Phew…it has been hot this month hasn
t it? We get a little spoiled living up here on our hill as usually whist the folk in the valley swelter, we sit smugly up here with a nice little breeze blowing. Not this time though…we have suffered with the majority of France with temperatures into the high 30s. It has been too hot to sit outside most days – even under our lovely big shady trees - & so many hours have been spent hiding inside out of the fierce hot sunshine. Geoff & I have been having our usual arguments over open windows & closed shutters. I hate being in the dark inside…we spend enough time in winter doing that & although I know it makes sense to close the windows & doors to keep the heat out, I feel suffocated doing that too. So, he goes around shutting windows & I follow him opening them! The hot weather has also brought its usual plague of little biting flies which I hate with a passion. We have cows in the next-door field so there is no escaping the flies, but these little critters are vicious & they really do bite. I have used lots of my precious anti fly lotion this month trying to save myself from the itchy spots they inflict on me. Because it has been so hot we have been very lethargic & really havent done much this month. Geoff has still been working quite hard, although he has had lots of lessons cancelled (usually at the last minute) due to illnesses or his students having to work off site. He has enjoyed the teaching he has done though…especially when the offices have air con!
As you can imagine, we have been visiting the lake to swim & cool off a lot this month. I really will miss that lake, if & when, we decide to move away from here. At this time of the year we regard it almost as our own swimming pool as there are not many tourists about & a lot of the locals wait, for some unknown reason, until the summer holidays start. There is no lifeguard there just now & the paddling pool pontoon has not been sorted yet, but a whole load of sand arrived to make the little beach area the other day so it won’t be long before it is in full swing again. We usually prefer to arrive about 5.30pm when a lot of folk are leaving & so often have had fantastic cooling swims in practically deserted water…just as I like it! In fact, I get a little annoyed when people choose to stand chatting in my swimming “lane” …bah humbug! Seriously though it has been a life saver for us this month & we just love the place. We have noticed though a bit of tell-tale green weeds lately & we are just praying that when they start doing the daily analysis of the water quality, they don`t close the lake again like they did last year because of algae. Fingers crossed for that.
Our weekends have been quite busy with guests both in the gite & B&B. As usual the guests have been a varied lot…it is fun doing this hospitality job sometimes as it gives us the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. Our first B&B guests of the month were a young couple who had decided to treat themselves to an expensive meal at a local gourmet restaurant. Unfortunately, neither of them had thought to look at a map beforehand, as the restaurant was a good 40 mins drive from here, over the other side of the valley! They eventually got here after 11pm having chosen to eat first & both they & us were a little grumpy by then! Then we had a little family who were here for a wedding & although they arrived back at 3am (normal for weddings here) the children made no noise at all when they came in. The 2 little girls were still in their party dresses ( a bit grubbier than the day before but never mind) the next morning! A complete contrast for the next set of guests – 2 lovely teacher ladies who were here to conduct oral exams at a local lycee. They were a delight…so amusing & full of fun. The next weekend was very busy as we had agreed to rent the gite for just one night - (don
t do that normally as it is a lot of work) & had both B&B rooms full too with a group of family & friends, here to celebrate one of our friends granddaughter`s birthday. That all went smoothly, but boy was there a lot of bed linen to wash after that! This last week, we have had 3 motorcyclists in the gite for 3 nights & they were great guys, so we enjoyed their company. We also have another little family here tonight to round off the month. Looking at the diary the other day I see that we don’t have any guest (B&B or Gite) free weekends now until the 3rd weekend in September. Good news
Despite all this weekend business, we managed to fit in a Sunday lunch at the Margalou, with Mike & Linda before they set off for the UK once again. They are making slow but steady progress sorting out their permanent return to the UK now, but are still having problems getting their house back from their long-term tenants. They have both now been given good news re their health problems & so they are really ready to get on with the move.
