Fat Rascal guest blogs from France
It's that time of year, not quite the end of summer but the duvet is back on the bed and the apéro is better taken indoors.
We've just had a warmer summer than most and I am truly grateful. No drought, no heatwave, no endless rain and blight and just one (welcome) guest.
Peter Mayle wrote about it better than I could in "One Year in Provence" but when we first moved here we did seem to spend most of our summers driving backwards and forwards to Rodez airport while the washing machine went into overdrive coping with sheets and towels.
People who were happy to forget us for 10/12ths of the year would ring up at the start of the school holidays and ask what we were doing in July or August.
You don't NEED visitors in the summer, you need them in January and February when cabin fever sets in and you realise a week has passed an you've only spoken to each other or the checkout girl in the supermarket.
Visitors bring their children too. They don't want to go and see the piggywigs or go raspberry picking in the forest. They take over your computer to check their e-mail and facebook, they take over your telly to watch cartoons or plug in their games console. There is even an in-law who takes over my car and ejects all my Robbie Williams CDs. Unforgivable.
You find yourself getting hot and dusty at the go-cart track or driving the service vehicle along the river while they are canoeing - children must never be allowed to be bored in the country! If they're French they don't like anything you cook and if they're English they don't like anything they're served in a restaurant.
So this year has been wonderful. I've been able to take a full hour to water all my pots in the evening without the pressure of catering or laundry. I could wander out in the garden with my coffee in the morning, still in my dressing gown and wear my very disreputable but oh so comfy holey shorts!
Just another couple of weeks now and visitors will be welcome again! Even more so if they come bearing jars of Marmite and boxes of tea bags, a pile of books and the impression that they've come to see you and that's all they need!
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