A month of Planning & preparations

Wow…November really has flown by! I can’t believe I’m writing another blog post…it doesn't feel like 5 minutes since I wrote the last one! I’d like to say I’d been so busy that I didn't notice the time passing…& I suppose in a way we have but… not with the business which has remained in its dormant state all month again. However, I am glad to say we have 2 B&B bookings for December, both one nighters, but it is better than nothing. And even better still I have my first booking for 2015, so my funky new lime green 2015 diary has at last been opened! That booking is also just a one night B&B & is for October! I find it so hard to think that people are really as organised as that! I’m not a “last minute” person at all, but we never know if we will be actually able to go on holiday until the middle of the year! However I’m not complaining...it is always nice to get the first booking of the new year & for us getting that before the year actually starts is very unusual indeed.

So, what have we been up to this month & what are all these plans & preparations then? As you all know (if you have been following this blog for any length of time) our daughter is getting married next year so I made my first “planning” trip to the UK this month to try & get a venue sorted. Hazel & Phil had already done a lot of ground work by looking at most of the suitable venues, so my weekend with them was to try & choose the place which ticked all the boxes & then try & get a date sorted out. My trip did not start well as my flight from Clermont Ferrand to Paris got cancelled at the last minute(poorly plane) which meant all my well made plans for onward travel collapsed like dominoes. I am not a “serene” traveler so this was not a good start! However, after a 6 hour wait in CdG airport (mega boring!), I arrived safely in Manchester & caught a train to Carlisle, keeping my fingers firmly crossed that the conductor would let me travel without having to pay again for my ticket, as I was not on the originally specified train. He was kind & so apart from losing the evening – I arrived at 10pm & not 5pm as planned - with my daughter, all was eventually well. We spent the next day looking at the various venues working out all the pluses & minuses of each one. It was a pretty full on day but I felt we made great progress. With only one more venue to check out on the Sunday I was pretty sure we’d come to some sort of conclusion before I flew back home. Saturday was very exciting as Hazel had made an appointment to start looking at wedding dresses…something every mother wants to do with their daughter. She had no idea what sort of dress she wanted, so we both thought this would be the first foray & had no expectations of actually getting a dress at all. However, the place she’d chosen was wonderful & the salesperson, Wendy, so patient & helpful that after 3 hours of looking, trying on, rejecting some & retrying others, she did eventually choose & buy her dress! And pretty stunning she looks in it too…but of course that’s all you will get to know about it until the day itself! After that I needed a lie down in a darkened room…it was a very emotional morning! But no, we still had things to do so off we went to buy some craft stuff for making the invitations etc which I am going to do. We ended the day celebrating Phil’s dad’s birthday at a restaurant in Carlisle. This full on lifestyle is so far from my early nights at home & I struggled to stay awake!
On the Sunday morning we went to church, another treat for me & doubly so as it was a Methodist one, which Hazel wanted to look at. They are determined to marry in church but also want to choose a church where they will become regular worshipers. This is a little complicated as Phil was raised as a Catholic & Hazel a Methodist. So they are doing a tour of various churches (of all denominations) to see where they both feel comfortable. Luckily for me this was the Methodist church’s turn & I really enjoyed the service ...& the singing too of course! Afterwards we went to see the final venue & then we all sat down to try & make a decision, which in the end was fairly easy as neither of them wanted to loose autonomy of their wedding & only one venue allowed that. Progress indeed…a wedding dress bought & a decision on the venue. Only the date now remained a sticking point! And that has since been decided too…its going to be the 30th May 2015 :)

After doing a bit more craft shop shopping (& some Christmas shopping too) on the Monday morning, I traveled back to Manchester & spent the evening with my son, DIL & grandson…another bonus for me! Ethan is really coming on leaps & bounds now, rolling over, sitting up & polishing off his food like there is no tomorrow! He is such a happy little chap & I loved having the opportunity to spend some time with him again. But all too soon I was off to the airport once more to fly back home…& this time the journey all went smoothly :)

There has been more planning over the phone since I got back…the ceilidh band is booked now & Hazel & Geoff have been having very detailed discussions re wine, champagne & other alcoholic beverages, all of which as a TT interest me not one little bit! However it might be a good idea to take some of this stuff back with us at Christmas seeing as how we are taking the car now,so the planning continues.

