There have been tears aplenty this month – here, throughout France, throughout the world & some shed privately by us in the UK too. Not all those tears have been sad ones – some were tears of joy & pride & some were just tears brought on by the cold. But all that said it has still been a very tearful month for us...& a lot of other people too.
Lets start with the tears of joy...& some of frustration too as we travelled to the UK for our grandson`s christening. It was one of our usual epic journeys – driving to Limoges to fly to Liverpool, one night in Manchester, one night in Carlisle & then back to Manchester for the main event, & then home again! We did manage to cram a lot in as always, shopping & eye test for me, visit to Geoff`s mother (who looks frailer every time we see her), lots of "ooohing & ahhing" at the fireworks & bonfire in Carlisle with Hazel & Phil (and we got to stay in their “new” house at last, too) & then of course a great family day witnessing Ethan`s baptism & enjoying the get together afterwards. There were tears in my eyes through out that day...tears of joy at seeing our lovely grandson in his Sunday best being baptised, tears of pride as I looked at my son Matthew with his son in his arms, tears of joy at being able to spend time with my family, tears of sadness when members of that family left to go home (always the same!)& some tears of frustration, when we got stuck in the traffic on the way there - we always forget how awful the traffic is in & around Manchester & so we were almost late for the service! We did have a great time though & it was lovely to meet up with everyone again.
Our house sitters for that trip were anther Australian family & they seemed to have enjoyed themselves while we were away. Everything was in tip top order when we got back. We are making very good use of house sitters this year – this was our third lot - & we have a Kiwi couple who will be house sitting for us at Christmas too. Great idea & it keeps us & our animals very happy :)
The week we got back was quite a busy one. I met up with my friend Linda, at the Creative exhibition at the Zenith at Cournon on the Friday after we got home. We love having a mooch around this event...there is always lots of lovely stuff on sale & some great ideas too. This year wasn`t the best, as a lot of the card making exhibitors were not there, so I was a bit disappointed, but all in all it was a good afternoon out. Geoff & I were back in Cleremont Ferrand the following day as he wanted to go to an art exhibition there & I had a bit of shopping to do. I am not a fan of modern art so passed on the expo & chose instead to sit on a cafe terrace with a drink, watching the world go by. The weather was still doing bizarre things at this point – the temperatures were in the very high 20s that day – & I was very amused at the way people were dressed for winter (as you do here in the Auvergne in November)& were rapidly stripping off layer after layer until they were cool enough! It was a very enjoyable afternoon all round!
We have also managed to eat out a lot this month which has been very nice! We had a lovely Sunday lunch with some friends who have bought a house on the other side of the valley & it was really good to sit having an apero on their lofty terrace looking across to where we live for a change!.Their view is as good as ours...only in reverse! The “ladies wot lunch” reconvened this last week for a nice lunch at the Bar St Thomas & apart from having to keep an eye on the deteriorating weather, we all enjoyed our girly chat session once again. And last Saturday, Geoff & I finally managed to bring together three lots of our friends, who wanted to meet each other! We all had lunch together at our “local” Le Margalou in St Etienne sur Usson & it was a great success all round – good food, good company & the chance for them all to meet up at last. Result!
Although my business diary was empty at the start of November for the whole month, we did have some B&B guests after all – a lovely but slightly eccentric couple. They rang on Monday lunchtime to see if we had a room for that night, which of course we did. I raced around getting both rooms done & warmed up & then they rang again to say they weren`t coming- I was a bit annoyed at that as you can imagine. Then 10 mins later they rang again...could they eat with us if they came...“sighs”. I said yes...& then they told me they were vegetarian – but they did eat fish. Fortunately I had some salmon in the freezer so all was well! I made a meal for them & they were very appreciative...although in fact the lady didn`t eat fish after all, so dined royally on rice & peas! They had never stayed in a chambres d`hotes before & were very wary of what it was going to be like! We must have worked our charm though as they stayed the following night too & then set off to travel south on their way home. That was the day of the 11th November, so we went up to the remembrance ceremony in the village as we always do, (more tears there as it is always quite a moving occasion) & then cleaned & made the room up when we got back home. Then the phone rang...yes you guessed it, our lovely guests wanted to come back for Thursday night & they wanted another meal! This time I was able to produce a full vegetarian meal & it was really appreciated. They left on Friday morning, but asked us not to make up the room as they were not sure what they were doing that day ...& sure enough they were back for Friday night again – & this time with a lovely little present for me! I was not complaining at all you note...this was 4 night`s room occupancy & 2 meals so I was very pleased to have the business, but they were a bit indecisive to say the least. But they were also a lovely, genuinely caring couple, who, when we told them about the dreadful events which had occurred in Paris overnight on that Friday, were really shocked & asked if we would say a prayer with them...which we did of course. I think they went away with some very good memories of their visit. We certainly won`t forget them any time soon!
So now that brings me to the most tearful & terrible event of this month – this terrible attack in Paris which took place after we had gone to bed on the 13th.The first I knew of it was when I started to say my usual cheery good mornings to my friends on Twitter. The cheeriness soon stopped as the dreadful news unfurled & I must admit I spent a large part of the weekend in tears. Such a senseless loss of so many, mostly young lives – people the same age as our children, just out for a night, meeting up with friends, having a meal & listening to music. As the news continued over the next few days & the stories emerged about the people who had died, the families reactions, the wonderful homages & all the overwhelming grief of the entire country, my eyes were full too many times to count. My heart went out to all those who had lost loved ones & still does. They could so have been my children. What a terrible waste & such an awful thing to have happened in a city that I love. We observed the minutes silence with the rest of our adopted nation & we too flew our French flag on Friday as the nation paid homage to the people killed. I sometimes don`t like this world any more & just wish people would stop all this senseless killing. When I was teaching I had to teach trainee nursery nurses about different religions & I know from all my researches then, that true Islam is a religion of peace. The evil people who commit these acts are not following the true doctrines of the Muslim faith...they are just terrorists. I sincerely hope that they will never win. People here in France are very scared just now, but if we stop living our lives, stop visiting Paris, stop travelling, stop going out & enjoying ourselves then they will have won. We all owe it to those people who were killed to make sure that this never happens.
My eyes have been watering yet again this last week but this time with the cold! Our beautiful warm Indian summer has at last come to an end & in a very dramatic way. We went from temperatures in the high teens & twenties to ones of –7c in the space of a week! It has been a big shock to the system to have gone from wearing T shirts to four layers of clothing in such a short period of time I can tell you! We had our first snowfall last week...fortunately just after we had put the winter tyres on the cars! The snow didn`t last long thank goodness & the weather is now a bit better, but is back to the normal range of temperatures for this time of the year. There is still snow on the mountains though which is making the ski resorts very happy. I have only today really been out in the garden pruning & cutting back stuff which is normally done weeks before now, but until this week was still producing fruit & flowers. I just hope now that we will not pay big time for our lovely long autumn weather.
We have now closed up the gite for the winter. The shutters are all closed & the water has been turned off. I have been over there quite a bit recently though making my Christmas cards as per usual. It is great to have the space to spread all my stuff out ...& fantastic not to have to clear it all away after each session! I work over there until it gets too cold for me & the cards are nearly all done now. Geoff also has been working over there making something which I can`t divulge too much about as it is for a surprise! We are starting to get more into the mood for Christmas which is fast approaching. All the arrangements for our trip to the UK are now in place so it is just a case of buying a few more presents, finishing & posting the cards & buying & then decorating the tree...but it is far too early yet for that! However as the next blog wont` be posted until after the big day, I will have to wish a very early happy ...& in light of the messages in this post... a very peaceful Christmas to you all.