Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Rain Near Spain

The mediaeval castle which can be seen from our window can also be viewed from the sunflower fields. Click to enlarge the picture.
Last time I mentioned the weather, it was to say that, almost at the end of June, summer had not yet arrived here in the South of France. We had already had more than a year's supply of rain and temperatures were well below 20 degrees Celsius. Things were not growing, either in the fields or in Gay's potager or vegetable garden.

We made a flying visit to England at the beginning of July and when we debarked from the plane at Carcassonne on our return it was hot and sunny. It has remained so ever since, except for some spectacular - and inevitable - thunderstorms which have really made the welkins ring (ancient English term - welkin, the vault of heaven).

Despite all the heat and occasional baptism of the ground during said storms, all the crops here are still well behind because of the slow start. Normally the sunflower crop, which seems to be more widespread than ever this year, would be in its dying-away phase, when the seeds, which are the real objective of the whole beautiful exercise, dry out and await harvesting. But this year the flowers are still with us and delighting the eye.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Nostalgia Trip, But Not For Us

One of two identical feature windows on the top floor - is this a Cathar cross?

A view of the ancient castle from one of our bedrooms

First thing the granddaughter sees as she enters the maison

I mentioned earlier in the blog that we have the house up for sale.

Many people must have passed through the doors of this building since it was built by a drum major in the Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte. And many people have lived here.

The day we moved in, 16 or 17 years ago, an old man appeared at the door. Let us call him Monsieur Dupuy. He told us that he grew up in the house, which at the time belonged to his family. We told him we had made many changes and invited him in for a look, but he would not.

He died many years ago - I could tell you about spooky things which happened in the house on the day of his passing but I will save that for another day - but we do know his son, who lives in Grenoble and keeps another house in the village, which he inherited from his father, as a holiday home (as so many in France do).

Last night as we returned from our excellent village Afghan restaurant The Pamir, we were approached by a young woman and two men, who asked us if our house is indeed up for sale. Gay invited them in for a look. The woman turned out to be the granddaughter of old Monsieur Dupuy and she was familiar with the house when she was young. She was amazed at how different it is now. We have replaced everything except the original stone walls and we realised the other day that the amount we have spent on these improvements (not counting the price we originally paid for the house) is in fact more than our asking price now, so somebody is going to get a bargain. Put the price up, you say? No chance, the French housing market is not in the same league as those in UK and some other countries.

Our visitors were making noises as if they would be interested in buying, of course, but we realise they were only tire-kicking. That's fine in this case because it was a pleasure to have the connection and, as we had not been able to give Monsieur Dupuy a nostalgia trip, to skip a generation and to demonstrate the house to his granddaughter instead.

Click on any picture to get a gallery of enlargements