There is the unmistakable end of season feeling in the air. The swallows have flown away, the grains on the hillside have been harvested leaving a golden stubble, a nip is in the air and soft breezes blow puffy white clouds around overhead. This is one of my favorite times of any year; this particular year it's one of my busiest as well!
We came back from vacation and hit the ground running. A few days of bright sun and sweltering temperatures soon gave way to chilly mornings and early evenings. We ordered fuel and scheduled our annual firewood delivery.
Our dear clients, and now friends, Wolfgang and Sabine from Mannheim, Germany, stopped over on their way back home from their annual three week vacation in Brittany. We have watched their children, Victoria and Roderick, grow up over the last several years. The family stays at the beach up until the last Saturday before the opening of school and spends one night at Maison Conti before driving back home on Sunday, cutting it all very close. They have developed this yearly routine which also includes the purchase of an enormous amount of fresh Breton fish which they drive to our home and share with us on the terrace for a huge feast. This year is was 9 oysters apiece, sardines on the grill, a huge crab for everyone. It spells the end of summer for all concerned. And what a great way to kiss it goodbye.
I came back from Slovenia very invigorated, and have tried to keep that feeling alive, although it is more difficult in the routine of daily work-a-day life. When possible we've been taking slightly more ambitious walks down the hill and through the fields and up the hill again. The circuit takes almost an hour.
It is very pleasant, especially this little portion of woods which is actually a narrow strip of trees separating two large corn fields. It's a kind of traditional bocage. Rick, who is reading The Discovery of France, tells me that farmers up until the early part of the twentieth century had secret tunnels like these to disappear into without a trace. Their entrances were elaborately woven branches which were impossible to detect by outsiders.
Last week we had an Australian woman staying with us. She is a friend of another Australian client who we became very fond of when she and her husband stayed with us a few years ago.
Sue had been planning her European adventure for a year, so we had months to anticipate her arrival. She was on her own. On one of her days with us, she requested a tour of the local area from Rick, and I went a long for the ride, as she was our only visitor that day. We took her to the northern reaches of the Perche, Bellême and La Perrière, two villages with much to recommend them. On the way we stopped by the twelfth century chapel of Saint Germain-de-la-Coudre, which has been under restoration for years. We had never seen it, although we knew of its splendid reputation. The interior is quite extraordinary, with wood paneled walls, beautiful frescoes, vaulted wooden ceiling and rustically carved beams decorated with comical gargoyles.
We ate lunch at a restaurant in La Perrière, a beautiful spot to spend a few leisurely hours. The stone houses are quite picturesque,
many of which have charming cottage gardens.
After lunch we walked through the little streets and enjoyed the sights.