Last Days

October 24, 2010

Catherine is spending the day representing her cancer-support group at a senior fair today. We host a French Sunday lunch (a tradition for all France) at our place for Stephan. We start with olives, and bread rounds with tapenade and eggplant “caviar.” H cooks herb omelets and we also have garlic pan-fried potatoes and a tomato, lettuce and shallot salad. We enjoy a cheese course but no dessert—we’re full.

Before we left for our sojourn to Dordogne, there were incredible winds here—a usual occurrence this time of year in this area of France. In Dordogne, we got used to quiet sleeping (no winds). Now we are blasted with winds that you cannot believe 24 hours a day. I’m not sure I can sleep!

We spend the rest of the day planning our departure in two days time.

October 25, 2010

Catherine has invited us to lunch along with a friend, Jane. Jane and her husband, Graham, live in England but visit their vacation home in France (up the road) fairly regularly. Graham is away on business.

Catherine “throws together” a lunch. Stephan says “Can’t Catherine make a well-put-together-meal for a change? Must she always throw together our meals?” So that tells you everything you need to know about Stephan—HA!

So here is the “thrown together” lunch (get ready for this!): in the sun-kissed sitting room we have an aperitif of Pineaux de Charante with hard-boiled quail eggs dusted with sweet paprika, and toast with garlic rub, tomato juice and hand-shredded bits of tomato, topped with dried ham. At the table we enjoy a lunch of duck breast cooked in Pineaux de Charante and dried cranberries; steamed leeks; and lentils followed by an arugula salad. Our lunch red wine comes from a Provencal area where Cat’s son was married earlier in the year–delicious. After the cheese course we were treated to some XO cognac and then the dessert of French macaroon cookies was served. It was all just thrown together—HA!

Stephan provided the entertainment after lunch (and he’s usually entertaining during lunch too). We asked him to tell Jane a joke that he had told us early in our visit and it had become a bit of an inside joke ever since. He said it was his #6 joke. (My retelling of it would not do the joke justice.) So I said “Well what’s your #1 joke?” And we got to hear the #1 joke told in his theatrical style. We all laughed until we drooled.

During our lunch the wind was blowing like you couldn’t believe! At one point we were not sure if the cat was running very fast by the windows or if it was getting blown past the windows. Soon after the cat’s “flight” we see all the patio furniture blow by the windows! The wind was so strong we had to truly struggle to get to the front door of our apartment. We remembered that the last time we had the dogs here, the two poodles were nearly blown off their feet. We will not miss these incredible winds.

October 26, 2010

It is time to wave a fond farewell to the Hartleys and to France. It has been a fantastic trip. Catherine and Stephan have been incredibly gracious to us—after all, guests are like fish; they begin to smell after 5 days. And we’ve been here 3 weeks! If we overstayed our welcome the Hartleys were extremely good at hiding it. It’s not often at our age that you meet new friends. We have been incredibly lucky that our paths crossed and we enjoy each other so much.

To the airport! We have paid extra for bulkhead seats on the way back. At least we will have some legroom. But we discover that it’s yin and yang. You have great legroom but, since the tray tables are in the armrest, the seatroom is diminished. So my legs were comfortable but my derriere was asleep most of the time. Live and learn.

We arrive home at 10pm after having been up for about 26 hours. The “boys” were as happy to see us as we were to see them. I think we’re going to relax at home-sweet-home for a few days before facing the real world.

A bientôt, France! (See you later, France!)