Did I mention that we were expecting this summer to be a little quieter on the visitor front, so Wendy and I could relax for a few days by the pool? How foolish of me. This one has been madder than ever, in fact our place has been more crowded than a North Korean nuclear shelter, such are the comings and goings. On the sole weekend we had no guests, when perhaps we should have been resting, we headed off to UK to see family and surprise my son at his 30th birthday party. This entailed a night in a rather expensive country house in middle England, dressed in our best fineries. The effort was worth it just to see his reaction as we walked into the panelled library where evening drinks were being served. The poor lad’s first words were, “that fat old bloke over there looks just like my Dad!” After a solid evening of revelry, we then hot-footed it back home, after enduring a 24 airport delay, just in time to get the pan on again! Couple all the cooking, washing and cleaning with our small property business having its busiest month ever and I must say that we are both looking forward to a long awaited holiday in September. The current plan includes a further trip back to UK in the campervan for another family visit and a wedding near Bridgnorth, followed by a few days on the Cornish coast and a few more in Brittany, if the weather holds.
Today is yet another bank holiday in France, as it is in another few European countries, as they celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, although it remains unclear what she was assuming. The fact that the 15th August falls on a Tuesday this year gives the French chance to utilise a Pont (Bridge) day, sneaking Monday off as well so they can extend their weekend, as they are prone to do. The main soiree around these parts is a large Oyster Festival in the town of Eymet, an event we rarely miss. Despite me not being overly partial to the salty little blighters, the gourmet stalls do extend to any amount of other crustaceans include moules, crevettes and bulots (the latter being a barely edible sea snail) all washed down with some rather fine Bergerac wines. Duck, pork and a variety of other grilled meats make up the main courses, the combination of which spans about 12 hours in 2 sittings. Then comes the issue of getting home, as of course all buses and taxis also take the day off, but the police do not! Fortunately, my long suffering wife drew the short straw this time allowing me to drink my own bodyweight while she stayed sober. Tomorrow I may pay.
On the subject of vehicles , for 5 weeks now a stationary four-wheel drive has been parked on our drive, masquerading as one of Frances largest and possibly most expensive garden ornaments. I would ask the owner to remove it but sadly I cannot, as it is my own. Yes, it was the day after the Tour de France that we realised that we had misplaced the key to the Range-rover, something which sparked a treasure hunt of military precision, but unfortunately to no avail. Needless to say, we have no spare. Since that date we have had willing detectives, bounty hunters and engineers all helping with our plight but still the thing just sits there. I have ordered a new key, at extortionate cost, but it appears they cannot provide this yet, for reasons I have yet to fathom. And even when they do, all the key will do is to unlock the door so we can check if the original may be inside. If not, which I suspect may be the case, the whole vehicle then has to be uplifted and delivered to the local dealership to be re-programmed at yet more cost. Oh well, at least our fuel bill will be a bit lower this month!
Meanwhile I am still trying to juggle tradesmen in East Scotland from afar – no easy task, as each tends to blame the other for just about everything including the weather. It appears to have been raining there for nearly a month, and the leak in our kitchen has now become a water feature, something which is about as welcome as a Belgian omelette just now. So it looks like I may have to grab a flight and don my sou’wester and gum-boots and head north again. You know what they say? If you need a job doing properly don’t just ask someone, ask soi-même.