Humidity Rules

My normal journey to a sweltering Sigoules this morning began rather earlier than it should, which meant poor Jackie was forced to rise from sleep before she would have liked.  This was because I was unable to check in on line.  Flybe’s representative had told me yesterday afternoon that Southampton airport had ‘taken over prematurely’.  He, too, was unable to process me, so, like everyone else, I had to join a queue.  Dana, Sandrine’s husband, was my chauffeur from Bergerac to Sigoules.

Back hall

Back hall by shower roomSitting room wallIt was a good thing that Saufiene had phoned me yesterday, because the firmly shut up house had suffered from a hot and humid summer which still persists.  The lack of outside air has wreaked its havoc.  Necessary work is under way.  Otherwise it would have been something of a shock.  The insulation applied earlier in the year has held, but more is required, especially in the attic which needs insulating.  The back hall on the ground floor, and the chimney breasts in the sitting room have been affected the most.  The bedrooms, kitchen, and front hall are clean and dry.

Toxic fumes from black mould and fungus have been trapped in the cellar, necessitating the wearing of a protective mask for entry. Sandra in attic Anthony starting on trapdoorA lighter trapdoor is being manufactured, and Saufiene, with the required protection, will examine it further tomorrow.

The new company’s expanded team are doing the work because Thierry has to be at the bedside, 300 km away, of his 98 year old hospitalised mother.  He and Geoffrey sent their regards.

Insulation materialSandra is well equipped to decorate the attic.

As the workers were about to leave, they discovered that the bath outlet was blocked.  They applied a solution to deal with that, but a perished joint needs changing.  Tomorrow.

The irritating beeping of a smoke detector signalled that a replacement battery was in order.  I replaced it.  The device still beeped.  The new battery must have been exhausted.  I know I was when I made a second trip to Carrefour for one that wasn’t.  There I discovered an obsolete English shilling and a still current East Caribbean 25 cent piece in the change I swear I was given there earlier.

I dined on a muesli starter followed by a ham and tomato baguette, before repairing to Le Code Bar for a warm welcome and a cold Stella.

Propelled Back To England

HallI had one last laugh with Thierry and Geoffrey yesterday evening.  As I prepared to leave Le Code Bar, having finished posting that day’s blog entry and amending the English version of his bilingual summer restaurant menu, David told me my builders were seated under the outside canopy having a drink.  I bade them a further farewell and went back to the house to find it cleaned spotlessly.  Returning to the bar I told them that the place was so clean I was scared to go in.  They were so amused by this that Geoffrey interrupted his mobile phone conversation to laugh uproariously.

Back at the house I took my shoes off and entered in my socks.  A short while later Geoffrey returned for his jacket which he’d forgotten.  He took his shoes off.  As he left I raised my right, still unshod, leg so my foot could be seen by Thierry in the car.  More guffaws.

PropellerJohn Blair’s contribution to the Oxford History provided my late night and early morning reading, and I continued on the plane with John Gillingham’s ‘The Early Middle Ages’.

Courtesy of Lydie, Flybe, and Jackie, I took my usual route home to Minstead, which was rather more overcast than the Aquitaine I had left an hour or so earlier.  As we had soared aloft into the bright sunshine above the scattered clouds,Bergerac from plane I was unable to distinguish the individual speedily spinning propeller blades, but the camera could.

Coast of western FranceThe spaces between the clouds afforded interesting views of the French coast.


Jackie's gardenBack in Minstead all the trees were now fully in leaf; the rhododendrons in Castle Malwood Lodge garden were looking stunning; and Jackie’s pots had somehow multiplied themselves, their plants having flourished.Violas  It is amazing what Baby Bio can do for violas.

We drove to Eastern Nights in Thornhill for our evening meal after which we dropped in on Elizabeth for a brief visit and scared ourselves with the amount of weeding there is to be done in this well-fed, now profusely blooming, garden.

Back to Normality

After three weeks in the idyllic village atmosphere of Sigoules I returned to Morden today.  Having spent the morning continuing ‘the big tidy up’, the rest of the day was spent travelling. Flybe plane 8.12 By Lydie’s taxi to Bergerac airport; by plane to Southampton; train to Waterloo; and finally tube to Morden.

Having started it last night, my reading on the journey was almost the rest of Hammond Innes’ ‘The Land God Gave to Cain’.  Whilst standing in the queue at the departure gate at Bergerac, I noticed a wallet underneath a still occupied seat in the lounge.  Leaving my bag to mark my place, I walked over, picked up the wallet and asked the man sitting above it if it was his.  It was.  He was most grateful.  He turned out to be seated across the aisle from me in the plane, and continued his thanks there.  Whilst waiting for the call to board I got in conversation with a family of four.  The youngest little boy had a toy rabbit called ‘ra-ra’ which was clearly his transitional object.  It was dropped under the seat so often that his mother decided to put it in her bag for safe keeping.  As we were queueing to present our passports at Southampton I jokingly asked if she’d got the rabbit.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t sure and had to rifle through her bag to satisfy herself it was still there.  Oh dear.  Perhaps that was an unnecessary anxiety.

By the time I arrived at Waterloo I was pretty drowsy.  There’s nothing like trying to cross that Underground station to wake you up.  Everyone is rushing.  Most people keep their eyes fixed on the direction in which they are going, often dragging their wheelie-bags behind them.  Here was a reminder of what life is like for those still in work and an abrupt reintroduction to the big city after the more relaxed atmosphere of the countryside.  This is not just a question of different countries.  It is the contrast between less populated rural and congested city lives.  It was something that struck me when we moved to Newark from Streatham in 1987.  Suddenly people spoke to you in the street.  They were prepared to give way when driving.  They didn’t push past you in a crowd.  Somehow they all had more time.

Today at Waterloo I had just come from an environment where people all said good morning to you whether they knew you or not, and had plenty of time for each other.  Being fortunate enough to find a seat on the tube, I joined the rest of commuting London.  Each individual was isolated behind their newspaper, book, or thoughts.  Hammond Innes made sure I was just the same as everyone else.  Anonymity is possible in a crowded environment, impossible in a sparsely populated area.  In a day or two, no doubt, I will be a Londoner again.  Just now I’m a country boy.  At least I know which country.

After a while spent catching up with each other, Jackie and I had a meal at ‘Watch Me’, our favourite Morden restaurant.  Our absence whilst I have been in France was noted, but it didn’t stop the waiter, knowing what we like, to suggest what we would wish to eat.  We followed his accurate choices and drank Kingfisher.