Sunday, 13th June, 2010
I woke at 7 to a perfectly silent house. I wondered what I could do as it was dark downstairs and I didn’t want to make a noise. I read for quite a long time and then decided to have a shower as noise didn’t seem to travel far through the house. I did this and as I finished and peered over the landing, Lyn appeared so I could go down and sit outside with an orange juice. It was a perfect morning and Paul went off to get breakfast and came back with fresh croissants, a pain aux chocolat and a Sancristan which is a Provence speciality and had crusted almonds around it. I had some of this with coffee. Yum. We cleaned up and went off to see the Luberon and Peter Maille country. Many British people bought properties in this area after his book came out evidently. We drove through the most amazing small villages and looked at others across on mountain tops. We got out to take photos of some of the more spectacular ones. We reached Gourdes about12.30 and went for a wander around the town. Lyn organised a restaurant for 1pm and we had to be back for that. We saw some art exhibitions and I bought some presents to take home. I had a text messaging conversation with Shell in Barcelona as I had found a perfect dress for her and wasn’t sure of the size. Technology is wonderful.
Lunch was just fabulous. The food was delicious and very well cooked with incredible flavours. We were happy that Paul and Lyn allowed us to take them out. We drove on from there towards home in San Remy, travelling through some amazing places again.
We had a short time in the house, Gray had a swim and then Paul took us to the station in Avignon. We said goodbye to Lyn at the house as it is rather cramped in the back of the house. They are such lovely people. We had the most terrific thunderstorm and hail as we went along. Cars were obviously terrified of the hail and were heading off the road as quickly as they could to shelter under bits of branches. It eased the closer we got to Avignon. Paul drove into the carpark and we left him there having had a marvellous weekend. The train came after not too long a wait and we were seated in our correct seats this time. We had food Lyn had made for us as we would be very late home. The scenery was fascinating as we travelled through it. There were really old farm complexes, villages and castles in amongst green fields of crop.
Once back at Gare du Lyon, we had half an hour to get to the train at Gare du Nord. Before we travelled there was something I had not done, we realised. How did we get there? We ended up waiting for an RER train and consequently missed the TER which only stops once before Chantilly. We asked at two ticket windows where to find the platform for the IDF, slow train, and finally found it buried in the depths three flights down. We arrived at Chantilly after 11 and walked across to school to push the heavy gate open and retrieve the car. We drove home and fell into bed. What a fabulous weekend we had had! Thank you to Lyn, Paul and Lou.
Saturday, 12th June, 2010
The alarm went at 5 to 4am and we scrambled up to the sound of absolutely torrential rain. A good start. By the time we left at 20 to 5 it was down to a slight drizzle, but everything was sopping wet. As we went along the road between the poppies we suddenly saw lots of eyes lit up in the headlights. Foxes, I thought and said and then we realised it was a herd of deer, small ones and a fawn jumping in the air amongst the poppies. That was great as we had been hoping to see some. We arrived at school just before 5 and the gate was open thank heavens. It was still drizzling slightly as we made our way across to the station. We had to go up to Platform A to see where the train would stop and the down again and up to Platform M. As it grew closer to the time of departure more and more people came out of the darkness. It was the slow train so we stopped at each stop, but were lucky as it went all the way to Gare du Lyon so we didn’t have to change. We had a coffee there and then went to find the board to see which platform. We found our way and looked at the board to see where carriages were situated and walked all the way down the platform, climbed on to the train and found our seats. We were feeling very happy until some fellow arrived and it turned out we were in Carriage 12 not 2. We had 4 to 5 minutes to get down to the other end of this long, long train. In the middle there were two diesel engines facing each other so we couldn’t go through the train itself. I ran and Gray hobbled and we found our carriage and seats with 1 minute to spare. Phew! Another learning curve! We now know how to read the train board, even when it is back to front on the screen.
It was a TGV, the very fast train, and runs on a track of its own and so travels at incredible speeds. The first stop was Avignon and we alighted to start looking for Paul, Lou’s brother. Lyn had said he was very tall. I spotted him straight away, realising later that I had seen photos of him at Lou’s. We had about a 30 minute trip to San Remy where they live and we talked to Paul on the way. Lyn met us at the door of the house and what beautiful people they are! We were made to feel so welcome. We had a drink and then went to San Remy to walk around the town. It is another lovely place, full of narrow streets and quaint houses. We did some shopping and then went back to the house. We had lunch outside in the back garden under the wisteria covered pergola. It was quiet and relaxing with the sound of trickling water from the swimming pool pump. An exciting thing for me; Lou rang up and we had a chat. It was good to talk to her in the middle of her bonfire night from so far away.
After lunch Lyn, Gray and Paul had a swim and a snooze in the garden while I sat inside and read and did some sleeping too. Lyn had bought two copies of the same book by accident so she said one was for me and one for her. She is very kind. It was nice to be able to sit in a comfortable chair. That is one of the two things that aren’t so good about the house we are in; the other is the small fridge. I cope with hand washing and everything else, but do miss my chair. However, we really have no complaints as we are very lucky with it all.
