The warm weather has returned and although temperatures have been in the low 30’s we have yet to experience the debilitating heatwaves of previous years. It’s rather pleasant in fact.
Yesterday was a day of incidents. Number one was some other poor soul’s incident. I took Hugo for his morning walk around the château while Nick cut the grass. On our way back to the car I heard the siren of an ambulance followed a few minutes later by the buzz of a helicopter. As we turned the corner by the drawbridge I saw the air ambulance set down in a field at the other side of the village. How grateful we are to have such things out in the sticks.
By the time I got back home Nick had finished the mowing so I gave Hugo his breakfast then helped to load the trailer. We always seem to have a pile of cardboard and other stuff waiting to go and the déchèterie is now only open four half days a week. Also we are allowed only twenty visits a year and have to present our little "credit card" each time so that the number of visits is recorded. Hence there is little point in going without a trailer full.
I do wonder what we are expected to do with our rubbish if we run out of visits. Mind you, the system clearly works as it’s rare to see rubbish dumped in farm gateways here, something that’s commonplace around where we live in the UK, even though there is no limit to the number of visits you are allowed to make to our local council waste and recycling centre, which is open for long hours seven days a week. Why some English people will drive out into the countryside to dump huge quantities of rubbish rather than to the tip is baffling, a very peculiar mindset.
We got back from the déchèterie as the day was warming up and fancied going out for lunch. We quickly showered and I phoned a nearby restaurant, one we hadn’t been to for a while, to book a table for 12.30. The man who answered the phone said it was noted but didn’t take my name. When we got there the place was "complet" and there was no trace of my booking. Very odd.
Thinking there was still time to slip in elsewhere for lunch we dashed to the next village to another favourite restaurant only to be turned away from there because it was also "complet ". That was incident number two.
The villages around here are all a good distance apart and getting anywhere else in time for lunch was looking risky so we gave up on the idea and Nick rustled up a ham and egg salad. Which is probably not too far different from what we might have chosen in a restaurant given the warm weather!
I looked up the number I had phoned to book the restaurant and it turned out to be one with the same name several hundred kilometres away! A silly mistake!
After lunch we went shopping. First we stocked up with wine at one of our favourite suppliers, La Tour Beaumont, just south of Chatellerault. Then we called into Lidl for some other provisions and, inevitably, a few tempting items not on the shopping list. This included a twin pack of croutons at 1.07€.
We have only this year become fans of Lidl. They do excellent bread (the walnut loaf is delicious) and the produce is always plentiful and fresh. But I find there are always a few items on the list that I can’t get so we nipped back onto the ring road for a couple of roundabouts (Chatellerault has a lot of roundabouts) and headed for the Le Clerc supermarket which is also handily next door to another of our favourite shops, Picard. Picard is a frozen food store but forget Iceland and think Waitrose but all frozen!
It was hot by now and it makes sense to get the frozen stuff last of all so I suggested to Nick that he filled up the car while I popped into Le Clerc for the few remaining items then I would meet him at Picard.
Then incident number three evolved.
All the shops here have, since the beginning of the year I suppose, started asking whether or not you want a receipt at the checkout. I always say yes. Whilst waiting for me in the Picard car park Nick had cast an eye over the receipt from Lidl and discovered that we had been overcharged by more than 50€. We had allegedly bought fifty four packs of croutons, not just the one!
A good half hour had elapsed so we thought we had better abandon the visit to Picard and go straight back to Lidl to sort it out and get a refund. I was not looking forward to it one bit. Dealing with things like this with our limited command of French is never easy but needs must.
By now it was after 5pm and there were few cars in the car park at Lidl. It’s a good time of day to shop in order to get round the store but there is always still the lengthy queue at the checkout. This practice of having only one or two checkouts working if the shop is quiet so that you still have to queue for ages seems to be the norm. We picked the shortest queue (we thought) and I stopped there while Nick went around the store to see if there was any other member of staff who might be able to help with our little problem. There wasn’t. The only two staff that appeared to be on duty were the two on the checkouts and there was nothing resembling a customer service desk.
However, we needn’t have worried. When we got to the front of the queue the young girl on the till dealt with it calmly and professionally. She asked me to show her the item so I dashed out to the car to fetch the pack while she served another customer. As soon as I got back she gave us a refund for fifty three packs of croutons.
So the morale of the story is firstly to always phone ahead and reserve a table if you want any chance of getting lunch in August, preferably the right number, and secondly always ask for your receipt in supermarkets. I don’t know how we would have sorted that problem out if we hadn’t!
After that we hadn’t the energy to drive the two roundabouts back to Picard so headed home instead. There we passed a very pleasant hour sipping apéros in the evening sunshine on our deck, and I took a few pictures.
Looking rather more wonky but still gorgeous, little Daisy soldiers on.