The French think that the British like France because of the fine food, excellent weather and French hospitality. Possibly true but one other reason is that, for people of a certain age, France reminds them of the Britain of their childhood. You remember? Roads you could play in, night skies which had stars in them in and landscapes of endless fields and woodlands. Another example might be contributed by Taradeau’s police force of precisely one, a charming lady who has the time to engage in conversation with you and who, with one or two significant differences, is the village bobby of your youth. It’s that sort of place.
Nevertheless when we wrote last week’s blog we did it on Wednesday and didn’t mention that on the following day we were going to the UK. Advertising your absence is not a good idea these days. We went primarily for the memorial service of Alison’s uncle Fred Catherwood, which was held in Cambridge, but also took the opportunity to catch up with family in Leamington, Preston and London. It was a busy six days and it reminded us of another difference between Britain and France: here the motorways are empty enough that you actually can use cruise control.
We came back to a house filled with the boxes and furniture, which had been delivered the day before we flew to the UK, and have since been busy, amongst many other things, in unpacking and sorting things. And as everybody knows that sort of thing is far from simple. So for instance you find out you can’t unpack the books and put them away because you can’t get at the bookcase to put them in because it’s hidden behind boxes of books… But we’ve made great progress. Interestingly enough, although it was cold in the UK, the nights here have been very cold, and we’ve had many frosty mornings, though they rapidly give way to pleasant daylight hours.
Matters were made difficult by the fact that we had quite simply too much furniture, courtesy of the fact that the previous occupants left, in a most generous fashion, everything to us. Here we have to mention that Jean-François our French colleague must take some responsibility for this. When he bought a house he felt that it was a real answer to prayer that they were left lots of furniture and so graciously and faithfully he prayed that the same thing would happen to us. Which is exactly what happened. So there was a certain poetic ‘justice’ or something like that, that he and another colleague Paul, very kindly came over with a large hire van to take away the surplus. Which they did. Some of it will be ending up in Jean-François’s house and some in the château at Courmettes. Which, if you are a well-worn IKEA sofa, must be going up in the world.
So all in all it’s been an extraordinarily busy week and only today did we finally got round to celebrating Chris’s birthday. We have found a very good local restaurant and courtesy of the declining euro meals are astonishingly good value. Chris could not resist the snails but would like to point out that if anybody is interested in genetic engineering there is enormous scope for creating one that actually tastes of something.