Summer has ended

Yes, even here in the south of France.  I was woken at six by heavy rain and this afternoon we have had intermittent rain and thunder.  I’m trying to remember when it last rained.  I know we had a violent storm in mid-July.  I think it might have rained once in August.

We’ll probably only have a couple of days of rain, but it will bring the temperatures down.  Two days ago the afternoon temperature was 35 degrees; I suspect that it will be at least ten degrees cooler over the coming week.

After a cool start in June it has been a remarkable summer. Pity it had to end now, as I have more visitors arriving tomorrow.

Unwelcome visitor

Unwelcome visitorLet’s hope it is just passing. I could do without a hornets’ nest.

These, on the other hand, are welcome, if only they would stay still long enough for me to catch them in focus.  (You can just see one hiding under and behind a flower.) This bush was covered in black bees today, despite the fact that the flowers are almost over.

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Visiting Ikea (almost) a pleasure

This year I finally sold my Piaggo scooter and last month, in a low moment, I ordered an electric scooter.  After seeing a young man zooming round the pedestrian areas of Cagnes-sur-Mer I toyed with the idea of a ‘trotinette electrique’ like this:

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They are cheap, cool, whizz around at an impressive speed, fold up for a car boot, and can have a good battery life.  Then sanity sadly prevailed.  I’m 70, with a growing number of artificial joints. Plus I discovered that they are not only too heavy for me to lift into the car, but that it is illegal to drive them on the pavement.

Instead I bought the lightest of the three-wheeler versions (at three times the price!). These are legal on pavements and indoors as they are classified as disability aids.


Apart from a nervous trip up my steep, potholed road, yesterday’s trip to look at kitchens in Ikea was my first outing. Crossing the large underground carpark was a sheer pleasure and inside – apart from a near miss with someone’s feet – negotiating the route you are forced along was easy.  (Not so simple to push people out of the way to look more closely at door handles and knobs.)  Anyhow, I emerged not feeling like a wet rag.

Just at the moment, thanks to anti-inflammatories, I don’t really need the scooter out here.  It can’t handle the local roads, but I do anticipate using it when sight-seeing round other towns in France.  I plan to bring it on the plane to London and look forward to zooming along those endless corridors at Gatwick Airport.

Bionic woman

Shoulder, knee or hip?  Which won the race to be the next to be replaced.  Answer: shoulder – though it was a close run finish.


I saw THE hand/arm/elbow man in Montpellier, this evening (appointment at 8.30pm, seen at 9.45pm).  He said instantly that my shoulder was completely riddled with arthritic holes and growths (not that I can see any of this in the X-rays).

The surgeon confirmed what all the other doctors have been saying: the shoulder needs replacing.  (I won’t know what sort of replacement till after some scans in October.) Provisional operation date: Monday 18 Novembre.  I’ll be in hospital for up to a week, and then four-five weeks in a maison de reeducation.  He insists on one in Montpellier, rather than our local place, Les Chataigniers.

So it looks as if I might be eating hospital food this Christmas. And I’ll have to break the news to my fellow musicians.  It affects our Christmas concert.

And who knows, next year it might be a knee …. ……



You can rely on my nearest village, Serres, to provide enough dramas and intrigues to fill a novel.  The latest is a spectacular fire last week, which gutted one of the houses in Serres le Bas (that part of the village beside the main road rather than up on the hill), lived in by a member of one of the local families plus his partner and toddler.


The fire burnt all evening with the last of the pompiers (fire engines which double up as ambulances) leaving at 1am, and the gendarmes an hour later.

Onlookers’ immediate reaction was that it must have been caused by the family, as he is known to like a glass or two…  But it turned out that the family had left for a holiday a couple of days earlier and the couple who rent the house next door are now in police detention.  (He was found lying in the middle of the road by the pompiers.)

Let’s hope that the victims are properly insured, though it drove home how nothing can replace personal possessions like family photos.

Ursula and Nick Sims-Williams

My cousin Ursula and her husband Nick paid an all too short visit – just a long weekend.


Apart from the standard tours, we played a lot of music – C.P. Bach and Telemann.  Ursula had her oboe with her and Nick, who came without French horn, played on my pretty awful Casio keyboard.

Ursula, who is curator of Iranian Collections at the British Library, showed me some of the manuscripts she is busy cataloguing.  I so regret missing her exhibition at the BL last winter.

We filled in knowledge gaps each had of family history and vowed to work collaboratively on family records.

Oh, and we discovered we were fellow iPad enthusiasts, though our enthusiasm was not shared by Nick.