Thursday, 28 July 2016

Squeals and shuttles

Another holiday over. It is the strangest thing but six weeks can begin to seem like normal life in a different location and then once back home, the whole thing might never have happened - those six weeks have gone in a flash. 

We take two days to travel back. France is a surprisingly big country and from Bergerac to Abbeville, our overnight stop, it is a long way. Particularly for Tim, who cried the whole of the first two hours of the journey. He wasn’t so bad for the rest of the day, but  on Le Shuttle sous le Manche everyone in the same carriage as us must have been ready to throttle him as he squealed and cried. He has a particularly shrill squeal he employs when he's distressed or displeased with something. Trouble is the cars are packed so tight that we couldn't get the rear door open to comfort him, and I couldn't reached him through the safety gate, which keeps him from rampaging over into the back seat, without being in severe danger of wrecking my back after ten minutes. He continued to cry at intervals all the way home and drove us very nearly demented. Will we go again? At this point, I’m not sure. The memory of him squealing is too raw. By next summer, who knows?

So now I'm home with a garden that's gone berserk, piles of washing  awaiting attention and a fridge that is empty. What to do first? Catch up on e-mails! See how my books are doing! Get back to my blog! We crashed the internet allowance in France - mostly because dh has a phone that constantly sends him BBC news updates, which gobbled up the allowance. Our fault!

Contrary to expectations I did not romp through a new romance, but spent a lot of time doing a final edit on Queen's Courier. I know, I've said this before and really the darn thing should be done, but I still find things to improve, or change or tweak. I have a few chapters of a new book started, so I didn't come back empty handed. I really must send QC to Amazon and be done with it. It is time to move on.




Sunday, 17 July 2016

Summer reading

Saint-Georges-de-Monclard, sometimes spelled Monclar, is a small commune with less than 300 inhabitants. The centre of the village has a great deal of history with the 11th century chateau, which has been remodelled several times over the centuries, the 12th century hall, period houses where you can see old wooden balconies and stone columns on the terraces of the first floor and the chapel of the Sainte Thérèse Montclar. So far I have not found out anything about Sainte Therese, but I’ll keep trying.

The weather has hit a high note today with an outside temperature of 31 degrees. It is really too hot to do anything remotely active so we’re lurking indoors where it is a comparatively cool 24 degrees. It has been a very sunny week, and probably because of that I’ve finished two books I ordered on Kindle – Lake House by Kate Morton and The Hard Way by Lee Child. Both very good in their different ways and good purchases. When the weather is cooler we’re out and bout pruning and weeding and walking Tim, but not in this heat. He doesn’t want to go anyway – except to jump in the stream and cool off.


For some reason I veered off writing the new story and began editing The Queen’s Courier AGAIN. This really is the last time. When I get home I shall transfer it to Kindle and publish it. Then I’ll turn my attention back to The Matfen Affair.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Visitors

All this holiday Tim has felt it his duty to bark furiously at any strange dog, car, tractor, lorry or cyclist. We don’t see many people simply walking, but he would have barked at them too. But yesterday about five o’ clock as I was starting to prepare our evening meal, there was an odd bark and a strange sound at the door. I looked up, and there was masculine face looking back at me – and not, I hasten to add, my husband.

A handsome young Frenchman had come to call, but the thing was that he didn’t speak English and our pigeon French was not doing too well. Ironic too that after all Tim’s barking, this young man had parked his van half a mile away at the end of the drive, walked all the way to the gate, opened and shut it and crossed the bolly to the door without Tim hearing him! Our faith in his guard dog propensities are shaken! I think he was shocked himself, for he then barked furiously and threatened the stranger with dire threats - none of which dismayed the young man. He was obviously used to dogs, as country people so often are. 

By means of odd words and mime we finally understood that he wanted to
sell us tickets to the fête in St Felix on 31st July! The ticket would have paid for the food on offer. I gather you take a plate and a fork and help yourself to whatever takes your fancy. Unhappily, after all that effort at communication, we will be back in England by then, otherwise we would have gone. The same thing happened last year, but the couple who came then did have a little English and we bought the tickets but would not have been in France on the day. One day we will get there!

Though we’re on holiday we’re watching tv in between bouts of gardening and pruning and lawn cutting because there is always something happening. Cameron hands over to May today, and Labour now has 3 candidates for the leadership of the party. Someone must have wished us with living in interesting times. We’re just about to watch Cameron’s last Question time while we wait to hear who Mrs May appoints to her new government.

