Thanks for your comments – good to hear from all of you. While most of you are still enduring winter (especially the Victorians!) it’s been very hot here this week, into the high 30s and humid some days. A bit hot for sight-seeing! Still, we have done some and have had some stay-at-home days as well. Here’s a summary:
Monday: gardening – David continued clearing an overgrown area near the cottage. This included use of the ride-on mower – I have yet to have my turn on that! I did some weeding and raking. It soon became too hot to continue working outside.
Tuesday: Went to Bourbon and the fortress there – lots of going up and down narrow spiral staircases! After lunch in Bourbon we drove over to part of the Foret de Troncais, to St Bonnet-Troncais, which has a recreational lake and campground. There’s a lot more of the forest to explore yet.
Wednesday: Spent the morning in town doing the shopping – it’s taking us awhile to get round the supermarkets; we don’t know where things are and can’t find the things we’d usually cook with at home. There are lots of interesting new things to try though as well as many products we have no idea about!
Thursday: Headed over to Moulins which is a reasonable-sized town. Continued on to St Pourcain then towards Vichy, making a detour to the small town of Billy on the way. Billy has a 12th century fortress and we arrived in time for a guided tour. The guide explained everything in French then painstakingly in English for our sake! Life in those days must have been hard! And there was the constant threat of invasion and attack. The fortress, like others of that era, is gradually being restored. It never ceases to amaze us, the number of buildings/ruins of that age everywhere. Driving round the country-side, we see lots of chateaux as well – some are privately owned, some open to the public, others abandoned and left to deteriorate.Sometimes we’ll drive past a high stone wall and grand gates – you know something amazing lies within but it’s generally hidden by trees. We didn’t do a lot in Vichy as it was getting late – we found a nice cafe on the lake where we had a chocolate crepe (Nutella actually which the French absolutely love!) We’ll go back to Vichy another day – it looked interesting.
Friday: A day at home apart from a drive to Cosne D’allier (about 10 mins away) to post a couple of cards, however we arrived during lunch break so La Poste was closed. (Lots of the shops in the area have a 2-hour lunch break, even some of the places you would go to buy lunch!) Tried to do the right thing and take our bottles etc to the recycling place only to find they are closed on Fridays! So an unfrutiful outing. In the evening we went into Montlucon to see the start of the Festival Chanson Francaise – listened to three performers and had dinner at a restaurant next to the stage. It was a good evening, not too crowded.
Saturday: Another trip into town to shop (we don’t have a lot of cupboard or fridge space so have to shop a couple of times a week). Spent the afternoon relaxing. David’s read 4 books in two weeks! He doesn’t usually read at home…We have UK TV in the cottage and there was a ‘The Waltons’ marathon on so I watched that! Had a swim later in the day in the pool here, and a cup of tea and a chat with Tony and Dee.
Sunday: Went to church this morning – found a Protestant Evangelical church in town so we went there. It’s very small – a door off the street leads to a small room which opens to a slightly bigger room and there were about 25 people there. So we stood out a bit! Everyone was very welcoming and friendly and the service was good. I had to translate for David – next week I’ll take pen and paper so I don’t have to keep whispering to him! We were invited for lunch to one of the couple’s homes ‘in the country’ about 20ks from Montlucon. Nearly everyone went for lunch actually – they usually eat together after the service. Apart from being very hot, we had a nice afternoon and, along with the church service, it’s just the sort of language experience I need. It’s a bit odd having David sitting quietly and me doing all the talking (you’ll know that it’s usually the other way round!) but I’m sure David will soon understand more and more and one of the ladies was very excited to find she understood a bit of David’s English! Finished the day with another swim and more Waltons (the marathon continues!)
Hope you all have a great week; look forward to hearing from you.
Until next week
Chris and David