A Bright New Morning

Yesterday afternoon Saufiene visited with an electrician to repair disintegrated wiring to the landing lamp.
In the evening Roger collected me and drove me to the Munns’ idyllic home on a hill above Eymet. From the main road, across the valley, the white new rendering of the tall house with its red-brown tower shone in the evening sunshine. Pink-tinged clouds strolled across the calm skies. When the forthcoming Tour de France takes place, my friends will be able, from their verandah, to watch the cyclists speeding along this very thoroughfare.
Judith, looking trim, her garments covered by a full-length apron, was putting the finishing touches to a superb Sunday dinner. Keith joined us and we sat down to tender slow-roasted pork with prunes; crisp vegetables; perfect roast potatoes and parsnips. I slowed the proceedings a little by devouring a secon helping. Judith’s apple pie was to die for. Supplementing their own apples were cinnamon, cloves, mincemeat, and sultanas in an attractive pastry casing. None of us had room for cheese. We all drank red wine and enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation after which Keith kindly drove me home.
fishing lake 1This morning I walked the loop around what I still call the donkey’s field on the D17, returning via the fishing lake. Sun shone in the cloudless blue sky, although it was still rather cool. In the clear light I took a number of photographs which I hope to add when I return to my iMac.
Church bells rang the hour, a cock crew, geese cackled, a magpie rattled, and dogs barked.
The eyes of a small black cat, crouched in the grass of the field that was once home to the donkey and goats, beamed like a car’s headlamps, returning the sun’s gleam. Fishing lake 2Further along, a camel-coloured relative had not made it across the road. The field now contains a couple of ewes with muddy backsides.
Chateau Cluzeau
High on its hill, beyond a waterlogged field, Chateau Cluzeau was still visible through a row of as yet leafless trees. Later, I was to look down on its silhouette.
Tractor and car negotiating passage
A tractor and a small car negotiated their passing on the narrow lane where I turn left for my return journey. This was reminiscent of trips through the New Forest.
The dogs that normally herald my passing along the top of the high track were unusually silently watchful. The alsatian’s gate was open so I was rather relieved at its unaccustomed lack of interest.
New house
The house I have watched being built over the last couple of years now looks complete.
Paths around the lake were more than a little muddy, reminding me of how slippery my MBTs can be. I didn’t fall over.
PigeonnierRuelleAs I approached the steps leading down to where the bottle banks used to be, I exchanged greetings with three gentlemen whose voices had floated towards me; and with a young man with a long shovel mixing heavy cement in a wheelbarrow as he prepared to repair the steps.
A superb onion soup in Le Code Bar today came with croutons and slices of garlic, the delicious fumes of which rose from the bowl. Surprisingly flavoursome calamari was then served with a rich tomato dip. The main course was a succulent steak with lashings of glistening tornellini. The meal was completed by Paris-Brest, a small cake containing coffee cream. I drank a coffee as I wrote this post.

To Honour Their Dead

Mo and John departed this morning for their rented house in Bourlens which we visited yesterday.  It has been a most convivial stay and I shall miss them.  However, Judith has warned me against squatters rights in France, so they had to go.

This being All Souls Day, and therefore a holiday, there was a brief flurry of activity until Carrefour closed at midday.  After this, all was tranquil as I found a new walk this afternoon.  Birds sang; there was a short-lived distant whirring of a solitary scooter; otherwise it was just me, one cow, and a few horses.

Landscape from Le Garonnet

Path from Le GaronnetAt the bottom of the steep slope of rue St Jacques I turned left at a no through road sign pointing to Le Gironnet.  Trusting that there may be a footpath at the end, I was not disappointed. Chateau Cluzeau This took me to the lower level of a sharply inclined road leading, on the left, to Chateau Cluzeau, whose vines lined the slopes.  Le Petit CluzeauAlongside this building there was a round towered modern one styled Le Petit Cluzeau.  As I had hoped, the road led me to Le Cluzeau College at the very summit of the other steep climb of rue St Jacques.  Les CluzeauxFrom there I could look down on the Chateau which was itself in an elevated position.

Horses with eyeshadesIn a field there were horses wearing eye-masks which I presumed must be protection against the irritating flies.  One rolled on the grass, seemingly attempting to dislodge other pests.  Rather like me scratching my back in the middle of the night against the corner of the bathroom wall.

Backlit gardenThe day, which had been rather War memorialCarmen's gravedull at the outset, had brightened by the time I returned to No 6.  Passing the war memorial, I noticed fresh pots of flowers.

