Sunshine, Sheets & Sports overload…Summer is here!

Shall I start with the sheets? I am of course referring to all the bedclothes I have been washing, drying & ironing lately which is an oblique way to say that our busy season is at last with us. Lots of B&B visitors (thank goodnessJ) but as most of them have stayed for only one night it means that the washing machine is doing overtime just now. I dread the thought that one day my trusty British washer will die & I will have to replace it with a French one. We have one of those in the gite…& it takes forever to finish its cycle. My lovely washer is getting on a bit now but it is so good & so quick – perfect for all our B&B changeover requirements. I have recently upgraded the iron mind you & am very pleased with that, so maybe I will find a decent replacement for “old faithful” when he dies! Our B&B visitors have been really nice folk as per usual & we have had some very interesting conversations with some of them over dinner when they have decided to eat with us. My French is good enough for me to actually enjoy these evenings now so that all helps. We have also had a couple of English speaking evenings too, which have been bonuses! One of my ex work colleagues came to stay in the gite for a few days with some friends & they had a great time just relaxing, eating, drinking & talking! I really missed their raucous laughter when they went home…& Bounty missed all the tit bits he’d been given during the week! Our only “not so good experience” was when I agreed to put a family into the gite overnight, as they were desperate for somewhere to stay. They eventually arrived at 11.15pm (way past our bedtime!), complained that they couldn’t find the signs to the house which I agree is not easy in the pitch black! They then didn’t leave until 11.15 the next morning, taking several items from the breakfast table with them & as they were climbing into the car told me that one of their kids had wet the bed – thoroughly! Good job my washer is a good one eh? I was thinking of the old Isley Brothers hit single “behind the painted smile” as they drove off! They said nice things about us in the visitors book though & have said they will come back… hmmmm.. we will see! We are now just beginning an 18 day stretch of having visitors here, either in the gite or chambre d`hotes. I suspect I will be mighty tired at the end of that spell I can tell you..& so will my washing machine!

Now the sunshine…yes, the real summer weather is with us at last. We have had a lot of really nice, hot, sunny days recently which is good. The hammock is up & the garden furniture is being well used now. We are at last able to eat in the garden on a regular basis & it is so much nicer being able to serve breakfast on the terrace than indoors. My only problem with that is that the guests enjoy it so much, what with all the birds & the fabulous view that they never seem in a hurry to depart! We have also often had some rain overnight (perfect!) which has produced perfect growing conditions for the garden & all the flowers have been lovely recently. The vegetable garden has gone into overproduction as per usual so we are up to our ears in courgettes & green beans, with a tomato glut on the horizon any day now. My jam pan has been in full production mode too with all the lovely soft fruit that friends have given us or that I have bought from the markets. It is so nice though, to be able to get outside more after the terrible weather earlier in the summer. I am so much more at home in sandals & sun tops than jumpers & boots!

As for the sport…what a month this has been! First there was the remnants of the European Cup football…yawn, yawn! Even Geoff got fed up with that in the end. Then we had Wimbledon…well actually you lot probably had Wimbledon…I had to make do with Radio Wimbledon coverage only as per usual. Very frustrating, especially missing that great final match between my favorite Roger Federer & Andy Murray! After that…the Tour de France which saw my dearly beloved glued to the screen for hours on end. I do like the TdF but can’t sit watching it for hours like he does. It didn’t come anywhere near us this year so we didn’t get quite so involved as we were last year, but it was wonderful to see Bradders & the rest of the British boys doing so well. Our French neighbours were condescendingly pleased for us…or then again, maybe not! And now…the Olympics, which I am really enjoying. I am finding the French TV coverage a bit frustrating though, as we seem to be getting lots of coverage of handball (what is that all about anyway??), judo & fencing – all of which the French team are very good at - & practically no coverage of the sailing, horsey stuff, canoeing etc which the French team are not good at! The other afternoon instead of watching the exciting women’s cycle road race finish (British silver medal) we were treated to a judo bout with a French competitor who had no hope of winning…just because she was French! It was ever thus I’m afraid! The coverage of the opening ceremony was brilliant though & we sat & watched it to the bitter end. It must have been good to keep us up (& still awake!) until 2am here. We were not so awake the next morning, getting up at 7am to do breakfast! Bring on the athletics now I say J

We have not been out & about much this month really. We went to my friend Tots` house for tea the other day with her & some of her friends. It is amazing how much that house has changed, from the terrible “grottage” she bought, into a lovely, cosy little house it is now, & all I less than a year too. Patrick, the guy who has done most of the work for her has worked miracles. We are still hoping he can find time to come & work some miracles here for us too! We also made it ( they had changed the time!) to the annual Resistance Memorial Ceremony at St Etienne sur Usson last Sunday. It was as moving as usual, & as usual had a big turnout. I have put some photos on FB if anyone is interested in seeing what it is all about. And, I’m pleased to say that normal summer swimming activities have been recommenced at the lake now that the weather is good! The water is just as cold as ever though!

Finally…there are some changes afoot here at Chabanol! Our lovely neighbour, Paul, who has a holiday house here, but who is usually here most of the summer, is selling his house. We are really sad as he is a lovely man & we will miss him a lot. We will also miss his generosity…he always gives us lots of produce from his garden & even rotavates Geoff’s veg patch for him each year. However the land & garden is becoming too much for him & now that they have bought an apartment on the south coast, they have been coming less & less. So the house is on the market & the latest news we have, is that a young family with 3 small children is very interested in it. Now that really will change the dynamics of our sleepy little hamlet. Watch this space….!