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Good neighbours

For years I have lived between two empty second homes, until Ben came to live in the house next to mine a year ago. Since then he has acquired a partner, Alexia, and the two of them could not be nicer next door neighbours (a particularly welcome relief after the somewhat difficult relations with the previous owners).

We don’t spend much time together, they are after all young – Ben is 35 and Alexia I think a bit younger. But we always wave cheerily and call out bonjour. When I need something doing (like the garden tap I could not turn off!), I just have to call Ben. And I am delighted they asked me to look after their cats earlier this year.

I was invited round for a drink a couple of days ago, and it turned out I had been invited to drinks and then supper. We spent the best part of five hours together and made inroads into several bottles! (I dont think I overstayed my welcome as I left shortly after we finished eating.)

The outside of their house is most unprepossessing, but the inside is much nicer and the view from their terrace stunning. It is different from my view; it takes in the hillside from Bréau up to the Col de Mouzoules at the west.

We talked about everything – work, Covid, living in the Cévennes, the Cévenoles (Ben is from the Cote d’Azur and Alexia from Paris).

They are both vaccinated and are perplexed by the anti-vax movement here. Ben has met another neighbour of ours, an educated man, who said he would not be vaccinated because he did not trust the Government not to have put some sort of controlling agent into the vaccine!

Their cats, Mimi and Jango, are very much present. Mimi in particular follows Ben round like a dog. My tenant, Diren’s, two cats are also regular visitors, and we watched the four of them romping around on the terrace below. I’m not keen on cats but I admit that the four of them almost convert me,

I thought Ben and Alexia might be bored coming to this backwater. On the contrary. They love the peace and relish the scenery. Ben goes for runs along the local hills and the two of them take their cycles up into the mountains. Nearer home they both showed me a vast collection of spectacular sunrises from their terrace (excellent photos taken on their mobile phones). So I am not the only one to obsessively capture the view from my bedroom and terraces again and again!

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