All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
The Traveller's Rest
This was the name of a pub which I used to pass when I was a child. Very pretty, shaded by venerable trees, set on a village green with benches outside where old codgers could criticise the cricket while sinking the contents of tankards.
I found myself thinking of that on my return to France from warmer climes....kind friends came to meet me after the long journey at no little inconvenience to themselves and took me in while I went through the last throes of the sale of the small house before I finally set off for home.
The last stage of the journey had been a renewed 'welcome to France' experience...the local train had been withdrawn due to strike (in)action and had been replaced by a bus whose delightful driver had never driven the route before. He had given his passengers a wonderful scenic run looking for obscure country stations, but all I wanted was to be able to stop travelling and make major inroads on a pot of tea.
Fraught and bone weary, the sight of my friends emerging, smiling, from their car was balm to the soul. I could switch off and relax. I was in good hands.
It began with laughter. They had, while waiting, identified a Womble haunting the station and one sight of the lady concerned had me agreeing that we should all be on Wimbledon Common rather than in the heart of France.
There was no litter to be seen either, which I felt confirmed their theory.
It continued with tea, a warm comfortable room and, finally, sleep.
The ravelled sleeve of care knit up, I was able to face the battle over Capital Gains Tax with equanimity - that is to say, I managed to get my own way without blowing a gasket - and could wind up one more complication in life.
I was ready as I would ever be to face the onslaught of paper awaiting my attention in the post box...at least, the bits which had survived the determined attack of the army of snails awakened from hibernation and seeking the three star luxury of the meals on wheels provided by the postlady.
But, knuckling down to it all, my thoughts often stray to my friends and their welcoming house by the river.
They, like us, have decided to downsize.
They have run their hospitality business for many years, with people coming back time after time, but, as with us, health problems are raising their heads and it is time to make changes.
We will all find it difficult to leave the places we have loved so much, but we have all appreciated that it is best to make the move while we have liberty of action rather than wait until we are forced to move by circumstance.
The only thing of which I am sure is that, wherever they move, their home will always be a haven for the weary traveller, a warm centre of laughter, kindness, good food and comfort.
Retired, I'd lived in France for about twenty years after leaving the U.K.
Tired of listening to the 'living the dream' nonsense, tired of people shooting my rooks, I thought it was time to spill some beans from the cassoulet.
And having spilled the beans, I'm starting on the rice...out here in Costa Rica.