and a member of staff was shouting at us to hurry up before they closed. By us I mean me and Alfie; Matt had nipped to the loo, and so I had ended up putting on an exaggerated limp to try to buy him some time and get the person aggressively summoning us to pipe down. From two hours early to nearly missing a flight. Since when do Ryanair successfully get people boarded fifteen minutes before the announced departure time and then close the gates? Well, since last year at least, when I didn't make my trip to Torino ...

The flight was uneventful, except for some loudmouth TwatTokker making a nuisance of himself, including dancing a jig in the aisle right by me whilst his friend was recording, and then abrasively recording commentary about the flight. I sometimes yearn for days of old when a skinny runt could be given a clip and nods of approval would result rather than an arrest.

We travelled by Shuttle and got off, believe it or not, opposite Clare's favourite restaurant chain, Hippopotamus! So that's where we went to eat. The food didn't let us down.

We were allowed to check into our appartment from 15:00, and so set out to find it. It's within a five-minute walk of Cathédrale Saint-Étienne: Clare couldn't believe on a previous visit that I'd lived here twice, it's on the same street as the pub I often frequented, and yet I had somehow never noticed it. Well, here it is today:


And we got to see it from a better angle because we had a couple of drinks at a pavement table besides it:


We'd stocked up with some supplies and spent some time in the appartment. The next thing was to find a restaurant open on a Sunday. We duly did, surviving repeated interregations about rugby from the waiter, once he knew we were from Leicester, and some food of mediocre quality. I'd promised my companions that they'd be EATING LIKE KINGS: the fatty steak cuts they'd received weren't up the standard we expect here. My cassoulet was pretty routine: nothing really wrong with it but no reason to eat the whole thing.

That just left us with one remaining task: returning back to the apartment. Since we weren't far from the main square, we decided to go via that, on the half-remembered promise that it gets illuminated at night. The Capitole didn't disappoint:


And nor did the side of the square facing it:


On the other side of the Capitole was this remarkable building:


Fortunately, I was able to avoid repeating my ignorance regarding the cathedral when asked about it: I'd used the very fancy tourist-information office back when I first moved here!

That's Toulouse covered for today. Tomorrow we'll be off to a famous walled medieval town: Carcassonne!

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