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.


  1. Yes, you are family and how wonderful for Linda and Helen to spend this time with you, learning about each other and enjoying this beautiful place. Your pink blossom tree is so beautiful, who would not want one! I remember you writing about those Summer night classical concerts, and it is sad they have to move indoors. And I know what you mean about those old upright church pews - Oh my aching bones... Yes we Australians can only marvel at the idea of popping across the border into Spain - wonderful. Loved this post Janet.

    1. Thanks Patricia. I am missing mu Aussie cousins. We had such a good time together.

  2. Sorry - Janice! Early foggy morning here, not very alert...

  3. Your family history is so fascinating - it must have been fun to learn a few more facts.

    1. It was BtoB. We never stopped talking. x

  4. What a wonderful time you had with your Australian cousins, Janice. I remember you blogging about finding long-lost relatives thanks to your family history research and it's lovely to see the relationships flourishing.

    Sorry to hear about the move indoors for the Friday concerts. Those agonising pews are a continental Catholic invention and I find it almost impossible to sit in them for more than a few minutes, especially as I can no longer kneel. :)

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