April Fools?

Another month gone…and we are still here! We have had quite a busy month though with one thing and another. I started the month off with a good April fools joke on my daughter which she fell for, hook, line and sinker! She had sent me a huge shop size jar of Raspberry Ruffles (sweeties which I adore!) for Mothers Day and I convinced her that 2 days later I had scoffed the lot by sending her a photo of the empty jar! Even I couldnt do that! Geoff heard his first cuckoo of the year too on April 1st and he assures me it was for real…although I haven`t heard it yet!

Business wise this month has been a bit up and down again. Geoff is struggling to get his teaching contracts going this year as they have changed the rules yet again and all the OPCAs (the bodies who oversee the contacts for training) are really dragging their heels at the moment. Although the work is there, no-one is keen to sign off on the contracts and so the teaching cannot begin. It is really a bit dire for Geoff & his teachers just now, as the work is just not coming through. He has just read an article written by a training company boss who says everyone is having problems this year but it should improve next year! Too late for us then…thanks for that! Happily, he has had quite a bit of document revision work from the University and he still has some private lessons, but our cash flow is not so good at the moment. Also having him hanging around the house all the time with very little to do is driving us both mad! As for me, well, the gite reservation I wrote about last month, turned out to be a scam in the end. I thought it was fishy from the start…very long duration, odd dates to start & finish etc…but it really was very clever this one, and we kept playing along with it to see where it was going. In the end they informed us that paying by bank transfer (as we had asked) was too costly and would take too long to clear, (not true of course!) so could we accept payment by Mastercard transfer – which was a new one on us as we don`t accept credit cards … just click this link etc etc. Of course, we were not that daft & when we asked them to pay in cash on arrival, they suddenly disappeared. I really hate these scammers. They take up so much time and sound more and more genuine. This lot even asked if we had a washing machine and wifi and did we supply sheets and tea towels etc. Very clever touch that…making it all so much more believable. Fortunately, I have had a couple of B and B stays so all was not a total loss this month. They were very nice people too, so my faith in the hospitality world has been renewed a bit after all!

The house viewings have continued too but with no offers as yet. One couple were totally not interested and although another family were interested, they wanted 6 bedrooms as they were a famille d`accueil (foster family) and in the end the amount of work needed to connect the house and gite together was just not feasible. The viewing yesterday seems to have gone well with the young couple really loving the house…especially the gite. They need to talk to their bank now, so we will see if they make an offer. I am getting a bit fed up with all the tidying and cleaning in preparation for these viewings though, not to mention having to go off somewhere whilst they take place. Xena thinks all her birthdays have come at once with all these extra walks!

Easter came and went - as usual, a pretty non-event here. We did have guests in the chambres d`hotes that weekend though, so I had to get up early on Easter Sunday…and work afterwards, cleaning the room etc too. On Easter Monday, we gave ourselves the day off and had a drive across to the mountains. We had lunch overlooking Lac Chambon and it was nice enough to eat outside. The water in the lake was freezing though, so only our feet actually made it into the shallows…and even then, just for a very short time! As our son said, when we sent him some photos, the residual snow on the mountains should have given us a clue about the water temperature!

In fact, the weather here this month has been a bit all over the place again. We have been sunbathing one minute and enjoying sitting in the sunshine in the garden and then freezing the next day. We did have to resort to getting the garden furniture out, for our terrace, including the parasol as the sun when it shone, was so hot and I was starting to burn. Of course, as soon as we did that…back to rain and cold again. We are still having to light the wood burner each evening and our wood supply is dwindling big time. We will have a bit of a dilemma soon as to whether or not we buy more wood. We don`t want to buy a lot in case we sell the house, but we are not sure we will have enough if this cold weather continues.

We went to a very good craft fair one weekend in Sauxillanges where I was sorely tempted to buy things. However, as we continue to declutter, buying new stuff is not allowed! The same applied to the excellent vide grenier we went to, again in Sauxillanges. It is getting very tedious, this not being able to buy things! We did make a good contact at this VG though, and so managed to get rid of the three bikes which have been in our outhouse since we came here. Geoff did try going for a ride on one of them once…but decided that as he didnt have legs like Exocets, the terrain round here was just too difficult and so they never have seen the light of day since! This outhouse now looks so empty, as we also managed to get a neighbour to take the old fridge we had in there, away too. We had forgotten how big it was! I was also very good, when I went with our friend Bernadette to the garden fair at Ambert. The only thing I bought was a drink! Mind you that was hard, as I loved a lot of the plants and garden accessories there. The drive across to Ambert was “interesting”, as Bernadette chose some very unusual roads and kept stopping to admire views and to look at all the wild daffodils. It took us ages to get there but was a nice day out! Our village fete committee organised a games evening too this month, which was good…but we never did get to play any games because the meal went on so long. These Auvergnats do like to eat! We did have some very good company at our table though, a group of local farmers, who were very amusing. It turned out that one of them has a herd of Montbeliard cows. Anyone who is an Archers fan has now pricked up their ears, as these cows feature heavily in one of the storylines just now. I had great fun the next day, whilst taking part in the Archers Omnibus tweetalong, (I know, I know… Im sad!) telling my fellow tweetalongers all about it! I got lots of kudos for that!

I did my good Samaritan bit earlier in the month by taking one of our neighbours to a hospital appointment in Cournon, near Clermont Ferrand. This couple are the people who stayed here for a while, before signing off on the purchase of their house in the next hamlet. Jean-Charles has been ill and was still in hospital, and as Elsa is not driving at the moment due to an eye problem, I said I`d take her to her appointment. It was fun and games finding the clinic using her directions and when we got there, I was really dismayed at how dismal the place was. It is a newish building, but was all grey box like structures…not a drop of colour inside or out. No plants in the waiting area, no pictures on the grey walls. So depressing! And the lady consultant was dressed in grey too… I was glad to escape!

I cannot let this post pass without mentioning the dismay I felt watching the pictures of the terrible fire in Notre Dame in Paris. I have always loved Paris, and remember scrimping money from my wages as a nurse when young to visit, taking my mother there, visiting many times during my life and enjoying all the lovely places and parks. Notre Dame was always one of my favourite places, and although I haven’t been inside for many years, (the queues are too long these days), when I am in Paris I always go to the little park at the back and then to stand on lIle de St Louis and marvel at the fabulous architecture and watch the river go by. So, I, like thousands of others was in tears to see such destruction taking place…especially when the spire collapsed. Heart breaking. I have no real opinion on the controversy which is going on here in France, regarding the millions of euros which have been pledged to rebuild the cathedral. Im not even sure whether I want it to be rebuilt as it was or to have a new structure to the roof. All I know is that it will always have a place in my heart as somewhere to go and be quiet and wonder about the majesty of the place. I hope a solution to make it safe is found soon and that it can once more be a place of worship. I can`t imagine a trip to Paris without visiting Notre Dame.

It has been quite an expensive time this month, as our son in law, son and grandson all have their birthdays in April. I do miss seeing the family on their special days …especially Ethan who had a great day and a big party. I cant believe that he is 5 years old already. There are family birthdays coming up in May too…including mine, but not until the last day for that…and guess what? My dearly beloved has taken a b and b booking for that weekend so I will be getting up early to make breakfasts and working on my special day. I am not amused! Hopefully, May will also bring some good news re the house…and maybe some good weather too. Fingers crossed. Oh, and dont forget that I expect all of you to get up at dawn tomorrow (Mayday) to dabble your faces in the dew as tradition dictates. I`ll be doing that of course!!

A bientot mes amis


all the best… i hope may june n even the whole year will bring you all the love and joy.
best regards!!

Thank you Mark :slight_smile: