The week of my birthday

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3CandlesOnce a year this time arrives for us all, but this year is a special one. I can now actually take full retirement. However, I am not quite sure that is going to happen. I have never thought that I would stop working or being active and I think that I am living proof of that now.

I have no issue about my age and will be the amazing age of 65 this November. I have planned an evening with the team that I worked with just before I moved house. I had such a great day working with them and have seen a few of them since. I have arranged for us to meet at Kenny’s restaurant for drinks and nibbles, under the premise of getting us all back together for an evening and invited them as it is my birthday the day before we meet. Not that I want anyone to bring gifts, just to celebrate with me at Kenny’s.

BDdrinksI was asked to help out at the restaurant with large group booked in for lunch. That changed how I was planning the day – cooking some food and then getting myself ready for the evening. I have some things prepared and had to pack it all to take with me to finish and cook at the restaurant after the lunchtime service. But I am looking forward to getting myself dressed up for a night out and some good company.

I have already begun working one night a week in the restaurant as business is picking up and the customers are arriving in their numbers – I am not surprised! I have already worked one evening and met some new people and sure I will meet many more. in the weeks to follow.

On my birthday, my dear and sweet friend Karen took me out for a lunch at a Chinese restaurant and we also squeezed in some shopping too. Two consecutive days of birthday fun.

Life has calmed down somewhat and I have been hit by a cold which I am now over. I have been tackling small but important jobs around the house. Leaking sink, tap, dealing with drafts and putting up lights. I was intent on getting my lounge/dining room ready for Christmas and spent a day moving furniture around until I eventually found the best layout for the space. I bought some new lights for my tree and around the house as I want it to look pretty for my first Christmas here. Lights in the town are on every evening now and it’s feeling very seasonal. We even had some snow too!. My tree is decorated, new tv in place and although not free of the odd box of things, it’s now feels like home and festive.  This is the first year that I can truly say that I am looking forward to Christmas since living alone where I have been interested in making a real effort to make my home look and feel nice. It will be Sophie’s first Christmas.20171203_192042

I have already begun to enjoy the dining room as I invited Karen over last Sunday for a nice roast dinner.  My first bit of entertaining and I enjoyed making the table look nice and cooking for a friend. I think 2018 will see more entertaining…

Some good from my oldest and dearest friend from London, Chris. He will in France for a work meeting and can visit in January. More importantly for me, meeting Sophie for the first time. I imagine it may be a little tense but I will be happy to deal with anything that transpires during the couple of days he is here. I am happy just to know that I have not lost my oldest and valued friend

I have rediscovered the joys of working on a very old house. Many things break and repairs are just not straight forward. Walls and ceilings are not square or the floors, but it’s what makes this such an interesting home. No regrets, just a re-visit to living in an old house. But I am making progress and finding local specialists for things I cannot do.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my local beautician for a manicure. I was a little under whelmed by the thought, as my nails have been in such a poor condition recently. I am currently on a course of vitamins to get them back to being stronger and looking better. With the recent house move they have been badly damaged, some torn into the pink fleshy part and most broken due to their weakness. Almost three weeks into the course of pills and a lotion to paint onto my nails daily has improved them considerably. The tips have continued to break but less serious damage. Anyway they were irregular and looked unattractive to say the least. At 5pm I arrived at the salon and was greeted by Corrine, a very sweet lady in her late 40’s. She sat me in a treatment room while she finished with another client. 30 minutes later I walked out with nice nails again although quite short. I will happily paint them again now and have booked another session shortly before Christmas for something a little more indulgent.

On another note, this has been a difficult month for my daughter and I. Just before I moved house, she mentioned that she wanted to visit in the New Year at some point to see where I am now living among other reasons. Naturally I was very happy at the thought. Once I moved in and was living as Sophie my mindset changed in a number of ways in a short space of time, that I had not foreseen. The thought of having to return to present myself as a man and father suddenly made me go cold. I couldn’t face the thought of it. It made no sense of what I was doing and could only see that as a retrospective and negative thing to even consider. I had only one option, to tell my daughter that. I had previously agreed to be totally honest and truthful with her, so I could not mask my feelings and sent a message to her. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t received well. I got a reply saying that she could not meet me as Sophie. I was lost for words and didn’t know what to say at that point. Maybe not the best idea in hindsight. As a result we had no contact for a few weeks until the last weekend. During that week, I had felt as if I had been rejected by her and my ex. I had lost all communication with them both and my ex was not replying to anything.