For the last couple of days a marquee outside the florists had been doing a roaring trade in potted crysanthemums.  Cemetery, SigoulesThese are placed Bouquetbefore the graves in the cemetery which is a truly glorious sight.  The French do honour their dead.

Broken stemWalking around the splendid display, I noticed just one broken stem which I picked up and placed in a convenient bowl of water.

Gaston's graveFloral tributes 1Floral tributes 2Mo has left me with enough food to see me through to Monday.  I began today with her spicy pumpkin soup followed by her delicious chicken dish and a creme caramel.

Floral tributes 3As drops spattered on the canopy above my head outside Le Code Bar, which was, like everywhere else today, closed, a passing small child watching me at my blog, informed me that it was raining.Floral tributes 4  I thanked her graciously.

Earlier, a man had asked me where, in Sigoules, he could find a shop where kouskous was made on the premises.  Not understanding his question I told him the bar would be open at 7.30.  We had to start again, and I didn’t know anyway, so I wasn’t really much help.  He didn’t fancy waiting until the morning for Carrefour’s produce, nor did he wish to avail himself of my offer of some from my fridge.  Maybe because I said it had come from Carrefour.

It Ain’t Half Cold/Hot Mum

rue Traversiere, Sigoules  2.12Waking this morning between a warm sheet and duvet, then being struck by the cold air of the bedroom and colder atmosphere of the corridor through to the equally freezing bathroom, I reflected on the vagaries of temperature.  Climbing into bed last night, greeted by the shock of wintry sheets, I had soon warmed up.  The body has its own internal cumbustion engine.  Blessed with a beneficial blood circulation, I am often oblivious of changes in temperature at home in England.  The climate there is, on the whole, more temperate than in the Dordogne.  Up or down, there is usually a ten degrees centigrade difference.

This area is very hot and arid throughout the long summer months, yet can, for a few brief hibernal weeks, be bitterly cold.  Snow is no stranger to Sigoules, but it is a most transient visitor.  Judith tells me that they went from minus nineteen to plus nineteen in a fortnight last winter in Razac d’Eymet.

For the first few days I was here this time I kept an electric heater on all day in the living room and – unheard of in England – all night in the bedroom.  I slept in my clothes, including socks, and hastily added a dressing gown for my nocturnal trips along the corridor.  Although it is still cold I no longer need the heater at night.  Last week was so much warmer that I needed no heating at all.  Jackie tells me it is now more clement in Hampshire than it is here.

Or have we just become so accustomed to central heating that we forget the freezing winters of our childhood and are no longer robust enough to withstand the temperatures in a mostly unheated stone house?  Mind you, it is refreshingly cooler inside during the summer.

The greatest sudden contrast I have experienced was in Perth, Australia in 2007.  Louisa, Errol, their infant Jessica, and I arrived at 2.00 a.m. on Christmas morning to stay with the delightful Gay and Mick O’Neill in preparation for Sam’s marriage to Holly.  We had abandoned a bleak London to disembark from an Air Singapore plane feeling as if we were walking into an oven.  Even at that time it was more than forty humid degrees, in the hottest summer the Australians could remember.  There, the essential facility for a home is air conditioning rather than central heating.  All the news on our hotel room in Melbourne the following week was either of forest fires or severe flooding in one place or another in that vast continent.  The nearest sylvan inferno blazed right up to the end of Mick’s mother’s road.

Jessica fought a long losing campaign to get me into winter woollies.  As I sit here in a long lanate Lakeland jumper, I am now grateful that she bought me that one.

I warmed up in Le Code Bar with a scrumptious pulse and noodles soup; a vol-au-vent filled to overflowing with a delicious sauce that just had to be mopped up with bread; a large slice of lean pork cooked on the, minimal, bone and a plentiful platter of crisp chips; completed by two fresh coffee eclairs, probably from the superb boulangerie.

Clouds brought both rain and comparative warmth this afternoon. rue Traversiere,  Sigoules (2) 2.12 After tramping around damp and dripping village streets I set off down the D17, took a left turn just before the leisure centre, up a narrow winding byroad, left at the top, and back down past the lake to rue St. Jacques. Donkey on hilltop 2.12 From the top of his field the mud-spattered donkey silently surveyed my passing on the D17.  When I walked by along the hillside track the dogs had their usual go at me.  He left them to it.

Chateau Cluzeau 2.12The upward climb offered a level, albeit rain-veiled, view of Chateau Cluzeau.

Today’s title is a parody that of the 1974-1981 television sitcom series ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ based on the adventures of an execrable concert party entertaining the troops in Burma.