Monday, 16 August 2021

I thought ...

 ... I was going to have to post yet another blog about the weather - since that seems to be the only topic of conversation at the moment - too cold / too hot / too windy / too dry.  Enough to say, it became too hot and is now cooler again, to the relief of our latest set of guests.

But no - this is not a post about the weather, but a post about our wildlife - one in particular - a red squirrel.

We know red squirrels are in this part of the world having seen them occasionally take their lives into their hands and scamper across the main road into town.  They are smaller, sleeker than the grey squirrels we knew in the UK.  One house we lived in had them in the loft and we kept cages up there to capture them and release them in the woodland the other side of the M25 in the hope that they wouldn't find their way back.  Clara, our then Airedale, used to be the epitome of "barking up the wrong tree" - sat there, head thrown back, nose pointed up the trunk, yelling her head off, when the grey squirrel above her would be long gone.

Until today, we have never seen squirrels in our garden - of any hue.  He (or she) has just whisked past an open French window, almost on the threshold, red tail waving in the breeze, feathery ears erect. 

The word has obviously gone round about the quality and quantity of the hazel nuts we are growing this year. The other day I googled "when are they ready to eat?"  I'm guessing the new addition to our wildlife will shortly be letting us know!

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Only half in jest ...

 ... I wonder out loud about putting my thermals on.

Fifteen degrees first thing, and the temperature struggles to get any higher as the day goes on.  Our Dutch guests leave early.  At least their journey north, even if there are many hold-ups, will not be in unbearable heat.  Travelling on the Saturday 31st July with France on the move is not the easiest of things to be doing.

By the afternoon, and a little stir crazy, we decide to head out to investigate a restaurant friends have recommended.  COVID has had an impact.  Several of our favourite places that we have proposed to our guests over the years have either closed or have changed hands with less than positive results.  New owners are struggling to match previous high standards of menu and service and I'm busy revamping our information pack and website to reflect our new reality, saddened by the need to do so.

But maybe we have been in a rut. When we came here fourteen years ago, everything was new to us and over those first few months we were on a voyage of discovery.  We are so again.

The recommended restaurant proves to be a success, in a lovely setting by a lock, ample seating out under the trees and plenty of covered space if the weather is inclement.  The menu is simple, but good value and the provenance of a chef and a kitchen that we already know and trust.

We look for new places that have attractive spaces to sit outside. In these times of COVID people prefer that option and normally, with late evening temperatures in the high twenties who wouldn't?  Mind you, if this cool weather continues much longer I need to warn our next guests to bring their thermals if they want to dine al fresco (very "fresco").