We allowed ourselves time off to do the essential shopping to bring back with us. Wine, rillets, more cheese, bits and pieces that friends had asked us to get. In the late afternoon we took Lulu for a last long walk around the village and called in at the Prehisto for a drink. We took lots of photos to remind us how lovely the place is and sustain us until the next visit. Not that we hadn't got hundreds of photos already. It was a lovely bright frosty day.
In 2009 we somehow spent a total of 12 weeks at the cottage, in one-week, two-week or long-weekend chunks. That's 3 months. A quarter of a year. Much more than we had hoped possible. Also, by now we have been there for a part of every month in the year so we can say to ourselves that we're getting to know the place, warts and all. To an extent, at least. With each trip we find ourselves debating, more and more, whether we would like to live there for always. Maybe. Definitely. Perhaps. Who knows. It's fun to talk about it anyway.
For our last evening we were invited to Simon and Susan's house in Preuilly-sur-Claise for dinner. We arrived for early apéros as we needed an early night for the journey home the next day.
S&S are in the process of renovating their house so every time we call on them, there is something that has changed. They had a lovely wood burning stove going in their front room - now the living room - it was a bedroom the last time we visited. Once settled in their comfy chairs in front of the fire, we nibbled on Australian macadamia nuts to go with the bottle of Vouvray. Other goodies from their recent visit to Australia were to come.
We had a beetroot and carrot salad, harvested from their potager, followed by a fabulous roast lamb stuffed with Australian apricots and pine nuts. Next was a cheese board that had some cheeses that we had never come across - the variety available locally is staggering. These were served with Australian Vita-weat biscuits. Dessert was a "galette des roi" which had been warming gently on the mantlepiece all the time - the one with the marzipan filling, much to my personal delight. Somewhere in between we had a real surprise - pear sorbet, made from the liquor that Susan used to poach pears and then frozen. It was delicious and what a good idea. Susan has written about some of these things here and here.
After dinner simon treated us to a viewing of his DVD of Cream live at the Albert Hall. It's funny but one of the very few things we miss when we are in France is the occasional fix of live rock music (being old bikers and all that) - must suss that one out. Mind you, those Cream people look awfully crinkly these days.
So that was the end of the holiday for us and what a week it had been. The decorating was finished and we had had a whale of a time catching up with friends, making new ones and all that wonderful food .........!
For the journey home we prepared for the worst weather-wise. Barrie had popped in to warn us of snow in Northern France. It was already below freezing in LGP and a lovely crisp sunny day, making us sadder than usual to be leaving. We packed the blankets, coffee flask and sandwiches and set off.
In the end the journey was easy. Traffic was light and althought there was evidence of a good fall of snow, we were obviously lucky to have missed it and the roads were clear. Eurotunnel was very busy but running on time. I was impressed with how efficiently and politely the staff dealt with the huge number of travellers and especially the extra measures put in place for processing all the pets that were going back home. It was all pretty painless.
Until we got to England as usual. Mayhem on the motorways. English drivers take such incredible and stupid risks - all that pushing and shoving - for what ? I wouldn't describe the French as good drivers but driving in France always seems so much more relaxed with so little aggravation. It only takes five minutes back on the English roads to remind me what selfish and bad mannered drivers we now have in Britain.