As the title of this post suggests we have had a very hot...& busy August. We have seen temperatures in the high 30s some days which has been nice for our visitors but not so nice when you have to work! Actually it was too hot really at times & we found we were unable to sit outside – even in the shade of our lovely big trees. Geoff & I have had our continual running battle over closing the shutters. I know it makes sense to try & keep the house cool, but I hate sitting in the dark (our winters are too long for that to happen in summer too) & I find closing the house up like that is stifling. So as fast as he closes, I go round opening them & windows too if I can, to let any passing breezes in! The really hot weather seems to be over now so we can get back to some semblance of normal routines thank goodness.
Now that the “quinze aout” (Fr public holiday) has been & gone things have quietened down considerably. We always find it hard to understand why our phone stops ringing, enquiry e mails stop arriving & everyone packs their bags & heads for home to get ready for “le rentree” after the 15th August. It always seems very early for us Brits & especially when the sun is still shining big time. This year we did continue to be busy for the weekend after the 15th but it has all gone as dead as a dodo now. We have had a very busy August though, I`m pleased to say, both with the B&b & finally due to a last minute booking , more people in the gite. We started the month with our lovely English family still in residence & then had a week with the gite being empty so I ended up putting some people in there for B&B as I had lots of B&B enquiries around then – especially for Friday nights. This meant that one Saturday morning I actually had to serve breakfast to 12 people. That was a bit of a struggle but it all worked out in the end! This year has seen us very busy on Friday evenings, but less so during the week...& also lots more families with 2 or more children - usually wanting just one room too . I have done my best to keep everyone happy but it has been very tiring doing all the laundry etc. I have even had to make use of my “emergency “ supplies of bedding at times, not to mention dashing to get stuff washed, dried ironed & back onto beds in a day . Thank goodness the weather was hot & stuff dried very quickly :) Our B&B visitors have been a varied bunch this month too including a lovely young man from Martinique who was here visit the places he remembered from childhood visits to his grandparents. Although the rest of us were baking in the heat, he refused to have breakfast outside all week as he found the mornings too chilly! Our last minute booking for the gite was a group of 4 young people who were lifelong friends & who thoroughly enjoyed all the sporting opportunities offered locally. They walked, climbed canoed & cycled all week & had a great time. Now we have a young couple in the gite who are here for a few weeks, whilst they look for a house in the area. This is a new thing for us as we have not really done any long period letting before, but we decided when they asked that it was better for the gite to be occupied than standing empty. So far so good, but I`m not sure how things will go when the weather gets colder. Our gite is not the easiest place to heat really. We will see.
Xena has coped very well with all the comings & goings of guests this month. She was very sad to see the departure of the R family from the gite, who had kept her highly entertained during their fortnights holiday. We were sad to see them go too, as we had to start playing with her again after they had gone! We think that we have got her digestive problems as sorted as it is possible now. She had a very expensive visit to the vet early in the month who diagnosed chronic inflammation & irritation of her gut, probably caused by the very bad tapeworm infestation which she arrived with. She was given a lot of pills & powders to take & some specialised (& very expensive ) dog food, all of which seem to have sorted her out. I don`t think her gut will ever be really perfect but she is definitely a lot better than she was, thank goodness. She doesn`t ever seem to understand that she can`t play with a ball all day long , even in the heat of the day & when her humans are wilting, though!
While it was so hot we were very glad to be able to escape into the coolness of the house & watch the Olympics. As usual , especially in the first week, we did get very fed up with endless coverage of judo & fencing, which the French are supposed to be so good at. I find these bouts really tedious spectator sport (probably because I don`t understand what is going on) but the French really love them & so they take precedence over everything else...unless of course there is a French competitor in an event elsewhere, in which case we get to see him/her compete, but no more of the competition! It does get very frustrating at times! Geoff was particularly disappointed that there was a lot of handball & basketball coverage here, but very little ladies beach volleyball! Can`t think why he would be interested in that, can you?? However, overall we did enjoy the Olympics & it did help us to stay out of the sun.
We had a very hot day for our village fête this year. I had hoped to have been able to take a stall for the brocante – I have been trying for years to get rid of some of the stuff in our attic – but as usual I got last minute B&B bookings which put the kibosh on that yet again. In the end though I was pleased not to have been standing around all day in the fierce heat. This year the village had an exhibition of old working harvesting machines & Geoff was in his element watching these & re-living his days as a child helping with the harvest on his grandfather's farm. All in all we had a nice day & the fireworks at night rounded it all off very nicely. We really enjoyed the fireworks at the lake too the following weekend which were as spectacular as usual. Its always a bit sad watching that display though, as it marks the end of the summer season for us.
At the beginning of the month, we were a bit dismayed to discover that “our” lake was closed for bathing due to some nasty toxins in the water caused by algae. As most of you who are regular readers of this blog know, having a swim in the lake at the end of a busy day is one of our summer pleasures so to find it shut when it was so hot too was a disaster for us...& our visitors too. It remained closed for a while so we decided it would be a good idea to try & test out some alternative plan d`eaux & swimming places in the locality. Thus Thursday afternoons have become our “date days” this month & we have enjoyed having lunch out & a swim in different surroundings each week. We went to the plan d`eau at Culnhat, Champignac le Vieux, Lac Chambon, Lac d`Aydat & Geoff even swam in the Allier River - although I declined that week as the water was too cold. It has been a good thing to do & although we have enjoyed all these new swimming places, we are very happy that we have “our” lake at Vernet la Varenne back in action again now. It is so convenient for us to tootle up there for an hour or so in the evening when all the work is done. The lifeguard will be putting his flag away for another year today, but if the good weather continues we will carry on swimming there until the water gets too cold even for us hardy Brits!
In spite of being so busy we did manage to get to another wedding this month. Our good friends Julie & Jean-Luc `s son got married...& had their little girl baptised at the same time. It is always interesting to be able to go to these ceremonies & to observe the differences between the customs here & back in the UK. In this instance the baptism was in the church at Ambert, then we all made our way to the marie for the official civil wedding ceremony (which is always quite an informal affair in our eyes, with folk chatting & taking photos throughout) & then back to the church for a religious service. It was a lovely day though & we were a bit disappointed that we had to leave after the service as we had B&B guests due that evening. Mind you, we were so tired by that stage I`m not sure we would have lasted out at the evening do! We did however join the family once again for the next day`s gathering (yes ,wedding celebrations here tend to go on for 2 days)...arriving just in time to enjoy a wedding cup cake or two :)
As is our usual habit, we took delivery of our winter wood last week...on one of the hottest days we could have chosen! As our wood supplier is too ill & frail now to deliver his wood, a friend, who has a tractor & trailer, helped out with the delivery . So there we were, in the heat of the day stacking wood ready for the winter...as you do! There is something very satisfying about seeing a good woodpile ready for any bad weather the winter can throw at us! Have to say though, it was not very pleasant stacking it in this heat!
Our 10th anniversary of coming to live here got a bit lost amongst all the busyness. Sometimes its hard to believe that we have been here for 10 years..or that I have been writing this blog for all that time too! We still don't regret our move out here one little bit. Apart from never making much money & the consequent depletion of our savings, we still love the life here & still think of it as being the best thing we ever did with our lives – apart from having the children of course! So its onward & upwards into September now & the onset of autumn , which is always my favourite season here. The trees are already starting to turn a bit so I think it will be a stunning show of colour this year. Lets hope so. A bientot mes amis.