30/09/2015 A drippy period
September is over & autumn is officially here now in the Auvergne. The leaves are already leaving a nice soggy carpet on the lawn (& in the house when they are brought in on paws & feet), soggy because of the really unseasonably cold nights we have been having & which generate a lot of dew. We are beginning to see some nice autumn colour in the trees though & are certainly experiencing lots of early morning mists & mellow fruitfulness! The garden continues to provide us with a seemingly endless supply of semi ripe tomatoes (which I ripen up on the kitchen windowsill) & raspberries & some friends have just given us a big box of apples. The jam pan has been working overtime this month as the jam & relish cupboard has been replenished! The flowers in the garden have also taken on a new lease of life after the dry summer & we have many plants which are flowering for a second time. They are now mingling with all the autumn flowers, so at last my garden looks quite pretty again.
We have been kept busy this month again with quite a few B&B guests. This strange year continues to surprise us as usually in September, we struggle to get many clients, but this year we have actually been full on several nights. Once again, we have had some lovely & interesting people staying, including one man who had lived in Chabanol as a child & was delighted to be able to sleep in the hamlet again for the first time in fifty years. He was a mine of information about the place, telling us who had lived where & all the houses which no longer exist. I suspect that couple will be back again because he loved going down memory lane & was amazed that there was actually somewhere to stay in his sleepy little hamlet!! We have also become a base for two chaps who often work in the area, installing quite fancy shower units. Their company is based in Limoges but they seem to have a steady stream of work in this area & as they don`t like to leave their van in the town overnight, where it might get broken into, they have started to stay here. They have been here twice this month & really are ideal guests as they arrive quite late, leave early in the morning & don`t require a fancy breakfast. I hope they continue to use us whenever they are working around here. One of the other couples who have stayed here this month was on a “working holiday” studying mushrooms. She was a pharmacist, & as pharmacists here in France have to be able to identify & advise on any mushrooms which are brought to them, she was doing a field course to top up her knowledge. One of the nights they were staying, the worker boys brought us (by sheer chance) a bucket of mushrooms they had seen & picked in a nearby field! It was nice to have an expert on hand for some on the spot identification...& the mushrooms were delicious! Other guests have included retired couples who were on their way to Spain, one of whom booked to stay with us again on the way back home, which is nice. Its a good indication that we are doing things right, when people do that! So all in all, although the gite has remained stubbornly empty, we have had a good month B&B wise & we have a good week coming up to start off October.
Geoff is very much back into the swing of things work wise too as his teaching sessions are all go now. He has his first adolescent student for quite a while this year again, as well as all his lessons in the local businesses here. He really enjoys all this teaching & I am happy too as it gets him out of the house as well as keeping us afloat financially.
Our preparations for the approaching winter months have started. We have had the annual visit of the chimney sweep, which was well timed as we have had to start lighting he fire now most evenings. Its a bit early this fire lighting but, despite having some quite warm days, the evenings & nights are really unusually cold just now. Having just had the chimney swept, we were on the receiving end of a really ferocious storm & had torrential rain for a full day & a half. After all the fuss we had last year with the roof leaking we had thought that our days (& nights) of listening to drips were behind us, but no! We had lots of water which came down the now clear chimney & pooled on the living room floor...we have no idea why, as this has never happened before. We also had dripping water coming into our bedroom (again via the chimney we think) & we still don`t really know why. We suspect it was all due to the actual amount of rain that came down...it was rather a lot! When it eventually stopped, we mopped up & thanked our lucky stars, as lots of others suffered for more damage in this storm than we did. Now that the weather has perked up again we have begun to do some maintenance work on the gite too - it never really stops does it? Geoff has been varnishing the window & door frames & the shutters & we have someone coming to look at the roof skylights as one of them has started leaking too (more drips!). This gite sometimes makes me think it is a total money drain as it often costs us more to maintain than we make letting it :(
The torrential rain over those two days also made up our minds that we need to get Sylvie (our convertible car)fixed, as she too has a leaky roof! I am getting a bit fed up of getting in her & getting out with a wet bottom...& that has nothing to do with my driving by the way! We have been putting a cover on her all summer if it looks like rain, but the winds which accompanied this storm just blew that off. So now Geoff has been on the hunt for a solution to the problem...preferably before the winter & the snow arrives!
We have been out & about a bit this month taking advantage of some nice sunny days & some lovely invitations from friends which, now we are a bit quieter work wise, we can at last take up. We had a fabulous lunch with our friends Judith & Edward, meeting up with another couple we & they know. Judith is such a great cook & the whole afternoon was a delight. Then we went to a “do” which some English friends held at their holiday home & again had a nice afternoon catching up with friends we hadn`t seen for a while. We made our annual trip up to the Zenith exhibition halls at Cournon for the International Foire d`Auvergne which we enjoyed very much. We went on the last day & got in free –much to Geoff`s delight - & had a nice look around all the stalls & exhibits. We managed to restrain ourselves from buying one of the numerous white leather sofas on offer - can you imagine the combination of Bounty & a white leather sofa?? But all in all its a nice day out. I have done quite well this month for lunches out really as we also celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary with lunch at one of our favourite places, the Auberge Reine Margot,at Usson. Delicious it was too as usual :) We finished off our gadding about this last weekend with a long overdue visit to a place we have meant to look at for a long time & have never really gotten round to it. St-Saturnin had a “walk around” art festival & although I objected strongly to being charged 12€ each to visit the exhibitions (I don`t like modern art & so I just did the walk instead whilst Geoff went in to look at the “art”) we had a very nice visit. The village is very interesting, with a huge Romanesque church & has a historic trail around it with plaques giving information on the buildings etc. I will recommend it as a place to visit for my clients in the future.
We, like lots of others this week got up to look at this so called blood moon/lunar eclipse...well you have to don`t you when its not certain you will be around for the next one in 33 years time! When the alarm went off at 4.30am we (reluctantly in my case) got up & looked, but it wasn`t very spectacular here I`m afraid. Although the sky was clear & starry, the moon was shrouded in cloud & just looked a dirty grey colour really. Disappointing...& so back to bed! I think I prefer the shooting stars to that “spectacle”!
I think thats the lot for now. As I said earlier we have a busy week coming up to herald in October & then I am on serious countdown to our holiday in Spain & after that to our grandson`s christening in the UK. Chabanol will not know what has hit it then, as it will be full of Australians - both sets of house sitters are from down under! So a fun filled time ahead I expect. I will tell you all about it next month. A bientot as we say here