Countdown to a Wedding – Part 1

I have decided to write this month`s blog post in two parts as we will not be back home until June! So here is part 1

May has arrived at last & we have spent most of it counting down the days to our daughter`s wedding. As I write this ( a little earlier than normal for the first part anyway as I want to get ahead of the game before we set off on the 27th), everything looks like its on course & the bills have started to arrive! Weddings are not cheap are they? This one is not really elaborate & it is still costing a small fortune. However we only have one daughter & thankfully we did have the sense to put some money aside a long time ago for this, so we will be OK. I dread to think of how we would have managed to pay for it all on the amount of money we earn now. The answer to that is “never” by the way! We are still in the dark about some of the finer points of the day but no doubt all will be well when we arrive in the UK...I hope!

I wanted to get some of this month`s blog done before we set off as it will be June by the time we get back & also I have quite a busy week then. So please forgive me if the post is not a “fluid” as normal...some of it will be written when we get back. I`ll start with the things we have been up to so far this month. The month started really well with the B&B & gite being full for the holiday weekend of the 1st May. We welcomed some old friends (Bertrand & Virginie) back to see us for the 5th time now. Bertand loves to compete in long distance Trails so he was running the 40km Trail d`Amethyste (he is mad) yet again & Virginie was doing the walk. The family in the gite were also returners having stayed here for a wedding last year. Two of the family were competing in the Trail too but doing different distances. The other couple who stayed with us were just here to take advantage of the long weekend & thoroughly enjoyed exploring the countryside. Everyone seemed to have had a good weekend & hopefully we will see some of them again next year. Since then the gite has had another occupant...there were supposed to be four but a last minute problem with the health of one of them meant that only one guy turned up. Poor soul must have been rattling in there (it is a big gite remember) but he seemed to enjoy his long weekend – although to be fair we didn`t see a lot of him as he went out for most of the day & the weather was not nice enough for sitting outside in the evening. Those holiday weekends apart, business is still really slow this year. I really am getting a bit bored now & could do with an upsurge in bookings. We have another couple here this weekend (yet another holiday weekend in France)who are coming for a wedding in the area, so all is not entirely lost but yet again we have not been as busy as last year for example. I hope things buck up soon.

The weather this month ahs not really helped I`m afraid. We have had some really scorching hot days, but then they have been followed by unseasonably cold periods. We are now almost at the end of May & are still lighting the fire in the evenings at times. Last night I drove home from my art class in a hailstorm & today it is so cold that Geoff did the dog walk clad in a fleece, down gilet, winter trousers, hat scarf & ski gloves. We have put out the garden furniture & parasols but I have to say they are not getting much use just now!

During one of the finer spells of weather, Geoff managed to get his potager (vegetable garden) dug over & planted up & mainly due to the sunny days followed by rainy days, the plants are doing very well. The flowers are looking good in the garden too although they are not lasting long as they keep getting battered by wind & rain. My muguet (lily of the valley) was in full bloom for the 1st May (it isn`t normally) & I was able to make up lots of posies to give to friends as is the tradition here. By giving muguet you are also giving bonheur or happiness & good luck.

I took some of these posies for all the ladies when we “ladies wot lunch” met up at Mutas one day. As it was a holiday, we allowed the menfolk to come too so there was a good gathering with Mike & Linda, Geoff & I, Tots & Alex (who has been here on holiday for a month)& of course our lovely hostess Muta. Poor Muta has been trying to sell her house which is beautiful, but quite big & difficult for her to cope with on her own, as it also has a lot of land. She had thought it was sold & had packed up a lot of her possessions ready to move only to have the deal disappear on her. However, she had dug into boxes & managed to find crockery & even matching tablemats so we had a lovely lunch all together. They all had another lunch out last weekend but as we were cleaning the gite that day we joined them for coffee & then Linda, Mike & Muta came back here for the afternoon. The boys went off for a walk & we ladies put the world to rights over a cup of tea in the garden...It was one of the fine sunny days!

Geoff & I also went to an “aperitif” open night at one of the new restaurants (le Table d`Arthur) in Issoire the other night. It was quite a clever bit of PR as all the chambre d`hotes people in the area had been invited to sample a bit of the cuisine & meet each other. The food was lovely so I suspect we will all be recommending the restaurant to our clients. However it was nice to meet the other people & be able to put faces to some of the names we see in the brochures.

As well as the garden looking lovely at the moment, it is also full of nesting birds. We have at least 5 nests that we know about, goldfinches in the ivy, blackbirds in the lilac trees, tits in the nest box & in holes in the wall of the atelier, & best of all another family of tits on the windowsill of the gite atelier, between the window & the shutter. This nesting place is our favourite as it is possible for Geoff to climb up onto the mezzanine in the atelier & take photos of the chicks, through the window without disturbing them. We are posting the photos on FB at regular intervals & it is fantastic to be able to see the baby birds’ progress. I suspect they will have flown by the time we get back after the wedding. We have also been thrilled to see some hirondelles (swallows) back flying over the garden once again. When we first came here we had lots of them, although no nests unfortunately. Then one spring we had a really severe cold snap in May & lots of the birds were killed. Since then we have not seen any here...until now. Needless to say we are delighted to have them back :)

Ok...we are off early doors tomorrow. I am waiting for our house sitters to arrive, the cases are packed, all is up to date in the house & Geoff is trying to fit a weeks worth of lessons into one day today! I am feeling quite calm as everything looks as if it is on schedule over in Carlisle. Even the cake is made & assembled I understand! Hazel normally makes the Christmas cake & ices it on Christmas Eve so having a cake ready several days before hand is not normal! I will post part 2 when I get back ...& then you will see if everything was really as ready as I am hoping! I am sure we will all have a great day no matter what! All very exciting now :)