Summer 2018 travel blog

New flowers for my balconettes

My house with flowers

Having a kir while using the hotel's WiFi

With Molly, enjoying aperos

With Hilary

With Keith

Betty, her son Mark and daughter in law Mary

Stopped for a Perrier after shopping in Le Blanc

Le Blanc

Cheeky Keith

Babysitter Hilary

Lianne Edwards band

Dinner and music on a summer's eve

Enjoying the music

Virginie dancing

Hilary and Peter getting into the swing

Dad and baby enjoying the music

Bonjour mes amis,

I feel a little bonjour-ed out at the moment. I went for my walk a little later this morning as I wanted to be alone in my green paradise. However, while I knew that the local school was having a fun walk and ride today I didn't know what time it started nor its route. Well, I know now. I met so many walkers with their dogs and riders on the path and was happy at first to exchange pleasantries. Then I became a little tired of the constant "bonjour" and smiles. (How terrible must I sound to be tired of friendliness?) But I did get to pat some friendly dogs.

I have settled into my village life nicely. It always feels very familiar here. One of the first things I always do when I arrive (after cleaning) is go to the nursery and buy flowers for my balconettes. It cheers me. Soon after, I saw a couple of tourists taking photos of my house and pointing to the balconettes. It's an odd feeling to be on the other side.

As soon as I arrived I phoned friends and arranged to meet with them which was so good. We caught each other up on our news and just settled back into an easy companionship.

I also visited the Abbaye to see the new artwork that has been installed and found that restoration of the frescos and columns has almost been completed. It is looking beautiful. There was a film crew in there when I arrived.

One of my challenges this summer was sorting out my internet connection after Orange, my provider, had stopped offering a service that could be suspended and reconnected. The very short version of this saga is that I had to enter into a yearly contract. I resent having to pay for this service for most of the year when I'm not here but it was the lesser of two evils at the time.

For the first week and a half I didn't have wifi at home so I had to go out every day to use that of the Hotel de l'Abbaye, Le Saint Savin and at times, the Orange hotspot that I'd discovered. I'd been at Betty's and found that I had a connection to the hotspot as I am an Orange customer. I also discovered that I could pick it up on the hill above the cemetery near me. This came in handy a couple of times when I didn't want to go to one of the bars to steal their internet. On the way home after being at Betty's one night I walked up the hill and sat in the gutter in the pitch black for quite a while, checking and writing emails. I would have looked suspicious if anyone had seen me.

You may remember that I've arrived here in the past to find demanding letters from debt collectors regarding a water bill from years ago that I never received. This time I had letters from Orange demanding 100 euros for the cost of the modem I hadn't returned because I didn't know they didn't provide my service any longer. Also there were letters from a debt collector on behalf of Orange saying that I owed 30 euros. This turned out to be a miscalculation by Orange who automatically deduct from my account. I was surprisingly calm about this familiar situation and took a few days before sorting it out. All's good now.

I've taken a couple of bus trips to Poitiers and Le Blanc to do some shopping for things I can't get in the village. I had an awkward moment on the bus back from the commercial area. The Poitiers bus company has changed their ticketing system. I was okay on the trip out but I was not able to get my ticket to work on the way back. They used to last for 2.5 hours but it turns out now that they are single use only. I was trying to validate it when the driver spoke very quickly and pointed his finger. I thought he meant that I had to put the ticket that way but no, it turned out that he was telling me to press the information button. Duh! A frustrated passenger took over and did it for me. I think she wasn't being kind, she just wanted to get moving. I felt a little foolish but what the heck? No one knew me so I could just slink off and look out the window for the rest of the trip.

My tense moment coming back from Le Blanc happened because I discovered that I'd dropped my SNCF card before I got on the bus. My driver was the grumpy one who was very angry with the "vomit boy" last year. (Regular readers may remember that incident.) I got up from my seat just as he was starting the bus. I asked him to wait one minute so I could get off and pick up my card which I could see on the ground. He gave me such a look but another male passenger took pity and said "d'accord" (okay) to the driver. I ran there and back because if he'd gone without me I would have had to stay the night as there wasn't another bus that day.

Socially, I've been to Betty's for aperos (drinks and finger food) with Molly, Hilary, Keith and Betty's family, Mark and Mary. They came from England to visit her because she's about to have a cataract operation in a few days. Mary is a lovely doctor who was born in Melbourne to English parents and spent the first few years of her life in Australia so she was interested to talk to me. The company was lively and the evening was warm then mild after the sun set around 10:30pm. It takes me a while to adjust to this when I first arrive.

I've been back to Betty's to help her with some issues she'd had setting up her email on her phone and attaching photos. She thinks I'm a whiz but expertise is all relative, isn't it?

Hilary and Keith have once again been there for me. I've used their washing line to dry my sheets and towels that take too long inside my house, since I don't have a dryer any more. When I needed to use a secure network to check my bank, I used theirs. They are away at the moment so I was very pleased when they texted me yesterday to ask me to do them a favour. It's nice that they can rely on me too.

We've all been out to Le Passe Temps, Le Saint Savin and Hotel de l'Abbaye to socialise with mutual friends such as Chris and Dan, Dick and Helen and some other unremarkable man. On Thursday night we enjoyed the music together at Le Saint Savin under the stars with another Chris and Peter. Tonight I'll join Philippe and others for Sunday evening drinks at the bar. It's a good life but I've been pacing myself and having some alcohol free days.

I hope you are well and not suffering too much this winter. Take care.

Jude x

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