High days & Holidays

I feel as if its only yesterday that I wrote last month`s blog & here we go again! I am also doing this one without the benefit of my usual memory jogging notes...somehow I don`t seem to have made my usual list this month so I hope I can remember everything! Ah well...here goes...

October started off with us being quite busy, which was good. We had a nice English couple stay with us on their way home from holiday in Spain, & then Gordon & Julia, who had stayed on their way down to Spain a couple of weeks ago, came back on their way home too. We also were really pleased to have Keeley & James visit us again. I couldn`t believe it was 5 years since they were last here. So much has happened to them in those 5 years...they have married, been made redundant, got new jobs & bought an old cottage in Kent! It was lovely to see them again though & as luck would have it they were here at the same time as Gordon & Julia so we all had a great meal together & Gordon was able to drool over James`s Porsche- he has an old one too! It was a lovely start to the month...& they may well have been our last visitors this year as the diary is now empty. I did get an enquiry for the gite, but as the family wanted to arrive at 11pm on the day we were going on holiday, I declined. I somehow thought that would just be too much for our house sitters to cope with really!

With the house back to ourselves, we had time at last to do a bit of ongoing maintenance. Geoff finished off varnishing the gite shutters & Francois ( our wonderful handyman) came back to change the window in the gite bathroom & the heated towel rail in our bathroom which decided to go on the blink just as it started to get a bit chilly. We also had some time to tidy the garden a bit – although the raspberries, courgettes, carrots & tomatoes were still going strong in the potager right up to the time we went on holiday. Now that we are home again, we need to sort that out & get the veg patch ready for winter. The weather so far is still quite mild though & so I still have quite a few plants in flower in the garden including the nasturtiums & geraniums...& bizarrely a clematis which normally flowers in spring(& didn`t this year)is looking lovely just now! The first frosts will no doubt arrive soon & that will be the end of them I suspect.

Before we went away, we took a trip across to Sancy & had a spectacular walk around Lac Pavin – one of our favourite places. The autumn colours are just magnificent this year over there & the lake looked so beautiful with the beech tree leaves contrasting with the turquoise of the water. It really took my breath away. We were a bit annoyed that as per usual there was nothing open – no chance of a coffee or a snack up there, as the season has ended! We had to drive back into Besse & buy stuff for a picnic which we ate on the lakeside. It was very quiet too...I struggle to understand sometimes why there are not more visitors here in autumn, as the countryside is stunning just now. We couldn`t help but think that on such a lovely day, the Lake District in the UK for example, would be packed with walkers & tourists & the cafes & restaurants would be cashing in. Not here...dead as a dodo. Its such a shame.

We also managed to squeeze in a meet up with our friends Linda & Mike. We took them to eat at Le Margalou in the village & had a great time catching up with their news. They too are having a pretty hectic time with trips to the UK, visitors coming to them & they are off to the States...in fact they are there now...for a little holiday. Mike & Geoff took Bounty for a walk after we`d eaten, whilst Linda & I caught up with more news over a cup of tea chez nous.

The week before we went away was a bit hectic as Geoff tried to cram in as many teaching sessions as he could. Its always the same when you are freelance...if you don`t work you don`t get any money! So a lot of the holiday preparation was left to me. As many of you will know by now I am not a “relaxed” traveler, so I thought I coped very well with all the last minute hitches, such as the beloved Ryanair site refusing to let us check in for our flight & our holiday house landlord messing us about a bit re payments! Our house sitters arrived on time, a lovely young Australian couple who were having the holiday of a lifetime travelling around Europe. They were really looking forward to having a break & somewhere to call “home” for the next 10 days. As I watched them on the evening before we left, sitting with Masie on Allanna`s knee & Bounty snuggling up to Jo, I knew the animals, at least, were in good hands for the next few days!

Our holiday was great. It was all a bit different for us this year as we set off to Marseille, not to board a cruise ship as usual, but to catch a flight to Malaga in Spain for a week with our daughter & son in law, & Phil`s dad too. Our house was in a great location, just about 200 metres from the sea, with a promenade full of lovely (& not expensive) restaurants, bars & cafes. We were able to spend some great family times eating, drinking, swimming & sight seeing together. The weather was good – except for the first day when we had a really bad storm just as the kid`s flight was due to arrive - they even had an aborted landing because of the rain & poor visibility! Hazel, Geoff & I were able to swim in the sea every morning which was great – the water was cold but not as cold as our usual lake water! We also went to see some great places which we`d never visited before. We failed to get into the Alhambra (much to Geoff`s disappointment) as the visits were totally sold out for weeks ahead , but visited Cordova instead which was mind blowing. We also strolled along the prom at Marbella & visited some sweet little mountain villages as well as thoroughly enjoying Malaga itself. So all in all it was a great success. I have to say though, that the more I stay in other peoples holiday accommodation, the more I see that our guests here get a great deal! The hotels we stayed in en route to & from the airport at Marseille were not very welcoming & were quite dingy with very little in the way of the little extras which we provide – tissues, soaps, tea & coffee etc. The holiday house itself, whilst clean & in a great location, was sorely lacking in what I would consider basic equipment. There was no hair dryer, no WiFi, no kettle, a very old fashioned coffee pot, no towels (even though I had asked) & I had to make up the beds when we arrived! There was no “welcome” stuff either...I always put a bottle of wine, local cheese & a small pot of jam in the gite for my visitors, & I make sure that I leave enough loo roll in the loo so that they don`t have to make a sprint for the nearest supermarket when they arrive...unlike this house! I tell you, my gite is a palace compared to that! However we did have a good time there, the roof terrace was wonderful & we loved having an apero up there each evening before we went out to eat & eating family breakfasts up there too each morning looking at the sea.

We are now in a very brief transitional period this week as we try to sort out all our post holiday stuff, Geoff once again tries to cram in lots of lessons, & I get the house ready to welcome our next lot of Australian house sitters before we fly over to the UK on Friday for our grandson`s christening. The poor animals don`t know what has hit them as they struggle to cope with all this and the hour change too. Its definitely all go here at the moment!