She asked me to phone at 7am on the Sunday morning. I kept calm and called her on time. It was an emotional conversation and she explained that she had sought counseling to help deal with how she was feeling. And she really had not been in a good place at all. I felt totally responsible and bad for putting her in that place, so the conversation was hard for me. We covered some old ground and some new . One message to my ex had clearly been read, as my daughter addressed that issue and explained why they had been silent. As is too easy to do in these situations, we over think. My daughter is the same and equally had arrived at incorrect conclusions. We managed to clear the misunderstandings and I reaffirmed my love, affection for my daughter. We have since been in better contact and working towards us both dealing with this new relationship for us both. Things are going well and we are in regular contact and I am happy with that.

I am in a better more confident place now. A cousin of mine sent a message to my daughter. She was asking why my page as her male cousin and vanished and wished to know if I was ok? I couldn’t let my daughter be the one to explain, so I sent a message to my cousin to enlighten her. She has been kind and has read some of my story here. I am now re-connected with her and her sister who also knows. It’s now only a matter of time before my whole family learn of my life. I have nothing to hide anymore. I am not ashamed of how I am living my life and will tell them all that I am the happiest I have been in my whole life.

I have no plans to follow, no real understanding of how my life will unfold from here with new challenges, experiences and emotions to deal with regularly.  I know that I can deal with whatever is ahead. I think in many ways the hardest part of my life is behind me. I am referring only to my personal feelings and state of mind.

New house, new beginnings, a new life

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The main photo is the sunset that I see each night from my new home

Wow!  I have to start this piece by saying how incredible a period of time it has been since the last post. As you know from the previous article, I was very hopeful, but not exactly convinced that my luck would hold out. However, I can now tell you that what actually happened is still sinking in. I find myself questioning what is happening even though it doesn’t feel like things are in my control at all. Strange but nice.

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The beer mat that led to the eventual purchase of the house..

Already being slightly bemused, how I came to learn of that particular house being for sale; I was apprehensive about the imminent house viewing. The following Thursday, I went to the house with my good friend Karen and arrived to find the couple ready to show me around the property. I quickly felt comfortable with their presence as we began the tour. It’s a very old house built on top of a hill with two  cellars dug out into the granite that forms the hill and lies beneath much of the town. This apparently had not prevented many of the houses having walls that leaned one way or another. Including the one I am now sitting in typing this. The floor slopes away toward the back of the house and felt odd at first. The thing that I noted most of all, was the feeling that I got while walking around inside – I could live here! It is most certainly ‘quirky’ in room shapes, the un-square walls and sloping floors. It is situated in the oldest part of the town and the prettiest part for me, with the added bonus of a beautiful view across the valley from the back of the house. Yes, it does need some love and renovation, and of course money thrown at it. But this was in the town centre where I wanted to live, it felt good and things were moving in ways that I am still finding difficult to explain. Something I continuously questioned.

At the end of the tour, I began to talk about the price and offered slightly less making a solid offer to buy. The house belonged to the mother of the man showing us around and he had five brothers and sisters that needed to be consulted on the price. So, Karen returned home and I went back to my house to continue with packing! A couple of days passed before I got a call to tell me if my offer had been accepted. I cannot explain to you just how relieved that news was to me when I heard the word ‘accepté’. The move out date for my house was advancing fast and I began to consider how fast the move to the new house could be. A date was quickly arranged for me to meet with the family selling the house at a Notaire’s (solicitor’s) office to sign to compromis de vente (commitment to buy). Things were at least moving fairly swiftly.  The following Friday was the big day for the purchase of the house and the Saturday was the day for signing final papers for my sale and payment, more thankfully.

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The key info on the reverse of The Beer Mat which will be framed for display

Friday arrived slowly, smoke screened by frantic packing and deconstruction of some furniture. The house became messy with boxes piling up and pieces of furniture stood against walls, ready for the exit day. Friday, and I was finally at the notaires office, I was a little outnumbered by the family selling the house, as all six arrived. We all shook hands and smiled in the reception area of the solicitors. From previous experiences with notaires, I thought this one was quite pleasant and with a sense of humour, which we all appreciated. It’s a slow process of everyone signing and adding initials to a stack of papers, where we played seat swopping until we had all penned our names to the legal documents. The notiare left the room to make some photocopies, at which point I seized the chance to ask the family if they would allow me to rent the house, until the final paperwork had been completed in two months time. Before they could respond, the notaire entered the room and asked what we were discussing. After I explained, he simply suggested that I arrange a bank transfer immediately after the completion of my sale and transfer the full payment including his fees. At which point I would be given the keys to the property providing I have full house insurance (a legal requirement in France). I would have been stupid to refuse such a suggestion being in need of somewhere to live in a such great hurry. In principle, payment could be made on  the following Monday. Sure enough, they had the payment by the end of business that Monday.

