... summoning up the courage to go shopping in Leclerc for the weekend.
Saturday afternoon, Leclerc is like a social club. Whole families shop. Teenagers bicker. Husbands tell sullen wives (who have shopped alone all week) what to buy. Portuguese and Spanish farm workers form loud gaggles with kids and trolleys blocking the isles, catching up on the week's gossip, quite unconcerned at the glares from other shoppers.
Normally I go Friday about one-ish, when the shelves are being stocked for the Friday afternoon rush and the French bourgeoisie are still finishing their lunch. The only downside is trying to find someone prepared to serve on the fish counter and only having two tills open - one for less than ten items and the other for "priorité pour handicapé".
But this Friday we drove to Marmande in the morning to buy bathroom fittings from the one half-decent relatively accessible DIY shop. We trailed round dispiritedly struggling to make sense of the prices. The new bathroom needs a shower unit. Why do all-in-one cubicles with walls, floor, shower head and gizmos for squirting water at odd angles cost less than two plain pieces of glass? I was sternly told by Monsieur B (project manager) and Monsieur M (electrician/plumber) that these all-in-one cubicles are not good quality. But Tod was not there to hear and he's more than half tempted.
And from Friday lunchtime onwards we were spring-cleaning the cottage. For months we have been waiting for the accidentally sand-blasted cottage windows to be replaced and finally there has been progress. Although not our insurance claim (this is the responsibility of our builder) nevertheless we were informed that an insurance assessor was coming round at 17.15 and we suddenly realised that we could be seen to be party to a fraudulent claim. So we cleaned every window, swept, polished and tidied as if the Queen were visiting. The young man was fierce and very much on his dignity (as only young Frenchmen can be) and carefully inspected every gleaming pane. Finally he pronounced himself satisfied and (much to our relief) confirmed the claim can go ahead.
This left us with half an hour to get nibbles made and Tod fed and out the door for a bridge evening.
After that there was no way I was going supermarket shopping. Surrounded by a clean and tidy house, I collapsed in front of the television with Vita and watched an old episode of "Grand Designs" and the first two episodes of the final series of "Lost". Bliss.
The cottage windows
Lost Season 6