After this relaxing time, we went for a drive up to Les Alpilles in their right hand drive English car.. This is a very unusual mountain range nearby. The rock formations were incredible and the rock was very white and chalky. There were villages on mountain tops and we saw many unusual ones. Once we were back at the house it was all hands on deck to help with dinner preparation. I hulled strawberries with huller. A new gadget for me, but saved lots of the end of the strawberry that we lose at home with a knife. We had a delicious dinner and some good wine outside under the pergola. It is light for so long that we could spend hours out there. We cleaned up and went upstairs to bed. We had our own floor in the house which is in a complex of southern French looking houses and beautifully furnished. It has shutters which can be latched and the window left open all the time at night or while they are out during the day. Gray not popular as sleep machine back at Avilly.
Friday, 11th June, 2010
Off to school quite early. She went to Paris to catch the plane to Barcelona to spend the weekend with Diogo from Brazilian family.
We had play practice after lunch and it cut into my time with my Grande Section children. They are very keen and bring their books every day to me for more words. Loretta and I went to see the man about leaving the car in the grounds over the weekend. It was fine which is great because as well as being free, it is safe. I went home very tired. A good wine helped and we packed for Provence. Went to bed quite late and were going to have an early start.
Thursday, 10th June, 2010
School. Nabil was a thorough pain in the neck. Others were really good. Gray and Shell went to the Bar and Tabac for a drink before Shell caught the bus to Chantilly. She came after school to use the Internet and we didn’t get home till after 6 again. Dinner and hard time trying to get this music sorted out. It is much easier when Shaun and Mark do this stuff. Catriona had the hide to ask me how I was getting doing her writing book and I told her I was doing reports at the moment and had written all the play script and she would have it before I went home. She was disappointed as she wanted to start on it!!! Two weeks before the end of the year. I ask you. I kept my cool and told her that I could do a couple of pages and she could do the rest. Oh my goodness me. A bit of nous would be good!
Wednesday 9th June, 2010
Went school early again and worked on the script and music. We had Music and worked out the Wednesday Children’s concert and practised that. My French boys in the English class are getting better and better each week. We try to do something different each time and they enjoy this, rather than just work sheets.
I went home at lunchtime and we had lunch and then Shell and I went to St Maximin to shop. We convinced Gray to stay and rest his leg before the weekend. We finished and had coffee and took some patisserie goodies home. We also bought a tray and red roses to put on the balcony. Home to dinner and then an early night for me.
Tuesday, 8th June, 2010
Went early to school and started to get organised. I don’t think I like the starting time of 8.30am. The children don’t all arrive on time and wander in, in dribs and drabs. It is usually 9.45 before we have everyone at their desks ready to work. I worked on the play script and music for most of my break today. Gray had found Gouvieux swimming pool after an expensive taxi ride an entry fee. The pool was good and he helped his knee a lot, but the wrecked it walking all the way back to the station to catch bus to Avilly. We had a staff meeting after school and it was a long one to do with the play. We finally finished about 20 to 6 so I was quite late going home. Shell messaged about quarter to 6 when I was on the first roundabout going home so I decided I would go home and have a coffee before coming back in for her. Gray and I both went in to meet the train and then we went to Giorgios for dinner. I was too tired to cook and the food there is always delicious. It turned out it didn’t open till 7 so we had an aperitif in the bar next door till then. Good food and then home and an early bed.
Monday, 7th June, 2010
School. A new week and Nabil was a nuisance all day both for Claire and me. Came home to find gray had found Swimming Pool, but wasn’t allowed to swim. He had hurt his knee again while getting off the bus. We had a night where I worked and Gray wrote Diary and did stamps.
Sunday, 6th June, 2010
I was up quite early as Pierre Eric and Isabelle were coming to lunch. This would be interesting as we don’t really have much cooking or entertaining room. I drove into Chantilly for another of my experiences. Went to the supermarket and bought a few small things we needed and then went to find the boulangerie near the castle. There was a long line of people buying baguettes and not a cake or tart in sight. I asked in my best French and was subjected to a bark of “Tu as commandé?” No, I mumbled and lost all my French in one fell swoop. She went off and came back and said did I want tart or gateau and I told her I didn’t care. She offered me three types of fruit tart and I then had to wait for 10 minutes before it was produced. I hurried outside to find the sky as black as I had ever seen it. I bounced across the cobblestones around the castle and drove home through thunder, lightning and heavy rain. I made it and hurried to make lunch ready. Pierre Eric and Isabelle arrived and we had a good afternoon. We ate a mixture of Australian and French as we couldn’t do much cooking, but I think it was successful. The weather had fined up beautifully so we went for a walk amongst the field of red. The poppies, coqulicots, are just everywhere. You can hardly see the green amongst them at the moment. It wasn’t too good for the hayfever and I had an uncomfortable night, but the afternoon had been lovely and we they will dine with us in Orange when they come to visit Yann and Debbie.