Loic sets off to Narbonne Plage. Angus and the PONs are up early to wave him and the other residents off. Getting everyone on the coach is a lengthy process. The staff are keen that those that need pre-journey 'pit stops' take them. Such is the excitement that several passengers need multiple ' pit stops' . They get on the bus and then off again. Loic gets 50 Euros for ice creams and 'treats' and reassurance that everything will be alright. For the journey Loic is wearing beach attire - a striped tee shirt, shorts that stop between the ankle and the knee, sandals and a sun hat. Monsieur Bay and the Mayor have come up trumps. They've arranged a weeks home help and visits from the district nurse for his mother. By the time we come back from waving farewell to Loic the decorator is waiting outside the church. He's planning to start work on the porch on Monday and wants to see the paint and paper we've bought. The decorator looks at the church porch, looks at the wallpaper and announces that it's far too damp to paper. Angus says he'll order more paint. ' I'll be here at two ' says the decorator with what the innocent might interpret as finality.
Bob and Sophie enjoy a long walk across the fields. Another three weeks and it's the start of the hunting season.
When the hunters are about the PONs are kept on their leads.
In the cheese mongers a thick creamy cheese filled with rich creamy cheese mousse infused with red fruits. Just looking at it blocks up the arteries.
To celebrate getting home Bob does several laps of the garden with disemboweled Panda.
The tree surgeon is due at eight. He shows up at ten past nine. He's supposed to be on holiday but two weeks at home with three little ones is a good reason to get out of the house. Loic the heavily bifocaled gardener also shows up. He's due to go on holiday tomorrow with the other residents in his sheltered housing. Loic is never glum but today he is. It seems that his mother drank a large glass of iced water in Wednesdays extreme heat, had a 'turn' , fell over and bruised her ribs. He had to tell me this story three times before I understood what he was saying. I've never heard of anyone keeling over after drinking iced water in the heat. Loic doesn't want to leave her alone. The doctor barely acknowledges his presence. Time for a phone call to Monsieur Bay who, as an ex-gendarme, can determine the situation and can call on his local 'contacts' to make things happen. If we have anything to do with it Loic will get to see the sea.
The mayor stops by to discuss what the village should do to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War in November next year. He admires a group of black stemmed ruby rose bushes planted by the terrace. '' A rose garden would be a wonderful idea " he says breezily. I tell him about Loic. He promises to call the local doctor and see what he can do about arranging a home help for Loics mother.
Bob and Sophie have had a wonderful day greeting visitors. Life in a French village is never dull.
The Old Farmer and the Belgian lady have not headed off in the venerable Ford Transit motor home as planned. The Old Farmer has been worried by the weakness in his leg muscles and fears they may be wasting away. The Belgian lady has asked around and found a physiotherapist in Toulouse who is reputed to be able to work wonders.
The Old Farmer has appointments scheduled every Thursday, Saturday and Monday for the next four weeks. He's made the appointments at 10.30 so that he and the Belgian lady can go to the supermarket cafeteria for lunch afterwards. '' Four courses for 12 Euros. We might as well make a day of it ". He's had one appointment so far and swears blind he can feel an improvement.
The mayor calls to borrow the step ladders. He wants to wash the top of the war memorial. The tree surgeon starts work then goes. Pilgrims wander through the village. The PONs greet everyone - enthusiastically. The weather's not so much hot as heavy.
The first sure sign of autumn. Pears make an appearance in the greengrocers.
As do shelves upon shelves of orange water . A strange thing in a greengrocers. They often have bizarre 'specials'.
A cloudy start to the day. The sun lights up the contrails which have formed a golden # sign in the sky.
The Autan wind starts to blow. The wisteria branches over the front door jiggle as the storm builds. It's dark enough for the whipsawing stems to trigger the sensors on the security lights. Although it's late morning The Rickety Old Farmhouse is lit up like a municipal building on New Years Eve. The lights refuse to go off.
