Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> England and France 1997


I'm in Toulouse, typing on Jenny's little powerbook (which really needs more memory). I just fit into Jenny and Thomas' one-bedroom flat — 20 sq metres, in the form of a large living area, a niche just big enough for a double bed, and smaller niches for bathroom and kitchen -- we unfold a sofa-bed at night and pack it up in the morning. But it shouldn't become too uncomfortable -- on Thursday Jenny and I head off for 4 days bushwalking (part of the Cathar Castle Walk, including Montsegur) and after that I plan a 3 or 4 day side-trip by myself to Albi, Carcassonne, and maybe Montauban.

Anyway, enough of future plans... Today Jenny showed me parts of the city (their flat is right in the city centre) and then went off to teach her afternoon class, while I continued wandering. Many of the museums are shut on Tuesday, but there are some really lovely churches — I was particularly taken by the church of the Jacobin monastery, an austere double-nave gothic building which is not so big that its interior is uncomprehendable. There are also lots of sixteenth century buildings still used as apartments, or often offices. (Toulouse was rich then, from exporting a blue dye derived from the pastel plant -- and another etymological find for me is that "denim" comes from "de Nime".) Jenny has trained me to poke my nose into any open doorways, in the hope of seeing an interesting courtyard — at first I thought I'd be taken for a burglar casing the joint! Because of the shortage of stone, all the building is in red brick, with some stone mixed in. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is beginning to grow on me.

I had never realised that French keyboards had a different layout to English ones! Instead of qwertyu.... they go azertyuiop qsdfghjklm wxcvbn. This is causing me much frustration and slowing me down greatly. (I could cope with an optimised layout and I understand the need for accents, but what use to anyone is it swapping the a and q keys?)

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