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18 July 2006

Tuesday, 18th July 2006

We have just finished reading “In Search of Cluny: God's Lost Empire” by Edwin Mullins and thoroughly enjoyed it. It really has brought the ancient Abbots alive giving them distinct personalities. Information obtained by the author from their letters which amazingly still survive. The obvious book to read after that was the story of Heloise and Abelard, and now its all fitting into place.
So what do I read next? I am now reading “Reporting” – David Remnick’s writings from the New Yorker. He was a journalist in Moscow the same time as us. At the same time I am reading Irène Némirovsky’s Suite française again, this time in French
The last week has been busy socially, but so hot without a break. It’s beginning to be the scorched earth here again, a repeat of 3 years ago. Basically we have to do everything possible in the mornings early, the afternoons are just hopeless and only for reading or lying down in a stupor. Sometimes we go out in the afternoons to have some relief in the air conditioned car, and take a trip looking at historical sites. There are many choices within easy reach of here.
I am having single French lessons again as I find I do more study that way. So up and out early on Wednesday mornings for an intense work out in French.
Last week we had a great late afternoon/evening with the Tailfer family who live in a Chateau on the hill at Nancelle, near La Roche Vineuse. We spent at least an hour in their pool with their visiting grandchildren, and dinner on the terrace as soon as the shade arrived. Thursday was our 38th anniversary, so after I had delivered the cooking next door for the paleontology team, we went into Cluny to try out a new restaurant. It was the eve of Bastille Day. As we sat on the terrace of the restaurant we watched a parade go by, with antique cars, bands etc. Then everyone, including us, headed over the bridge to watch a grand firework display. It was quite good and a lot of fun.
On Friday my French teacher, Agnès Raynard, had a big party for Bastille Day. There were about 30 people crammed into her courtyard, her students and partners and some of her former students. Saturday we had a peaceful day, and were planning a quiet evening and early night, but one of our neighbours phoned and invited us for a last minute aperitif – we put our dinner away and of course that turned out to be the whole evening, sitting under a tree, eating and having a few glasses of wine.
In the meantime Gilbert continues to work on our living room floor – we so long for it to be finished. Its looking really good so far.
Sunday evening I cooked again for the team next door and this time we joined them for dinner.
All this time we have been watching the activities of the goldfinch family residing in the vine outside our front door. Watching the mother or father standing on the edge of the nest for hours with their swings spread to shade the babies from the scorching sun was incredible. The babies were growing so big that they simply could no longer fit in the tiny nest. On Monday morning three of the babies took off, leaving the smallest and weakest alone in the nest, chirping sadly. After a night alone, he struggled out on to branches feeling his way around and eventually took off, landing down in our courtyard amongst the plants. Goodness knows if it will survive, it may not be strong enough. We put water and bread crumbs down for the little mite. We haven’t seen it again since, but hear plenty of chirping around us, so hope he has done well and survived the scorching sun!
We went to the movies last night – the award winning Volver, featuring Penelope Cruz. (Spanish Director Almovadar) It was on in Cluny with French sub-titles. The cinema was packed – no air-conditioning of course, so we were dripping by the time we emerged. However, it was much easier for me to understand with the sub-titles, even if they did move a bit fast and it was certainly worth seeing.
Today I have been working early in the garden, pruning the vines and tying up tomatoes. As usual we will have an overdose of tomatoes, they are growing everywhere. We are already eating the tomatoes from the first plants, and are now on our second lot of salad. Gooseberries are finished, lots of rhubarb, and the apple tree is too heavily laden. Plums will soon be ready.

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