Monday, 8 June 2015

An American friend, Tom Burguieres, from my very distant university days got in touch to say that he and his wife Janice were coming to Paris for a few days and would we like to meet up for lunch? Only an American…..Luckily Nichola and Paul Cannock, who live in the centre of Paris, kindly agreed to put us up for a couple of days. So…dogs to kennels, on to Limoges, train to Paris, metro to the Cannocks, a mere 6 hours plus door to door. When I mentioned this to Tom he was amazed, he hadn’t thought anywhere in France was more than two hours from Paris! Anyway we had a great time, a lovely dinner and Tom and Janice were blown away by the Cannock’s flat and Nichola’s hospitality.

Went out for lunch one day to St Yrieix la Perche, about an hour from us. Had a look around an interesting china shop, apparently St Yrieix was where they mined kaolin, used in porcelain made in nearby Limoges. Both the restaurants we planned to go to were shut, so we tried one in the town itself. You can get bad food, at least very average lukewarm food. Of course we are English so didn’t complain, but we had Rhonda with us and she’s Texan, and also shy apparently.

Rhonda and her husband David live in Vignols, the next village to us to the northwest. Although the commune is only half the size of ours, there are far more Brits living there. As far as I know in our commune there are three permanent residents and one holiday family, but in Vignols there are around 20 families, including permanent, semi-permanent and holidayers. They have a boulangerie and that’s about it, nobody really knows why it’s so popular, although it does make a great home for the bowls club.

The Rex Cinema in Brive always has a few films in VO (version originale), and he we have been there a couple of times lately. First we saw Birdman with Michael Keating, weird, but brilliantly filmed and acted. Interesting to see from the French subtitles that French is apparently nowhere near as rich in swear words as English is – “Merde” just about covered everything. A few weeks later we saw The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, good fun. We were actually the only people in the cinema, and when it finished they forgot to turn on the house lights – Judy got a bit lost in the dark.

Another good ay out was to watch Brive Rugby with David and Rhonda Lush. As a Texan Rhonda had no idea what was going on, but the atmosphere was certainly catching, and we all cheered and clapped with the best of them. Brive won what was actually a pretty poor game, more importantly they won the last game of the season and avoided relegation.

One of favourite local cheeses is called Salers, so called from the village in the Auvergne and the breed of cattle. We had a very enjoyable day out there – the village is very pretty and it was a lovely day for mid-April. We had a delightful lunch outside a nice restaurant. A reminder that the Auvergne is where the Massif Centrale really starts was the view of snow on the nearby mountains, and a sign to warn that at least one pass was still shut.

A slightly less exciting day out was to the Sorges truffle museum, this being in a village just into the Dordogne. The museum was less than fascinating, but the attached shop provided a source of gifts to take to England. Most gastronomic offerings from this area are heavily duck influenced – not always acceptable!

Very sadly just before we left for England we had to have Bertie put to sleep. He was over 14, and was getting progressively more deaf and blind. Unfortunately he was also getting rather aggressive, both with Icare our other dog and with us He really didn’t realise he was doing it, but if you came on him unexpectedly he was prone to bite – he had already bitten Judy once. Not a nice day.

At the start of May we drove to the UK. We decided to take  the whole thing as easily as we could, so after dropping Icare off in kennels, we spent our first night in Chartres. We found a great hotel literally 100 metres from the famous cathedral. And after dinner we went to see the light show projected onto to the face of the cathedral, which was simply awesome.

Through the tunnel and after a visit to Rye, night stop with my cousin Lin and her husband Keith in E Sussex. Really glad we came through the tunnel, as the channel was pretty rough. On from there to Devon. Apparently, as it was May 7th something was happening in UK, people seemed a bit pre-occupied! Met up with an old school friend, John Willis and his wife Jane, then a good night in a local pub.

 On again to Cornwall. Stopped in Helston on the way to watch the Flora dance, lots of couples in evening dress literally waltzing through the town. 

Our cottage in Helford was excellent, once you get used to driving down lots of very narrow roads with high banks. 

At first we thought we should totally relax, just take it easy and read or take short walks. Then we thought that we take it easy most days in France, so we spent a fairly hectic but very enjoyable week seeing Cornwall! We visited Truro, Penzance, Falmouth and St Ives, lots of lovely villages and ports, the Minack Theatre, walked around the famous Frenchman’s Creek, and went to the Eden Project, which was excellent. Lots of nice meals out and met up with an old friend from university, all in all a very enjoyable week.

One of the things that everyone notices on passing from France to the UK is how busy the UK roads are. Cornwall to our next stop in Essex was a less than pleasurable seven hour drive. You just have to love the M25. Thus started our visit family and friends phase!

 A couple of very enjoyable days with Nick and family, then on to Kingston to stay with Martin and Vicky, A quick detour to see an old friend from my police days, then two nights with Jim and Ange in Oxfordshire.
Thanks for the drive in the Aston Jim, very exciting!

 Pause for breath, off to Dorset, one night with Posy, one with Trish and Diane, cousins I haven’t seen for 35 years. 

Phew. Back to the tunnel, yup hello M25 again, then back to France and empty roads. Great night stop at hotel in Normandy, pick up dog and home.

Icare has taken a it of time settling - over two weeks in kennels and then to find he is an only dog. is getting a lot happier now, now we just have to explain that he is adopted....

Back to the mad social whirl! Our Vignol’s Bowls Club had their annual match against our rivals at St Robert. Sadly we lost, but everyone had a good time and the barbecue was excellent.

A few days later our English Library had a quiz and curry night at Janie’s chateau. It seemed to go very well, the food was delicious and nobody killed the quizmaster – me.

Last weekend was mother’s day in France, and also the day our local town Objat hold their Fete de Petit Pois. Lots of people buying last minute flowers in the market, and watching the displays, from line dancing to folk singing.

Things have now quietened  down a bit. Just to make us both very happy we had our annual dental check-up, and our dentist says nothing to do and bye bye for a year. The weather has been lovely for the last few weeks, temperatures varying from the mid thirties to a more pleasant 30is, which we are enjoying now. Visitors expected this month, plus a possible expedition to the Sancerre region to meet friends. Life is tough!!