Dashing here, dashing there, we seem to be doing a lot of dashing about lately. Nick dashed back to the UK on the aeroplane to join me in the UK and to see his mum. After she died we both dashed back to France to see how the staircase had turned out, retrieve Daisy from the cattery and spend a short week there.
As we were driving south on the almost deserted French motorways I was thinking that life had resumed a far too hectic pace, much like it used to be when we were both working. We would usually dash to our little house in the village for a quick one week break in the middle of July, before the English schools broke up for the holidays and the tourists started to arrive. We loved having that week’s holiday every year and a week seemed to last much longer than it does now. We would make each day count and return home to normal life and to work refreshed, revitalised, warmed by the sun and full of lovely food and wine.
This time a short week seemed like no time at all and it whizzed by in a blur of activity. We picked our first tomatoes. Lovely, sweet fragrant tomatoes, big ones and tiny ones. It seemed like a miracle, to be picking our own tomatoes in early July, grown outdoors, without the aid of a greenhouse.
The weather was hot, getting hotter every day.
On 13th July, the eve of Bastille Day, we went to Le Petit-Pressigny to join in the fun and celebrations there. There was a huge crowd in the marquee, lovely food, music and excellent fireworks.
On 14th July it was another lovely hot and sunny day, we had a barbecue at home in the evening before driving into the village to see another set of fireworks. The warm weather had brought out the crowds and it was all very jolly. It felt odd not to be able to simply wander up the hill towards the château and fall into bed, the murmur of laughter and music in the village square finally dying out in the early hours.
In the middle of the week, on a very hot day, the farmer arrived to harvest the wheat in the fields that surround us. I had been dreading this day, wondering how dusty and noisy it would be. It turned out to be very little trouble at all. Keeping the doors and windows shut all day to keep out the dust was no hardship at all as it also kept out the heat. At 4pm it was 37°C, too hot for us to be working outdoors in the garden so we retired to the cool of the sitting room, sipping iced water. I wondered how the farmer could stand it, out there for hours in end in the baking heat. By nightfall he had more or less finished apart from a thin strip at the opposite end of the furthest field from us.
It was getting hotter with each day and we found that by opening all the doors and windows first thing in the morning and putting on all the fans we could let some of the heat escape from upstairs and cool the rooms down a bit before the temperatures soared again. Daisy took advantage of the open windows to explore the roof.
She climbed onto the very top and meowed, giving us the impression that she didn’t know how to get down. We coaxed her along the roof towards the little terrace above the barn and rescued her. Ten minutes later she was up there again so we decided to leave her to it. She was back in the house in no time. All we had to do was stand outside the front door and rattle the tin of Dreamies. She will always come for the promise of a few Dreamies!
On Thursday we collected our friend Gaynor from the station in Tours. The outside temperature on our dashboard display got to 39°C. Thank goodness for modern cars and air conditioning. I sometimes wonder how people managed before air conditioned cars were the norm, although I was illogically slightly disappointed not to see it reach 40°, just so that I could say I had.
With Gaynor installed chez nous to keep an eye on Lulu and Daisy for a few days we set off back to England on Saturday to be in good time for the funeral on Monday. There were miles and miles of traffic jams going south on the motorway around Tours. The holiday season had obviously begun big style and although it was a good deal cooler on Saturday morning, a pleasant 25°C, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for all those people sitting in traffic for what looked like it could be hours – not a good start to their holiday.
Having no dog or cat with us we decided to take the long route home, via Portsmouth. The recent shenanigans at Calais had closed the tunnel and the port quite frequently and we didn’t want to risk being stuck and not getting back for the funeral. The journey to the ferry at Caen is a good two hours shorter than to the tunnel at Calais, which was nice. The weather was very pleasant indeed, at Ouisterham there were sailing boats bobbing about in the sunshine.
We used to prefer this crossing and used it regularly in our motorcycle touring days. After a hard slog to the port a five hour rest and a nice meal on board was very welcome. However, we had somehow forgotten that in those days we used to break the journey with an overnight stay either in a hotel on the French side, or by sailing overnight. This time we did it all in one go and it took sixteen hours from door to door. The boat was delayed by an hour in leaving the port and we had also forgotten that once it has docked it then takes another hour to get out of Portsmouth – unloading the cars takes a long time then everyone has to queue up for passport control which itself can take up to an hour. We finally fell into bed at 2.30am.
The funeral was yesterday. Funerals are supposed to mean closure, a release, a chance to get back to normal and get on with life, a new life without the person who has passed away. I always feel slightly raw and unsettled for a while afterwards. So we are dashing back to France today, spending the evening with friends in Dover to break the journey, which is, I must say, becoming harder every time we do it.
We’ll be back chez nous by tea time tomorrow and are looking forward to a good long spell of feeling settled. Enjoying the house and planning the garden. Nick will go fishing. I will do some baking. We’ll get the motorcycles out and do a bit of touring. We’ll walk the dog and play with the cat. And we’ll enjoy our own home grown tomatoes.