What day is it again…?

The title of this month`s post reflects my life at the moment. And as for the date…in fact, I almost missed writing & posting today as I am in a perpetual fog with things like that too! As you might have gathered, we have been very busy all month & I am almost at the end of a 13-day run of early breakfasts, including many for the same couple – but more of that later – so I am pretty tired now. The fact that it has been overbearingly hot for most of the month too has not helped either. We had our first real rain for almost a month last night so the temperatures are, at last, comfortable today. It has been very easy to get all the washing dried mind you…in fact the sheets dried within minutes most days :blush:

So, a bit more detail now then. The gite has been occupied all August up until last Monday & will be full again this weekend coming as we have a wedding family staying in both gite & B&B. We have had some really lovely guests this year, although the Belgian family’s requests for more loo roll & washing powder did not entirely please me. I expect folk in self-catering to buy their own! They & our next lot of guests (a lovely French family) also arrived without towels & although I did give them some, I can do without extra things like this to wash when we are busy. After the French came the English…well half English, as Heulwen is very Welsh & proud of it! Heulwen & Steve were back for the 4th time here & as usual had a very relaxing week, doing very little & thoroughly enjoying it! Steve celebrated his 65th birthday here with his son & another couple of friends & seemed to take all of it in his stride :blush: The next gite guests were a really lovely Dutch couple, who swiftly became friends. They too were here to relax…although their trips out were always a bit of a ramble & their eating out experiences kept us very amused, as they recounted their problems with rural French cuisine! We had fun & I almost forgave them for their unwillingness to try any French cheese… well almost!

The B&B has seen its fair share of nice guests too, including a couple who arrived at 8am having spent most of the night driving & sleeping in their car in the village! They were very apologetic & looked totally shattered, so I gave them some breakfast & off they went to bed to sleep for most of the day! They did buy me a lovely box of chocolates to say thank you for being so understanding mind you :blush: We have had 2 couples with small babies, one of whom slept all night & the other who cried all night – the babies that is! We have also had two couples who were breaking their journeys to camp sites further south, & who both decided to come & stay again on the way home which was nice. The lure of a comfy bed & hot shower was obviously appealing after 2+weeks of tent life! Our (now) friends Gordon & Julia came to stay on their way to their house in Spain as usual, making them the best returners we have had. They also brought with them some goodies such as bacon & non-alcoholic drinks (elderflower champagne etc) for me which gets them gold stars & millions of brownie points :blush: At the moment we have our longest staying couple in the B&B since we started. I very nearly didn`t take this booking as it seemed to be too good to be true…a random request from a German couple for 12 nights B&B. We never get bookings like that & so I thought it was a scam of some sort. However, I replied, with the price & methods of payment & voila, they were genuine! They are still with us, an elderly, but very keen & energetic couple from Dresden & they have been a delight. They came with a plan & have been out & about every day exploring the region, visiting churches & walking in the mountains. It has also given Geoff a much-needed chance to speak German again. At one time, his German was better than his French, but not having many opportunities to practice it, it has fallen into disuse! He has been really enjoying his nightly chats with Irmgard & Jurgen, as they sit under our big trees in the garden…& his German is now much better :blush:
We also have had 3 couples who came via the Smartbox coffre cadeaux scheme…where a box is bought as a gift, & the recipient can take the 2 nights stay any time they choose. We have been part of one of these boxes for a long time now & have had no problems with it. They take a lot of commission from us, but it does bring us a few guests out of season. However, Smartbox have bought out most of their rivals now (including Dakotabox which we worked with) & because of all the extra traffic to their website, the system is not working at all. We thought it was odd, as we have been in this scheme for over a year now & had not had a single booking. In fact, we had just discussed whether or not to continue with it, when we got 3 bookings this month. We now know why! The system is bobbins & we, like many other B&Bs I suspect, are still waiting to be paid! I also suspect that we, like many others, will not be taking any more bookings until they get their act together & pay us. One of our clients said he had tried a lot of places who refused the booking before he came to us! Speaks volumes.

As I said earlier, the weather has been very unusual this month again. We have had temperatures in the high thirties here for several weeks, which has been draining to say the least. We have tried to get to the lake to swim as often as we could but, when we are as busy as this it becomes more difficult, as often we are waiting for guests to arrive, or we have been just too tired to go swimming. Our poor garden has suffered greatly & the lawn looked like a straw field …until last night when at last we had some rain. I have had virtually no fruit at all this year & the tomatoes have been small & not as tasty or numerous as usual. Whilst this hot sunny weather is good for those on holiday, it has been very hard for us when we have had to work I can tell you. Ironing & making jam in this heat has been horrible!

We have continued to take our Wednesdays off, our date days as we call them, & have really enjoyed the opportunities to get away from the house a bit. We have visited Ambert, where we ate in a recommended restaurant & tested out the plan deau there on a very hot day. We drove into the Cantal one Wednesday, & enjoyed visiting Blesle which we really had never had time to look around before. We also visited Vichy again. It’s a long time since Geoff in particular, was there & we ate beside the river in a lovely little restaurant before walking in the park & admiring all the wonderful buildings. We liked Vichy very much. Another good discovery was Murol, which we have driven through many times but never really explored. Again, we enjoyed a lovely lunch there, before driving up into the mountains for a rest in the shade (it again was a boiling hot day) & then a refreshing swim in Lac Chambon which was delightfully cold! Yesterday was probably the last of these days, as Geoff returns to work in earnest next week. We went to visit another place we pass by frequently but never visit, Riom, & thoroughly enjoyed our visit there…& our lunch too of course. On the way home, we drove to Royat & found the arboretum there, which Geoff has been wanting to visit for ages. You remember my husband loves trees & likes to hug them too on occasions! However, this arboretum is part of a hiking trail & we werent really suitably attired for hiking (plus I dont really do hiking!) so he will have to return another day to do it justice. I am really sorry our date days have come to an end but we will do them again next summer Im sure.

We did manage to get up to St Etienne sur Usson for a bit of the village fete although we were a bit tired & didnt do it justice really. The same went for the annual big vide grenier on the holiday day of 15th August. We enjoyed a quick mooch around but the heat & tiredness didnt encourage us to stay long really. We did enjoy the fireworks in the evening of our village fete & again at the lake at Vernet La Varenne as usual. These lake fireworks normally mark the end of our summer season, but not this year, as the guests keep on coming! It does quieten down next week though…& boy am I looking forward to a lie in again!!

So, September & autumn approaches…& with it some treats for us. We are off to Venice soon with our family & are taking a night in Lyon on the way there too which I am looking forward to. We have also booked another treat for November too…a night in Paris to see West Side Story. This is a huge treat for me as I miss live theatre so much here. And, of course, we will be going on our cruise in October. We have had a bit of a glitch with this as our house sitters have just informed us they can no longer do the sit & so I am desperately trying to find new sitters. We do have a backup in our neighbours, but it is a big ask for 12 days really, so I am hoping that my trusty “mind my house” site will come up trumps again. This busyness never ends, does it??

Er…what day is it again by the way?

A bientot mes amis :blush: