Sea, Sunshine &…Sneezes!

My goodness, this year is disappearing so quickly. I can`t believe that a whole month has gone by since I wrote the last update. Mind you we have had a great holiday during this month, but that too seemed to go by very quickly. I must be getting old! So then, what have we been up to in October then… well apart from the holiday, not a lot really!

We have only had 2 lots of B&Bs this month so things on the business side have been very quiet. Both couples were very nice though & it is always a bit more cash going into the bank I suppose. The second couple were on a walking tour of the area & so walked in & out of Chabanol. It was a bit strange not having to rearrange the car park for once! I also cooked a meal for them as I could hardly expect them to hike anywhere for their dinner. I am not keen to do meals any more but will always make exceptions in the winter & for guests like this.

Although we have had some really good weather this month…a real Indian summer with lovely sunny days & warm enough to sit in the garden on several occasions, the evenings & early mornings have been chilly. We have only just made the decision to put the garden furniture away last weekend & to put the geraniums into winter storage. Just as well as we woke up to a lawn covered in frost this morning. All the trees have been looking magnificent in this Autumnal sunshine, but now the leaves are really starting to fall in a big way! Geoff spent a busy morning this week raking the leaves off the grass & transporting them up to the potager to spread over the soil there. We have also made the big decision to change the wood burning stove at long last. We love our old Godin stove but it really is very inefficient. So, after another chat with our local installer, & a look at all the options we have decided on an “inset” type stove which will allow some of the heat to go into our bedroom too. We hope it will all look OK in our fireplace (I don`t want to spoil the look of that really) & will do what we expect of it. It will be good to reduce our electricity bills too if all works out as we have been told. You are a bit “in the hands” of all these expert guys, so it will be fingers crossed until we see how it all works out. The new stove is already here, being stored in the gite for now, & we are hoping it will be installed next week. I will be glad to see it in situ & hope it will keep us cosy, now that the weather has turned decidedly colder. The clock change at the weekend has brought the darker evenings now…& has upset me & the animals as per usual. I hate these clock changes…my body takes ages to adapt & the animals protest loudly at the later (to them anyway) feeding time! I know just how they feel!

And now for the main event of this month…our holiday. We had a great time & it was so nice to see the sea again. I do love living here but it is about as far from the sea as we can get in France! Having welcomed & installed our lovely house sitter Lauren & her old dog Bob, who was looking forward to a nice quiet week chez nous, doing very little & enjoying the walks around here, we set off southwards. We spent the first two nights in Frejus, which is somewhere we wanted to explore, as it is one of the places we have in mind for maybe buying a retirement apartment in a couple of years’ time. Our hotel was in Frejus Plage, about 5 minutes’ walk from the beach & sea front. It was a very nice, quiet area & we liked it very much. We enjoyed walking along the sea front & eating seafood there…not to mention having a swim in the sea :blush:. The next day we drove along the corniche connecting Frejus/St Raphael to Cannes, Antibes & Nice. It was a stunningly beautiful drive, helped by some fantastic sunny weather. The only down side was the huge amount of serious looking, lycra clad cyclists who were a flipping nuisance really on that narrow bendy road! We looked at several places en route, noting the pluses & minuses of maybe living there in our retirement. It was a very useful exercise all told & we now have a much better idea of what & where is possible & what is not. We returned to Frejus by the autoroute, testing times from Nice airport which is also one of our criteria for living in this area, its accessibility to the UK. On the Sunday, we drove to Marseille & boarded the MSC Armonia to start our cruise. Again, we had a great time visiting some really lovely places such as Mahon in Minorca, Calgiari ,Valetta in Malta, Messina, Naples & Genoa. We had a cabin with a window this year & I loved just watching the sea. I do miss the sea! The ship itself & the service on board was not as good as other cruises we have been on, but the great company we had at our dinner table & the almost empty swimming pools on the sun deck, plus the fantastic weather we had all week more than made up for that. Our dining companions soon became good friends & we enjoyed their company all week…often staying up way past our normal bedtimes to chat, dance & drink with them in the evenings! They were a bad influence…but great fun too. So, if you read this Carolyn, Amanda, Jean & Ewen, thank you all …we loved your company :blush: We can also say now that we know Ewen Macgregor personally …well the one from Dunblane anyway!

Coming back home was its usual shock to the system. Gone were the Mediterranean temperatures, the sea & the service to which I`d become accustomed…back to reality with a bump as I spent the next week washing, ironing, cooking & looking after guests! We also both started coughing & sneezing which was not appreciated at all. I am still sneezing but am getting better. However, we had had a good break & we both appreciated that very much. Geoff is now back working all hours trying to get contracts completed & I seem to have slipped into my usual pre-winter lethargy of not getting up early & catching up on social media stuff on the computer!

Before we went away we were invited to a retirement do in the salle de fetes at St Etienne sur Usson. One of our friends was taking his retirement & had decided to have a party to celebrate We had a nice time, although I do find the French habit of standing around for hours having apero type nibbles & drinks at these dos, really tiring. We didn`t start to eat until 10pm, having arrived as requested at 7.30pm. It was nice to see everyone from the village though & the paella (cooked by our friend Viviane) was delicious. We returned to the salle de fetes last Sunday too, to eat lunch as part of the annual Fete et Rando de Cidre. There were 3 very well organised walks (Geoff & Xena did the 12 km one in the morning) & fortunately it was a nice day for the event so there were over 300 people out walking, most of whom also had lunch. It is nice when these events have a good turnout. Lunch & the very freshly pressed apple juice were delicious :blush: I am also about to go out for lunch with my friend Judith today & am looking forward to that. We are going to Auberge Reine margot…a favourite eating place for both of us :blush:

Et voila… October is no more. November looks like being quiet again, for me anyway. We have a treat trip to Paris coming up…but more of that in next month`s blog.

A bientot mes amis…