We are now at the end of August & as usual the phone has stopped ringing & my business inbox is receiving only spam e mails once again. After August 15th here the summer comes to a very sudden end & everyone starts talking about & buying stuff for La Rentree. I have to say that this year I’m not really as sorry as I usually am by this premature end of summer as I am pretty exhausted after this month’s activity with the B&B & gite. We have been very busy…great for business but I am really beginning to feel may age at times now! In my head I am still 21 yrs old but my body says otherwise I’m afraid! So I have been making the most of these last few days when we have had no guests in the B&B, to get caught up on some things which have been sadly neglected recently. I went into Issoire yesterday & found myself wondering when the last time was that I`d actually had a mooch around! We haven’t even made it to the Saturday morning market once this month which is practically unheard of. All of this, of course, means that we have had a very good month with the B&B & gite which has been great. We have had a lot of really nice guests which has made it all worth while too. Apart from 3 days the gite has been full all month & although there have been odd nights free in the B&B, there haven’t been many really. So we are happy bunnies this year…if slightly cream crackered ones!

Our second lot of gite guests was a lovely couple with a very lively & mischievous 23 month old little boy! To say he was into everything would be an understatement & his poor maman looked shattered at times just trying to keep up with him! We found out just before they left that she was expecting another baby which could have explained why she looked so tired. It was lovely watching young Johann running around the garden though & the hens really missed him (& all the extra food which came their way via him) when they went home. I babysat for them one night (the first time anyone has ever taken me up on the offer here) so they could go out for a meal & thoroughly enjoyed it! Johann was very good for me & went to bed with no bother at all. I suspect he realised I was not a push over! I was a paediatric nurse for many years after all!

The one stubborn week which we hadn’t managed to let came after this, but then we had 2 last minute enquiries, one where I was glad when the people didn’t come, as they were asking all sorts of strange questions about the gite, including taking me to task because the loo was in the bathroom (not good that apparently!), & the second who did come for most of the week. They turned out to be a lovely couple & their teenage grand daughter & they had a great time relaxing after what had been for them a difficult few weeks at home. Finally we have a family in the gite now who have family living nearby & who are putting an inherited plot of land up for sale, so we haven’t really seen much of them, as they have been quite busy visiting relatives & sorting out the sale. When they go this weekend, the gite will go back to being empty again as I still haven’t cracked the concept of autumn lets again this year. It will be sad to see it closed up again though & I am still hopeful that someone will ring wanting to come & stay during what I consider to be the best time of year here.

Our B&B guests have been a varied lot this summer. We have had the usual overnighters breaking their journeys to the south, including my ever faithful Belgian family who were back for their 4th visit - they are my most regular customers now!. We have also had lots of wedding & party guests staying this year. I like the wedding people as they are no trouble at all…apart from coming in at all hours of the morning which means a disturbed night’s sleep for us...& the dog! We had one young couple this year that broke all our records despite having a 2 month old baby. They arrived back at 5.30am! We also had a Dutch couple who arrived out of the blue one day, saying that they hadn’t fancied camping in the storms we were having at that time. They ended up staying for 3 nights & frankly the guy looked as if he had had no intention whatsoever of doing any camping at all! Last week saw the first (of what I hope will be many) hikers who stayed for a night whilst doing a published walk which goes near here. We have discovered that we are mentioned in this book of hikes as somewhere to stay whilst doing this walk which is good news indeed. One of these guys was 83 yrs old & was thoroughly enjoying the hike! I was very impressed with his efforts, as although the hikes round here are fantastic with wonderful views etc, they are pretty challenging with lots of very steep climbs. We have our second lot of walkers coming to stay next week.

Because we have been so busy, we really haven’t done much socially this month. When we have had some rare time off, we have been too tired to do much any way! We have had a few swims in the lake, but not as many as we’d have liked this year as we found ourselves stuck here waiting for guests to arrive most days. This was a bit of a shame really as we have had some wonderful weather this month…in fact it has been the best August weather wise since we arrived here. We also missed most of the village Fete too, although we did manage to go up for the meal on the Saturday night & of course we went to see the fireworks at the end of the fete…couldn’t miss those could we?? We did get to spend a very pleasant afternoon helping our friends Julie & Jean–Luc celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary with a great BBQ as per usual on their farm. It is always nice to be invited there for these family occasions which always take place under their huge lime tree. It is a wonderful setting :)

We also managed (just, at times) to stay awake long enough, to do some star gazing in the middle of the month. The shooting stars this year were fantastic & we were to be found (much to the amusement of our guests) lying back in the sun loungers on the lawn watching & enjoying the spectacle as usual! And of course we didn’t miss the fireworks up at the lake at Vernet la Varenne either. We always regard that display (which is always very impressive) to mark the end of the summer holiday period as it is always after that that the phone stops ringing! Our final social outing this month was to attend the vernissage for my art group’s latest exhibition at the Musee de Patrimoine in Sauxillanges last Saturday. I have to say that I felt very proud of our little group as we had managed to fill all the walls of the salon we’d been allocated with some pretty good paintings & we got a lot of praise from everyone. As the French say...chapeau to all concerned.

Geoff has been very busy all this month too with his English teaching. Normally during the summer this tapers off as folk go on holiday, but this year he has had quite a few students who have continued throughout August. Good for him…but not so good for me, as I rely on him to help me when we are very busy. However it all worked out quite well & the icing on the cake has been that a good contract which he worked on during the summer, has been signed off this week & so for the first time since he started teaching he is not panicking about finding new students this September. He even managed to take a few days off to go to the UK to visit his mother, who has not been so well, last week. He also met up with both of the kids too which was good & they all seem to have had a good time together. I am sorting out a similar trip just now for September. It seems like a long time since I saw the children so I’m looking forward to it, although trying to get reasonably priced flights etc has posed its problems as per usual.

So another August over & done & we are pretty happy, if tired, people. We have booked our holiday (another Med cruise for October) & we are determined to have a bit of a rest & play a little in September this year. We may even treat ourselves to a weekend away...we’ll see. I’ll tell you all about it in next months post!

Thanks Angela - glad you enjoyed reading it :) I do enjoy doing the B&B & gite stuff..& mostly because I like meeting people. I do find it a bit tiring now though but then remind myself that the summer season is very short here! Its very nice when we get a bit of time to ourselves come la rentrée.

Just to say I really enjoyed reading this! You obviously appreciate all sorts of people & know how to make them feel at home,which I'm sure your guests pick up on. and I can SO relate to "I went into Issoire yesterday & found myself wondering when the last time was that I`d actually had a mooch around! "

You can tell it's the rentrée today as I actually have a bit of time to 'waste' on here!

Hope you enjoy your break in the Cantal John. The Auvergne is lovely..we love living here.Our problem is always cash..we don`t make enough! Geoff is always very reticent to spend any money..esp on us taking breaks! He does however want to go to this Cezanne exhibition in Aix en Provence so I`m very hopeful this time! We need a break really :)

Christine, I know how you feel.Though our business ( if could be described as such) is all the year round - cathedral town, slap bang in central France ,several colleges etc - the last three months have been mayhem. Pleasant guests in the main, but we seriously need the four night break we are taking next week in the Cantal, courtesy of a SFN contact made when I was bleating about our crashing computer system ( The expert has a bnb in Pleaux - looks lovely, we are going there) Now, if I can get my lady to actually relax...