Busy, BBQs and Big changes afoot

Well that was quite a month my friends, with a very big ending…but more of that later. We have been very busy all month both business wise and socially too. I am more than ready to see the back of August and have a bit of time to myself again…however I suspect that September will see us busy again but for different reasons.

We have had a full-on August with the BandB and gite and have had several “full house” nights with both rooms taken and our lovely family in the gite too. The car park has been very well occupied for most of the month! Our lovely returner family, the Reekies, had a good (and eventful) holiday as usual in the gite and made the most of probably their last visit to us. Their son, Matthew, kept Xena (and most of the other dogs in Chabanol) fully entertained and exercised for the fortnight they were here. Poor Charles though, had a problem with a tooth and eventually ended up seeing an emergency dentist at the hospital in Clermont Ferrand. Not something you really want when on holiday. Fortunately, with Geoff acting as interpreter, he got the problem sorted and he was able to enjoy the rest of his holiday. They also treat Geoff and I to a meal at Vivianes, which we appreciated. We like guests like them :blush:

Despite the fact that I am hardly advertising the BandB this year, it has been very busy all through the month. I did an 11 day stint of early rises, to do breakfast and the folding bed has been used several times in the family room giving us a big occupancy rate at times. We have had some smashing guests though this month and we couldnt have asked for nicer people to stay with us for our last summer here. Nothing like going out on a high I say. We have had people visiting to do sessions at the Musee dAmethyst in Vernet La Varenne, people breaking their journeys to holiday destinations further south as usual and people coming to see the region for the first time too. One family had a daughter who was just starting to play the guitar, so we had a lovely evening with her and Geoff playing guitars and singing! We also had a father and daughter stay for a week and we really enjoyed their company very much. We ended that week off by doing an apero evening in the garden, along with Karen, Charles and family from the gite. It was a lovely way to end their stay and to make memories which we will cherish when we are no longer doing this activity.

We also used our garden on a few nights to watch for shooting stars as usual. However, this was not very fruitful this year. The first night was too cloudy to see the stars, the second was a bit chilly to be sitting out but we did see a couple before giving in and the third night was very disappointing as we saw not one! We have done better on previous years and as again this will probably be our last shooting star season here, it was a bit disappointing really.

We have continued with our date days this month and have had some lovely days out. We were a bit disappointed with our trip to Culnhat as the nice restaurant there has changed hands and was OK, but not as nice as before. And then we went to have a swim only to find the dreaded algae had arrived in the lake, and bathing was forbidden :frowning: Our second outing was a bit odd too as we had to cut short our day and so we ate in Issoire which was nice but could find nowhere to swim (I still hate swimming pools!) and so we came back home and went off to swim in “our” lake instead. Our third day was to a nice little village up in the hills of the Haute Loire (St Vert) where we had a lovely lunch and then we went off to swim in another of our favourite lakes at Champagnac le Vieux which was lovely. And finally, this week we headed off to the Gorges d`Allier, ate at Lavoute-Chilhac ,then after a nice rest by the Allier, we drove home, as we had the chimney sweep coming and then finished the day in “our” lake again. We have noticed all through the summer, wherever we have gone for our date days, it has been very quiet with very few tourists about. Our lake has been the same…we have never seen so much space on the grass and so few folk in the water as we have this year. It has been super though, practically having the lake to ourselves at times and my swimming has come om leaps and bounds! One of the things I will really miss when we leave here are those evening swims in that lake.

Our village fete came and went without much engagement from us this year. The young fete committee have changed things dramatically and now make a big motocross course in one of the fields. This attracts a lot of motorcyclists and motocross enthusiasts, but frankly does not interest us one little bit I`m afraid. We did go up to the village with the Reekie family for lunch on the Sunday and of course we were there too for the fireworks in the evening but the event sort of passed us by this year. We did get invited to a great BBQ by some of the next village neighbours and we really enjoyed that. We had to eat inside, unfortunately as there was a mighty big storm complete with hailstorms that evening but we had a really good time catching up with all the village news and eating far too much food! I have never seen so much food at a BBQ before…way more than any of us could eat. I took a lime cheesecake dessert as my contribution and was hoping to bring some home…but it disappeared very quickly unfortunately, despite the folk here being wary usually of “foreign” food!

Geoff has had a pretty laid-back month, well apart from helping me with the BandB that is. He is still the best bathroom and toilet cleaner in the world! He has had the odd document to revise but no real teaching to do. He is still battling with the French administration over some things and frankly this is really getting him down now. One thing which has hardened our decision to leave here, are these continuing tedious back and fro-ing of documents and forms. He is also heartily sick of not getting paid on time in the summer months because “the person who deals with payments is on holiday”! Ive told him he should say next time this answer is given, that we cant go on holiday because you have not paid me!

French bureaucracy is certainly something we will not miss…and unfortunately, I suspect we will have more to do with it as we apply for French pensions and wind up our businesses.

And finally, the big news of the month. We have had an offer made on the property and we have accepted it. It is still very early days yet…we are hoping to sign some papers on Monday, but it looks like a goer. We have had a few visits during the month even though we said we werent keen when we had guests here, and then the guys who came last Monday did a second visit on Friday et voila…an offer, which, although is not at the asking price( we never thought wed get that honestly) is good enough. We had contacted another agent last week too, but the valuation he gave us was laughable. In fact, Geoff asked him (tongue in cheek) if it was for one house only! So now good people, we need you to collectively cross your fingers that this all goes smoothly from now on. As you can imagine my mind is all over the place now…so much to think about, so much to do. I think I will not be getting much sleep in the next few weeks!

We will of course be trying to keep things on an even keel throughout September. We have some BandBs booked in…including one of our favourite returner couples who will be staying with us on their way to and from their house in Spain. We also have a weeks holiday to take in Frejus where, as well as meeting up with some friends, we are hoping to have a little more of a look around and maybe view some appartments if we can, to convince ourselves that we can live in such a reduced space! Our lives are about to change again dramatically I think in the months to come. One of the things I have been doing in the last few days is to re-read this blog from the beginning to see how we coped with moving out here. It all makes fun reading…and also makes me see how much we have still to do before we finally leave this wonderful place. We certainly have had 13 fantastic years here though and it is all fully documented in this blog. I might even publish it as a book one day…would you read it if I did???

A bientot mes amis…