Bank Holiday Tuesday of this week was such a nice day that I wanted to write about it. Sadly it wasn’t a bank holiday in the UK so my day started with a call from FrenchEntree Head Office in Bath. Nothing too arduous, just updates on marketing ideas and sharing feedback from clients. It’s always a pleasure to end the call by asking them about the current weather conditions! I then took a cup of coffee on to the terrace, just to give myself the opportunity to check that the thermometer actually did read 20 degrees at 10am. It did. We then spent the rest of the morning painting the front boundary walls. For some reason my husband decided that I was not qualified to hold the paintbrush so it was my job to work ahead of him as a labourer. This involved cutting back bits of hedge that were poking through the wire mesh on top of the walls, then scrubbing any dirt off the top of the walls, then finally yanking out any weeds that were growing at the bottom of the wall that might impede the expert’s progress as he painted. This intensive labour was punctuated by regular breaks for cold drinks and also for chats with passing lycra-clad cyclists (who are usually travelling quite slowly as they pass our house as we are at the top of an incline).My friends in the UK will be laughing at the thought of me doing any manual labour but somehow painting a wall in france is so much more fun than painting an english one!
We had lunch and a chilled glass of something in a shady corner of the garden (under a tree in the orchard as the canvas roof of our Pergola blew away during a winter storm) then I spent a contented hour ‘looking at my eyelids from the inside’ on a sun-lounger on the terrace.
Later in the afternoon we were just finishing off the painting when our neighbours, Jean-Claude & Francoise strolled by on their way back from a walk. I don’t know who was more embarrassed – me for being caught looking dirty, tired, sweaty & covered in paint or Francoise because she was carrying a large bunch of wild-flowers. Apparently it is illegal to cut wild-flowers but she assured me (smiling) that because she had ‘picked’ them rather than ‘cut’ them that all was fine. I actually thought she was embarrassed because we had invited them round for a drink later and I guessed she was going to give the flowers to me.
How wrong I was – when they arrived I could barely see them hidden behind an enormous gift-wrapped plant for the garden! There then followed the usual awkwardness caused by the fact that they come from a different department in France where 3 kisses are the norm, here in the Languedoc, 2 are sufficient, and my husband is a typical Englishman who considers a firm handshake an affectionate greeting!
My next worry had been what to offer them to drink as Jean-Claude is actually a well-known Vigneron in his region so I wouldn’t dare offer them the local wine (9 euros for a 5 litre box!) Happily they both announced that they preferred beer and we settled on the terrace to watch the sun-set while we drank. It was a very lively evening as this is their Maison Secondaire and we hadn’t seen them for many months so there was much to catch up on. My husband will be the first to admit that he is not yet completely fluent in French and, apart from one occasion where he announced that he was ‘very interesting’ rather than ‘interested’ survived with flying colours as the conversation turned to politics, following the weekends Presidential Elections.
So, that was it, and as you can see, nothing particularly startling or notable happened, it was just a typically nice day in France – what did you do last Bank Holiday......?