Partly due to the strange way that things had progressed in an incredible manner since discovering the house, I had pre-booked a van in vague hope that things would just work out for the best. My plan was to pick up the van on the Tuesday evening ready for an early start the following morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take my cheque book with me, it shouldn’t have been necessary. However, when I was asked for a ‘caution’, the deposit to cover accidents etc, I offered my bank card for the 2000€ payment, which I believed was held but not taken as a payment. It was refused – disaster!! The money clearly had not got to my account as was expected by the end of that day. So, I had no other choice but to return home in my car and head off early on Wednesday to collect it when they re-opend at 8.30am. Cheque book in hand I arrived on time, although I had the funds in my account by the following morning and all was gliding smoothly forward. The move begins…

Skip Day 1-3, if you just want the core

20171004_081126.jpgDay 1: I woke at silly o’clock due to the anxiety of the day and set off early on that Wednesday with the first van load of my things. Mainly boxes, but a few pieces of furniture too. The day continued until about 9pm when I returned back to my old house and grabbed a bite to eat. 1 day of 3 done! Exhausted…

20171004_165254Day 2: I woke early again and began loading more furniture. and set off asap. 40 minutes of being on the road, I was overcome by tiredness and stopped off for a coffee and a pain raisin which helped energized me thankfully. I am so pleased that I bought a trolly to help me move the heavier things on my own and it was worth every penny. It was a longer and harder day and even more exhausting by the end of it. Before I left to return to my house for the last sleep, I looked at what I had moved into the new house, I realised just how much I have managed to move on my own. The drive home was an endurance, but I was home at 10pm and decided to eat a dinner as I knew I needed to keep up my strength.

orca-image-1507299875247.jpg_1507299875581Day 3: Surprise! I woke early. My cat Bertie was quite stressed at this point as his surroundings had been disappearing on a daily basis. I understood how he felt.
My friend Richard was arriving that morning to help with the heavy pieces of furniture. Was I so pleased and grateful that he did! We were both struggling with some of the pieces at each end of the move. But, we moved it all with time to spare a,nd Richard returned back home, while I stayed in my new house for the first night. I got the bed put together and a few things organised before going to sleep.

Move1.jpgIn short, 3 days of hard work which left me drained and exhausted. But with the end game of relocating and my new life as Sophie so very close. I kept getting flash backs to the events that made this happen and tried to think of the possibilities of making this happen the way it did. I drew a blank on that each time. I recalled the last drive to my new house loaded up with the heavy items, a few tears rolled down my cheeks as it began to become a reality – this was not a dream! Yes, it was definitely happening – at last! The last moving day was emotional on many levels, but with an emphasis on happy.

I guess, because I had tried to accept what was happening and I was in my new house, I had begun to feel a little different about things.  Overall, daily activities appeared to have a direction of their own and I was trying just to go with the flow.

I feel that I have become a little more spiritual since moving. I am sure that I felt a presence of the old lady who lived here during the first couple of days. I felt that she was happy that I was the new tenant. That makes two of us!

Since arriving in the town, I have noticed how things are coming together without my intervention. I am sure that it is not fatigue or stress related but a genuine input from something I cannot fully explain and happy I am aware of it.

There is a saying ‘All good things come to an end’. After a week since arriving at my new home, perhaps that has happened.

By the time I write the next article I will know if that is the case. Right now I am still very positive about my life. There will always be things that try to throw you off your path and thinking but I am quite focused on moving forward. Otherwise what was the point of all this?

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Tired and in need of sleep, but very happy

The weekend before moving and Sophie’s first day of working

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So, here we are. My offer to buy a house has been accepted with the commitment to buy, documents signed on the Friday afternoon. Saturday afternoon the signing of final documents for the sale and subsequent payment, bliss! This will all be explained in more depth in the following article.

Sunday, I had agreed to help my friend Kenny cater for 90 people in the village where he has set up a restaurant / bar. Sophie would be working for the very first time in public. I arrived at 9am at the village hall to meet Kenny and Julie, who had been there a couple of hours already setting up the dinning hall. A quick introduction to Julie, then on with the tasks of the day. Julie and I continued setting out tables. We got on well and chatted generally in the way you do when try to learn a little about each other. About halfway through, Debbie, a pleasant Welsh girl arrived and joined in. The two of us carried on while Julie got involved in other things. Shortly, the rest of the team arrived, Kenny’s sister and husband arrived followed by Kerry, who I had worked with before but not as Sophie.

