Monday, 22 June 2009

A day in the life of...

Up with the lark this morning. Well, not quite. Sort of like a slow snail pace rather than a 'let's zip along into the day'. Thirty minute dig out front, one hour walk with Boolie but not jogging today - some power walking, some slowing-down walking, some 'let's stop and talk to the river, the cows, the trees, and anything else' type of walking, and one set of ten joggy-ish running steps followed by ten power-ish walking steps, after which I fell into 'amble-mode'.

Back at base camp, thirty minutes weeding of bed beyond the oak tree, then tea on, Lester roused, toast made, all is quietly on the move. But no builders. That's OK. All is peace.

Out front, armed with strimmer, do thirty minutes of grass cutting. Then thirty minutes of weeding again, apologising to the shrubs planted in early spring for my lack of care as I removed all manner of hangers on from around their feet.

Late morning, sun starting to turn up its heat, time to start lunch. Cold lamb left over from yesterday (donated by Val - thanks Val, it was a lovely bit of meat), lettuce and potatoes from garden. Other add-ons to the meal from the supermarket. Tea and cake into Lester in office, plus pat on the head to say he is being a good boy.

Johnathen calls round. Not starting work today. Will be here tomorrow. Discussion about where to put the lights in the ceiling of the half barn. J errs in favour of lighting it up like an airport runway. I think low lights, hardly visible. Discussion continuing. By the way J is putting the insulation and plasterboard on the ceiling.

Dinner. Done. Quick siesta, a few minutes longer than normal because Lester and myself both fell asleep.

Up and doing. Tea into office for Lester. Me out front, plus chair, plus tea, plus bag of crocheting, to sit under oak tree, wave to the neighbours driving past, watch the enormous range of visitors to the meadow flowers, listen to Bools gently snoring at my feet. A gorgeous summer afternoon. Meanwhile a clatter and a bang and a roar and general din signifies that the builders have turned up.

4pm. Time for coffee and cake. Sara calls in. She knows the format here. "It's 4 o'clock - time for cake" she says as she gets out of her car. In she brings two huge bowls of fruit. "You can make us some jam with these", she said. "Here's some sugar".
Swapping time: Lester offers her half of the bundle of baby leeks we bought on Saturday at the market. Unfortunately we have hit a snag - we can't get them all planted out because the rotovator has decided to die a death again. After spending hours fixing it on Saturday, which included danger of ignition of self during the welding stage of the mend, Lester had finally got it to work. Only it was getting dark, so a good project for the next morning: to get the vegplot newly made nude by the harvest of the previous day rotovated over ready to plant the leeks. But no. Said rotovator decided not to co-operate. It is a wonder he hasn't chucked it into the river out of sheer frustration. I'm sure I would have.

Sara had some bad news. She had been copped by the police this morning for not wearing a seat belt. Up at the school this was. She had been in a rush, and for only this morning had neglected to strap herself in. Screeching up to the school, she noticed loads of cars around, so had to park up aways. Leaning into her window peers the face of a policeman, to inform her that it was against the law to not wear a seat belt, and that the on-spot fine was 45 euros, but if she would like to come into the school playground she could go on a short course of road safety and avoid the fine. With thoughts of the zillion other things she ought to be getting on with, but also the thought of the fine, out she got to accompany the policeman. Loads of people in the playground, including all the children and all the children's mums and all the children's teachers.

Into a simulator of a car she had to get, hoisted up at an angle, there to be dropped backwards at 75 miles per hour to start of with, to nil, just to give her an idea of how it would feel like to be stopped suddenly. She said the feeling of whiplash didn't last for long.

She also told us of a friend of hers who drinks a lot. Got stopped by the police. Did breathalyser. Was positive. "Oh dear" said the policeman. "that can't be right, let's wait for a few minutes and try again". Which they did. She, meanwhile, is s**********ing herself with anxiety. "Have to come to the police station with me, to get another breathalyser done, they all seem to be faulty", he said as the next one also proved positive. So off to the police station she was taken, to be given yet another breathalyser, which also proved positive. "Oh dear, have a cup of coffee, perhaps that will make it work properly" the policemen said. This happened several times, and after being plied with loads of coffee, she was finally able to give a nearly clear breathalyser test and was allowed to leave, nervous and anxious because she expected to be booked at any moment. Clever policeman. Saved himself loads of paperwork, and hopefully taught her a lesson by the stress of having to give those numerous breathlysers.

Maddi arrives, Bruno's new wife. Brings with her three small tomato plants. Donations in. Girl chat. Lester gets to do two sets of cheek-kisses, bless him. I do to. It is all very friendly here in France. All leave, except me and Lester.

Out front again. Doing some re-reading on first book just back from printers. Not looking too bad. Just minor errors, no big re-writes. Am enjoying the read. Doesn't feel as if I have written it, more like I am reading someone else's writing. Strange that.

A movement catches my eye. Hurtling down the drive and disappearing round the side of the house, I momentarily catch a glimpse of a white car. Better go see what is happening. I follow the route of the car, expecting it to be parked by the truck, or the digger, or the lorry, or somewhere near the 'work-in-progress' area of the house. It wasn't. But I could just about see a man's head above the oil seed rape plants in the front field. He was on the overgrown path which is supposed to lead down to the river, but doesn't go anywhere at the moment because I have been banned from strimming down there in case of adders, (re:Lester's instructions of last weekend when he found an adder underfoot when mowing the back field)

I approach him. His car is stuck. Somehow he has managed to get it down to the end of the field where the tiles are stacked, made a sharp right and kept on going. He apparently was following my strimming trail right up to the point where I had stopped, but he didn't, he kept on going, and got tangled up in the undergrowth. Upon trying to disengage himself he had sort of slithered into the ruts at the side of the oil seed rape, and since it was only a little white Purgeot of a car, it couldn't get back out again.

The man was very dismissive of his plight. At least sixty plus, he epitomised all the characteristics of the 'elderly' here. Which is, that there is no such thing as being 'old'. He thought it quite a hoot that he had got stuck, and had apparently only wanted to see 'what was down there' when he drove his car at breakneck speed along the strimmed path. What spirit! Everywhere I go, I see people carrying a lot of years completely oblivious that they are doing so. I do not see dithery oldies anywhere.

"Lester" I call, "Can you give us a hand?". Out he comes, and with bon hommie all round, we push the little white car with the naughty spirited man inside out of the ruts, and off he goes after shaking our hands and thanking us. Bless.

Back out front for a spot of gardening, inside to catch up with stacks of washing up, finish up the lettuce left over from lunch by dipping it into the vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and olive oil mixture which I am addicted to, slice a melon up and take it out to Lester who is by now doing a spot of digging in the vegplot. Sit on some limestone blocks which are supposed to be standing on top of each other to make a gatepost but which were somehow knocked over by the builders, we eat the melon, enjoy the summer evening, and muse on our life in France. Never would we have done that in our old life.

And so, that was my day. A slow start, but a cracking good finish.

Things I have learnt today: That a day can seem double its hours in length if one keeps busy. That not to have a television gives back to one one's life.