Narbonne is known for 300 days’ sunshine of the year. We certainly experienced 2 of the 65 non-sunny (and windy) days! So much for a last bit of sun before we have to face winter …
We spent Friday in Narbonne, a lovely small city, typically French, delicious food, cafes spilling out onto the streets, a spectacular cathedral and small quaint shops. Here I am sporting my new skirt!Saturday we took the car and explored. We found out that Narbonne–Plage is non-descript and worth a miss, Gruissan is quaint, but we nearly blew away. It’s a seaside village with a very good outdoor food market, but you only need to spend about 1 hr there, then you’re ready to move on. I expect it is possibly very different in season when the town is busy. Let’s just say: not somewhere where I would like a beach cottage. Next we headed for Bages, previously a fishing village built on a hill. No matter where you want to go, it’s uphill, but the town must have declined over years, because we could find only 1 cafe and not even a shop. I think they have a ‘bread depot’. In spite of this, it is very quaint and pretty. The only residents we saw were very very old! Our final stop for the day was Peyriac–de–Mer. This town we both liked. A little more up market, a large number of wine estates (always an important factor!) and good walking routes. However, I did manage to get into trouble with an old French man taking his dog for a walk, and promptly received a very good telling off.
We were on foot exploring the town. There are a large number of very large walled gardens. Now some of these gardens are walled, but not sure what they are protecting, because there is nothing within the walls, but some are clearly protecting houses. From another angle you can usually see the house. There isn’t a huge correlation between the size and/or value of the house and the size of the wall and/or gate. But there was one VERY large enclosed property …. and I am of course a VERY curious person. And I love houses – especially beautiful old houses, so I tried everything in my might to see whether I could see what the house looked like. stepped up onto a rock next to the wall and peered over. But could see nothing. A short distance further there was another opportunity to step onto a low wall (about 50cms high). This is when the grandad walked up to me and asked me in French whether he could help and if I was looking for something. I knew my French wasn’t good enough to have a real conversation, so I said I don’t speak much French. This is when he switched over to very heavily accented English – and started to give me a piece of his mind about how dare I try and invade these people’s privacy. This is when I realised I should have responded to him in Afrikaans instead of English … Anyhow, in hindsight, I was invading their privacy, but I think that having such a big wall around your property is similar to someone saying “I have a secret … but I can’t tell you”. It makes me all the more curious. And I must mention that at no point did I try and get on or over the wall, I just elevated myself by about 40 or 50 centimetres …..
The one thing I can say, is that I did see the house. Not a very big nor a very nice house at all with a very wild unkempt garden. A disappointment indeed and not worth the telling off I received!
This last week was busy. I had an early start as I was off to London first thing on Monday. Always a long day in London, because I don’t get back until very late. It was such an unpleasant trip too as a result of train and tube problems. Every evening I was busy and bothered, looking forward to the weekend. I love weekends. Yesterday I was out with Bouchie (Lisa) for a bit, then prepared for friends who were coming over for dinner last night. Today, Tim and I did most of our Christmas shopping. We have 3 busy weekends ahead of us, 2 of which we are away, and I refuse to shop in December! The crowds drive me nuts, so this weekend sounded like a good idea.
Tim deserves a medal. As a typical man who hates shopping, he was endlessly patient and provided valuable input, rather than standing around tapping his feet. I really did appreciate it.
It is dark here again. The clocks have gone back, which means it is dark by 4.45 pm. It really takes some getting used to (if you can). I am really hoping I will cope better with winter than I did last year – especially as we have no plan for some winter sun. I have warned Tim that we might need to buy a light box as I think I do suffer a little from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the winter. They say SAD sufferers respond, often quite dramatically, to Bright Light Treatment & lightboxes have been specifically designed for bright light treatment and they are a recognised method of alleviating SAD. But we will see how it goes.
This last week has been freezing cold! Probably the coldest it has been in October in years. Many parts of the country saw snow (alas, not us!). We just had sub-zero temperatures and frosts. Next week promises to be milder, thank goodness.
We have a new driveway! And a lovely new driveway it is. It is made from grey Indian sandstone. On either side of the drive, there are drive-over up-lights, making our driveway more visible at night. It really looks classy. I am most impressed. Now all we need to do to sort out the outside of the house, is fire the gardeners and get someone in who knows what they’re doing! Our present gardeners are doing a particularly shoddy job in spite of us rapping them over the knuckles a number of times.
I have moved our lounge around again! I was motivated by the beautiful B&B we stayed in in France. But I really like what we’ve done. I might post some pictures soon. (I have now!)
Now I am going to go and find out whether my friend Hayley has returned from her month’s holiday in Australia. I have been very concerned that she will fall in love with it and never come back!