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I was constantly looking for any signs of a reaction to me not actually being a woman, but tried to get on with the job maintaining my composure. Time to be in the kitchen and 90 starters to prepare. Kerry began cooking the main dish while I began slicing terrine for the first batch of starters. I was joined by Kenny’s sister who assisted in plating. We got on very well from the start, chatting and joking as we dressed plate after plate. Then onto the next course, another 90 starters. By this time people were arriving and the hour for serving was fast approaching. There was a nice atmosphere in the kitchen although we had discovered that the dishwasher was not working  and there was a problem lighting the oven.

The time had come for the mayor gave a short speech before we began serving the first course. The immediate reaction to the starters was good and a first encounter with Kenny and us, his team. We worked great as a team and everyone was there to support our great friend Kenny in his new ventre. On to 2nd and 3rd courses. A lemon sorbet with Limoncello added just before serving followed the starters before the main dish. That commenced swiftly we had cleared the tables. Three of us dishing up and four serving. Wine was flowing quite slowly with the diners, but the food was being enjoyed regardless.  The cheese course and finally the dessert which they surprisingly all eaten and clean plates returning to the kitchen once more. As soon as it was polite enough to begin clearing tables, I went out and began chatting to the diners while collecting their empty plates and glasses. The feedback was great.

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All those I spoke to gave high praise to the service, organisation and the food. I even got chatted up by one gentlemen who told me that I was a pretty girl. As some of the guests got up from their tables, ready to leave, a few of the men were requiring that I kissed them goodbye. By this I mean the traditional greeting and saying goodbye of the French, which is cheek to cheek but sometimes lips to the cheek. You can guess which happened – giggle.  Anyway they were all in good spirit and had enjoyed the day and well behaved as they were mostly over 50’s.

The part where we become the washing up staff and cleaners had kicked in, we were all keen to get done quickly as it was now after 4pm. While working together the chat, laughter and good humour continued as it did throughout that day. We were motivated by a couple of bottles of champagne that was kindly given to us by the man who arranged the lunch. So, with spirits and glasses lifted we steamed through or our work.

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When I work was done, we sat by the bar in the dinning hall and chatted for a while with the final glass of wine. Myself, Kenny, Julie, Debbie and Kerry. The buzz of the day was still ringing in my ears and I was having a great day. Julie had to leave but we continued to chat as you do! The conversation drifted into an area that I was surprised to find. Both Kerry and Debbie began to talk of gay, crossdressing and TG, they both had people in their lives in France they ticked those boxes. Suddenly, I had a wave of confidence and commitment to who I was becoming. I felt very easy to tell them that I was born a man but was now living as Sophie. I was in awe to learn that they had thought that I was a woman that day. It made me so very happy inside to think that I had been convincing, not only in my appearance but my mannerisms and speech. couldn’t help thinking that Julie or Kenny’s sister and husband possibly felt the same towards me too. I was disappointed that they weren’t there with us at that point. I am sure I will meet them again.

I drove home that night not only having had such a great day, I also had five new friends and I received wages too. Life felt so good and I hadn’t moved house yet!

Synergy… I hope that is what I experenced!

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The main photo is a view from the house I am interested in buying – and although it’s hard to tell from the image, the garden is generally Southerly facing and located in the picturesque old part of the town

My summer work is now over and my time is occupied by searching for a house to buy – and it’s not been going so well! Lots of driving and nothing to show for it so far. Or is that true?

I had forgotten just how stressful moving house was and why to we block those moments from our memories? This has sent my emotions in to highs and lows. I have had many days of tears during the past month.  I have been working on controlling how my emotions affect me too. Time is slipping away fast and the move out date is creeping up on me daily. Three times, I thought I had found the house I could buy and each one has fallen through, the longest taking over two weeks to find out. I am sorry to dominate the opening part of this to moving house but this shows you how it’s affecting me right now.

It’s Saturday evening and I have opened a nice bottle of Bordeaux which may send me to sleep or allow me to consume the whole bottle. Let’s see! I simply fancied a nice glass of wine. The first bottle I have opened at home for many weeks

Yesterday, I drove back to the town where I am trying to buy for a 10am meeting and to view a house bang in the centre of the town. Something I have had basically given up hope of finding due to house prices. But this one looked (online) as if it had potential. I chose to ignore the comments of my friend Karen who suggested it wasn’t the nicest part of the town to live. All I could think was, I just was lucky to find a house at all in the town. With that said, I arrived at the house and was greeted by a very pleasant agent Joelle, who took me around the property. Good size rooms and a garden too. But a fair amount of work to modernise it, albeit the house was habitable as it was. After taking some photos as reminders and  commenting that I would give it some thought, I left saying that I would let her know very soon if I was interested or not.

