Back on Track again

Reading the end of last month`s post I am pleased to say that most of my optimistic hopes have been realised during March thank goodness. We do indeed have a “new” car, although not without a few problems...more about that later...the garden is full of flowers, I do have some bookings & the sun did indeed put in an appearance during the month too.

The month started quite well with our annual trip to the shareholders meeting of our bank in Sauxillanges. Now regular readers of this blog will know that I find this meeting to be a total & utter waste of time & very boring too, but as we get a “free” lunch out of it each year, we go! This years meeting was just as tedious as normal – I do wish they people doing it would try & learn some presentation skills! I would have failed my students miserably had they done presentations like that when I was teaching! I managed to sneak my Kindle in with me this year & because we were sitting on the sidelines as it were, no one noticed me reading instead of paying attention! Naughty...but life saving! As usual, we did thoroughly enjoy the lunch though & had some entertaining company on our table so all was not lost entirely!

We have also had a couple of very entertaining afternoons & evenings with our friends Julie & Jean-Luc & their family & friends, watching the 6 nations rugby matches. It is always good fun sharing these occasions with the passionate French supporters (Jean-Luc`s family) on one side & Julie, Geoff & I trying hard to bring a bit of support for good old Angleterre on the other! Of course the best side won – even if the French lot were not entirely sympathetic about the overall result of the championship!

Mother`s Day saw us meet up with my “ladies wot lunch” pals, Linda, Tots & Muta for a meal near Augerolles which was nice. As Linda`s husband, Mike, was about to go into hospital the following week for his operation, we allowed the boys (Mike & Geoff) to come too - Geoff wanted to do some male bonding with Mike! We had a lovely, long lunch & caught up with all the chat...& Geoff was pleased he could give Mike a man hug at the end for solidarity! We went to visit Mike in hospital the following Sunday & I`m pleased to say that all has gone well & he is now recovering at home.

Fanfare time...we have a new car at last. We have bought an old Peugeot 206CC - mainly for a bit of fun. Geoff has always loved convertibles (this is his 4th) & as it was just a little bit more expensive than the sensible ones we looked at, we decided to ward off the old age & buy this one! It is a nice little car – although it does creak & groan a bit & has had one trip back to the garage already as it was making a funny noise...which stopped, of course, the minute it got there! We have tried it out with the top down once, but judging from all the funny looks we got riding past banks of old snow, I think we will wait a little longer before doing that again! However it does now mean that I am fully mobile again thank goodness! Geoff`s old Peugeot is about to take the trip to the scrap yard in the sky tomorrow - & there will be tears I suspect, as he loved that car! The Ford has been off to have its timing belt changed so it too is back in service again. We do need to get the catalyser changed on that before its next control technique but so far so good. We need to earn some money before that gets done!

To that end, I am pleased to say that the French holidaymakers have at last woken up & started to book their holidays. I now have gite bookings for the summer & B&B bookings for the end of April & beyond:) As ever here, Easter is going to be a washout...the school holidays don`t even start until the week after Easter in France this year, & as we still don`t really get many British people coming here I have more or less given up with Easter. However the French bank holidays in May are looking very fact we are full (gite & B&B) for the 1st of May weekend which is really good news :) I only hope I can remember what to do...its been a while since I was busy!

We did try to improve our bookings by going to a meeting about a centralised booking system at the Tourist Office in Issoire, but as usual it was a dead loss. I get so fed up with the attitude of the people there, who really don`t help us at all...& we pay for this too! I had told myself before we went to stay calm, but within a few minutes of our supposedly ” helpful” session starting it was obvious that they were not prepared to speak slowly enough for me to understand, that we had been granted a time slot which was too short( so there was a lot of looking at watches) plus they were late starting the session, & that we just don`t fit into their mind set at all! We usual...very disgruntled! I prefer to deal with the smaller tourist offices in Sauxillanges & Vernet le Varenne where at least the personnel are helpful. I live in dread of these offices closing down or being swallowed by the Issoire lot.

Spring is certainly here now with a vengeance. We have a garden full of primroses, violets & daffodils & the cowslips are just starting to come into flower too. We have also begun to do something with the central flowerbed where we had to take out the rose tree & lavender last autumn. We have thought long & hard as to what to do with this bed, as it really is the centrepiece of the garden & is the first thing that visitors see when they arrive. We loved the rose tree but have failed to find another one like it, so for the moment we have decided to just plant the bed up with low growing plants to provide some colour(& to stop people tripping over the edge of the plot!)& try different things in there until we find something permanent that we like. At the moment we have put in some campannula & pansy plants with a low growing pink potentilla in the middle. It looks pretty & is a good start...but more plants will follow when the weather improves. These poor plants got covered in snow 3 days after planting, when we had one of those freaky cold snap days we get here sometimes in March! Happily they seem to have survived! The birds too are really in full voice at the moment & the dawn & evening chorus is fantastic to hear. We are still waiting to hear the first cuckoo but I suspect it won`t be long now for that. We have also been experiencing the antics of a crazy blue tit that keeps hurling itself at one of our bedroom windows & then hovering there like a humming bird. Its a bit annoying to be woken up by him at stupid o`clock every morning just now. I hope that if it is some kind of mating ritual, he finds his beloved soon & lets us have a lie in. I will be tempted to introduce him to the cat if he doesn`t stop soon! I`ll let you know if he survives in next month`s post!