May - what a washout - but with a rainbow ending!

We have lived here for nearly six years now – doesn’t time fly? - & I have never seen such a topsy turvy weather pattern as we have had so far this year. Just when we thought it was safe to get the parasol out of storage, May became one of the wettest months on record here for a very long time. We had several days of non stop rain which saw the water table rise to levels not seen here for several years. Our garden had a series of small lakes in it as the ground became totally saturated & our normally dry well was full to the brim. The worst thing of all though, was that because Chabanol is built on a hill (in fact our house is actually built into this hill) when the ground becomes as wet as this, water runs under the houses & eventually seeps up through the sub sol. One day we noticed that the kitchen floor tiles looked as if they had just been mopped....but they hadn’t! It was moisture seeping up from under the house. Most unpleasant & there was absolutely nothing which could be done about it. It continued like that for a couple of days & then fortunately the rain stopped & the sun returned, bringing with it the impression of living in a sauna as the water evaporated. It was much the same outside too as the very soggy earth began to dry out at long last. Lots of folk around here had the same problems as us & our neighbour reassured us that it only happens every 10 years or so! Oh good! Things have gone back to “normal” again, thank goodness, although there are areas of the garden which are still a bit wet even now. Lots of places in the Puy de Dome department were even worse off than us though with rivers overflowing & mudslides causing damage to houses. A neighbouring town actually made it onto the national news one night & even now some places are still having problems as a result of isolated downpours & thunderstorms. The brand new panoramic train (costing millions of euros) which takes visitors to the summit of the actual Puy de Dome opened for business on Saturday… & was closed again in the evening following a torrential rainstorm which sent rivers of mud onto the tracks. This is not usual weather at all…& I hope it soon stops!


As you can imagine, the garden has suffered a bit with all this rain. I had just planted up my pots & troughs with the normal “heat & dry conditions” loving plants & they soon became fodder for the multitude of slugs & snails which did like the wet! And now, when the warm weather & sunshine has returned, the grass & weeds are having a field day! Some good things have happened because of the rain though. The ivy, which covers the front of the house & which I had been very worried about after the cold earlier in the year, as it appeared very dead in places, has just had to be severely cut back as it was beginning to cover the windows! So much for it being dead!



We have continued to have a steady stream of B&B visitors again this month which has been nice. France’s many May bank holidays have paid dividends for us once again! I even had my first “full house” of the year last weekend thanks to a last minute demand for a room from an Australian couple who were accommodated in the gite for the night as both B&B rooms in the house were taken. I am still very worried about the gite bookings though as we are not getting as many enquiries for summer as usual. I have been talking to other gite owners around here & it seems that we are not alone in this. Perhaps this year “La Crise” is really beginning to bite here in France, at last. It is very worrying… & not easy to fix either. I am very reluctant to lower the price as we barely make enough money from the gite lets as it is. At the moment I am trying to remain optimistic that things will pick up soon.



Because we have been so busy this month, especially at the weekends, we haven’t really done a lot socially. We managed to fit in a visit to some friends who live near Vichy one Sunday afternoon & thoroughly enjoyed seeing their lovely house. It was, once upon a time, an old farm outbuilding but has been completely rebuilt as part of an ongoing renovation project by their landlord & is so beautifully light & airy. The landlord is now renovating more of the farm buildings for his own use & they even have use of the lovely swimming pool there too! Lucky them! We also were invited to a 50th birthday party in the village last weekend, which once again was all family…except us! It is very touching to be invited to share special occasions like that & we appreciate very much the way people round here include us so much.



And of course, earlier in the month was my early birthday trip to Paris with the children. They did me proud & I had a wonderful couple of days with them visiting the usual tourist sites & eating very well indeed! Geoff came up with me for the day on the Monday (using his senior citizen rail concessions for the first time!)& we all had a great family day together. We managed to embarrass the kids (thats what parents are for after all isn’t it??) by placing our padlock on “the bridge of love” at the back of Notre Dame & jettisoning the key into the Seine as tradition demands! There was much rolling of children’s eyes for that activity I can tell you! What with that & Dad’s new earring they are beginning to believe we are losing the plot I think! We stayed in a fantastic little apartment right in the centre of Montmartre & it was just lovely to be able to spend a bit of family time together. It was the best birthday present they could have given me & I loved every minute J



And now today is the dreaded birthday itself! The Big 60. Where did the years go? I am not that thrilled to be celebrating my sixtieth but there doesn’t seem much I can do about it…except lie that is! However I am always very pleased that folk tell me I don’t look that old & I certainly don’t feel that old! Geoff tells me I should “do something wild“like having a tattoo (NEVER going to happen, that!) but really I am very happy as I am thank you. I love living where I do, I love meeting all the great people we have staying with us, I have a fantastic husband & two wonderful children so I consider myself very content & very lucky. Just remind me I said that next time I’m aching at the end of a hard changeover day please! So far I’ve had a great day today with lots of lovely pressies, cards, messages & phone calls & Le Radin has even taken me out for lunch at one of our favourite auberges, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have decided now that the ironing & everything else can wait for another day & I’m off now to put my feet up for a bit this afternoon, as befits my new older persona. After all, once upon a time,in the good old days,


