Summer...is it over yet?


(Christine Phillips) #1

31/08/2015 Summer...is it over yet?


I should not have tempted fate with that last statement of last month`s blog. The diary was indeed looking bare for B&Bs in August at the start of the month, but that all changed very quickly indeed & we have been very busy once again right up to this last weekend. In fact we have been “full” more times this last month that we have ever been since we started here. Good news cash wise...but very, very tiring!


The month started off well with a lovely returner family in the gite for a fortnight. They really had a good stay here again, enjoying relaxing, swimming in the lake & also made good use of the new village facility for getting their bread & eating there one night when I babysat for them. It was lovely to see them all again & I loved seeing the children playing in the garden. We had a delivery of some new garden chairs during their stay & the kids transformed the cardboard box into a new gite extension complete with pictures of the hens, Bounty & Maisie on the walls! K & C had another evening out before they left, this time eating at the lovely auberge at Usson & seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed their holiday.


They were followed by another little family, French this time, who were the exact opposite! They were an older couple with 2 little girls who were dressed every day in pretty dresses & white cardigans (not exactly ideal for here really) & who were never seen in the garden as the family didn`t like the dog & the lady was terrified of the cat! They too, seemed to have had a good week but we didn`t really see an awful lot of them...& the dog was pleased to be allowed back into his own garden again when they left!


The B&B has had a vast variety of international & other interesting visitors again this month. We have had our first Russian visitor, & German & English families staying. The last minute reservations have continued & we have even had a couple of “walk ins” (almost unheard of here!)We had a couple who arrived in a big van with their beloved motorbike inside & who really had fun with that on the roads around here. Another couple arrived with a huge van & trailer containing complete roof beams...it was fun getting that turned round I can tell you! They are renovating an old priory near Millau & needed an overnight break in their journey. Another last minute arrival was a couple who were doing some family history research in the area. They told me they had some English ancestors too & as I really like doing my own family tree & have therefore some contacts, I was able to do a bit of research for them using UK census resources. So all in all a very interesting & varied month for us! We have also received 2 very differing reviews for our accommodation this month, one from someone whose name I do not recognise as we have had no one of that name actually staying here in August (I have my suspicions as to who it was but not under that name!) who complained about the bedroom being noisy(!) & the bathroom being cramped. Everyone else who stays here comments on how quiet it is – especially at night! The other review was wonderful & completely lifted my spirits. It just goes to show you can`t please everyone all the time!


Although we have been very busy, we have managed to fit in a lot of swimming this summer up at the lake. I reckon that, because of the fabulous weather we have had all summer, we have swum more there this year than ever before. It is so refreshing after a hot day`s work changing beds, washing & ironing to go there in the evening for an hour to cool of & relax. It really hasn`t been mega busy there either all summer, another indicator of the lack of tourists in this part of the Auvergne perhaps, which is not such good news. We didn`t make it to the lakes fantastic fireworks display though this year...it was a rare damp day & as we were tired we didn`t fancy sitting on wet grass for an hour that night. We must be getting old...never before has Geoff opted out of watching fireworks! The village fete at St Etienne sur Usson also came & went without much attendance from us...again just because we were busy. We did make it up for lunch on the Sunday & had quick mooch around the vide grenier though. I had firmly intended to have a stall there this year as I have so much stuff in the attic I need to get rid of, but as usual we were too busy (& too lacking in energy) to do this. Maybe next year then! This time we did make the firework display, taking with us half of our gite visitor family (the other half not liking fireworks much!)Emily was really pleased to be able to take part in the retrait de flambeaux - the walk down to the firework field where all the children carry lanterns with candles in them. No chance of her ever doing that in the UK...health & safety would never allow that!


Because the weather has been so good we were really looking forward to some serious star gazing as per usual this year. The shooting star season is wonderful here especially when we have such clear skies. We did take to the loungers on the lawn, as is our habit, on several nights, & did see some shooting stars, but frankly we were so tired by then we kept falling asleep! So not such a great success as usual I`m afraid!


We haven`t really had much time for socialising this month really, but we have managed to eat a couple of times at Le Margalou our new bar/restaurant in the village with some friends. This place has been such a Godsend to us this summer as we have sent so many guests there to eat & they have all come back full of praise. It has meant that I have not had to worry about doing meals for guests...something which when we are busy, I really find just that bit too much to do. Happiness all round & I really only hope Viviane can continue to make a go of it now as the visitor numbers drop. She will be doing the lunches for the school when they start back this week so only time will tell.


We also went to a “leaving do” last weekend which was a bit sad for us. We met this French family when we were house hunting here & they were doing the same. We were staying in the same B&B & as we both found houses within 5km of each other we became friends. Now they have sold up & are off to live in the Vendee. We will miss their friendship & it also brought it home to us a bit, that we too will have to sell up & move on one day, in the not too distant future, when we just can`t do the B&B anymore. Not something I ever like to think about really as I love living here.


Our poor garden has really suffered this summer from the lack of rain. Geoff`s “ presque gazon Anglais” looks like a typical French hayfield this year much to his disgust! My flowers have come & gone very quickly & it has been a constant battle to keep the hens out of whatever flowerbeds which were left, as they provide such tempting places for them to dust bath! The veg garden has also suffered...hardly any raspberries this year, not that many courgettes (yes!) & only now are we beginning to have a tomato glut. I am also a little distressed to see the first signs of the trees beginning to colour up ready for autumn. No...not yet...we haven`t had our holidays yet!


However the rentrée is upon us once again so the year is really slipping away now. Geoff has already re-started his English teaching & really gets back into the swing of that this week again. This is always good news as the B&B & gite occupancy dies off, his work picks up, thank goodness. I am having a well earned rest this week with nothing in the diary...well until the phone rings that is...& am finishing off our holiday preparations for October. Wish me luck... I really need this holiday :)