Bonjour mes amis,
I have had a good couple of weeks since my last entry. The plumber has finally installed my new hot water service which seems more of an achievement just because I've been waiting for it since last year. He had a terrible time getting the old one out of the cupboard/store room which had been built around it. The opening was very small so I think he worked a minor miracle to get it out. Added to that was the fact that the old heater was extremely heavy even after being drained, due to the very calcified water we have in this region. But it's done now and I can move on with my life for the next few years without constant concern that I may wake up to no hot water.
Last week was Betty's birthday and I bought her an audiobook and downloaded it for her as she can't read any more. On Saturday night she held an apero dinatoire together with her step son and daughter in law who were visiting from England. Luckily the weather cleared enough for us to be able to sit outside to enjoy her lovely garden while we ate finger food and drank champagne. It was very pleasant with mainly English and a few French guests. While Betty was busy and not able to converse with her French friends, I was given that task so that they didn't feel left out. I struggled at times but they were patient with me and spoke the odd word of English too, so we managed. However, I was disappointed that English and Irish people who live here in France didn't speak enough French to hold a social conversation and they looked to me, an Australian visitor to do the honours.
Saint Savin hosted part of the national boules / petanque competition last week in the square which is large enough and flat enough to host multiple teams. It seemed very lively and particularly noisy when they broke for lunch and sat near us on the terrace of Le Saint Savin. All the small groups of locals had to squeeze in to make room for the large groups of diners. One of the new proprietors was trying her hand behind the bar. I smiled and introduced myself. Her name is Annabel. She was polite but seemed quiet or perhaps just overwhelmed with everything that was happening.
I was catching up with Paul and Shaun who own La Grande Maison, the B&B accommodation in St Germain. Cheeky Paul invited me over to meet his cousin and her husband visiting from England during the week on the condition that I made him some carrot cake muffins. Then he also ordered frosting as well. The boys have been having a hard time from someone spreading rumours about them and I feel a little need to show him that there are nice people here too. So I made the muffins as well as cream cheese frosting which I took over to their place on the proviso that they made me an excellent coffee. They all enjoyed them and gave me more compliments than I expected. Shaun said it was the nicest carrot cake he'd ever tasted. I assumed he was just being nice to me but later Paul, the cook of the couple, contacted me for the recipe. No doubt he'll make them for Shaun.
During the week Betty's daughter in law, Mary, joined me on a morning walk. She is a recently retired doctor and really enjoys walking much more than her husband, Mark. So any time she can give him a rest and go with another walker she grabs the opportunity. We walked for about an hour and a half at a slightly slower pace than is my norm but we also had a good chat along the way. On our way to the track, we went through the dairy farm where there were fields of poppies in bloom. It made my heart sing.
Betty invited me to join them at the Montmorillon market followed by lunch but my plumber was coming so I had to decline. However when they invited me to dinner at Le Patisson on Thursday evening I happily accepted. It was a lovely evening with good food and wine. I always enjoy a meal there with the bonus that it's about a minute's walk from my house. We started our meal with the house special aperitif which is a secret recipe but it is in the nature of a kir royale. Delicious. I had a warm chevre salad where the goat's cheese is cooked in filo pastry, then fish with a parsley and dill sauce and vegetables. My dessert was a tangy tarte citron with a meringue and little comquote on top. When I went to pay my share Mary had already taken care of it. She said it was their way of thanking me for being such a helpful friend to Betty while they couldn't be there. After arguing just enough I accepted their kind gesture.
I had been waiting for my letter from French Immigration about completing the process for my long stay visa. It arrived just over a week ago and had given me a date for my compulsory chest xray, medical examination and interview on 5th July. However I will still be on my birthday trip with Lorri and will not return here until the evening of 10th July so I won't be able to attend. I immediately tried to get on their website to see if I could arrange an alternative date but their site was down. I sent them an email requesting a new day but didn't hold out any hope that I would get an answer when there wasn't an automatic response. I thought that my last resort would be to ring them the next day but I wasn't looking forward to that conversation. Anyway, the next day I received an email from them noting my unavailability and saying that they'd give me another time. They just couldn't tell me when that would be yet. Whew! I felt relieved then a little stressed because they might send me a letter with the new date while I'm away on my birthday trip. Luckily my friends Glenda and Garry said they'd check my letter box for the new letter and let me know if it arrives before I return here.
So, I've done my washing and will pack this afternoon for my trip to Paris tomorrow night. I'll collect Lorri at the airport on Monday morning and we'll begin our adventure which includes Germany, Italy, France, part of Spain and then back to Saint Savin to relax and enjoy the summer activities for a while. Penelope will join us in Berlin and visit Bologna and Assisi as her birthday present to me. I'm loving being 70!