It’s a fortnight since I last wrote. The BPs – Jude and family have been and now departed; the Gillies – Kate and family – overlapped and will be here till next week. I start the morning at 6.30, putting the robot in the pool and all too soon the children are awake, and my normal quiet writing time in the morning is over.
The BPs arrived from an active visit to the Ile de Rey and continued with their usual impressive round of walks (Ed and Jude doing one while the children are still asleep in the morning), swimming, canoeing, a visit to the water park near Agde, picnics beside the local river, trips to the old campsite and, together with the Gillies, a visit to Accrobranche, the splendid local tree climbing centre.
Ed as usual was the cook and even managed to fit in an impressive lunch for our friends, Charles and Pierre. He regarded my dietary limitations as a culinary challenge. Rather than expecting me to eat something different, he modified his usual range of family dishes, though sadly this meant he did not lay on his two special annual treats, roast lamb followed by tarte tatin. It is still a strange summer, to have no barbecued food, spicy dishes, salads or cheese, all washed down by glasses of water, while others knock back the wine and beer.
The BPs like their food and meals are regarded as highlights. Just before the end of their holiday, Ed looked out at the view one morning and said “I do enjoy breakfasts”. So do I. It is perhaps my best time of the day. I’m full of energy and enjoy this moment of communal leisure.
Ella and Maddie are now great conversationalists. Meals are a time when we all talk and Ella in particular holds forth with articulate gusto. But Maddie is holding her own, fiercely competitive and refusing to accept that she is three years younger. How often one hears the indignant “That’s not fair!” as Maddie measures portions, considers what role she has been given in a game or resists going to bed earlier. Most of the time they play wonderfully together, Ella making diplomatic concessions in their endless games of pretend and the evening shows she put on for us grownups.
Both girls are more interested in communication than sporting activities, with the big exception of swimming. Maddie has made huge progress with her confident doggy paddle, crossing the pool fearlessly (though still insistent that her face must not go under water) while Ella has a superb range of strokes – breast stroke, a stylish crawl, and even butterfly. Perhaps even more impressive was the way both tackled the tree climbing. Ella was the star, refusing to allow fear of heights prevent her from completing a nail-biting course (green 3) which Ed, who followed her, admitted was one of the scariest things he had done.
Ed and Jude meanwhile managed to have quite a lot of leisure time, walking or lying by the pool. And in the evenings I was introduced to the addictive game of Monopoly Deal. So far I am the dunce while Ella, who learnt it a few days after me, proved a star (beginner’s luck, I say…).
Their ten days here came to an end too soon. I miss them already. Seeing the grandchildren so little is the main downside to living here, but we did pack in