We have lived here for nearly six years now – doesn’t time fly? - & I have never seen such a topsy turvy weather pattern as we have had so far this year. Just when we thought it was safe to get the parasol out of storage, May became one of the wettest months on record here for a very long time. We had several days of non stop rain which saw the water table rise to levels not seen here for several years. Our garden had a series of small lakes in it as the ground became totally saturated & our normally dry well was full to the brim. The worst thing of all though, was that because Chabanol is built on a hill (in fact our house is actually built into this hill) when the ground becomes as wet as this, water runs under the houses & eventually seeps up through the sub sol. One day we noticed that the kitchen floor tiles looked as if they had just been mopped....but they hadn’t! It was moisture seeping up from under the house. Most unpleasant & there was absolutely nothing which could be done about it. It continued like that for a couple of days & then fortunately the rain stopped & the sun returned, bringing with it the impression of living in a sauna as the water evaporated. It was much the same outside too as the very soggy earth began to dry out at long last. Lots of folk around here had the same problems as us & our neighbour reassured us that it only happens every 10 years or so! Oh good! Things have gone back to “normal” again, thank goodness, although there are areas of the garden which are still a bit wet even now. Lots of places in the Puy de Dome department were even worse off than us though with rivers overflowing & mudslides causing damage to houses. A neighbouring town actually made it onto the national news one night & even now some places are still having problems as a result of isolated downpours & thunderstorms. The brand new panoramic train (costing millions of euros) which takes visitors to the summit of the actual Puy de Dome opened for business on Saturday… & was closed again in the evening following a torrential rainstorm which sent rivers of mud onto the tracks. This is not usual weather at all…& I hope it soon stops!


As you can imagine, the garden has suffered a bit with all this rain. I had just planted up my pots & troughs with the normal “heat & dry conditions” loving plants & they soon became fodder for the multitude of slugs & snails which did like the wet! And now, when the warm weather & sunshine has returned, the grass & weeds are having a field day! Some good things have happened because of the rain though. The ivy, which covers the front of the house & which I had been very worried about after the cold earlier in the year, as it appeared very dead in places, has just had to be severely cut back as it was beginning to cover the windows! So much for it being dead!



We have continued to have a steady stream of B&B visitors again this month which has been nice. France’s many May bank holidays have paid dividends for us once again! I even had my first “full house” of the year last weekend thanks to a last minute demand for a room from an Australian couple who were accommodated in the gite for the night as both B&B rooms in the house were taken. I am still very worried about the gite bookings though as we are not getting as many enquiries for summer as usual. I have been talking to other gite owners around here & it seems that we are not alone in this. Perhaps this year “La Crise” is really beginning to bite here in France, at last. It is very worrying… & not easy to fix either. I am very reluctant to lower the price as we barely make enough money from the gite lets as it is. At the moment I am trying to remain optimistic that things will pick up soon.



Because we have been so busy this month, especially at the weekends, we haven’t really done a lot socially. We managed to fit in a visit to some friends who live near Vichy one Sunday afternoon & thoroughly enjoyed seeing their lovely house. It was, once upon a time, an old farm outbuilding but has been completely rebuilt as part of an ongoing renovation project by their landlord & is so beautifully light & airy. The landlord is now renovating more of the farm buildings for his own use & they even have use of the lovely swimming pool there too! Lucky them! We also were invited to a 50th birthday party in the village last weekend, which once again was all family…except us! It is very touching to be invited to share special occasions like that & we appreciate very much the way people round here include us so much.



And of course, earlier in the month was my early birthday trip to Paris with the children. They did me proud & I had a wonderful couple of days with them visiting the usual tourist sites & eating very well indeed! Geoff came up with me for the day on the Monday (using his senior citizen rail concessions for the first time!)& we all had a great family day together. We managed to embarrass the kids (thats what parents are for after all isn’t it??) by placing our padlock on “the bridge of love” at the back of Notre Dame & jettisoning the key into the Seine as tradition demands! There was much rolling of children’s eyes for that activity I can tell you! What with that & Dad’s new earring they are beginning to believe we are losing the plot I think! We stayed in a fantastic little apartment right in the centre of Montmartre & it was just lovely to be able to spend a bit of family time together. It was the best birthday present they could have given me & I loved every minute :)



And now today is the dreaded birthday itself! The Big 60. Where did the years go? I am not that thrilled to be celebrating my sixtieth but there doesn’t seem much I can do about it…except lie that is! However I am always very pleased that folk tell me I don’t look that old & I certainly don’t feel that old! Geoff tells me I should “do something wild“like having a tattoo (NEVER going to happen, that!) but really I am very happy as I am thank you. I love living where I do, I love meeting all the great people we have staying with us, I have a fantastic husband & two wonderful children so I consider myself very content & very lucky. Just remind me I said that next time I’m aching at the end of a hard changeover day please! So far I’ve had a great day today with lots of lovely pressies, cards, messages & phone calls & Le Radin has even taken me out for lunch at one of our favourite auberges, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have decided now that the ironing & everything else can wait for another day & I’m off now to put my feet up for a bit this afternoon, as befits my new older persona. After all, once upon a time, in the good old days, I would have been off to collect my pension & bus pass today -I wish!



Have just re read this & realised that May was a very wet month last year too. Lots of similarities with this months blog post which is waiting to be published! However this year it has been so much colder..or am I fondly kidding myself? We are still lighting the fire every evening :(