Both the old buildings are in Montclard St George.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Kicking Back

Had to be brave and use some French today. We’ve run out of recycle sacs and needed more, so off to the Mairie we drove. Every small village/commune has a Mairie which runs the place and we’d been told that we could get more sacs there. I used Google translator to get a nice, polite sentence in French, copied it down on a piece of paper, and marched up the steps of the smart new building in St Felix de Villadeix. I came back down flushed with success and clutching a big roll of yellow recycle sacs. My prepared sentence worked beautifully, and I adlibbed the rest!

Afterwards we drove to St George de Montclard by way of Rabard, and drove slowly by the house we almost bought about ten years ago. We couldn’t sell our own at the time, so the deal fell through, but it was a lovely house with lots of land. Actually, the recession of 2008 convinced us we had done the right thing in staying in England, and now Brexit is about to reinforce that. There are 129 houses for sale in this commune at the moment, prices ranging from 73,000 euros all the way up to 900,000 euros. No doubt a lot of English who’ve chosen to live here will now be thinking of returning. 

Lots of things that were easy and good in the EU, for travellers and those who chose to buy homes here, may now not be so good – medical attention when required, travel insurance, UK pensions that don’t rise with inflation – in other words, an income that is decreasing rather than keeping pace with the cost of living which is not now that much cheaper in France than in the UK. (Just as an aside I bought a tin of Heinz baked beans in the Intermarche the other day. In the UK it would cost me somewhere in the region of 35p; here it cost me the euro equivalent of £1.25.) The French don't do that kind of bean, though there are lots of other bean choices.

A journalist on the Daily Politic show today called Jeremy Corbyn’s 500,000 supporters “a group hug” which I though a nice way of putting it. His people keep quoting this figure as a reason for staying put at the head of the Labour Party but just don’t seem to realise that he has to get a substantial number of the other 60 million people of voting age in the rest of the country to vote for him as well.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Noises in the morning

We’ve been relaxing and not doing much work the last few days. The little black flies have been horrendous this year, possibly because it is so damp. Lots of rain earlier in the year, but the stream is back to its normal levels now, so Tim is much happier. He didn’t like it when it was so deep. At one point I realised I was wearing long trousers and long sleeves – and still getting bitten! I asked myself why did I come to France? 

Today however, I’m hopeful the worst is over, for the air is much drier and the flies are much fewer. I’m still wearing long trousers, but it is not a conscious decision. Just a left over from a seven o’ clock walk in the dew-wet fields with Tim. We got barked at by something we never saw, lurking in the bushes, and Tim was nervous. I can only assume it was the big dog-fox dh saw when we first arrived. 

So far I haven’t seen any wildlife at all – things just keep making noises in the undergrowth. One morning last week something was hissing and spitting at me and Tim ran ten feet away. That wasn’t a fox, but it might have been a coypou, or an otter? It was on the river bank, in dense undergrowth. I saw grass moving as it vanished, but that was all.


We had a brief spell without the swimming pool. We knew it needed a new part, but were not prepared for the electrician to switch the punp off when he came on Monday. Without the pump the water doesn’t move, flies dive bomb it and little bodies, leaves and stuff floats around on the surface. We had our doubts about the electrician ever returning, but he did today, and with the new part which he fitted and voila! We have a functioning pool once more. I shall have a dip around four this afternoon when it is hot and the water has warmed up in the sunshine. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Intermarche and Friskies

Had a good time in the Intermarche yesterday. I like French supermarkets, love checking out the kitchen implements section. I found my wine bottle-stoppers and added two blocks of lavender soap and a Petit Marseilles shampoo to my stores. The plastic box section I’ll check out just before we go home! Then off for nectarines, haricot vert, fromage, and saumon among other things. Also sneaked in a box of Pringles, some pain au chocolate and French biscuits.  I also found the squeaky toy for Tim, but it is blue instead of pink. It is a Friskie toy by Purina, but I can't find them in the UK. (The label I removed from it has instructions in every European language - except English!) Now he runs around with it in his mouth, squeaking.

Our early morning walk this morning was extended by two fields – the haymaking now completed. Cut, turned, corralled into lines and baled all in two days! That farmer was working hard. We walk around the perimeter and Tim lopes around investigating every smell, breaks into a gallop, wheels round to investigate something he missed – in other words, he has a great time. The only drawback is that there is a single track road running between the two fields, and though the traffic in this area is minimal, (about six per day!) the minute Tim and I step out, a car appears. Yesterday it was a tractor that roared down on us and he tried to attack it. Fortunately he was on the lead