Home Sweet Home...who needs to leave it?

September has seen far too much travelling away from chez nous for our liking. I sometimes think we are never satisfied…we complain that we are stuck here so much in order to be on call for the B&B but when we get to go back to the UK we are always glad to get back home again! Both of us have had trips to the UK this month, Geoff has been twice & me once. Geoff’s first trip was for a sad occasion as one of our very good friends died & he went back on a whirlwind trip for her funeral. He had already booked a trip back to see her (she was very ill & the death was not unexpected) for a fortnight later so he decided to go again & keep the proposed meet up with her husband & his friends to try & keep all of their spirits up. Both trips were a bit hectic & he found all the travelling a bit exhausting…especially the drive up to see his mother. We are no longer used to the traffic chaos which is the norm on the M6! My trip back was a bit straining too. My good friend Tots had given me the flight as a birthday present (a big treat for me that!) & it was good to see the kids & my mother again. However, the travelling was a total nightmare. I am not a relaxed traveler at the best of times & always build in plenty of “just in case” time into my journey…which, as it turned out was just as well on this trip. My train to Paris sat at Moulins station for an hour, so that cut down my time for getting to the airport. Consequently my idea for a nice relaxed meal at the airport turned into a dash for the loo & a purchase of a box of pasta salad to eat on the plane by the time I got through the queue for passport control! But that paled into insignificance compared to the trip home! Again my planning had included plenty of time to travel by train from my daughter’s flat in Carlisle to Manchester Airport, check in comfortably for my flight, & then have an unrushed journey across Paris to catch the train home to Clermont Ferrand. All well planned you note…I don’t do running anywhere! It all came unstuck at Carlisle, where we sat for over hour waiting for a non existent driver for the train! There was no driver for the second train we had to board either & when we did eventually set off I knew it was going to be almost impossible for me to make the check in cut off point for my flight. My stress levels were now off the scale as you can imagine, as missing that flight meant missing my train & the next flight would not get me into Paris in time for the last train home to CF. When the conductor then announced that because the train was running so late it would have to terminate at Manchester rather than going on to the airport I lost it completely! Anyway, I did make the plane, but only by running(I don’t run remember) for what seemed a very long way from the airport station to the departure lounge, & pleading (breathlessly & tearfully) with the staff to let me board (I was way too late really), hassling an elderly couple who were taking forever to go through security checks – where I also had to take my case to bits to find all the toiletries, as I had originally planned to check it in - & finally arriving at the boarding gate just before they closed the plane doors! As you can imagine I was very distressed, hot, sweaty & must have looked like I was about to have a heart attack as the stewardess offered to take my case on board & gave me a bottle of water! I then found myself sitting next to a very glamorous fashion designer lady, who fortunately was very nice as I’m sure I looked a complete sight! I had calmed down by the time we got to Paris & all went well from there thank goodness. But boy was I glad to get home…totally exhausted but very pleased to be back in my nice calm eerie! I have been filling in all the compensation forms since I got home, more in hope than expectation, but nothing can compensate for a very stressful journey like that really.

So now what else have we been up to this month? Well, our daughter, Hazel & her boyfriend came out to stay with us for a week at the beginning of the month which was nice. It’s the first time we have met Phil & poor lad, it must have been a bit daunting having to stay with the “in laws” for a whole week! I put them into the gite to give them a bit of a bolt hole! By the end of the week though he was beginning to relax a bit & I think we “passed”! They had to leave on the Saturday morning as I had a very large wedding party to accommodate that weekend – I lost count of how many people were in the gite at the end & both B&B rooms were taken too. So all in all, it was a busy start to the month for us. We have had a few B&B guests staying throughout September which has been nice but bookings are definitely starting to tail off now so we are gradually beginning to have a bit more time to ourselves at last. We have taken a booking for the gite at the end of October (when incidentally we are on holiday – our son will have to cope!) & another, for New Year, as a favour for a friend in the village, to help accommodate all her friends who want to come & celebrate with her. We had thought to close the gite up again for the winter this year, but will do so after her friends have gone instead.

There are changes afoot in Chabanol too. Our lovely neighbour`s house has been sold, so we understand, to a family from Nantes who are to use it as a holiday home. That makes us a little worried at what is going to happen to all the land which is at the back of our house as it takes a lot of upkeep really & if they are not here often it will soon get overgrown. But we will have to wait & see. The other big news is that Chabanol will have its first baby for many, many years when our young neighbour Rachel gives birth next month. It is really nice to see young families settling into these country villages again.

We had our annual trip out to the Foire d`Auvergne at Cournon as usual, but we only just made it on the last day this year. It was a good day out & we enjoyed looking at all the exhibits. I have still to convince Le Radin that we really do need to buy a new bed & sofa though! I keep trying!

It has really turned very Autumnal here in the last few days with mists & damp weather bringing quite a big drop in temperature. We have been harvesting lots of blackberries so my jam pan has been working overtime as per usual. Fortunately the colder weather has also brought about the demise of the courgette plants (yeah!) so the period of eating courgettes with everything is now in the past again! The tomato plants will be the next for the chop as they are looking a bit sorry for themselves now too. Now that things have quietened down visitor wise I really must get out into the garden & do some tidying up as it does look a bit overgrown & tatty.

Geoff is well into the swing of things with his teaching again, although he has lost a couple of his best students, which was a bit of a blow for him. Our local newspaper, La Montagne asked if they could do an article about his English teaching the other day & when it was published it was very good. This has resulted in a couple of new enquiries so he was very pleased with that. My famous hubby!! He has also got his first e learning student, something he has been trying to get going for a long time so he is very happy about that too.

All of this is just as well as September always brings more than its fair share of bills & tax demands. Both of the cars CTs (French equivalent of the MOT) need doing too…all of which is very expensive. Although we both still love living here & doing what we do, it is still a struggle to make ends meet at times. Home sweet Home has its downside too unfortunately.

Finally, the countdown begins tomorrow to the long awaited holiday at the end of October. This is one time when I have no regrets about leaving the homestead as the lure of a week of doing nothing, is very welcome! I can’t wait to get on that cruise ship! More about that though, in next month’s blog post.

Thanks Judith. We are just having a week`s cruise around the Med..cheap & cheerful! Its great though to have a week of being waited on hand & foot & doing as little as possible!We still have B&B guests this week but after that it is much quieter. Perhaps we can arrange something then. I`ll be in touch.

Christine I love your articles, where are you cruising to? We only live a few kilometres away from each other, we must meet up, when?