That of course brings me to the next part of the blog…more planning but this time for Christmas which seems to be creeping up on us with alarming speed now. The cottages are booked & paid for, the ferry is booked & the house sitter is all sorted now so its full steam ahead. We still need to book some overnight stays & then of course. do all the driving,which I hate at that time of the year. I just have to keep Geoff from offering some car places on BlaBlaCars now…the car will be full enough with us & all the stuff without other people in there too! I have also been busy in my Christmas workshop (alias the gite!) making our Christmas cards which if I say so myself look pretty good. I've finished now so just need to get them written & posted…which is quite an expense really. However I still love receiving cards so needs must.

Before all these planning activities started we did fit in some other things! Early in the month I met up with friends Judith, Linda & her daughter Laura, & we all spent a very pleasant (if expensive) afternoon mooching round the annual Creativ exhibition at Cournon. I love that expo & as usual we all had a lot of fun. On the 11th Nov we were joined by Tots & her friend Alex, who was staying with her, at the remembrance ceremony in St Etienne sur Usson. We Brits all sported our poppies proudly -& Tots had a bluet too (I can never find those). Tots & Alex then came back for lunch & it was nice to catch up with all their news & adventures. Alex was here for almost a month this time & loved every moment by the sounds of it! We joined them for lunch at Judith & Edwards too during Alex’s visit, where we ate royally as per usual. Judith loves to cook & entertain so her lunches are always wonderful.

Geoff & I also took the opportunity of a beautiful sunny day early in the month to go for a drive southwards along the Allier valley to see all the autumn colours. We stopped for lunch in Langeac, which was in its usual “out of season” slumber! It’s a lovely little place but there really wasn't much activity. By sheer chance we found a really odd little eating place (Chez Tante Sophie) which was a real experience! It looked pretty uninspiring & we were made to sit right up to another party on a long table, but the food, which was served in big serving dishes – help yourself style - was wonderful & extremely plentiful! A real find that place!

I had a pre Christmas foray into Clermont Ferrand this week, where I met up with Linda for lunch & then afterwards we met Tots for a coffee. Linda is now half way through her radiotherapy treatment & is doing very well. Having to come into Clermont every day for treatment has boosted her confidence & she drove around the city with aplomb! Its always nice to meet up with friends for a catch up too…any excuse for a lunch & coffee out I say!

The insurance saga which I wrote about in the last post still hasn`t been sorted unfortunately. The bank has now confirmed that the first cheque, made out to AXA, has been cashed, but the agency are still saying they have no record of it in their system. They are about to lose our business…& I suspect we are about to lose our money :(

We are having another odd run of electrical device failures at the moment. Our camera died on us while we were on holiday. This has now been replaced (an early Christmas present to us both).Then my beloved internet radio (my lifeline to sanity as it allows me to listen to Radios 2 & 4 in the kitchen & living room) suddenly stopped working mid sentence one day. Fortunately, we have a great little electrical appliance shop in Sauxillanges & once again they performed their miracles, so my sanity has been restored! And now (& I hope lastly as it’s the third thing) my little tablet has given up the ghost. It has been returned to the manufacturer (its still under guarantee) but I am bereft at the moment without it! I have nothing to play games upon in the evening while watching TV! Apologies to all my Scrabble friends...I am hoping it will be returned very soon!

Blimey…this has been a marathon post this month! Amazing what we get up to when we are “not busy”! We are off to the carol service (along with the 60 mince pies I’ve made) this evening – it is Advent Sunday after all. This will be my the last post before Christmas so I’ll stop now & wish you all a very early, but Happy Christmas & I hope Santa is good to you all!