Monday, 17 July 2017

Aussies in Caunes

After a great Yorkshire week, and a few days exploring London on their own, cousin Linda, and her cousin Helen, arrived in Toulouse.

We had arrived back in Caunes just a couple of days before hand, so had rushed around getting the pool ready, airing rooms and filling the fridge. Luckily our earlier spring visit, when we had spent 2 solid weeks weeding, had paid off, and the garden looked just about presentable.

We did all the things we always do with visitors to Caunes including the tour of the Abbey, which we discovered will not be hosting open air Vendredis Classiques this year. 

It seems that the roaring success of La Cantine du Cure just beyond the Abbey walls means that the classical concerts could not compete with the noise. I am delighted the Cantine is successful. It is packed most nights, attracts the young, and les Caunois, which is excellent as we were starting to feel that many of our favourite eating and drinking haunts were being taken over by people like us...the English speaking residents of the village and tourists. 

However, it is a little sad that the abbey's beautiful outside space will not be used for the regular Friday night summer concerts. Instead they will take place inside the Church, which has outrageously uncomfortable pews, clearly designed to force you onto your knees. I'm not sure I will be able to force myself to attend many of what will be fabulous concerts.....even with the help of some serious cushions.

Breakfast in the bar
We enjoyed coffee in the bar, although French coffee was a bit strong for Helen, and they were impressed by the (we believe) world famous pain aux raisins, sold at our boulangerie. 

Linda had previously devoured all the Kate Mosse books so we visited La Cite to show them the sights they had read about.

It did rain while they were in Europe...but only for about an hour !
We had to shelter in the Church from the wind and rain, which only lasted a short time, but it proved to them that European weather is not always just like an Australian summer. 

Helen and Linda at St Pere de Rodes

We thought it would be amusing to extend their planned European tour of England and France to include Spain. With Australia being so far from anywhere else, they were amused that we could be in Spain in 90 minutes, and that no passports had to be shown. Of course, if they return in a couple of years time, post Brexit, who knows what they will find.

We took them to one of our favourite 'just across the border' spots......St. Pere de Rodes. With clear blue skies and views to die for, lunch and a wander around the restored monastery, I think you could say we all enjoyed ourselves.

Visiting  vide greniers was important, as the cousins had followed my various posts, through blogging and on facebook. I managed to make a few purchases while they were with us, although I think they, like Mark, wonder where on earth I am going to find to put all the treasures I manage to find each week.

Not sure what I was buying here.

Meeting up with relatives can often have its stresses and strains but being with Linda and Helen for 2 of their 3 week European trip was just perfect. We talked and talked for hours. It was as if we had known each other all our lives.

Sitting on the terrace,  on Mike's bench, chatting...again.
Mike, my dad, was Linda's mum's first cousin, and they did not know each other existed. We are making up for that !

We shared family stories, we learned new things about the shared elements of our family. Our shared great grandparents life stories, as much as we know, has been combed over. Why my bigamist grandfather never spoke of his siblings or his war experiences and why Linda's grandfather wouldn't speak of his siblings or his life back in England, or his war experiences, we will probably never know.

There is no doubt that Linda and I share a history, even if it is one that , as for now, remains mostly hidden. Our grandfathers were we, are family.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

First, the Aussies came to Yorkshire.

It is over a year since I blogged. I felt that my ramblings from England, and those from the Minervois had become tired and I seemed to be repeating myself as the predictable seasonal rhythms in both places continued.

I'm not sure whether dipping my toe back into the blogging pool will be the start of another long term commitment.......but I'm going to see how things develop.

Since last year, our UK base has moved from Hebden Bridge. On return from France last Autumn, we put the house on the market and sold it within days. We quickly found a new UK home, just 20 miles away, on the outskirts of Huddersfield, much closer to all of our grandchildren. We moved into the new house in February, and love it. We see the children more often, the house itself suits us perfectly and I love the garden, and the views across the Colne Valley.

The view from our new garden across the viaduct in Milnsbridge

I am now back in Caunes, and our summer activities are in full swing. There seems to be so much going on. The usual concerts, fetes, repas, vide greniers, cafe des langues meetings, gardening, walking, swimming, drinking coffee/wine with friends and planning for the vists from friends, children and grandchildren are filling our days.

Loving being back in Caunes

So, what is different ? Probably not too much, but having one of my Australian cousins, and her cousin visit us in Yorkshire and here in France has made me look at things a little differently.

It was good to see both our homes, through their eyes. It has confirmed to me how lucky we are to have such a lovely balance in our lives, and maybe it has made me feel more grateful for what we have.

Mark and I always ready to enjoy good food, wine and company.

Our Aussies arrived in Yorkshire on their first ever trip to Europe. Huddersfield is probably not the first port of call for Australian tourists.....but they loved it.

Helen and Linda in Haworth

The weather was kind, in fact it was incredibly , unusually kind. The sun shone, the skies were blue and Yorkshire was at its incredible best.

The Aussies at Bolton Abbey

They visited Haworth, Bolton Abbey, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and York. We spent a day in Liverpool, and they joined us for a family party as Huddersfield Town won a play-off final and entered the premier division. ( This was improved for them by the fact that an Aussie player was part of the team ) 

Clark, who actually went to Wembley to see the great victory, while some of us stayed home to watch on TV.

They came with us to the welcome the team back to Huddersfield reception and cheered and shouted along with the rest of us. They were even interviewed on radio one, as they enthused about the team and the town !

The homecoming reception, with Liam and Izzie.

They loved it all...and particularly loved our postman. They were worried that he wasn't wearing long sleeves and a hat in the blazing sunshine. I guess that is something our posties dont usually worry about.

He was very hot.....but was happy to pose for his Aussie fans.

Linda ( my cousin ) and Helen ( her cousin ) left us to spend a few days in London, while we set off for France and Caunes. Their London experience was also excellent....getting into Lords free, as it was Ladies day, crossing the Abbey Road zebra crossing, tea at the Ritz, and walking the streets of London for hours and hours. They loved it all. The perfect guests, and the perfect tourists, wallowing in all their new experiences.

My wonderful Aussie cousins enjoying a glass of Yorkshire.

( Part two, to follow...... when the Aussies came to Caunes. )