I have just had a lovely week with Jude, Ed, Ella and Maddie – despite the unseasonably cool weather and two days rain. (Kate and family were meanwhile having a hot, exotic holiday in Mauritius.
Their visits are always action-packed. The parents normally go on a long walk before breakfast, while I look after the girls. On one day Ella and Maddie joined them on their usual Esparon-Bréau trek, only this time they reversed the route and continued along the ridge to Molieres (I reckon about 12 kilometres).
On perhaps the coolest day we visited the impressive knights templar fortifications at La Couvertoirade. On warmer days we enjoyed pottering around as usual down by the river near my house, at Le Rieumage, once with our traditional BP picnic. Ella and Maddie even paddled in the river’s icy water – Ella even swam, albeit rather briefly.
A highlight was the now routine trip to our splendidly arranged accros branches (tree climbing) centre. It is a wonderful setting, high up on the Causses above le Vigan, with courses at a different levels – green, yellow, blue, red and black (the latter mainly for adults full of adrenalin). Both girls have come along tremendously in their confidence and skills. Maddie really enjoyed it for the first time, successfully negotiating courses green 1 and 2. Ella whizzed through the yellow courses and tackled blue 1. I didn’t see much of this as it was so high above us. Perhaps the main accolade should be for the parents, who accompanied their children. Jude, who hates heights, had once again to face the horrors of the green course, including crawling through a tunnel designed for children. Ed had been praying that Ella would decide against tackling the tall, tall tree at the start of the blue course – and then had to face climbing it himself. Ella has been on a few tree climbing courses in England, but says this one is the best. She admitted to being afraid but then pleased with herself at having overcome her fear.
There was of course an Easter egg hunt and lots of chocolate eating. But there was also much happy pottering around the garden, playing complicated imaginary games which involved much running up and down the terraces and of course, long sessions on the double swing, with both parents nobly doing lots of pushing.
Meals cooked by Ed were as usual a highlight, with energetic conversation by all. And the weather meant we played more games than usual, from Pelman to the game which we are all now addicted: Monopoly Deal This has little to do with Monopoly, its parent, but is a game of luck and tactics. I’m probably the worst player and Ella the best.
Now it is all over. They are back in London, and the washing machine has run its last cycle.