June, a month of Jollies & Jaunts but still in Jumpers

As you may have gathered from the title of this month’s post, we still have nasty weather here in the Auvergne...& indeed, in most of France come to that. We are still having to put heaters on & are clad in winter gear most days. It really is very depressing. We have eaten out on the terrace a couple of times this month but for every good summer like day, there are six others which are bobbins. We have managed to swim twice in the lake but the water was not exactly “toasty”! Everyone is thoroughly fed up with it all now...but maybe, just maybe, we are about to see some improvement next week. I only hope it stays nice for the rest of the summer now as people are beginning to start “les grandes vacances” now & we folk in the tourist industry really don’t need another poor season.

We have had an “up & down” sort of month really with several high spots, & of course, some not so good things, that have happened. To start with a high…I have my hens! They have settled in nicely now despite the attentions of Bounty who has worn a track round the hen palace trying to make their acquaintance in more depth! I love them! They are such characters…Florence is the bossy one & Elizabeth is always trying to escape! They laid eggs for the first three days & then stopped (settling in we supposed) but now have started laying again. I love finding the eggs…such a child! We hope to have a run for them soon courtesy of a friend who wants to get rid of hers so they will soon have a bit more freedom. Elizabeth will be pleased about that! We just need Bounty to get bored with them now & all will be well :)

We have also had fun watching the progress of the redstart chicks in the nest behind the atelier shutter. We were able to take photos of the nest from the laying of the eggs until the chicks fledged. Our own personal Springwatch...fantastic! And just to add to our delight, the birds have now laid a second batch of eggs so we can start all over again :) The photos can bee seen on the Les Hirondelles, Chabanol Facebook page if any of you missed them first time round.

Our first summer gite guests were pretty lucky with the weather, choosing a week which had several sunny days in it & when for once, the temperatures were not too bad either. They had come to help their friends in a nearby village celebrate their golden wedding...& they had a great time doing so! The group consisted of seven people who stayed in the gite for a week & two other couples who stayed in the B&B for the weekend. They had all lived in the same street in a Paris suburb for many years, but were now a bit dispersed throughout France. They were perfect guests in many ways, as they spent most of the time with their friends, eating there & going out walking most days. Consequently they used very little gas & electricity as they only came back here to sleep really! They were a lovely group though & it was nice to see them all really enjoying each others company. We have also had B&B guests here who were attending a baptism & this weekend we have guests here who are for a wedding. This is my last weekend of virtual freedom now though for quite a while as the summer visitors start in earnest next week. No more Sunday “lie ins” for me for quite a few weeks. In fact until the end of August!

To make the most of the time we have had before the summer onrush we have been enjoying the chance to eat out with friends this month. I had a great lunch with my pal Lesley (Tottie Limejuice as some of you know her) at her house. Linda & Muta (two other friends I have met through FB) were there too. Tots is a true eccentric & as usual lived up to her reputation that day! She greeted us in a very sunny outfit (bright yellow of course) & we ate lunch in her tent which she had erected on her deck…as you do! It proved to be a great idea on her part as there were the usual showers of rain which have become commonplace this summer & we were well protected from the chilly wind inside the tent! The lunch was terrific…& it was great to see Tots eating well again after her recent ups & downs with her health & diet. We all had a great day & enjoyed ourselves a lot. Geoff & I were also invited to lunch with another friend Judith, & her husband, Edward who live not far from here & who also have a gite. Gite is not quite the word I would use though to describe her accommodation…think more on the lines of chateau! She rents out half of her lovely house & it is superb. We had a lovely meal with them & some French friends who were staying with them at the time. It was great to meet her at last as we have “spoken” many times on FB & I hope she & Edward will come & see us here very soon too.

Unfortunately, amongst all this gadding about we have had some not so good (& of course, costly) things happen to us this month too. The first of these was that our TV suddenly went off…right in the middle of the French Open tennis tournament too - it’s the only chance I get to watch good tennis coverage so I was not amused! We had to call out someone to fix it as it was obviously something to do with the aerial. After a costly hours hunting for the problem, the guy finally found that the aerial lead had been cut through cleanly… probably when my dearly beloved had been cutting back the ivy on the front of the house. No comment!

The next thing was the sudden & unwelcome appearance of water seeping out from under the shower cubicle in the gite, just before our guests were due of course! If ever I was to give advice to anyone thinking of starting up a venture like we have here, it would be to take a course in plumbing before they did so! These plumbing problems always arrive just before guests are due! Fortunately, the plumber was able to come & fix the drainage pipe which had somehow become disconnected under the cubicle, before the guests arrived thank goodness…but it was a close run thing!

The last, & most costly of all thing which we have had to have done is fixing the chimney installation after the latest & most scary chimney fire we had last month. We only had this installation done two years ago but the firemen who came out to the fire were not happy with it & nor was the guy we got to come & inspect it afterwards. The upshot of it all is, that we have had to have the whole thing redone & the vents which had been installed to help heat up the living room & our bedroom closed up as they were illegal apparently. We now have a nice new flue, which meets all the regulations…& are several hundred Euros worse off! It remains to be seen whether we can recoup some of our original outlay from the firm who did the work first time round. We were not happy bunnies as you can imagine!

I have, as in all good tales, saved the best couple of “jollies & jaunts” until last! As “payment”for the teaching I did for Geoff last month, I suggested we treat ourselves to a couple of nights away before the summer season started. Geoff, as always, was reluctant to go anywhere as we have to sort out the dog (& hens now) & it is always difficult for him with his teaching commitments. So I decided to go with my friend Linda to visit yet another couple, Susie & Mike, who I have “met” through FB, & stay in their B&B in the Lot. An added bonus here is that Susie also runs art courses & I was very keen to do some painting whilst I was there. We had a fantastic time with them & really enjoyed three days of eating, relaxing, visiting old family holiday places & learning some new art skills too. It was a pity that the weather remained stubbornly chilly or I could have added swimming in their pool to that list! We really had a great few days & thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Geoff has now gone off on a jolly of his own too this weekend! He set off this morning to meet up with Matthew in Paris & they are going to the Springsteen concert at the Stade de France tonight. This is his birthday present from the children & he was so excited when he set off! I hope they have a great time & I can’t wait to hear all the details when he returns tomorrow. I only hope he stays awake as The Boss is renowned for carrying on into the wee small hours with his concerts! Matthew was hoping he would remove his earring & not wear his “pretty” scarf today as it is also Gay Pride weekend in Paris, but no joy I’m afraid! It is one of life’s great pleasures to embarrass your children after all isn’t it??