May Musings

Very auspicious day today – my birthday! Having a lovely day – lots of nice pressies & cards from my family & friends & so many birthday wishes on Twitter & Facebook –thank you all, I’m overwhelmed & emotional! Before you all start saying it must be my age we’ll move swiftly along!

May has been an interesting month really. We have been very busy once again with Chambre dHotes guests – all of whom have been very nice people. We have done lots of evening meals too & I can feel my mastery of the French language improving with every meal that we do as we always eat with the guests in true table dhotes fashion. I can now hold my own with most of the conversations, relying on translations from Geoff only when the subjects stray into political or monetary areas which hold little interest for me in English never mind in French! We have also received some lovely feedback this month via personal e mails & also on the Les Hirondelles page on Facebook, all of which has made us very happy. It is always nice to see that the guests have had a good stay & have appreciated the effort we put into making them feel at home here. We had a lovely family (a couple & his elderly parents) staying the other night who were retracing his father’s childhood haunts as he used to holiday with his grandparents in one of the neighbouring villages. He (the father, who was 92 years old) was delighted to be back here & said it had rejuvenated him seeing all the familiar places of his childhood! One of the other couples who stayed even asked us to go & stay with them if ever we wanted a break – how nice 

Geoff has also been busy doing some work in the gite before our season starts in earnest over there. We have (with the invaluable help of our friend Ron –plumber extraordinaire!) moved & replaced the washbasin in the bathroom as it was always a tight squeeze in there really. The new smaller basin in its new position makes a huge difference & it is now a lot easier to get move around. As always a small job like that proved to be more complicated than we’d thought & we ended up having to retile some of the wall & the floor, as well as redecorating a bit too. All done now though! Geoff is also sorting out a couple of the kitchen worktops as they were becoming a bit tired looking. Its a temporary fix until we can afford to update the whole kitchen, maybe next year hopefully. The gite is now all ready for the summer onslaught!

The major topic of conversation round here (& in most of France by the look of it) has been the extraordinary weather. We have had almost a whole month of very high temperatures & hot sunny days. Whilst this has been very pleasant for all of us who love being outdoors, it has had its downsides – namely almost drought conditions. Here in the Auvergne we have so far avoided any water restrictions but it must have been very close I think. Other regions in France are already finding that they are no longer able to wash their cars, fill up their swimming pools or use sprinklers on their gardens. Our farmer friends here have been getting more & more concerned about the lack of rain as they watch their fields turn into dustbowls & the cattle strip all the grass. It makes my moans about having to water the flower pots every night pale into insignificance really! However, I’m pleased (?!) to report that yesterday & today have been very wet & so the land & my garden is already starting to look greener at last!

Our social activities have been a bit meagre this month. Its difficult to fit a lot of social things in when we are busy really – and I don’t feel much like entertaining when we are cooking so much for the guests. I did manage to go on the annual Croix Rouge summer outing the other day though & very nice it was too. We went to the northern end of the Ardeche this year & had a very long but enjoyable day. As usual the 70, 80 & 90 yr olds put me to shame with their stamina as they trekked up hills & endured a very long guided tour round a village in the hot sunshine (I went & sat in the shade after 15mins!). I also drew the line at paying a homage visit to a “famous” French singer’s grave as I, like most “foreign” folk, have never heard of him! There were lots of Gallic shrugs & raised eyebrows when I told them all that I can tell you! However, that said, it was good to have a day off & as always I enjoyed the company of my Red Cross friends very much.

The season of the vide greniers is in full swing here again. I do enjoy having a trail around all these sales although I have to say that my dearly beloved is not so enthusiastic & strangely enough often “forgets” to bring his wallet – I bet that surprises you all eh? We have been lucky recently to have found one or two “bargains” which is quite unusual as I find the prices here, ridiculous at times. One of these days I’ll get round to actually vide-ing our own grenier & taking a stall at one of these sales. I should make a fortune with all the “quality” stuff which is lurking in our massive attic! I can dream can’t I?

Do the vide grenier thing, both as buyer and seller.Most of our garden stuff came from these ( ‘garden’ being a courtyard the size of a snooker table, thus christened Hyde Park) plus light fittings, crockery etc etc.
We now do two a summer with my beloved’s tribe of sisters and in laws here in Le Centre.I even manage to offload ’ surplice to requirements’ stuff from my tribal art collection. I guess the beverage fuelled Sunday lunch makes punters part with money for the most extraordinary of things.
Last year we managed to sell enough kids toys to start a kindergarten to some guy who turned out to be a priest in 'civilian disguise’
Unlike most of the men of the cloth around here he seemed quite jovial and chilled.
Probably that lunch thing kicking in,the wine of course being blessed.