End of summer visitors

Well, today marks the end of the longest period of visitors I have ever had.  The first arrived in mid-June and the last yesterday.  And now I’m back on my own.  It’s been a great summer; I have loved the visits.  Thank you all for coming.  And thank you all those who made up for my laziness in the kitchen! Please come again.

Just to mark the end of the visiting season, it has just started to rain!  It has of course been an extraordinary summer when, apart from some July thunderstorms, we have had about one day’s rain a month.

Two hours later:


Rose and Kath’s last day

It’s amazing how much time we spend preparing meals, eating, talking or just pottering.  But we did venture out in the afternoon so I could show Rose and Kath the natural pool at the holiday house of my Belgian friends, Anne and Philippe. They have surveyed the proposed location for my pool and are most enthusiastic, and looking at this gave them a better understanding of the relationship between the pools with reeds in ( to clean the water) and the main pool for swimming.

Another panoramic shot with my iPhone 🙂

20130926_IMG_1668.JPGThe water is not as murky as it looks in this photo, but undoubtedly there will be a day of cleaning at the start of the season.



Local walk to quatre chemins

Rose and Kath did one of my favourite local walks yesterday: to Serres, up to quatre chemins, along an unsignposted track and then down the easy to miss path that leads back to Serres.

20130927_serres-4chemins-cimetiere-walkTo help me document this walk for others, they took key photos.

This first is one of the key moments when you can go wrong.  You have walked through the village of Serres, taking the upper fork by the fountain, sweated up the steep hill and you arrive at ‘quatre chemins’ – the four roads, and the one you want is the one with no signpost.  This photo is taken from the path that leads up the hills for the much longer walk to la Cravate, to the left is the path to Aulas, and the path leading up from Serres is on your right.  Rose is pointing at the unsigned track that leads southwards, towards le Bruel.

Quatre chemins


This is just a nice view back, to the hills behind Serres



Then comes the crucial turning.  If you have Poppy with you, you just follow her.  Otherwise you look for a more obvious path turning off to the left, and opposite it is the easy to miss path which meanders down the hill, past a dry stone wall belonging to Alain Bourrée.

Turn right on track to cemetery


Have faith, Rose.  Poppy knows the way.

Path meanders down hill


Eventually the path joins a larger track and if you turn right, you are walking back past the cemetery and then three houses to the village of Serres.

Right, onto wider track



I find it impossible to take photos of butterflies – unless, like this one, they are dead.  I stealthily follow them from flower to flower, but they close their wings as soon as they settle. Even dead I don’t know what it was – a white admiral?

20130924_IMG_1666.JPG (1)

Of course, while I was playing, Kath and Rose were hard at work in kitchen and garden…  They prune and weed almost absentmindedly it is so natural.  At the entrance way they have cut back the magnificent but intrusive pyracantha.


Up to Mont Aigoual

My friends Rose and Kath arrived yesterday.  Amazingly, given the endless fine weather this year, it looks all set not to rain during their visit this time!

We did one of my favourite trips: up through Aulas and Arphy, lunch at la Cravate, on up to Mont Aigoual and back down through Valleraugue.  What wonderful views, despite today’s haze.  And everything was just on the verge of autumn – another couple of weeks and the leaves will be turning.  I should come up more often.





Downloaded the latest system for the iPhone and iPad yesterday – of course.  So far I’ve not had time to find out much about it, except that it has instant access to things like a timer, the camera and, on the iPhone,  snazzy  torch.  But the camera app is improved and one thing you can do is panoramic photos – the sort I used to have to ‘stitch’ several photos together to do.  I tried it out yesterday looking at the chateau opposite (in the last blog) and today, standing on the terrace:



[Click on the photo to enlarge it]

Our latest concert

Phew, it’s over!  Curious, my feelings after a concert are always first, relief that it’s over and that I survived, then regret and frustration that I allowed nerves to get the better of me – and the wish that I could play everything all over again.

Our latest concert was in a stunning setting, a beautiful valley near Anduze.  Across the road from our concert venue was this magnificent big, austere (Protestant….) pile.  It is owned by the family of a woman who was one of Mitterand’s ministers.20130921_IMG_1660.JPG

The Temple de St Sébastien d’Aigrefeuille, an early nineteenth century Protestant church (‘temple’ in France) recently restored as a cultural centre.  Outside, the temple looks like so many in the Cévennes.


Inside, the stark black and white décor were not to the taste of all, including the former mayor who started the restoration project, but I liked it.





We were five in our ensemble and the concert was a programme consisting entirely of French music, played before one of our smallest audiences ever!  Not surprising given that the total population of the commune is about 500.

Afterwards we stopped for an impromptu meal at a very good restaurant en route to Anduze.



Our next generation – witch children?

My nearly-four granddaughter, Ella, is currently completely obsessed by Rapunzel, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and all things magical, mysterious, scary or beautiful – preferably all mingled up.  Her stories tend to feature princesses (with golden tresses of course) locked up in towers, witches and wicked stepmothers (actually at present, step-sisters).

Her very best friend is Henry .


Born a week apart (mothers at the same NCT class), they shared a childminder from babyhood, and moved on to the same nursery, but are now sadly in separate nurseries after Ella’s move to south London. Henry is obsessed by superman and tigers.  He goes everywhere dressed in a superman costume, carrying a toy tiger.

The two have decided, of course, that they will get married when older.



Actually they often say they are already married.  Henry was overheard to say that they should have eight children, Ella was heard to ask if three was not more reasonable.  In a recent Facetime session we asked Ella where this family would live.  In a cottage in the middle of the wood, she replied.  And there would be eight children not three – all witch children.