Summer…well, for 2 days anyway!

As you might have gathered from the title of this month’s blog, I am still waiting for some decent summer weather…and still wishing we were in France now, as the cool damp weather continues here in NW England. I am seriously beginning to think we are not going to get any decent weather now until we get to our flat in St Aygulf in September and I can`t wait for that. Our flights are now booked and we are keeping our fingers crossed that they go ahead as planned. The flat has been in use this month though as we “gave” my friend’s daughter and her new husband the use of it for 10 days as a sort of wedding present. They thoroughly enjoyed their stay and managed to sort out all the small eccentricities of the flat without any bother really. They sent me several photos during their visit…all showing beautiful blue skies and sunshine! This did not make me feel better, as we continue to have grey skies and rain here! I am pleased that everything worked out well for them though.

Continuing with the weather theme for now, I have to say that we did have 2 whole days of very hot weather…which, of course, we found very nice. However, we were in the minority it seems, as everyone else didnt enjoy it at all! We were highly amused by all the fuss the media made of the short heatwave and all the dire warnings that were appearing everywhere! I got very amused (and frustrated at times) by folk coming into the shop and complaining about the heat whilst dressed in some very odd attire, including tight leggings and knee-high leather boots, in one case! I realise that the sensible things, that everyone who lives (or has lived) in hot countries are used to, are totally alien to the residents of the UK, such as closing shutters or curtains, keeping in the shade, keeping out of direct sunlight, wearing a hat, using sun cream and taking in more fluids etc. Everyone seems to have survived anyway, but no one seems to have actually enjoyed the experience. It does make me laugh when you consider all those folk who think nothing of jetting off to Spain or Greece in the middle of summer for their holidays, but cant cope with 2 or 3 days of the same heat here! Having said all that, I was very distressed by all the terrible tragedies of youngsters drowning after jumping into rivers to cool down and by all the wild fires which sprang up and caused such terrible damage. We watched the news coverage of the dreadful fires in France and the USA with horror. We have visited the forests on the west coast of France many times and loved being there. Seeing all the awful scenes of destruction, the campsites devastated and the distress of people who had lost their homes and belongings, really got through to us in a big way and our hearts went out to them. We all have to learn how to cope with these heat waves and act responsibly to keep ourselves and our countryside safe, as I am sure there will be more of these events to come.

We started off this month with the last meetup for our U3A French speaking group before we take a break for the summer. We had a lovely BBQ in the delightful garden of Bettie and Geoff and we almost managed to stay dry thanks to a big gazebo they had erected! All these summer events around here, have needed extra thought this year to avoid getting wet or cold! We have also enjoyed other BBQs with our daughter and son in law and have usually ended up having to come inside! A few country shows and outdoor events had to be cancelled too because of waterlogged fields and bad weather. It is such a shame when so much effort goes into the organisation of these events.

We have also managed to keep our date days and jaunts going as much as we could this month. We met up with my friend Rose and Georgie and Neil (the young couple who were to stay in the flat) to give them the keys and all the info they needed for their trip, at Bowber Head farm, where we had a nice pic nic in one of the barns as guess what? It was raining! We did manage to have a walk though, later in the afternoon, through the wild flower meadows there, which we all enjoyed. We also visited Acorn Banks near Penrith one day, after eating lunch in The George in Penrith itself. We liked Acorn banks but thought the entry fee was a bit expensive, especially as the watermill and the café were both closed on the day we visited. We also had a lovely lunch at the Kings Arms in Stainton, followed by a very good visit to the Matisse exhibition at Rheghed afterwards, one day. Geoff really enjoyed the exhibition as he had seen some of the original works of art in a gallery in Nice a few years ago. I had not been to Rheghed before and liked it a lot. We will go back there I`m sure. Last Wednesday we met up with some long time friends, Norma and Chris who were house and pet sitting in a beautiful house in Brampton. I,ve known Norma for many years as we went to the same church in East Boldon but as they now live in Spain most of the year, we haven’t actually met up for a long time. It was lovely to see them both and to catch up with all their news. They gave us some valuable tips for our forthcoming campervan trip with our grandchildren in August as they have had a van for years! Frankly,I think we will need all the help we can get for that!

We also have had a trip away this month. We spent a night at our sons house near Manchester, looking after our grandchildren, to allow Matthew and Susie to go to a gig and have a night in Manchester afterwards…and a much needed lie in the next day! After we had seen the children off to school…and I had revived my skills of doing a French plait for Hadley (it is many years since I used to do those for my daughter!), we set off southwards to spend the next night in Kenilworth. We paused en route to visit Lichfield Cathedral and to pic nic in the beautiful grounds there, and again in Coventry to visit the amazing cathedral there too. The next day we drove down to Huntingdon where we were staying for the next two nights. Again, we took our time and had a nice picnic beside Grafham Water and to visit, much to my delight, a flower festival in a church which was in progress, in a small village. I love things like that and really missed these when we lived in France. The main aim of our visit was to attend a garden party at Geoffs old college in Cambridge on the Saturday afternoon, which we did and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day (one of the few this month) and it was great to be able to enjoy the beautiful gardens, nice tea and to chat to some new folk, None of Geoff’s old friends were able to attend, which was a shame, but we still had a lovely day. We crammed in a visit to St Ives too during the day which I really liked, and ended the day with a nice meal in a riverside pub beside the Cam. It was a long drive back home the next day, but we had both really enjoyed the trip very much.

What a month this has been for sport hasnt it? As regular readers of this blog will know, I love watching tennis and having been starved of Wimbledon coverage for all the years we lived in France, I was glued to the TV for that fortnight again this year! I was very thankful that my dearly beloved agreed to put his watching of the Tour de France on hold until Wimbers finished, but once it had done so we were in for many boring (my opinion!) afternoons watching that! I do miss the French commentary on the T de F coverage…the UK guys do their best, but often have very little to actually say all afternoon do they? At least with the French coverage, they tell you about the route, the towns, the historical sites etc. None of that with the UK guys ☹. Geoff was a bit bereft when the tour finished, as always, but then along came the Lionesses pursuit of the European football Championship, which culminates tonight. Shame that France didnt make it to the party, but hey ho! And now of course, another sporting treat which we never got to enjoy in France, for obvious reasons, the Commonwealth Games. We are really enjoying that. I found myself watching events in the cycling velodrome (don’t you just love the SHHH announcement!) and the gymnastics venue the other night. I didn’t have a clue what was going on at times, not being a follower of either sport, but boy was it exciting! We are looking forward to many more events to come in the next couple of weeks.

I cant believe that it is August already! This year is whizzing by…or maybe that’s an age-related comment! I still have not received my renewed driving licence (see the previous blog post) but am still continuing to drive until they say I cant! I hope it is with me before we set off for St Aygulf next month, but frankly I`m not at all sure it will be :frowning: My recent medical check-ups are complete and I seem to have been given the all clear for a year now with the diabetes and until October for my eyes so all looks good for our proposed return to France in September. I also hope the weather picks up here before then too as I need to top up my tan a bit but there is no sign of that at the moment. Ah well…we live in hope!

A bientot mes amis