We do hope that no readers are under the impression that life here is little more than an endless round of visiting pretty scenic spots interspersed with trips to vineyards and restaurants. We do do other things.
In fact in the last few days we have really been rather busy. Saturday we visited a friend from church in the hills nearby and were persuaded to stay for lunch. We did a few more things around the house and then in the evening drove a not inconsiderable distance to a party held by some other friends in the church who have a house perched on a rather spectacular slope.
Sunday was church, where Chris led the prayers. There was a nod to unpleasant realities through Giles’s inclusion of the (thankfully rarely used) Anglican Collect for Martyrs which in this case ran:
by whose grace and power your holy martyr Jacques Hamel
triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death:
strengthen us with your grace,
that we may endure reproach and persecution
and faithfully bear witness to the name
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Then we had an impromptu picnic on the way back at Lac St Cassien which is one of those flooded valley reservoirs. It makes a pleasant swimming place because it doesn’t have any waves, salt to cling to your skin or jellyfish. After that we did a bit of birdwatching and were happy to see some Red-rumped swallows.
Monday we both worked in the morning and then in the afternoon went over to a very interesting French language Bible study in a house near Frejus, with splendid view overlooking the sea. Challenging, but both of us felt able to join in on occasion. We then drove on to Nice airport to pick up an old colleague of Chris’s, Alan Cram, and take him up to Courmettes. By this time it was dark but we did get a fleeting view of an a Eagle Owl. (Hint: it’s an owl the size of an eagle.)
Tuesday, while Alison continued working on a manuscript, Chris took Alan round the estate and they discussed lots of possibilities of what could be done. Wednesday, Chris started reading through the vast amount of literature he hopes to try to assimilate into an environmental management plan for Courmettes while Alison took Alan in another direction. There were a group of people up at Courmettes for holiday and a conference, including a number of Argentines, Swiss and Croatians, so that afternoon Chris took some of them on what is now becoming called “The Treasures of Courmettes” guided walk. Sometime we will do a full photographic coverage but it includes both a menhir and a dolmen, a splendidly preserved Roman road, remains of a ruined castle, spectacular views of the perched village of Gourdon and – not for the fainthearted – the summit of an 800 metre sheer drop. In the evening we went down to Tourrettes-sur-Loup and a very pleasant meal on the edge of the square.
Thursday? We drove back to Taradeau find our new French driving licences waiting for us. Alison looked at hers and said “why is this in my maiden name”? But apparently in France one’s nom de naissance (birth name) is the official one, and a woman’s married name is her nom d’usage. It doesn’t seem to matter that the signature on the card is in her married name and apparently you can still us it as ID for a cheque with the married name on it. We wait to see what British car hire companies make of it.
Although northern France (like the UK) has been rather wet this year, down in this part of France we have had a dry summer that has left the vine growers grumbling and made the firemen rather nervous. Thankfully, we had a little rain on Thursday night. We could use a lot more but we give thanks for what we have had.