A couple of short blogs follow intended as a catch-up to glide seamlessly through the last two weeks of August and get us back across the Channel on 2 September – the last day of validity of our travel insurance. Having shamefully neglected this time-consuming blog I had, amazingly, had the foresight to write some notes before I forgot everything! If all else fails there is always the metadata on the photos to help get the timeline straight!
16-28 August – canicule cowering
Get the shutters closed…..
We enter an extended period of scorching hot dog days – la canicule – it sounds so much more fearsome in french. Either way, it is upon us and it can be dangerous to the susceptible. Our fermette faces west and is blissfully cool all morning gradually going up by degrees until about 2pm when the sun gets its head around the side of the barn and gets nasty. Shutters are closed, curtains drawn, fans turned on – a perfect time to sit in a soft chair with something relaxing on the hifi and read a book. Maybe with closed eyelids.
Coming to at about 18:00, maybe feeling a bit sticky, it is cool enough to venture out for a swim. This moves to 18:30 and even 19:00 as the canicule persists. Being an old stone cottage with walls half a metre thick we manage quite well for several days. Little by little the heat soaks into the stone and the relative cool lessens. Nighttime offers little relief but the evening light and the sunsets are wonderful from the terrace.
A new diversion presented itself – the wine man came. He was a charming young man from a vigneron in the Loire valley with a cool-bag of wines for sampling in the boot of his car. He was offering an at-home dégustation and set up in the shade on the terrace (it was the morning) where we sipped, but did not spit, the red, white and rosé. The prices were OK so we ordered a mixed case of white and rosé and he delivered the following week. A nice way to buy some gifts to take home even though it involved lengthy order forms in triplicate!
The main chore of the period however was to sort out Trudi’s strange behaviour. Time to learn a whole new technical vocabulary:-( I have mostly forgotten the house renovation vocabulary of a few years back, so there should be brain space for car parts and faults. Trudi had developed a tendency to twerk her rear end about a bit when on rough roads or at about 60mph. It did not seem to affect the steering but was slightly unsettling when facing an oncoming hay wagon on a tight bend on a narrow road. Suspension? On a test drive the, rather surly, local mechanic thought so but Neil thought he had had all those parts thoroughly gone over and replaced in April in the UK so it seemed unlikely. She also had a slight metallic rattle which stopped on braking. Nothing for it but to bite the bullet, get to an Audi dealer, apply for a small mortgage, and get the work done.
Much hanging about on an industrial estate in Nevers in 30+ degrees was required to get the definitive diagnosis – the shockers were shot. Parts would need ordering but, being August, would not arrive in time for the work to be done before we left. She was still safe enough for local trips if driven sedately and not on motorways. A quick call to the mechanic in York who had replaced the shockers in April revealed they had not actually been replaced. Now we need to check the invoice and see if they were actually paid for! A local and very friendly kwik-fit type garage will do the work next time we are back in, hopefully, a few weeks time. Trudi is eighteen years old so will enjoy resting quietly with the bats in the barn in the meantime.