My next appointment with a property agent was just around the corner to the house I had viewed, so I was punctual and arrived at 11am. This is the point where day began to shift in a new direction,  and nothing I had not planned for. I entered the offices and introduced myself to the young woman sitting at her desk, informing her that I had an 11am appointment. By her reaction, it was clear that it wasn’t with her. She replied that  her colleague was out of the office, but she could go through houses they had for sale and began taking details of my criteria. Shortly after, the phone rang. Oddly it was her colleague calling in and learned that I was there. Apparently, she thought she had given me an afternoon appointment, she couldn’t be back until 3.30. I quick decided that I did not wish to drive home after seeing only one house and agreed to the time. All I could think at that time, was how was I going to kill over 3 hours?

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I decided to find a cafe and have a coffee to reflect on the house I had just seen. So, off I went towards a bar I had visited before with Karen. The sun was shinning, I put on my sunglasses and strolled along the old streets of the town. For a moment, when I arrived at the bar I thought it may be closed, as it’s that time of the year where they close and go on holiday after a busy summer season. Suddenly, the owner appeared from the bar and greeted a small group of English people looking at the menu, but they were merely browsing and walked off. I asked him if I could order a ‘demi’, a 50cl glass of a draught beer, and sat at a table outside. I sat pondering on the morning and what my options were. Before I had finished the glass, it began to lightly rain. I moved under a parasol on a nearby table, determined not to be deterred by the weather. But nature chose to be a little harsh and the rain became heavier, I was forced to go inside the bar. I sat down at the bar and ordered another drink. Across the restaurant was a table of four men, there for their lunch and waiting to order. I had already heard the owner announce what the menu of the day was and I didn’t like what was on offer. So I asked, if that was the only dish available? To which he replied, no there is the menu as usual. I had not planned to eat while I was out, I was expecting to visit a few houses and then return home. Hopefully, having found something of interest, that I liked and wished to buy.

Anyway, that wasn’t happening so far – obviously! So I chose a dish from the menu and was seated at a table for two by the window, where I sat with my glass of beer. The owner being the only waiting staff, came to the table and took my order, asking if I wanted wine. I often make light conversation when I am in such situations and asked if he had a good summer there after declining the wine at that moment.  Yes, it had been fine, he replied. I explained that I had been cooking in a restaurant for the summer and was in the town looking for a house to buy. He quickly said, and I am looking for a chef! I chuckled to myself thinking how funny that was.

We carried on chatting on and off until my meal arrived. He talked about the food they offered and I explained that I enjoyed cooking Indian, Chinese,Thai, Italian and other styles of food. I thought that may not have been of interest, as their menu was typically French, and not great at that. Low Trip Advisor ratings too, I later discovered. To my surprise he appeared to be very interested what I had said. I must have stayed for an further hour or more with us talking, compacting our lives, work etc into a short space of time with brief sentences. We got on well and there was a nice rapport between us. Out of nowhere, he passed a beer mat to me with writing on it. He had written the name and address of someone he knew that was selling a house in the town. In a better location that the one I had looked at and perhaps more importantly, a private sale. I thought how kind the gesture was and remarked accordingly. Suddenly, it felt as if the sands had shifted dramatically. It was a slightly unsettling feeling, although it felt good at the same time. It made me stop and think about the moment. It’s important to recognise these moments in your life when they occur. They can change things forever if you can be aware of opportunities that arrive from apparently nowhere. I paid my bill, we exchanged telephone numbers and I was invited to contact my new friend Philippe as and when I move into the town.

Feeling quite unexpectedly happier, I walked back to my car to try and locate the house on my phone but the connection was poor. A man arrived at a car parked next to mine, I jumped out of my car and asked him if he knew the address. I eagerly shoved the beer mat in front of him so he could read it. He thought it was probably very near the church in the old part of the town. Now, it was feeling even more strange. The house was just around the corner to where I just had lunch! Was this all too much to be a coincidence?

I programmed the address into my GPS and arrived a couple of minutes later outside the house. It was only a one minute walk or less from the restaurant! I noticed a handwritten sign on the door with two phone numbers on it. After parking the car by the church, down the hill and at the end of the road. I walked back to house and wrote down the numbers. One I had already called, but got no reply.

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I walked back towards my car as I dialed the other number. A woman answered, she sounded a little weak and I thought that she was possibly unwell. She didn’t sound like a very old person, simply tired and weak. I explained that I had been given the number by Philippe the bar owner and began to ask questions about the house. She asked if I could call back when her husband was home later that evening. I was pleased that, I had at least made contact and knew that the house was still for sale. Better progress than on previous houses I had been interested in.

I got into my car and began to make my way back home. I had a strong feeling that I had seen the house on a property website and decided I would search once home. I was keen to learn more about the house and why I had not selected it to consider before! Almost home before I remembered, I needed a few items of food, so I stopped off at a supermarket near my home. When I say near, it’s a 15minute drive away. Believe me, that is near where I live right now.

