La Rentrée

The post party parties continued. Even taking the marquees down was marked with a impromptu gathering of 30 humans and Thelma the goat who Christophe brought along to join us.

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Thelma and Christophe

It was such a cool week and I wonder if we will ever be able to drag so many over to our part of the world like that again. I hope so.

All good things must come to an end though I guess and now everyone’s gone home and life is getting back to normal. Just like the end of a long summer holiday when there is a sense of looking forward to a routine again, I was very much looking forward to catching up with the garden and hoping to get a bit more sleep!
Poor Toby and Nick have been socialising to the max, getting spoilt by their big cousins on special days out, holding down a 9-5 commitment to summer club and a glass day at Maylin’s – it’s a hard life eh!

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Toby’s glass fish

The children have 9 weeks off for the summer here and for the first 5 weeks there is a summer club held at school. We decided to give it a go as we were worried that after 9 weeks away Toby & Nick’s French may be a bit rusty. It was a good move, they’ve had a great time. Friday night we went along to the summer club meal. An Anglais supper – cold meat, roast beef included (us Brits are nicknamed the roast beef) crisps, gherkins and mayonnaise…..and a show put on by the kids. To see Toby and Nick singing, dancing and laughing on stage was amazing and screamed how happy they are here. New found confidence and care free.

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We all went along to the medieval festival in Domfront at the weekend. A two day event that brings the town to life with reenactments in the castle grounds and a market in the surrounding streets.

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The weather turned around and after a dodgy week the temperatures are back up, the sun is shining and the sunflowers Frank and I potted up together all those weeks ago are bursting into bloom.
Socialising? Tick
Culture? Tick
Taking part in village life? Tick
Back to work!
Wardrobe adjusted, grotty old t.shirts and cut off denim shorts back to the top of the pile. Suncream, headphones, bottle of water and some bread for lunch in my bag. Off to Thibois and don’t spare the horses.
In the garden we’ve said good-bye to the broad beans and mange tout. Both were delicious whilst they lasted and I look forward to enjoying them again next year. It felt like a good days work pulling out the old plants, weeding the space and planting rows of seeds in their place. Labels made from sticks with a side shaved away to write on and a commitment to water them through this hot spell. A bit of headphone singing to Mika whilst I worked, oh happy days.
The greenhouse tested me this week. Training the tomatoes around the string and working on the cornichons whilst the air felt thin and the sweat ran off me. Twisting and turning, always aware of where you are placing your feet – it’s tight in there. I was not enjoying it and took comfort in the fact I had relocated to Normandy and not the tropics. Then as I climatised it all became so much more enjoyable. Mandy was doing a bit of soul head phone singing and I wiped the sweat from my eyes and took in all the greenhouse glory. The various varieties of tomatoes. How they curl and climb all around us. The chillies, cucumbers and beautiful aubergines. It wasn’t long ago the greenhouse looked sparce. The dragon fly and butterfly that flew in to say hello. The skinny pink spider standing on a cornichon leaf, the bees buzzing around. Just taking a minute to notice….
As well as getting back to the garden it’s been great to see the animals too. Goat cuddles, the ducks splashing around in the stream, sitting hens and meeting a 2 day old chick.

Lucy the goose entertaining herself by fooling Mandy she was very thirsty and drinking a lot when actually she kept on walking through the bowl and knocking it over. Watching Suno the donkey roll around and take a dust bath. Paul’s agreed to us having goats here at 23 this week. The poor boy has finally given in but now I can I’m a bit scared.

The great thing about Thibois is I can enjoy the good bits and then come home!

A great week that ended with a truely special dinner. A meal made from the garden and of course some of Christophe’s goats cheese too.

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Goat Tomme

Looking at the garden for inspiration for what to make. Cooking in the outdoor kitchen to the sounds of children playing and Joan Armatrading on the stereo, chatting but also quietly getting on with it. Nipping in and out of the garden for an extra onion, fresh herbs. Eating on the terrace. As we all tucked into the colourful feast I couldn’t help but feel a bit proud. Growing, picking and cooking food to share. Seeing others enjoy our efforts and watching the kids dive into plates of veg hungry after hours of running around creating their outdoor circus.
Will we get to that stage at number 23? It’s hard to imagine but why not eh.

Hal

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