As is the norm here it seems, we had our chimneys swept & our winter woof delivered during the hottest week of the year so far! We had to get the chimney in the gite done this year due to having had Romain & Armandine living there over the winter. Normally the wood burner in the gite doesn
t get used very much & so we dont do that chimney very often. Having seen & experienced the joys of new wood burning stoves whilst visiting friends recently, we have almost made the decision to replace our rather elderly big wood burner in the house for a more modern one which will be a lot more efficient. We love the look of the old stove, but it really doesn`t heat the house very well, so I think it is time for it to go. Geoff went off with one of our friends to collect our winter wood supply during the same week. Our wood supplier is living on borrowed time now (he has cancer) & so it is always a bitter sweet trip for Geoff as he likes this old guy a lot. He can no longer deliver his wood like he used to do, so a friend goes with his tractor & trailer & Geoff helps to load up the wood whilst enjoying a chat with the old boy. Of course, the delivery always hits the hottest day of the year - or so it seems. This year the temperature was 37c & so the wood had to stay in the car park, unstacked, until early the next day when it was a bit cooler. It is a lovely sight now though, a beautifully stacked pile of very dry seasoned wood. It can snow any time now then… we are ready!
Although we have now been living here in France for almost 11 years (where has that time gone eh?) the French administration & bureaucracy still manage to irritate us at times. Because the government has changed things yet again re the way teaching businesses like Geoff
s are registered & run, he has to resubmit a lot of information to a centralised organisation in order to continue running his business. For small businesses like Geoffs, it is a bit of a nightmare as the stuff they ask for is very complicated. However about 3 months ago he sent off this dossier & thought that was that. But no…back came an e mail last week telling him his dossier had been “rejectee” – & panic set in, as without this he can
t continue to do English training. Also, my dearly beloved does not take words like “rejected” well! As someone who has gone through most of his life passing exams etc with ease, rejection is not something he has had to deal with really! So, there were quite a few naughty words uttered until he finally managed to find all the extra stuff which was necessary…including a lot of stuff which made no sense at all in relation to the questions posed! He was not a happy bunny I can tell you but, fingers crossed, the resubmission will be successful. What amazes us the most about all this is that there are thousands of training organisations all having to do this, some of them big ones & some “one man” ones like Geoff. It must be taking hours having to look through all this data…a real “job for the boys” if ever I saw one. We also got in the post this week a little dossier from the RSI who are me my health provider - the one I pay into via my cotisations. We think basically it was to tell us that some of the payments we had to make to the hospital when I broke my wrist would not be reimbursed but as per usual there was no explanation as to why wed had to pay in the first place or what these payments were actually for. It is not a great deal of money fortunately but trying to understand these forms is just impossible…& remember we speak & read French very well. The French bureaucracy is totally incomprehensible at times!
s day saw us going down to Issoire in the evening to eat there & enjoy the usual fun of the Fete de la Musique. We always like this evening when some of the boulevard is made traffic free & different types of bands & entertainers play for free in the squares & outside the bars & restaurants. This year our entertainment was provided by such diverse performers, ranging from heavy metal bands to a group singing Occitan folk songs - neither of which floated my boat I have to say! My favourite was the guy who looks a bit like an older version of Donovan in his heyday, who smokes like a chimney but sings & plays guitar really well. He is there every year & always has big crowds listening to him. This tradition of free music concerts happens all over France on Midsummers day every year & is such a great idea. We were back in Issoire last night too as I joined Geoffs Café Anglais group for their “end of term” meal. It is such a nice group of people & I know Geoff really enjoys working with them. The meal was good too!
t been getting to my art class much recently, mainly because they have been painting an outdoor “mural” on the electricity transformer box in the village & frankly it is not my cup of tea at all. The mural looks quite nice, but the couple of times I did go to help, I found it very difficult with my wrist & gammy knee to paint standing on a rather narrow verge, I hated the paint we had to use & didnt like the brushes either. Not my thing at all I`m afraid so I have been watching the progress from a distance really. The group will be starting its usual holiday period soon & I am hoping the outdoor stuff will be finished by then & we can all go back to normal in September!
As the month draws to an end, the temperatures seem to be getting back to bearable levels & we even had some rain & storms this last week. The garden needed the rain & looks a lot better for it. My roses are in full bloom…including one of the new ones we planted to climb over the rose arch earlier this year. In fact, the whole garden is flourishing at the moment & we have already started eating lettuce, radishes, potatoes & courgettes from the potager. My raspberries & all the fruit trees are totally devoid of fruit though due to the hammering they took earlier in the year with the late frosts. Making jam this year is going to be limited to any fruit I can buy cheaply I think. C`est la vie I suppose.
Just one other item of news before we leave June, we have booked our annual cruise this week so I
m very excited about that! It wont be until October but it is something to look forward to. I also am in the process of sifting through the house sitter applications ( & there are a lot of them this year) & choosing what I hope will be the right people to sit for us while we are away. I`m very organised this year…I wonder what will go wrong!
A bientot mes amis.