I arrived home and was immediately greeted by my lovely Bertie, who was very happy to see me home again. I quickly unpacked my shopping and began the online search. Within 10 or 15 minutes, sure enough I found the house. I am still struggling as to why I had not selected this one to look at before! The rooms look in fair condition and spacious too. 110sq metres of property with 2 cellars, a terrace and 300sq metres of land. Generally a Southerly facing garden with a view across the valley, river and viaduct. Quite something on a sunny day! How did I pass this one by? I believe, originally I restricted my choices to houses that were independent, so this one never made the list. Since then, my idea of what I need over what I want has changed. I am now prepared to consider a terraced house which this one is. fnaim-40745111_24350511-162077T02fnaim-40745111_24350511-162077T03

At least the searching online and looking at the property details kept me from being anxious about the call I needed to make that evening. I waited until around 7.30 before I made the call. The woman answered again and I explained I had called earlier about the house. She called her husband and we spoke briefly about the house. I asked the all important question – when could I visit to look at the property?
He thought for a moment and said, the following Thursday. My immediate reaction was to ask if it was possible to see it sooner. No, came the reply swiftly, Thursday morning at 11am!
I agreed and a gave my contact details in case of any problems.  I now find myself being excited again by the prospects of a pleasant house in the town where I would be happy to live. Add to that the chance of working one minute away from the house, is quite extraordinary. My only reservation is if I really do wish to work in a busy restaurant again. And in a full time capacity! After my experiences of working this summer and just long weekends, leaves me somewhat uncertain about that choice. However, I have plenty of time for reflection on this and I will see how I feel as and when I move to the town.

I am trying not to count my chickens just yet!!

I never thought it would be possible now!

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No. this is not about me having a manicure, but a reminder of my guests’ nails when we enjoyed a very memorable evening. I am also aware that it’s been a while since I posted an update. But I have been dealing a lot and searching for a house and packing. Something I had forgotten about the stress created by such activities…

Back in 2014, while cooking through another summer in another ‘restaurant’ I met my now, good friend Kenny, who I have mentioned before. However this not about him. Just that point in time and that location. We had a young woman by the name of Lleahan working with us in the kitchen. One day, when her family arrived for a meal, Kenny introduced me to Helen and friends who had arrived for a meal. Helen was a transgender male to female, in the process of transition. Apart from not having time to enter into conversation, I wasn’t where I am now. So things would not have been discussed as they might be now.

Karen, another dear friend, had suggested from early on when I came out to her, that I should try and find others like me to talk to for support and understanding. At the time, I didn’t remember meeting Helen. The subject arose again! Helen is a friend of Kenny, and subsequently, I managed to track Helen down and send a message to make contact.

We soon had  long chat online and discovered quickly that we had a lot of similarities in our lives. Understandably very different lives, but our personal gender issue had been so close by comparison. I should say, that she had a medical history that is unusual to say the least and in that respect we differ immensely.

By the end of the chat that evening we agreed that Helen would visit me. By this time she had already given me so much insight and information regarding life in France and in our region with regard to TG individuals. Not all good, but very helpful and thought provoking. I was looking forward to us meeting and hopefully having a new and special friend in my life.

Before the visit,Maddy (as I am allowed to call her as a friend) and I exchanged a little more by chat and messaging. I established that one of her favourite family meals was an Indian curry which I also enjoy very much and happy to cook for my friends.

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Helen arrived a little before 5pm after a good hour drive. I made us both a cup of tea (we are both English – giggle) and sat on the sofa and we just started chatting like old friends in many ways. After non stop discussion continuing from out previous dialogue, plus many new topics, we eventually sat down to eat. The eating didn’t interrupt out talking too much and we casually chatted the night away. I was very much at ease in the company of Maddy. I feel that she too, was very relaxed and enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

She had transitioned fully in May this year and is still recovering for the surgery. Since our meeting and discussions, one of the things that has stuck in my head since then, is the fact that she informed me that I could follow the same path – possibly! And obviously, if I chose to.

When I made the choice to accept I that am Sophie, I never thought for one minute that it would ever be an option for at this stage of my life. Perhaps you can begin to imagine how this news had an impact on me since discovering that. I am however, learning that other people in general, do not understand very much about why I, and those like me wish to do what we have to do in our lives. We are ‘hard wired’ from birth and learn to live and deal with this, if we are lucky and able! So that’s it in a nutshell.

