Phew its hot at the moment! Somehow I never sound satisfied with the weather do I? But it really has been an odd year so far with temperatures going reaching dizzy heights one day only to have winter type conditions the next. However after a week of very hot weather, I think I can truly say that summer has arrived in the Auvergne at last. I have even had to start watering the plants again, which is amazing after all the rain we had last month, but the ground is very dry already. As always here though, everything in the garden is growing like mad. It only seems like yesterday that we planted the tomatoes & courgettes & I harvested the first (of many no doubt!) courgette yesterday. The flowers are all coping nicely too & the scent in the garden, especially in the evening, is wonderful just now as the lavender, roses & the flowers on the lime tree blend to make a very heady fragrance. Evenings are my favourite time just now for sitting on the terrace when it is a bit cooler. I love watching the sun go down & listening to the birds saying goodnight engulfed in this heavy perfume from the flowers. My B&B guests enjoyed it so much the other night I thought they were never going to go to bed!
We have started swimming again too which is fantastic. My first dip of the tootsies in the water was a long awaited visit to the balmy waters of Royatonic. This is a thermal complex near Clermont Ferrand which many people (including my son & his girlfriend) have been telling us to go to for ages. My friend Lesley(FB & Twitter alias Tottie Limejuice) decided we both needed cheering up a bit at the start of the month when the weather was driving us both crazy, so off we went for a couple of hours of splashing about in the pools & bubbly bits there. It was great & I loved it all, especially the luxury of the scented pool…although I have to say I did also take up my son`s challenge & go in the frigidarium pool too. Not for long though, as it was absolutely freezing & only for those with a true sadistic bent! I was a little worried that all this softy stuff (i.e. warm water!) would spoil me for the delights of swimming in our normal watering place, the lake at Vernet la Varenne, but no, we also had our first dip there last weekend. It was a bit (no, a lot) different to Royatonic but I loved it too. There is nothing nicer on a hot day than to swim in that lovely refreshing (i.e. cold) water! Hopefully, that will be the first of many happy hours this summer again.
This month has also seen us eating out a lot too. Now, before any of you start to worry that Le Radin has changed his spots, I hasten to add most of the eating out has been done for free! A lot of Geoff’s students stop their lessons in the summer as they, like most of France go into slumber & holiday mode in July & August. Happily (for us anyway) some of them decided to round off their studies by inviting us to eat with them so we have spent 2 very pleasant occasions enjoying lovely meals with them at home..& speaking English too which was a bonus! The third student end of term meal, for one of Geoff’s conversation groups, was in a restaurant close to here which is run by some friends of ours. We had asked them to do a typically English menu & all the meal was conducted in English too… which was a bit of a struggle for some of the students…but overall good fun. The most amusing bit of the meal was when the cheese was served AFTER the dessert in true English fashion! It was very funny to see them all struggling with this concept & they just couldn’t bring themselves to eat cheese then! Auvergnats who wouldn’t eat cheese…now that is something you don’t often see! I must admit that it does seem strange to us too now though. We must be “going over to the other side” at last!
I was back at the same restaurant the following week when John& Pat, the proprietors, organised an art event there. I took my paintings & set up a stall in their garden & spent a very pleasant day chatting to folk who came to look round. I sold 2 paintings too which was a real bonus, so I was a very happy, if a bit knackered, bunny at the end of the day J. My art class has now finished for the summer but we have an exhibition running for several weeks in Billom (a pretty medieval town near here) during July & August, so we have been working hard to get ready for that. I haven’t been able to commit to “manning the show” very much as I never know from one week to the next what will happen in the B&B, but no doubt I will support as much as I can. It will be nice to see our hard work on show & maybe some of us will also sell something there too.
Business wise, much has been the same really this month. The B&B bookings continue to be steady but the gite bookings remain stagnant. Everyone is in the same boat here, or so we keep being told, & everyone is eagerly awaiting the “last minute” flurry of interest. I have to say that as far as I am concerned, it IS last minute time NOW…but I still don’t see the enquiries rushing in! Hopefully it will pick up but I am becoming more & more resigned now to having a poor year this year. The first gite visitors arrive on Saturday but then there is a mighty long gap until the next lot in August. If you are waiting until the last minute, now is the time my friends…!
Geoff, on the other hand, is still working very hard. Although a lot of his students have now stopped their lessons for the summer, he still has quite a few who are continuing all summer long. He has also been doing a lot of translation work in the last couple of weeks which has kept him glued to the computer! He doesn’t really like doing this type of work, & always tells people he is not a qualified translator, but he is doing more & more as it seems he is quite good at it. It demands an awful lot of concentration & makes him a very grumpy boy at times, not to mention depriving me of all my social networking opportunities as he needs the computer all the time! However it pays quite well & is, frankly, keeping us afloat this year, so I mustn’t grumble. In fact, he is champing at the proverbial bit to take control of the said computer at the moment so I will take the hint & bring this post to a conclusion. Hopefully I will have better news re the gite front next month…fingers crossed eh?