Everyday Life and Car Club Outings
In May 2007 we went for our once-a-year-visit to the UK. After arriving in Kent and staying overnight with good friends we drove down to Devon and stayed with Terry’s sister so that we could spend a few days taking their 94-years-old mother on outings. She had visited us twice in France during the previous two years - quite a feat for someone of her age.
The first time she and Terry’s sister from Devon came by train and we met them at Montluçon and the second time they flew and stayed with Terry’s other sister who lives in Bénévent L’Abbaye and they all drove over to see us here. However, living on her own became too much for her and she now lives in a very good Home for the Elderly, not far from her eldest daughter. After spending a few days in Devon we drove back to Kent to visit family and friends there. It was really lovely to see our families and friends of long-standing but it was so very hectic.
The problem was trying to visit everyone whom we wanted to see without offending friends who wanted us to visit them and who lived even further away in different directions. We simply couldn’t go to everyone as we didn’t have the time so we decided to limit our visits to just our family and those friends who were unable to visit us for whatever reason. Everyone else is very welcome to come and stay with us - without their having to rush around visiting other people. That works quite well, but we were shattered, as always, and so glad to come back home.
However, our two baby geese that we’d bought in April had suddenly grown up and were barely smaller than our two original adult geese. What a disappointment! We’d missed a lot of their baby time! Their little flippers had turned into fully fledged wings and they didn’t appear to remember us - though the two older ones did. That was quite sad (or was I sad to feel that way!). They don’t stay small for long.
It had rained every day that we were in the UK and our neighbours told us that it had been just as bad here and it simply continued to rain here for the next few days. We had avoided planting tomatoes before we went to England because the year before our crop had dried to death in the hot sunshine whilst we were away. In 2007 most people’s tomatoes were ruined from too much rain and we never did get round to planting them. A friend who had a poly tunnel gave us bags full of her green tomatoes for chutney-making as they didn’t have enough hot weather to ripen properly. However, because it rained our lupins and much of the flower beds looked very pretty.
In very early July we prepared our little cottage for more visitors (friends of friends) but were really shocked by temperatures of only 11C and 12C on the 4th and 5th of that month, then suddenly it turned very hot! What a weird summer.
On 6th July we went off to take part in the Grand Prix de Vichy Classic (classic cars and motor bikes) There were an amazing number of Bugattis and lots of other exotic old cars. It was interesting to wander around looking at them all and we had an absolutely brilliant long weekend. Four club cars took part and lunches were laid on for all participants and also a grand dinner. At the track, the really old cars went round the track relatively sedately but when it came to our class of vehicle, Terry and the other English friend that we’d driven there with were full of fun and we two ladies knew that they’d got something up their sleeve. They’d been told that there was no racing involved and they nodded in agreement, donned on their crash-helmets and they were off !! So much for no racing! They overtook everyone on the track and generally had a great time - mainly because they had the most powerful engines. They were very careful and it was all in fun and there were no mishaps at all. They were just being boys for a short period but taking care of the cars as well - after all, we had to drive back home in them!!
Next event was at Le Donzeil - just a small classic cars meeting with BBQ food for lunch and the lake to wander around or sit and be lazy with a book. Later that evening several of us met up for another BBQ. It was quite a gathering - almost twenty of us in a friend‘s garden. The following day some of us went to Lake Vassiviere and out in our friends’ small boat. We had a whale of a time - getting quite wet in the process but it was so hot, the drenching was welcome and followed with a cool beer and a picnic to dry out.
At home we noticed that early in the mornings and also in the evenings a heron had started to come down to our pond and it managed to eat most of our goldfish. They’d started out as very small fish from the local garden centre but they had grown quite big and had had lots of babies (which amazed us as we’d half thought that the geese might have eaten them - but they didn’t). We’d never seen a heron in our garden before and it was most annoying and quite upsetting. Nothing we could do though as we couldn’t net the pond or the geese wouldn’t be able to get in it.
On the third week in July we held another of our Book-Swap afternoons. We were lucky that the weather was lovely and sunny and Humphrey turned up in his magnificent car for us to admire whilst he and Terry discussed cars. We made some new friends, gained lots of “new” books and had a successful day.
Another car-club event on the day after our book-swap saw us at Tardes for the annual hill-climbing event and it is always very sunny and hot there. We all take picnics with some home-made goodies to share with everyone else in the club. Two of our club members (English) always take part in the actual hill-climb races and of course we always stand at the fence and cheer them on. The organisation is basically non-existent and chaotic and also somewhat frustrating so we decided that this would be our last attendance here for the time being.
The “loo” supplied is the most weird that I have ever seen and I have to tell you about it! It is a smallish but tall trailer (towed behind a vehicle) and placed on a freshly-raked area of ground a little way away from where people are sitting/eating etc. There is a door one end and when you step up and walk in you realise it is a mobile “hole in the ground” with a fair-sized open trap-door in the centre. If someone was to stand a short distance away and happened to look at the trailer, he would see exactly what came through the hole onto the ground underneath! The first time I walked into this awful place I stared in horror then walked out again determined that under no circumstances would I use it! However, a couple more hours later Terry walked me to it and urged me in, whilst standing guard outside like my mum used to! I won’t say any more but I now drink very little on those occasions!