Providing that I live as a woman for two years, get a psychiatrist and psychologist and a doctor who is sympathetic, I could be given approval for free treatment and surgery here in France. Lyon is where they have some of Europe’s finest surgeons in this field. While I am naturally interested, I am also apprehensive, at my age, about following through with this. Maybe I simply don’t relish surgery and very painful surgery at that. However, this would not happen overnight and I have plenty of time to reflect on this and move to a new home. Plus, I would need to convince the powers that be, that it is something I genuinely want. I don’t doubt myself in how I think, just if I can answer as they require me to. But I am one of the worlds’ over thinkers….

I am hoping to see Maddy again soon and have been in contact while writing this.

I look forward very much to continuing from where we left that Sunday evening

Feeling good about the future

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Not surprisingly, I believe that I have managed to put my foot on the brakes pretty hard to get back control of my life again! I have made a real effort to slow things down. And if you have been reading my posts you will understand why I needed to do that. I feel as if I have been running at this at high speed since late May and need to calm things down. But its what I do!! When I make my mind up to do something, I can commit totally to whatever that maybe. Sometimes to cost of many other things including myself.

So, moving on to plans for this Thursday morning, I am going to look at another house. I hope also that I may get to see a few, but I am specifically driving to see one. Oddly I have not ad a call from the property agent about my recent offer on the house I found before. So my first objective is to question her to learn why!

Reflecting on the past week, I should mention a couple of things here. When I returned to work last Friday it was also to play two nights with two different groups on the Friday and Saturday evenings. Two nights off from the kitchen! Saturday morning, I had to go to a meeting at my solicitors to sign the sale papers with the Parisian couple who have bought the house. A step forward that ties everyone to the sale. However, they need to raise finance to buy the house and in France, you can do that after signing to buy a property. But, I feel confident that they are able to manage the purchase. I now have a moving date of 11 November as the latest date. Possibly a little sooner depending on a couple of variables. Hence I need to find a house fairly soon to avoid problems.

Things with my daughter remain on hold here and I am dealing fine with that now. I have spoken with my ex who has kept me in touch with how things are going for her and my daughter. I have spoken with Karen frequently and this has become a normal activity between friends. I will see her later today after the house viewing as she has invited me for lunch and will go with me in the afternoon to see more houses hopefully.

Last night I met with a couple who are very dear friends and the first couple I came out to. Several weeks after putting them in the picture, we eventually got to meet up and talk, a lot about me. The evening was filled with many questions, which I was happy to answer. I learned of their feelings, which had been mixed at first. Because we had become such close friends, she had felt a little angry after learning about me because I had not been honest with them. It had made her question me and things that I had said. I understood that and was happy to hear that they had no issues at all about me or my life. We talked for quite some time and every aspect of my life and my intentions were covered. I was happy and that their interest in me was was encouraging. I parted late last night in the knowledge that my instincts where right about confiding in them and I can take them forward in my new life.

I now have to get myself ready for the drive to see the house so here I leave things until I return later today.

It’s 10.30pm and I think I can finish this tonight before I sleep.

A couple of photos of Bellac where I am looking to buy a house. This is the old part of the town where I have just found a property that looks interesting.

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It has been a  good day. I discovered that I had misunderstood the property agent after I made the offer on the house. I should have called her last Saturday to confirm the signing of the sale of my house – oh well!. I had thought she was calling ,me with a response to my offer. Anyway, to get to the point, I looked at another house that did not live up to expectations. So before going we left that house, I decided to ask if I could reduce my offer by 2,000 on the one that I still liked. She pulled a face, but agreed. I said that it was simply a lower starting point.

In essence I have good feeling about the house and have had since the first viewing. I hope that this is founded. I also learned that there is a lot more than I realised in the town which makes it an even better place to live for me. I had a nice lunch with Karen today and she drove around the area to allow me to see a little more of the town. Collected one of her dogs from the vet and returned to her home.I have to say that by this time I was starting to feel tired and after a short chat I left for drive home.

Work again tomorrow and only one more weekend remaining after this. Although I have been asked to cover 13 & 14 of September. I will have to discuss the conditions for two days, as the economics are not good for me. Today, my morning will disappear rapidly as it always does when I have to return to work. But this week I really am in a much better place. I may even perform a solo concert at the restaurant next weekend, in a way as a farewell. If I do this, I think it would signify the end of much in my life and possibly be quite emotional!  I would also need to practice a lot of the set as I haven’t played many of the covers I play for quite sometime. Playing the two concerts with the bands recently reminded me of just how much I enjoyed performing live music. Four years ago at the restaurant when I had performed solo, a couple of people had suggested that I should  play solo instead of in a group, saying that it was much more enjoyable and how good I was. I am not a confident performer, I simply love music and enjoy playing. Haha – I think I have just confirmed my concert! My ambition is to be able to perform as Sophie, and would like to try and improve my signing technique and not sound quite so gruff and more feminine. I think that is as much about my acceptance of what I am and maybe I need to stop worrying about that!

