We thought it would be worth covering some of the other things we did during September, a month that here seems to begin in summer and end in autumn.
So, at the start of the month we made it to the coast at Frejus. Early September is a great time to ‘hit the beach’ in our part of France because most of the tourists have gone and you can actually park your car and not be packed like sardines on the sand. Frejus beach is great and you can get an interesting view of the the old port of St Raphael, where a small fishing village was once dominated by an ornate basilica, built in the 1880s. In a way that seems to symbolise the age, the basilica has become largely blocked from view by tower blocks. Talk to anybody about town planning on the Côte d’Azur, particularly a couple of decades ago, and you get the very clear message that there were some very dubious planning decisions made.
There has been one very significant spinoff from our visit to the America’s Cup and a fortuitous conversation with one of the scientists from the French state research organisation CNRS: Chris has been asked to help edit some of the English language versions of papers and webpages of the splendid Port Cros National Park. We visited the island of Port Cros last September and it’s a fantastic marine nature reserve; here’s hoping that this will give a renewed opportunity to visit again. There’s an English language introduction to the National Park here and unless Chris’s hastily revised version has been posted up you will understand why he volunteered to tidy up the English.
On the subject of liaising with the local community several things have happened. We have become members of the local walking group and will no doubt blog on that some point. We have also started our first formal French lessons and are gratified to find that we are having no trouble with intermediate level material. Back in Taradeau the society for preserving the Oppidum had its annual general meeting this week with a splendid presentation followed, inevitably, by everybody standing around chatting while the local rosé was consumed. It was nice to see ourselves in the presentation photos and get mentioned by name, and nicer still to have our membership fee for next year cancelled because of our hard labour. Coincidentally Google Earth has just posted new imagery of Taradeau from 10th April this year and you can see the progress we have made on the Oppidum as well as detailed images of our house and the new bridge.
Finally, we flew to the UK for 10 days at the end of the month, and no we didn’t mention it in advance. It’s not a very clever thing to tell the world when you are planning to leave your house empty. The trip enabled us to catch up with family including our delightful new granddaughter Phoebe and also visit Swansea where Chris preached and we were able to catch up with old friends.
It was a good trip although we were glad to get back to somewhere where, even at the beginning of October, the sun still shines brightly and you can get away with wearing T-shirts.
And in a fitting end to a month that has seen us go from summer to autumn, we had a very well-attended harvest festival at church.