Les Jardins Du Prieuré De Laverré (Priory Gardens)
May 19, 2019
|Bonjour mes amis,
I hope you are well. I'm feeling a little depressed about the result of the Australian Federal election but I won't dwell on that. I voted and I can't change the outcome, just learn to live with it.
However, this journal should be focused on telling you about my life in my village in France. The weather has not been a highlight in the last couple of weeks. We've have a few days of sunshine, then wind and then rain and cool temperatures. We are expecting a thunderstorm later so I've enjoyed myself in spite of the crazy spring weather.
I've been frustrated by the buses since I arrived with friends saying that they don't run anymore. What? I rely on buses so much otherwise I'd always be dependent on friends with cars. Therefore I made it my mission to "bus spot" for a week and record how the buses aligned with the timetable. I set alarms and went out every day to eyeball the arrival of each bus. What I discovered is that the buses are running but that they are always several minutes early going towards Poitiers and usually a few minutes late coming from Poitiers. My neighbours must have thought I was crazy, standing outside every day, waiting for each bus but never getting on one. However, I'm just relieved that I cracked the code.
It seems that I've fallen into the role of "technical expert" amongst some of my friends. I hasten to add their skill level is rudimentary so I seem to be fantastic, even though there have been some moments when I felt I was "a monkey on a typewriter" just blindly trying something until I got a good result. Nevertheless, I have been able to sort out issues that Betty had with her Amazon account and old Kindle. Her eyesight is so bad that even the biggest magnification was not working for her so I suggested that she use Audiobooks. I gave her one of my tablets (yes, unfortunately I've kept the old ones after I've upgraded,) so she can listen to her books. It wasn't straightforward or easy but we got there after my dogged determination to solve the problems. I gave her some soft earphones and after a lot of practise, she's loving herself sick, listening to her stories.
My other technical assistance was for Mollie, my Northern Ireland friend. She rang asking if I could explain her new hand-held wet/dry vacuum cleaner. The instructions were only in French or Dutch and she doesn't read either of them. Also, she has no confidence with electrical appliances. That was simple and sorted in a few minutes so I reinforced my reputation as a whizz kid. Who would have thought?
Mollie suffers with poor circulation so she always has cold feet, even in summer. I got her a pair of lined, snow boots. She rang the next day to say that she loves them and she hasn't had warm feet in years, but now she is toasty warm. Another friend who is loving herself sick after my intervention. Yay!
Soon after arriving I applied for my French medical and interview appointments which are required for my long stay Visa process but I haven't had any response yet. As the weeks go by, I feel a little concerned that they might require me to attend when I'm away on my holiday in other parts of Europe from mid June to mid July. If I miss my slot I may be in trouble so fingers and everything else crossed that it happens soon.
I had another lovely day with Garry and Glenda last week. We did some shopping in Poitiers then had lunch before spending the afternoon at the gardens of an old priory called Les Jardins du Prieuré de Laverré near Aslonne, between Poitiers and Saint Savin. We nearly didn't make it because Garry's car wouldn't start when we were leaving the hardware car park. Glenda and I gave him a push and got it started again but fearing that it could happen again we were prepared to just go home. Then next thought was to get a new battery at a place nearby. However, after Garry checked the battery connections he found that one was loose. After tightening it, we were back on track with no more car issues.
The directions to get to the priory gardens were a bit sketchy but we made it to find that there was an open sign but the big, iron gates were locked. We rang a bell, waited a few minutes, rang again, waited then finally the gates opened and we met the owner on the path, there to welcome us. We were the only people there that afternoon so she gave us a personalised 2.5 hour tour of the 11th century chapel and the fabulous, sauvage (wild and natural) gardens. In the chapel was an 11th century stone font (for holy water) on one side of Saint Lubin's altar and a 12th century tabernacle on the other. It was pretty impressive in person. When they bought the priory, the former owners had been keeping sheep in the chapel and had plastered over the ancient frescoes and covered the floor, now lovingly restored.
The owner only spoke French but was very clear and deliberate in her delivery, seeming to be a person who was used to adapting to visitors who were not fluent. She told us so much history of the place, how it had been a ruin when she and her husband bought it and what they had done to restore the buildings and establish the wonderful gardens. It has truly been a labour of love. During the visit she gravitated towards me, telling me about her life which resulted in me giving her a very "Lorri like" hug, not something you would normally do to a stranger in France. But, with tears she in her eyes she told me I was a very kind person. (Maybe I'm softening in my old age.)
Our path meandered through the gardens, twists and turns, emerging in different "rooms", each with a new delight. Her husband had designed each area to look natural and to appeal to all of the senses. We were thrilled that some of the more than 100 varieties of roses there were perfumed. While Glenda knows quite a lot about plants, I was happy just to enjoy the delights of my surroundings. It made me feel quite uplifted.
On Friday night, Garry and Glenda invited me to their place for aperos (drinks and finger food) with their French neighbours. Claudine and Bernard are such lovely, salt of the earth people that my first meeting with them was very easy. Bernard speaks only French but Claudine speaks enough English to fill in the gaps. When she found that I was a little more fluent than Garry (Glenda has almost no French), she turned her conversation to me quite a bit. Garry said he'd never heard her speak in French so much but it was also easier for Bernard who was more included in the conversation than he would usually have been. They said that they would like to see me again. At the end of the evening, they gave me four kisses on my cheeks, something you only do with special people. I felt honoured.
So, in summary, it's been a good couple of weeks. I've helped my friends, bought flowers for my windowsill from the market, sorted the buses, been on outings, shopped well, seen a fabulous garden, grown in confidence with the language and socialised with friends. I hope your time has been as pleasant.