Sorry this is a bit late but its been a bit crazy busy.
The first gift was two weeks ago, the last day Delia’s dad Bill was with us… no, not because it was his last day, on the contrary, we had had a great two weeks with him. No… it was that we had a relaxed and relatively unplanned day, ending up at a delightful riverside spot. We had tried to locate a chocalate workshop or somesuch for Bill but although we found one very close to Lascaux (a place I had always wanted to visit) it was really too far a drive so we decided on a couple of chocolatiers in St Junien. We had forgotten it was Monday. If a place opens at the weekend at all if is usually closed on Monday – I think its actually law, though there is also a law preventing all boulangers going on holiday at the same time (an interesting image where hundreds of bakers converge on a beach evading police detection… but no they actually have to apply to the local Mairie or town hall, the French take their baguettes seriously). Anyway most places were closed so we wander around looking for a non-existent glove factory outlet and looking despondently at shuttered chocolatier’s shop windows was all we could do.
We did however find a good patisserie (and boulangerie!) open and bought a mille feuilles (custard slice more or less), a huge chocolate éclair for Delia and a merveilleux for me. I had no idea what I had purchased – it was a 15cm ball covered in flakes of chocolate and turned out to be 2 meringues with a thick glue of chocolate butter cream. This held the wolf at bay since Delia had decided that we could only eat a picnic if we had proper plates and all. Apparently it stems from a trauma involving a bee; bare feet, a severe allergic reaction and I guess a picnic without plates.
So off we went to a place I had visited a few weeks previously with my photo group, called ‘Site Corot’. Around 1850 Camille Corot, an artist and sculptor formed an artists commune by the river near the site of a, now defunct, centre of industry – all water powered and now in picturesque ruins apart from one large building that seemed to be still active perhaps with a printing press banging away. There’s a very French nude bronze statue on the main roundabout in the centre of St Junien called La Muse de Corot. He apparently painted several ‘muses’ and I can’t for the moment find out if this is his work or a reproduction after one of his paintings. Anyway he chose a lovely spot, though it would not have been as idyllic back in 1850.
The walk was tranquil with the only sound being the occasional rush of the small waterfalls in the River Glane. Calm spots identified by picnic tables (apparently if I had mentioned these being present, the lack of plates might not have been a problem).
All in all a lovely way to wile away a few hours. The need for lunch having been delayed courtesy of huge patisseries we eventually returned home for bread and cheese (on plates) at about 3.30. Plenty of time for Bill to sort out his luggage before the next day when we drove him into Angouleme for the train to Paris.
The day Bill left was the same day the house sitter arrived. She was a quietly competent young woman who happily took bouncing Siena in her stride and we felt secure in leaving our doted upon pets to her care for the few days we would be away (cheaper than kennels and cattery, free in fact). So early the following day (Wednesday) off we drove to Limoges to fly to Bristol. Collecting our car was a bit of a game, finding the shuttle to the off airport location. A fun little Fiat 500 with a tiny boot but it was enough for us. A few hours later, after a pub lunch of steak and chips, we arrived at our bed and breakfast. A lovely “studio apartment” but without the kitchen, the landlady was helpful to a fault, breakfast was different every day and she even gave us containers for our left over pastries to eat later. We could almost see the venue for my son’s wedding from the b&b, well, at least from just a few metres down the road.
The next two days were spent speccing out the venue, the dress etc and, of course, the wedding and reception (click this to see the web site for photos). Saturday was spent looking at a house that Phil and Becca might be able to rent. A nicer area and cheaper as well.
Sunday was spent driving back to the airport (although our flight was early on the Monday, getting back early meant one less day car hire and some time in the hotel pool). The car hire people kindly shuttled us to the hotel instead of the airport and we relaxed for the rest of the day.
Early morning, first flight security queues notwithstanding, the flight home was uneventful. We had left in summer and it seemed we arrived back in Autumn! Much of the time since then has been spent sorting out the 500 photos Delia and I took. I must admit that I’d use Delia as a second camera any day, she took some real beauties and about half of the chosen shots are hers. I did find out how much better the low light functionality of my new compact was compared to my ancient (six years old 🙂 ) Sony Alpha DSLR but the lenses are better on the “old” one. Much less noise in the image on the compact.
Oh, I almost forgot, the second gift? The eary morning walks with Siena are tending to get a bit grey (later dawn and all that) but I was reminded of the hundreds of extra sunshine hours we get here (over the UK) when the other day after a blowy rainy morning walk, the afternoon walk was gorgeous, a few white clouds scudding across the otherwise pristine blue sky,Siena scampering fruitlessly after birds in the field… as I said… a gift.