The supposed hay fever turned into a fully-fledged cold, which left me feeling exhausted and with a pounding head and non-stop sneezing. So my day of hard work took a hit. Feeling quite pathetic, I decided to seek out the tip on a lone journey, before I headed off with the trailer Justine has kindly lent me. It was also an excuse to hit the garden centre in Airvault, an exercise that bores A completely. I sneezed and snuffled my way around and found everything very expensive, but did buy weed killer for the lawn and grass seed, to re-establish lawn on the bare ground on Mount Athos, so named for the two Greek busts that are placed there with some seriously heavy stones in the form of an ancient ruin. Very beautiful and rather elegant. It will be even more elegant if I can re-establish the grass.
Chiding myself for being pathetic, I filled the trailer with former laurel hedging and the back of the car completely with sacks of dead dry leaves and took off to the tip in the sunshine. Something had to be achieved! The trailer has a French plate, the car an English and although the lights worked on the trailer when I set off, I’m not that sure they were when I got going. My cousin and her husband, who have lived in France for thirty years, would toss it off with a shrug, but my English innate sense of duty and living by rules has not slackened in the eight days we have been here and I feel guilty as I leave the house. Strangely, by the time I hit the tip, I really couldn’t care! Two other cars and trailers are there, neither trailer matching the number plate of the car, so I decided, if I am stopped, a gallic shrug of the shoulders and an attempt at charming the gendarme will have to do. Fortunately, they are even rarer than cars on these roads and I got home without incidence.
There having been a mistake with the quantity of oil I ordered for the heating and the water, I am a little reticent about using the central heating. As the weather was so warm, I took the decision to turn it off, which in hindsight was a mistake. Although we are used to living in big cold houses, there is a degree of chill in the gite which gets to the bones. The boiler needs a service, and I have asked the local specialist to come and give me a quote. He arrived this afternoon when I was on the second trip to the tip and left a charming note on the door of the main house, in beautiful handwriting, ending the few lines with ‘cordialement’, which gives me a special feeling whenever I see it written. It may be normal to the French; it’s charm personified to me! However, the control is in the main house, which I can’t access without the lovely Justine and a key, so we are going to be chilly again tonight. Last night we resorted to switching on the gas burners on the stove. Not quite the Aga, and not something I’ve done since being a student, but it warmed us up!
The written manners of the French cannot be said to be replicated in their driving manners. For once in my life, I am not in a tearing hurry to get anywhere and I am taking delight in the surroundings as we explore and visit different towns and villages…or as I trip along to the tip…. At the normal speed limit, rather than over as I am ashamed to say I usually am in the UK. As the French tear up behind me and then tail gate me four inches from the bumper, I indicate I am going to pull over to let them pass and slow right down. They slow right down too, and have been known to come to a complete stop behind me on a long, straight and empty road! Tailgating is obviously a better choice than overtaking. Anyone aware enough to overtake, fails to acknowledge any form of thanks. We used to recognise the grockles in the summer at home, who had rather the same attitude. The locals generally could be relied on to lift a hand of thanks...though in our part of Devon, where everyone seemed to be related, it was probably an automatic reaction to the vague notion that it was probably a passing relative in the other car!