A new dawn, a new day. How different it is here compared to the last 2 weeks. We slept well despite the brown furry lump at the end of the bed. Meg is only a pup so she has a bed … beside our bed. Like a child, going to bed is a game designed to frustrate, but eventually she settled last night as we switched the lights off. Within 30 seconds she was out of her bed and up onto our bed and positioned there for the rest of the night. Not so bad for Sarah who puts here head on the pillow, closes her eyes and stays like that until morning. But I toss and turn … and turn … and then some. Its like my body can only take being in one position for a certain amount of time. I’m like the hands on a clock, never settling for too long on each number. So as I maneuver around the bed I try and navigate my legs over the furry obstacle each time. Meg gets her own back at one point. She begins a scratching session that gets louder and more intensive. It seems to go on for an age. A serious problem there no doubt. Eventually she scratches away the itch and a calm descends. The only disturbing period is a small dream of Sarah as a nurse. She is wearing small round spectacles and an old nurses cap with a swastika on it. She is looking at my foot, then me, smiles wickedly and says “Its got to come off” and takes out a rusty saw to start the process! …only joking… don’t know why I do it because I’m in such deep shit now…..
And so I put on my new green wellies, shout for Meg and walk down to the farmhouse to let out the strutting egoistic cockerel and his 3 adoring hens. The air is fresh, the birds are singing. There is a hum of silence only broken by a distant cousin of our cockerel. A mist hangs in the fields with a promise of a sunny day. And it delivers. Hugh asked if I wouldn’t mind watering some of the pot plants. A few of them are under glass so may dry out. No problem. He has a small patch … in farming terms… of things he is growing. It looks like artichokes and a miscellany of other edibles. The protruding greenery all looks the same to me. There are hosepipes everywhere. Crisscrossing the farmyard like ley lines marking out sacred territory. Some are clearly of industrial strength. They appear from somewhere and don’t seem to connect or lead anywhere. Hugh obviously doesn’t move them as they are embedded in the grass, weeds growing around and over them. I lift one and it sucks from the ground as if it had been trying to hold on. So I won’t move them either. I had this idea that I would find a hosepipe and stand majestically in the middle of everything and just grandly water all from where I stood like the hosepipe King. But no. The big white plastic tubs, about the size of a Mini Cooper … and placed strategically around, are full of water. Near the small market garden one of these was positioned and attached to it a hose. Significantly 2 watering cans were next to it. I turned the tap and the water flowed out like a snail on strike. As the water struggled to drip lazily over the edge of the hose I placed it into the first can and realised that this would be a long job. It filled and I placed the hose in the second can and went off to water. And so it went on for a while as I went back and forth thinking there must be a better way. I am sure there was, but I didn’t discover it.
And that was it. There was much more to do around the farmhouse but I just couldn’t find the end of a hosepipe. I started to wonder if it was just one big hosepipe of varying sizes and colours that had no beginning or end. Like a hula hoop. Eventually I traced one to the side of the house. It was just short of a tap with no connector. I hunted down some connectors from a box in the porch of the farmhouse, fixed it up and turned on the tap. Nothing. I looked in the little hut next to the tap and found a pump. At least I thought it was a pump. I turned the tap to on. Closed my eyes and switched the power on. It made lots of noise, but not a drop of water appeared. I turned everything off before it exploded and decided to end my campaign for the day.
Instead I wander around the farmhouse and venture into the barns. I remember seeing a glimpse of a car when Hugh was showing me around yesterday. Perhaps I’ll take a closer look. I open a small barn door and there it is and I don’t know what to think. In the middle of the french countryside, hidden away in an old barn, covered in mud and dust is a bright yellow Lotus Exige! Its typical of what is here. Always finding diamonds in the rough. Why it is here I have no idea. Hugh didn’t make a big thing about it. It looks in almost perfect condition, just covered in mud. Crazy!I venture further in and to my left is a workroom where the radio constantly blares out the french music. Further along the barn opens out to a symphony of discarded items and oddments. There are sections of collections. Screws sorted and neatly placed in small containers depending on their size, a box of taps, a box of … well it just goes on and on. Trays, containers, jars, tins cupboards, benches full of the typical stuff you throw into an old abandoned shed to deal with later … but never do. A trailer with a boat and canoe. An old moth eaten leather chair… all by itself. Why should that be a mystery? Well, because up the ladders in the loft is another section of the barn full of chairs of every type. Its like Hugh collected them or just purchased a joblot and did nothing with them.
