After more than two years in France, yes… days do have a routine. Newcomers to French life fondly imagine the regular morning visit to the Boulangerie for breakfast croissants, followed by the morning coffee hit in the local bar. Lunch is a long lingering over the menu du jour, a basket of sliced baguette accompanying something du terroire, perhaps smoked venison liver or a goose gizzard salad (ok perhaps that last bit, whilst real, is possibly not fondly imagined, let’s say instead, duck breast cassoulet or just steak frites then).
But we aren’t newcomers, nor did we ever manage that daily routine except perhaps on a few vacation days. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things do happen, and quite often (even the goose gizzards) but just not routinely. A routine work day will start with me rising between 7.30 to 8am a quick shower, downstairs to greet a somnolent dog who stays on the couch watching me make Delia her decaff coffee to be drunk as she gets out of her shower (except for Saturday when she sits in bed with it) and a carry-mug of tea for me to drink as I walk the now awakened Siena. The morning-walk varies; at the moment I favour a route that does not involve Siena rushing to greet the summer-time jogger who is somewhat less enthusiastic. This morning, which being a Saturday that I plan to do some building work, did not start with a shower but also started a bit later at about 8.30.
The walk started by greeting our neighbour, Jean-Claude who, being ex-army (albeit supplies rather than combat), starts his day an hour or two earlier. I seldom see anyone else, passing Benoit’s place – the largest house of the hamlet, past the vet’s and the Englishman’s holiday home on my left (both of whom I might occasionally see depending upon exact time of year and day), following the worn tarmac road with grass sprouting along the middle. On the right further along is the home of the mother-in-law of Mme Ratier (who lives in the next house on the left) usually we are greeted by her dogs, Douggie – the very waggy, curly terrier and the older, grumpy and vaguely corgi-like Daphne. The walk then veers right onto an earthen track, through woods, down and over a small stream, past a gite in the process of intermittent renovation and back into woods again. At the moment there are cows in a field here but not always. Sometimes there’s a pair of horses who have known Siena since she was found.
A couple of days ago there was a pair of deer on the track, Siena chased them off the track but (unlike when she has encountered one when running in a field) stopped chasing once they had left the track. They weren’t especially troubled by her, although they are hunted here, it isn’t the season and it would take two or three more clever hounds to corner one of them.
I will revisit the topic of my daily routine since I feel I am waxing too lyrical and not even got home with the dog!
And “Nouvelle Aquitaine”, officially still Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes, is a region of southwestern France, created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2014 by the merger of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes. The new region came into existence on 1 January 2016. Wikipedia entry aside, this newly gathered region includes us in our corner of Haute Vienne, itself a department of Limousin, itself now part of the new region, somehow Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue so Nouvelle Aquitaine might be adopted. There are layers upon layers of differing borders though, scratch the map and you’ll uncover Quercy, Perigord, Berry and all sorts of older and older areas that are still referred to today. Interestingly the new region more closely matches the ancient borders of 11th and 12th century when Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet. Bringing it under English rule. Perhaps I haven’t so much come home, as home has come to me.