Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our sunshine children

Of course our own four children (and their partners) and our 4 grandchildren are the most special people in the world to us but today I have been thinking about all the other children and their families that have come into our lives since we came to live here 10 years ago.

Why sunshine children? Well many of them we met when running our gîte business and we always closed in the winter. We loved welcoming families with children and loved hearing them having fun in the swimming pool or on the swings and the trampoline. Best of all we loved having them on Wednesday evenings on our terrace when we'd eat something yummy cooked by Kevin and then play silly games until well after normal bedtimes. So may of them came back year after year and we loved watched them growing up. 

Kevin with a young guest
Here's an Easter basket waiting to be found

Youngsters often visited us

Some French guests putting on a show for us

Although we haven't been running gîtes since May several of the families who were booked this year were returning guests and although we weren't able to meet on the terrace at Peyrenègre as usual that didn't stop us meeting up at our country cottage for evenings of food and fun. They all said that they had come back year on year because they felt so at home and so welcomed by us and that we were very much part of their holiday - and we told them that we had loved welcoming them each year and watching their children grow. So many of them have become personal friends and keep in touch with us regularly.
The terrace has changed but the friendships remain

Two of the families that came to us for several years in succession still met up when they moved on to other locations. Last year,when they heard that we had put Peyrenègre up for sale, both families visited us and were our guests for one night. How wonderful to welcome them again to eat with us and how wonderful to see those little children we knew so well as gorgeous young people. We were delighted to hear recently that one of them, Adam, has been accepted by Oxford. We're sure he'll find it a doddle - after all he survived being teased unmercifully by us every year.

Making afternoon tea for everyone

Then there are the children of our village. On Sunday there was a baptism in the village church. The mother is the daughter of our builder and when we first met her she didn't even have a boyfriend. Now she is happily married and has three children. She is just one of the many youngsters we have seen grow up in the last ten years and we love how they remain friendly and polite to us whenever there is a village event. We also have French friends who have children and every year we are invited to a meal prepared and served by the children with musical interludes provided by them too. Last year we had 3 English children and 6 French children for 2 days of fun and games with all the parents invited on the evening of the second day to taste a meal prepared by the children.

       Our grand designs
There are also two families that have houses here who come every summer and their children are very special to us. They are like an extra arm to our family and have a special place in our hearts. One family aren't here this year. As it is their house we are living in they have decided to have a different experience this year - we miss them! Our other friends are Australian and have a house in the next village. We went to their daughter's wedding when she married her delicious French man and we  now welcome their three daughters into our lives too. Although they live in Aix- en- Provence they come often and always for the summer and we love catching up with them - and this year sharing their pool!

The girls from Aix en Provence on the left and our own granddaughter on the right having fun with Kevin

 So we think we are so lucky to have our own lovely family and then our sunshine families too. We love sharing this special corner of France with them and would like to thank them for all the joy they bring us. Here's to many more sunshine days together!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Well, well, well what do we have here?

The hunt for liquid gold

One of the reasons this site was so attractive to us is that it has a fresh water spring on it. Having an endless supply of water here will make our life much easier - and cheaper! If any of you have read or seen the film of that French classic Jean de Florette and its sequel Manon des Sources you'll appreciate what a difference a water source can make. Villagers have told us many tales about their mothers washing clothes in the pool created by the source and of bringing cattle and other animals here in times of drought. One told me that when she got home from school each afternoon her grandfather would put her astride the cart horse - her legs well splayed out as it was a mighty beast -  and giving it a tap on the rump sett them off for a little ride. The horse came straight to the cool troughs of water on our property and after drinking its fill walked her slowly home again. You can still see the stones where women rubbed their washing and we are planning to clean it all out and restore it to its former state.

As well as the source our immediate neighbour told us that we have a well.  She remembers it being dug out about 45 years ago and told us that it had been capped off and then turfed over. This is where the water that comes out of the tap on our terrace originates from. Someone else thought the well was higher up on a neighbouring farmer's land so the other day Kevin, with a little help from a man with a digger, went on the search for liquid gold.

Following the lead pipe from the tap on the terrace

No sign of the well yet
Hang on this looks like something
The top is very heavy
Bingo! Ca y est!
The old lead pipe got broken in the process but as it couldn't stay that wasn't the end of the world. We bought new piping and by using a siphon method Kevin got the water running again to a new tap without the need for a pump.  Result!