There is a display of old paint tins artistically positioned. As you look down on them it is like looking at a 3D model of a city. Stubbled, matted paint brushes that have hardened to concrete. Its only the tip of the iceberg. I am fascinated. Why do people keep so much crap? My Dad spent his whole life keeping stuff like this. And what happens in the end? When he passed it just got put in a tip. Gone. The funny thing is that this imperfection has a beauty about it that is almost a form of art. The Japanese call it wabi sabi … the acceptance of transience and imperfection. As I write I’m glancing at a photo I took of a basket full of old brushes. In it a jar and an old paint tin full of brushes of all sorts. Wall paint brushes with broad shoulders, thin pencil brushes for artwork, several toothbrushes and almost every conceivable type of brush imaginable. Its a puzzle that would make a great puzzle! Baffled I make my way back to the tidy world of the house.
Throughout the morning Meg is barking at anything that moves and rushes off in all directions. The neighbours are out and she is barking at them. Seems for no reason. They obviously know her and so just ignore it. I am for ever calling her back in. On one occasion the neighbour is transporting something in a wheelbarrow from across the road to his house. Meg goes crazy. Barking like there is no tomorrow. And she is off. Bloody hell what is she doing now? So I take chase, but she has only gone as far as next door, barking at the poor man. Then his wife appears calling to Meg in french. She looks at me and smiles. Calls Meg again and pointing to the kitchen she walks towards it, Meg follows and she beckons me in. What now? Is she going to slit Megs throat? In the kitchen she rambles in more french. I look like a deer in the headlights so she asks if I speak french. Not really. I’m Australian. She smiles and goes to the fridge. The french lady turns around and in her hand is the finest piece of cooked steak. Megs mouth is watering. With scissors she cuts some of it up into pieces for Meg and wraps the remainder passing it to me and says “for later”. What? You know this dog and feed it? This sweet lady then points to the top of the fridge and there are numerous packets of cat food and a bowl. Now I get it. She feeds Meg and the cats. I wonder if Hugh and Janie know or is it now some big secret between us. I scoop the mad barky thing up, put my hand on my heart, bow and leave. It was all a ruse by this clever little dog who probably goes through the same routine every day. Smart!
Today we have an outing. Don’t get too excited. We just walked up the road to the bins. Meg fortunately was on the leash as it transpires there is a little market today by the church and so lots of people and cars about. It is also an open day for the locals to showcase their gardens. Most of the stalls were selling off bits and pieces. Stuff that they found in their garage. Perhaps we were early, but in a blink of an eye we had seen it all. In the village there is a restaurant, but no shops so we make our way back and at a safe point release Meg from the neck-strap!
In return for that, when we get home Meg decided to play. All of a sudden spread across the veranda is a gardening glove, strands of wire, an old flower pot … its earthly remains scattered across the tiles and bits of sandpaper which she decided is good for flossing her teeth. The thought of those teeth wearing away on the sandpaper sends my own teeth on edge so it is quickly removed from her reach … for now.
It is our last day at the house. Although Hugh and Janie have a second bedroom it is full of stuff. They are arriving home late so have arranged for us to stay across the road at their neighbours Gite, Granges du Quercy. So I pack the car up with the main luggage and drive 50 meters to park the car beside the gite and go and fetch the key from our hosts, Marie-France and Jean. I then spend the next hour toing and froing with bits and pieces to fill the fridge and our overnight bags et al. The house is lovely, spotlessly clean and everything that you need. Only has french TV stations, but this is the sort of place that you only stay a night and the television not a priority. Marie shows me the basics around the small home and through her limited english I discover she has many relatives in Australia. Meg is following me around a bit confused. Why are you moving? We have to stay with her until Hugh and Janie return. We were meant to have supper with them, but they will be much later as the weather is bad for their drive home so we decided to eat at the Gite by ourselves. I moved Megs food bowl so that she felt at home, but she still seemed confused, not certain if she should be with us or back home across the road. We sit on the veranda in the sun and now have a view to the property we just left.
The weather turns and there is thunder and rain in the distance. Hugh and Janie return before the dark sky reaches us … they collect Meg…we say our farewell and then settle for our dinner. There is thunder and lightning all night and it is still raining heavily when we awake in the morning for our long drive to Cherbourg.
Until next time 🌏