March - Sleepless in Chabanol


(Christine Phillips) #1

Unusually for us here in Chabanol, where everyone, including us, usually sleeps very well, we have had more than our fair share of unsettled nights this month. Some of the causes of this insomnia have been nice & exciting, but others have been more than a little worrying. I will start with the nice ones first!



There I was, on a normal Wednesday afternoon at the beginning of March when out of the blue comes a text message from my daughter Hazel asking if I’d like to meet her up in Paris the next day for a few days of sightseeing as an early Mother’s Day treat. Those of you who read this regularly or who know me, will realise that I am not a good traveller & need to plan things well in advance usually… unlike the said daughter who thinks nothing of doing things at the very last minute! However the lure of a couple of days playing tourist in Paris (which I love) & the thought of some serious mother/daughter time was enough to galvanise me into action! So after a bit of a sleepless night there I was on the train travelling to Paris…& at that point with no hotel accommodation booked of course! As Hazel predicted (hrummph!) everything worked out well & we had a super weekend re-visiting a lot of my old favourite haunts & doing some shopping…well Hazel was shopping. I just helped her spend her money - I like doing that! It is ages since I did something like that on the spur of the moment & it was really great to actually visit Paris again instead of just driving around the peripherique. I had forgotten how much I love the place & it was good to be able to take Hazel to some places& museums she’s not seen before. We must do it again sometime….!



The real sleepless nights stared soon after this trip. Part of Hazels thinking re the early Mother’s Day treat was that she & her brother (who if you remember is travelling for 6 months in Asia) were due to be meeting up in Japan at the end of March. All the terrible things that have happened in Japan over the last few weeks made me very anxious about this visit & I was sure they would call it off…but no! They are actually all there at the moment! Fortunately, they are in the south of the country, well away from the earthquake & tsunami devastation areas & also, more worryingly the radiation fallout areas. However, like any other mother I suspect, I would have preferred them not to go at all at the moment but they have assured me that they will stay safe & so “I’m not to worry” - fat chance of that happening, children dear! I shall stop worrying – & sleep soundly again- only when they are home safe & sound.



Another thing which has spoiled my beauty sleep lately has been the lack of gite bookings for the summer, a topic I touched on last month. The B&B bookings are still doing well but despite quite a few enquiries, & sending our a couple of contracts, until yesterday I still had no firm bookings, which is really quite late even for us. However, I am now pleased to report that I have a nice 2 week reservation for July so I can sleep better tonight…maybe! I think that “le crise” is finally biting hard in France & coupled with the price of petrol, holidays in the countryside where a car is essential just might not be so attractive this year. I also think (hope) that this might be the year of the last minute bookings with a vengeance.



On to more pleasant things now…I am pleased to say that Spring is now officially here in the Auvergne! My garden looks lovely with all the primroses, violets, crocuses & daffodils in full bloom, & the fruit trees are just coming into blossom too. The birds are singing away like mad & we heard our first cuckoo yesterday. We have had some super warm sunny days recently too & so have started to have lunch in the garden once again. Great! I love Spring – it is so nice to see the garden coming alive once more. Mind you Geoff is not so enthusiastic about having to start mowing the lawn again! And I have to admit that I’m not so thrilled with all the spring cleaning & washing of bedding that I have to do either to get the gite & B&B rooms ready for the season proper!



Just before that season proper starts in earnest we decided to have some much needed work done in the house to fix the chimney once & for all. We have had a full length flue/tube put in – standard requirements really but had never been done when the stove was installed by the previous house owner. We have also had panels put into the walls of the living room & our bedroom so that we can make use of some of the warm air which escapes up the chimney, & hope that this will make these rooms a bit warmer when we have the fire lit. I have to say that the two guys who did the work yesterday were great – worked really hard, stuck to deadlines & although there was some clearing up to do after they left, it was nowhere near as bad as I had thought it would be. The house is now spic & span & all ready for our next lot of visitors tomorrow!

No sleepless night for me tonight then…!


(Christine Phillips) #2

Thanks for all your comments guys. Means a lot to me that people are still enjoying reading the blog. I love writing it!


(Hilary Waldron) #3

A great read,Christine! I totally empathise with your worries about your travelling youngsters…been there,done that,got the t-shirt,several times over! The latest gem was when my youngest son was working as a divemaster on the island of Roatan,Honduras,last year & one night he arrived back at his apartment to be faced with a masked gun-man,demanding all his valuables! I found it difficult to rest easy after that for about 2 months,until he was safely back in the U.K!!
Last week we had the most beautiful weather here in Correze.My husband abandoned his renovation work in the grenier & took the garden by storm!!We had lunch in the garden on several days.Sadly it’s back to grey miserable rain this week!
Good luck with your gites for the summer.


(jayne watkins) #4

I love your writing style - and your stories are great too. Thanks.