ZANYIKA KOK, Werner’s better half, explains what it’s been like for her to live in Toulouse for the past two months.
After our honeymoon in Santorini, Greece, we spent a week at home in Cape Town and then had to pack for France. Werner has a three-month contract with Toulouse, so he only brought two bags of clothes with him, while I brought one because I knew it would be easier to shop here.
It was a bit scary when we were travelling here … I worried we might have forgotten something and wondered if we were doing the right thing. But when we got here, everyone was so nice and we settled in quickly. In fact, I’m having such a great time that I told Werner he can go back to South Africa next month and I’ll stay here – he must just send our dog Bullet over to keep me company!
When we arrived in Toulouse, we told the estate agent that we wanted to live close to the city centre. I don’t have my driver’s license in France and need to be able to get to town easily when Werner isn’t around.
Our flat in Jeanne d’Arc has more than enough space for the two of us – it’s the middle floor in a three-floor building. We don’t spend much time here anyway, because we’re always out exploring the area or visiting new friends.
Werner gets to meet a lot of people through rugby, but it’s been relatively easy for me too. The first week we were here, we were invited to a barbeque at Zack Holmes’ house (Zack is an Australian utility back at Toulouse) where I met his fiancé Sian. She has become a very close friend during this time.
I then met all the foreign players’ wives who were so welcoming. They had also not known anyone when they arrived in France and didn’t understand the language, so they knew what I was going through. If there’s a birthday dinner or baby shower, we all go to it together.
It’s been easy for me to keep busy here. My normal day is having breakfast with Werner, doing some things around the house and then going to gym with Sian. I’ll then come home, take a shower and go to town. I can spend the whole day exploring the city and looking at people. The French are very different and so entertaining!
I haven’t picked up much of the language as while Werner gets French lessons at the club, I don’t. I know the basics, so I can get around on my own, but Werner gets annoyed when I order food at a restaurant in English! So we’re trying, but it’s really hard. If we ever come back to Toulouse, a girlfriend of one of the French players has offered to be my French tutor and I will definitely take her up on that.
The biggest highlight of our time here for me has been seeing how well Werner has adjusted to playing fifteens again and how much he is loving it. We’ve also been lucky to be able to travel at this time of the year and to meet so many incredible people. We’ve literally just met some people and are already planning to take trips with them.
Good things happen here every day, though, so every day is a highlight for me!