…and Breathe

September is always a sort of happy/sad month for us as the phone stops ringing, the e mail is mostly spam & the house & garden is empty again. I do still love doing the B&B & gite but it is nice too to have our house back to ourselves & to be able to go & feed the hens in my nightie in the mornings again! It is also nice to have a lie in, to be able to go back to bed with the crossword & not have to make anyone’s breakfast but my own! For Geoff. of course, it is different as all his students return to work or school & so he is very busy again. In fact, I am already complaining that I am having to eat a lot of meals on my own & that I scarcely see him on some days. It is all swings & roundabouts isn`t it?
The month started off with us being busy though, as we had a wedding party in the gite & B&B. These guys were from Switzerland, & were here to celebrate the marriage of a lovely young friend of ours who has taken on a huge project in restoring a castle near here which was burnt down during the war, as a reprisal for sheltering resistance fighters. He & his new wife had a big party in one of the semi restored parts of the chateau to celebrate their marriage & to thank some of the local artisans & volunteers who help him with the restoration work. We are becoming a little unhappy with these wedding parties though, as they make a lot of work for us. The people often come unprepared for the gite being self-catering - as was the case here as they requested breakfast - & when the guests in the B&B are part of the same party. there is a lot of to-ing & fro-ing between the house & gite, which drives us & the dog mad! Also, because the wedding parties go on into the wee small hours here, we have cars & guests arriving back really late which disturbs our sleep & then no-one wants to get up for breakfast or be in any hurry to leave the next morning. I think sometimes guests forget that we can only start work when they go, so getting washing (& there is always a lot of that after these dos) dried gets difficult. However, when it a friend who asks, it is difficult to say no. I was pleased when they all did eventually leave though this time.
Our next lot of B&Bs were no trouble at all, as Gordon & Julia came back on their way home from Spain, to stay with us once again. We enjoy their company very much & we all went off into Issoire to eat together & experience the last Friday evening event of the summer. The meal was nice but the event was a bit of a wash out really, as most of the tourists had gone by then & the locals were all back to work. However, Gordon & Julia set off the next day rested & ready for the drive back home.

Our next visitor was our house sitter Phyllis who arrived on the following Sunday, allowing us to set off a day early for our family trip to Venice. As we were flying from Lyon, we had decided to stay a night before the flight in the city itself, & save the hassle of making sure we got to the airport in time the next day. I have never visited Lyon & I really enjoyed it very much. We had a nice hotel within easy walking distance of the old town & I loved wandering around there, admiring the buildings & reading all the historical facts about the city. Our flight the next day to Venice was a bit of a pain – a 2&1/2hour delay due to ATC action…or so we were told! It all meant that it was quite late when we eventually got to join the rest of the family at the hotel on the Lido & the grandchildren were ready to go to bed :frowning:. However, the rest of the couple of days spent with all our family (a rare event these days getting everyone together like this) was really great. We had decided to use some of the money we got from Geoffs Mums estate to do this trip & I think she would have been very happy to have seen us all enjoying the city, the food, the beach & the sunshine together. We certainly enjoyed having all our family there & the chance to spend time with them again.

On our way home from Lyon, we took the chance to visit the big annual Foire at Clermont Ferrand as usual. This year we were particularly keen to look at some modern wood burning stoves as we intend to change our lovely old but terribly inefficient stove for a more up to date version soon. Neither of us were absolutely at our best, being a bit tired after our trip really, but we did get some ideas. We were not tempted to buy there though, as the prices were very high. We also enjoyed looking round the “California” exhibition at the fair, as we have plans to visit that the US next year & San Francisco & Yosemite figure in those plans.

We arrived home to immaculate house, & very happy animals who had been well looked after by our house sitter, Phyllis. House sitters work very well for us usually, & Phyllis had done a great job. I already have another lady coming to sit for us when we go on holiday next month & being extremely organised for once this year, have already got sitters sorted for our UK trip at Christmas. I use the mindmyhouse.com website & would recommend it to anyone.

Largely due to our Venice trip, we really haven`t been out & about much this month. Our 39th wedding anniversary came & went without much celebration this year. We are saving ourselves for the big one next year! We did manage to fit in a last meal with our friends Linda & Mike before they set off to live back in the UK. We went to one of our favourite places, the Auberge Reine Margot at Usson where we had a lovely meal & then finished off the afternoon at our house with the boys having a last walk together & Linda & I gossiping & drinking tea as usual! We are really going to miss them both very much, but hope to visit them in their cottage in the lake District when we go over to the UK at Christmas. There were a few tears shed on both sides as they drove off.

We have said a more permanent goodbye to one of our lovely friends here this month too. Our friend Edward died sadly after fighting illness for a while & having been looked after & nursed by his wife Judith for some time now. We went to a lovely service for him in the chapel at Chapelle sur Usson where they lived. The service was really moving, conducted in French & English with some lovely readings & music. A very fitting send off for a very gentle man in all senses of that word.

A little anecdote now to show how different life is here. We discovered one afternoon that we had no water…no warning, no indication that anything was wrong, but no water coming through the taps. Our neighbours, who also had no water, did a bit of investigation & discovered that someone in the next village had had a fire in his barn. He had used his motor mower, & parked it (still hot) next to some hay bales which had caught alight & caused a considerable fire. Several fire engines had been needed to put the fire out & in doing so the pompiers had used up all the communes water reserves! Bet that doesnt happen much near you! The water did eventually return thank goodness!

We are enjoying a real Indian summer here just now with some very nice daytime temperatures & beautiful sunny days. We are glad now that we didn`t put the garden furniture away as we have been able to eat outside at lunchtime most days recently. The garden is just starting to take on some of its Autumn colours too so looks quite pretty again. I have been updating some of our house & gite photos for the Issoire Tourist office & although I was a bit reluctant to do this just now, as the garden is not at its best really at this time of the year, I was quite pleased with the photos after all. We have been taking advantage of the good weather to start re-painting the shutters on the house. Some of them need replacing really now, but they are not cheap, so repainting it will be for this year at least. Geoff has also started to get the stock of cut wood up to a certain level ready for our next house sitter to arrive, as we are sure by then our fire will need to be lit in the evenings at least. We have already had some evenings when it has been cold enough to do that…a sure sign that winter is on its way.

But before that…it will be holiday time for us. I am feeling the sea calling as I type. Only 13 more sleeps now :blush:

A bientot mes amis


I am trying to envisage your hens wearing your nightie…

LOL! I wouldn`t put anything past this pair!