Angus gets a ladder and a pair of long handled shears. He clambers up the ladder and lops away at the wisteria. A young farmer in his white van passes along the lane, sees me and reverses back. He gets out and shouts out '' Are you alright ? ". Angus turns around and replies that all is well. The answer is clearly lost in the wind. The young farmer repeats the question very slowly. Are - you - al - right ? Angus mutters under his breath, clambers down the ladder, smiles, walks to the gate and reassures the young man that everything is just fine. The young farmer says nothing but looks at me as if to say " If everything's just fine why are you out in a storm cutting your wisteria with the whole of the front of the house floodlit ? "
When I'm back on top of the ladder the German billionaire and his house guests head off down the lane in a convoy of six identical white Volkswagen Beetle convertibles. They don't see me. The billionaire, dressed completely in vehicle matching white, stands in the passenger seat of his car and waves everyone on. With the wisteria chopped the security lights finally turn off. Angus and the PONs have a lengthy game of throw the disembowled Panda.
Our little corner of paradise is the hottest place in France - again. The PONs are harnessed up and out for a full hours walk while the air's still cool.
Perhaps because of the heat nothing at all happens in the village. There again little happens at the best of times. Today is a national holiday so even the early risers have opted to stay in behind closed shutters.
Loic, the heavily bifocaled gardener, shows up to trim the ivy on the far gate. This is a surprise as he's not due until Friday. He, and the inhabitants of his home, are heading off for a weeks holiday to the coast. He's shown up early so that ' the garden doesn't become a jungle while I'm away'. He is very excited about his trip. Loic is always happy.
Not everyone is happy. A black Audi SUV with British license plates pulls up by the church. A couple get out. He's wearing those raspberry red trousers only Englishmen of a certain age wear. She's in a eau de nile skirt with a white cotton blouse. Both put on straw hats. They go into the church then reappear a few minutes later. I catch the sound of her voice from across the lane. '' It was your idea to come on a touring holiday ". In fact this isn't quite what she says as the sentence is embellished with an adjective before 'idea' and 'touring'. They slam the car doors and drive off. Perhaps the aircons not working. The tree surgeon is due tomorrow. Bob and Sophie's tails wag all day. In Bobs case his tail also wags while he's asleep .
You learn something new every day. Did you know that some London railings are in fact re-used stretchers from the Blitz ? There's even a Facebook page devoted to the subject. https://www.facebook.com/stretchersoc/
Sophie is in one of her '' This is my world and I fear nothing " moods. I make a mental note not to take her with me to the greengrocers. When Sophie is in one of these moods 'interactions' happen.
An unusual sight. A group of twenty or so Arab ladies and gentlemen park their cars and congregate outside the Salle de Fetes. They then head off down the ox track towards the stream. The men wear tracksuits and lace caps. The women wear headscarves and what, for lack of the correct term, I'll call sparkly sari trousers. Orange and turquoise are popular colours. The men walk ahead, the women walk behind. The women's shoes are covered in sequins and look very dainty. I feel like shouting after them to say that the path is muddy but they've set off down the hill at a cracking pace.
The venerable Ford Transit motor home has returned. The Old Farmer has driven overnight to avoid the heat. He parks it at the side of the house in the shade. There were problems with the engine cooling system in Grenobles. '' I'll get the parts tomorrow. It'll be a simple job to replace the fan and we'll be on the road again on Tuesday ". The Belgian lady makes a quick appearance. Rather disappointingly her long Lady Godiva tresses have gone and she's reverted back to having short auburn hair. She informs me she plans to redecorate the inside of the motor home. Angus thinks sanitize might be a better word than redecorate but opts to say nothing. '' We grilled sausages every night " she adds.
At the market Angus and Bob buy a box of old variety tomatoes. '' You've got a dozen types in there " says the greengrocer. Getting the box of tomatoes back to the car while holding Bobs lead is easier said than done. We go to the lamprey restaurant. There is a fish tank at the front door with live lampreys swimming around in it. 'The Font' claims they were delicious. The sole was so-so.