Until the next post ….

Packing, rehearsing and trying to rest…. so tired – the wake up call!

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Work is at a peak with the summer season in full force. The busiest weekend so far with 150+ covers in two evenings. 9 hours and resting in between shifts as had been coerced onto doing  a logo design for an old friend in the UK.

To finish the weekend work in style, I drove home at 11pm last night in one of the heaviest storms I’ve seen in France in the past 12 years. Not what I needed at that time of night, but the desire to get home and into my own bed was like a driving force that would have got me through far worse.

Today I am trying my best to continue with dismantling furniture and pack things as I go. When I get 4pm I will need to grab my bass guitar and head off for an hour drive for a late night rehearsing for one of two concerts I will be playing on the 11th and 12th of August. It seamed like a good idea at the tome, but I hadn’t sold my house at that point – hindsight!!

My car needs it’s road safety certificate on Thursday morning – a Control Technique as they call it in France. Before that I am hoping that the new tyres I have ordered will be delivered in time to be fitted by my local garage in the village.  Wednesday afternoon is another visit to look at the house I pictured in the last post. This time to take stock of it again after a week of thought and most likely make an offer.

Thursday I have been invited to lunch by the guitarist I am playing the first concert with. Although a pleasant afternoon, yet another drive of 30-40mins and energy sapping.

Somewhere among all that I need to recharge my energy levels and be fit for another busy weekend.

On a more personal front and of major importance and impact on my life, I have made an application online to legally change my name to Sophie. I am hoping that I will be able to make the purchase of another house in the name of Sophie to avoid complications down the line. Documents should arrive in about a week from now and then I can apply for my passport to be changes too. Something I will be required to show here in France for many things re my home, life and identity, from my bank account, driving licence to social service and medical care. I also need to establish which organisations I need to contact, not only for these, as I am changing the region that I live in which requires  several official changes to my personal details. I must start making a list soon of all the things I need to do and get in place before it becomes a potential problem.

Thursday – I am back to finish this article, the day after going back to look at the house again, but it turned into a terrible day.

Wednesday started fine. I was up early as usual and the name change documents arrived that morning. Upon reading the info with it, it mentioned that I should have official document witnessed by a solicitor. So I looked to see if there some where I was viewing the house. I found two and thought I would call when there and try to get a 5 minute meeting to get the signing witnessed. It was then I discovered that August is a month where solicitors (or Advocats in France) go on holiday quite often for the month!!!

So I decided to go and do a little bit of shopping for some food. All was gong fine until I went to leave the car parking area. I followed another car towards the exit and turned right at a slow speed when all of a sudden, there was a bang and the wing mirror flipped back. A woman turned and stood there with her mouth wide open holding her shopping in her arms. I got out to find that I had dented both doors. I had not seen two bollards and cut the corner too tight, denting the driver’s door and rear passenger doors along with the section underneath the doors. The rear door trim was lying on the ground, so I simply picked it up, threw it on the back of the car and drove off. I was so distraught and on the verge of  crying my eyes out, that I pulled into another supermarket car park. I sat there trying to compose myself before getting out to look at the damage more carefully. It was quite bad, the sills had been damaged as well as the lower part of both doors and the window on the driver’s door was stuck in the down position. I got back in the car and I did cry a little. While I sat there considering the problems that this may cause me and I reflected on how this had happened!

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On the drive down to see the house, I had felt so tired and wishing I didn’t have to do it on that day. I realised that I had been pushing myself too hard recently and not making sure that I had been getting rest while at work and when I return home. So I had a big wake up call that afternoon. Things could have been so much worse and I am lucky that this can largely be fixed.

My friend Karen called me while I sat in the car and we spoke for a couple of minutes while I explained what had happened, almost crying through the conversation. She suggested that I called in for a quick coffee before the house viewing, which turned out to be a good idea.

A coffee and 15 minutes later I arrived at the house again. This time it was the daughter from the property agent who met me. She had opened all of the shutters and the windows which made the place look light and airy on that sunny afternoon. It was good to see it all again and I had not remembered everything as well as I had thought. We finished the visit in the rear garden where I made an offer on the property. So now I wait to hear if it’s accepted or not. I was slightly cheeky with the offer, but I have nothing to loose by trying.

My invitation for lunch today and a rehearsal for a concert on the 11th of August had to be cancelled, much to my disappointment and will now have to be fitted in next week!

My car window now operates again after this my efforts this morning pulling out the door panel. New tyres have been fitted and things are not looking quite so grim now. I even managed a sleep this afternoon and will be off early to bed tonight.

I have learned a very hard lesson this week