Monday, 25 August 2008

Bonjour tristesse

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!


Arabella Sock said...

We love caneoing and I wouldn't mind trying the go-karting. Lose the Robbie William's CDs we'll bring our own. We are quite happy to eat anything we're given other than innardy stuff and even then we don't mind a bit of gizzard.

We'll bring the marmite etc. plus the Peach Flambes and whatever else you want plant wise.

When can we stay?

granro said...

You did say I was welcome to your house in January, but having spent a few days of my holiday in wet Brittany I would have to decline! A wet miserable day is bad wherever you are. Cabin fever is possible even in a town.
I fully understand the guest bit, I've found myself to be very 'popular' this summer and it's worn me out. There have been several days when I have had guests when I haven't managed to get into the garden at all, other than to pick salad leaves. I have made the guests do the watering for me just to get out of the kitchen.

Arabella would obviously make a delightful guest. Bagsy you have her first.

granro said...

I meant, just to get THEM out of my kitchen!

Fat Rascal said...

I'm expanding on my shopping list for Arabella...
Custard tarts, Tunnock's tea cakes, most of Boots and M&S, slug pellets, blood fish and bone....I don't suppose fish and chips travel well?

Wrong tactic, granro - you should escape outside to do the watering and hand them the potato peeler!

granro said...

Of course! I knew I was doing something wrong.

You forgot the Provado. I swear she sniffs it on the quiet.

Anonymous said...

Anonymousjan's Visitors CV
We can come in the winter months.
I sleep a lot and so am no bother for at least 12 out of 24.
I smoke a lot but will smoke outside
I drink a lot but love company when drinking
I will nurture any animals but not complain if served meat.
I will cook, if allowed.
If I can't bear your choice of music I will take myself off and read.
How's that so far?
Oh - and I don't mind gardening of course.
My travelling shrine to Monty Don is small and compact.

Arabella Sock said...

The Socks have a great visitors CV

We will only stay one night in order that we can have dinner with you and then not drink and drive. After that we will decamp to an hotel or villa nearby and meet up occasionally for lunches and activities. Thereby gaining the privacy we like and not having to be sociable first thing in the morning or when we would prefer to have gone to bed!

Anonymous said...

I'll see you and raise you Arabella.
I will shovel snow!
Actually, since you are only an unmatched pair of socks, there's probably room for us at the same time.

Miss Maple said...

I am a great houseguest, as long as you have wireless, ha ha. I will facebook you first thing to ask you if you want a cup of tea, endlessly make clafoutis, and am very good at wearing out small children.

I am very allergic to cats, but I can take antihistamines, although if they actually come and sit on me, I am helpless in the face of a tide of phlegm.

The only thing I go mad about is people who eat their meals at all different weird times, and when you say "Well don't worry, i'll just make myself a sandwich, I have weird blood sugar," they say, "oh but it'll be ready in five minutes" when they actually mean forty-five. Can't deal with the sugar swings this causes.

I am good at finding local things you never even knew about and making you go to them. I do like a chat with an old French lady, man or dog. I love going to the supermarket. I never get drunk at anyone else's house. I am extremely competitive and for this reason it's inadvisable to allow me to participate in any board games. Or croquet. Please lord, my probation officer begs you, no croquet.

Miss Maple said...

oops! I'm signed in as Miss Maple. It's me, Emma T!

Arabella Sock said...

Ha ha! That is so funny. I was thinking Miss Maple seems a bit familiar.

Anonymous said...

I knew it was Emma because of the cat snot!
I'll see your peach flambees and raise with 8 Emperor's something or other -threw the seed packet away

Fat Rascal said...

I am studying your CVs as they come in and will probably announce someone totally unexpected as the Perfect Guest.

Nobody's asked if they could bring their dog/s yet, which would be the clincher!

Obelixx said...

Having had similar experiences since we moved to Belgium I can quite see the need for a perfect guest. I can make or fetch my own breakfast if needs be (and bring supplies of Belgian cramique and craquelin), won't drink your liquor at all and won't binge on your vino. I promise to admire your garden and help water the pots and be nice to your local donkies. Lastly, I will bring Rasta dog who will cuddle you to bits. She is a discerning tart in that respect.

Fat Rascal said...

Apart from not bringing parcels, dogs make the perfect guests!

Eat what they're given, don't shut themselves in the bathroom for ages, happy to lie on the couch and watch Corrie with you, chase all the feral cats ...and most importantly, don't speak to you before you've had your coffeee in the morning!

Obelixx said...

Rasta can do parcels. We can get everything here from English recipe Heinz beans to Marmite, ginger biscuits and curry spices, sauces and chutneys.

Have you thought of inviting a Jack Russell to chase the attic resident?

Anonymous said...

This is spooky..., unless you have written a novel.
First line in a nvel I picked up
It was cold in France in January.
In winter no-one wanted to visit me.The last visit was always in October;the first was the end of March.......