On Thursday it was a bank holiday here in France, because it was Ascension Day – it seems strange to me that in a country so determined to keep religion and laicity so firmly separated in the state, most bank holidays have a religious background. Is it a rather pragmatic (or cynical?) approach of “let’s squeeze some advantage for ourselves out of this”? Whatever it is, there we have it: Thursday was a bank holiday. And – of course! – because it is not worth going back to work for one day after a day off, many people take Friday off as the Pont (the Bridge). In fact many companies actually close, and force people to take it as one of their holiday days.
For me, it meant that my Thursday lessons didn’t happen, and my Friday student took the Pont, so I didn’t work then either. So I’ve already had my weekend – and it’s still only Saturday!
The Thursday market in St Just did take place, however, and the Plant Man was there, so I bought some plants from him.
I spent Thursday afternoon potting them up, and tidying the balcony, which did rather look as though it had been unloved and uncared for for many months. Actually, that’s true. But now, plants are potted, and hanging basket-ed, the litter tray has been hidden behind an upturned orange box, a bit of rearrangement of furniture, and it’s a nice place to sit again.
This shows the balcony last year – with the litter tray in full view! – but it’s similar this year.
I enjoyed breakfast there yesterday and today, sitting in my furry winter dressing gown (because there’s still a slight chill in the air) and watching the sun rise over the hill in front of the house, and creep round the fields until the square is lit up, and the heat starts to rise. It is a joy to watch the swifts race, screaming, around the air above the square, and swooping at high speeds under the eaves to where their babies twitter in anticipation of a beakful of insects. The sound of other birds can be heard too – the cuckoo is still calling, and the blackbirds sing their song in the (fairly) early morning calm.
I have retreated into the study now, and going against all my instincts, have shut the shutters, and am sitting in darkness, my desk illuminated by the glow of the computer and my desk lamp. It seems wrong to shut out the sunshine, but I know that it’s sensible to do so, as it preserves the coolness in the house.
I know that I will eat lunch in the blazing heat of the early afternoon on the balcony, but it will quickly get too hot for me. I bought a cheap deckchair-type thing yesterday, as the other chairs are slightly less comfortable upright metal chairs.
Just like these but in slightly better nick!
I may spend another 10 minutes reclining in my new chair before coming back inside, probably complaining that it’s too hot! When the sun has moved round, and there’s a slight breeze, I may open the shutters again, and the windows too, and let some air into the house. Opening windows is a bit risky though, as Jasper likes to go onto the outside sills to see what he can see. They are deep, but it only takes one uncertain paw and he could fall.
Yesterday evening Friend Cathy came, and it was lovely to take an early evening apèro on the balcony, as by three o’clock the sun has moved behind the house, and it is no longer in direct sunlight. The breeze was warm too, so it was extremely pleasant drinking kir made with white wine and myrtle sirop.
nice, but giving a slightly medicinal flavour to the kir!
After dinner (green salad with walnuts, croutons and comté cheese, kamchatka, and a vanilla & caramel choux bun) we sat outside again with a coffee, to watch the swifts on their evening feeding trips, and to listen out for scops owls. No luck on the owls this evening!
So, how to spend my “extra” weekend? Probably doing some work – I need to prepare for next week’s lessons. And ironing. So much ironing!! I swapped my winter for summer clothes on Monday, and it has taken me two complete Kermode & Mayo podcasts to iron them all! And now the pile is mounting again. Luckily, I’ve got this week’s podcast to listen to, so I can at least enjoy that, even if I don’t enjoy the ironing! I don’t iron quite so many of my clothes in winter (partly because the ubiquitous fleeces don’t need ironing, and partly because I’m happy to wear things twice before washing them) but in summer there always seems to be so much more (because I am less happy wearing things twice after hot days spent “glowing” on the balcony!)