May Onwards in 2006
The summer of 2006 was the hottest we've known it since we've been living here. May into June averaged around a lovely 35C but during the last two weeks of July we recorded temperatures of between 46C and 50C in the garden.
As much as I love the sun, I have to admit that I spent the middle part of those few days in the house relaxing on the sofas in the cool living room (thank goodness for old stone-built houses!) reading a book, with our dog equally comfortable lying at my feet. Terry surprised me by settling for a sun-lounger under the cherry tree on most of those afternoons but it was just too hot for me.
During that balmy summer we had BBQs in our garden and at friends' houses and visited some other friends and dunked in their pool. Made us contemplate having a pool too but we never did get round to it .
We had some super times with our classic car club on outings and events that summer. When we went on "tours", people living in the villages that we drove through waved at us - men gardening, women resting and chatting to their neighbours over the gate and children running around - they all stopped and waved and enjoyed watching the caravan of many different, ancient and some not quite so ancient, interesting cars. In response we all honked our horns and waved back vigorously as we slowly drove through.
Once again the club led us to places that we'd never visited before and we enjoyed the camaraderie of the club scene. The "Apero stops" along the way before we arrived at our destination; the young children who had been tucked away on the back seats of some of the cars ran around and chased each other and chatted with everyone; the catching up on gossip with other members and admiring the cars and welcoming newcomers.
When picnics had been planned, we all lounged about in grassy dells affording shelter from sun if we wanted, or flopped down lazily in the sunshine. Everyone took their own lunch plus something else that they had made to share with the others. I discovered that most of them loved goats cheese and leek flan and also quiche Lorraine, then I changed tack so as not to repeat the same offerings and took flapjacks and various other cakes that I had made large enough to share around.
After these lengthy meal breaks we would eventually gather up our food boxes and blankets and climb back into the cars and continue on our panoramic or informative route.
During August I made apple and onion chutney and apple and blackberry jam. We'd picked the blackberries whilst out on our dog-walks from along the hedge-rows.
However, despite enjoying our social activities with friends and club, we had to try to hide the fact that July and August were, months filled with dreadful stress for us. We'd banked with Credit Agricole through their Britline agency in Caen since 2003 and Terry's private pension was paid directly into that account and quite simply, we lived on that money. We realised in July that June's money hadn't gone into our account, so rang the pension provider who told us that the money had been electronically sent as usual. Next we rang CA who told us it hadn't arrived. Back to the Provider then back to CA.
The bank then mentioned that they had changed the IBAN codes and had sent everyone a letter in April advising them of this fact and that monies paid in by transfer would be held up if the providers weren't given the new codes. We had certainly not received such a letter and I told the clerk so and he told me to wait whilst he spoke to his supervisor. He came back to me and in a very sheepish voice said that the letters were being sent out at the end of July. I asked him what on earth was the point of them being sent out after the event. Back to the Provider and gave them the new codes and they said they'd re-send.
This nightmare went on until the end of August, during which time we'd had no income for two whole months and were running close to having zilch in the bank. We had bills waiting to be paid; food needing to be bought and friends were due to arrive for their yearly visit. I was at my wits' end and apart from the fact that I didn't want to cancel our friends' visit, we couldn't contact them anyway as they were touring in Germany and were "incommunicado".
I felt so helpless, so desperate and could think of nothing other than the fear of being over-drawn on our bank account and the possible threat of prison - having heard that being overdrawn on French banks was illegal. I could hardly sleep at night and could barely hold a sensible conversation. Then our friends came to our rescue. Having had to tell them the reason for my sudden abnormal teariness, they came round one afternoon, plonked a thick wadge of money on the table and told us they were leaving it whether we wanted to accept it or not. I cried in relief. About two weeks later our overdue money arrived in the bank and we were able to pay our friends back. It was a nightmare I never want to experience again. The letter from the bank telling us of the change of IBAN code numbers eventually arrived at the end of August - not even in July.
September that year was mainly very pleasant. More friends came to visit and we had some lovely outings; I used up the tomatoes that had stayed green by making lots of green tomato chutney.
We had an interesting September Sunday on Patrimoine Day when we visited a few châteaux with the classic car club, ending up in Felletin and stayed there for dinner at a small restaurant with a few others from the club, which wound that day off very nicely.
It was still warm enough to drive home with the hood down though gradually the amazing summer of 2006 was winding down.