I can’t believe that it is three weeks since I last wrote – perhaps one of the longest silences recently. Why? Because there has been a lot of energy-sapping hot weather plus have had two lovely weeks with the BP (Bennion Pedley) family.
Despite the heat their visit was incredibly action packed. Jude and Ed have taken up a regime of rigorous exercise (plus healthier eating) which they continued throughout most of the holiday. Ella and Maddie slept in the house with me, while Jude and Ed were down in the old house and set off on a brisk walk (several miles each morning) at about 7am. There were also quite a few family walks later in the day, some of them of impressive length and undertaken in the mid-day sun. The family has developed a new repertoire of local walks on paths on the hillsides above the valley, joining the various local hamlets and villages. Inevitably Maddie gets some carries (probably her last in the backpack) but Ella clocks up the kilometres.
Every day involved sessions by the pool or bassin, of course. Ella has been a water babe for several years and jumps and swims under water with enthusiastic abandon. Maddie started the holiday clinging to her parents’ necks, insisting she was going to ‘dwown’. Magically their patience paid off and by the end of the fortnight she love doggy paddling (usually backwards) and floating independently (with armbands of course) and did not want to get out of the water.
The pool sessions were interspersed with trips to Le Rieumage (the local river, where we also picnic) and the campsite at La Corconne (where lunch in the cafe is a highlight). Maddie enjoyed the shallower water of the ‘beach’ there and the two of them reminded me so much of Kate and Jude in the same river when they were young.
A more ambitious trip was to the very well set up tree climbing park ‘Les Accros d’Anjeau’ where Ella (accompanied by Ed) developed her skills traversing the wires high up among the trees. I had not realised until this year that these adventure parks are all the rage these days. We first went to one in Italy and the local one in Montardier is even better (with excellent, friendly staff). A very good experience for Ella, though Maddie was less impressed and did not appreciate sharing the toddlers’ trampoline with some rather energetic older children!
The whole family (minus me) also did a long trip to Aqualand at Cap d’Agde on the coast. This is apparently a giant water park with a huge variety of water slides and chutes. Definitely a hit with Ella, despite capsizing once on the fearsome black hole ride.
What was lovely for me to watch was how much both children – and the parents – enjoyed just pottering round the house and garden. When it was very hot they were inside, Maddie (and me!) often taking a siesta while Ella was gripped by the Horrible History videos (which I also found entertaining!). She is also reading Harry Potter, so the trip to the magnificent toy shop in Montpellier on our way to the airport inevitably involved acquiring a splendid wand plus witch’s hat. (Unlike Otto, who ‘is’ Harry, Ella sees herself as Hermione, the brains of the gang).