We are fortunate to live a five minutes stroll from a pretty beach. From this bay, clifftop paths run in either direction taking the walker to other beaches nestled along the coastline. Sometimes on a Sunday morning, we will take advantage of what is on our doorstep and follow breakfast with a coastal walk.
Last weekend we did just that, turning south at the beach onto the track that would take us over to the next bay. The journey takes about twenty minutes and as you wend your way down the path, you are treated to spectacular views along the coastline and out to sea. In summer, the pohutukawas clinging to the cliff are ablaze with their crimson flowers, making the walk even more special.
In the bay, the man and I visited the supermarket before heading to the library to get our week’s reading. Our last stop before beginning the stroll back home was a café.
One of three we frequent, our choice that day was La Tropezienne. Owned by French baker, Louis Bouquet, it is a little slice of France in Browns Bay with its tarts, strong coffee and music. I love it.
A few years ago, I went to France with my sister in law and daughter. Here, we visited cafés with the same tartes, un café and musique that are found at Monsieur Bouquet’s. The only difference was the language conversed in: French. Spoken fast.
The daughter’s school girl French did us proud; she would start by explaining that we were from New Zealand, before launching into the conversation. This would inevitably result in a smile. Kiwis are well thought of in this part of the world and a Kiwi speaking a little French even more so.
It was in a café that a Frenchman struck up a conversation with us. It transpired that he had been part of the French rugby tour to New Zealand in 1979. The only test the man and I have been to was the Auckland one of that tour. Through my translator, I told the Frenchman I had been on the terraces at the Eden Park game. He was delighted. A stilted conversation followed. Conducted in both French and English, supplemented by a wee bit of gesticulating and some laughter when words failed us, we ‘discussed’ the game.
I have a confession – I had no recollection of the play at all. I did however remember the bonhomie and good humour of the crowd that day; the atmosphere was simply magic. The French beat the All Blacks 24/19, the first time they had done so on New Zealand soil (thank you, Google). It was a fitting win for our visitors: it was Bastille Day.
Twenty eight years after that game, a French rugby player and a Kiwi spectator shared a bottle of wine in a small café on a back street in Paris.
Last Sunday, the man and I came across our neighbours sitting in the sun at our bit of France in the bay. We joined them for coffee and then slowly walked home together chatting.