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11 September 2011

Sunday - time for the Vendange

11th September

I think the peculiar weather is global - we can never work out what is going to happen here, and the leaves are definitely changing colour. The garden is still producing madly which we are enjoying of course, but John groans when I bring in another bowl of green beans.... However, he likes much better the wonderful bowls of fresh raspberries for breakfast!
Last night we had dinner at a next door hamlet, 10 mins walk away. We decided to walk as the weather was so beautiful with a full moon. Walking home was stunning, the light extraordinary. We were walking the quiet country roads sometimes under overhanging trees with very little light filtering through, then out into full moonlight again. We sat on our gallerie with a whiskey nightcap when we came home, we couldn't bear to go indoors for a while.

All of the country around us is covered in vineyards and at the moment it is abuzz from morning to night with the grape pickers working - the vendange has started and it looks fabulous. Huge trailer loads of grapes pulled by tractors going to the wineries for pressing or to the co-op. Guys with huge baskets on their backs groaning with grapes as they stagger up the hills to tip the grapes into the trailers. A neighbour's family own a vineyard in the Maconnais and she is helping to produce 3 meals a day for the pickers 7 days a week!!

I will continue to work on my village writing project in Australia, that is if I get a minute to do so - sometimes its good to write while stepping away from it.

As part of my French village story I have started to look at wild plants for eating, ordered a few books and now I am trying out some plants in salads. Fascinating stuff, I now know how all the pilgrims ate when they trekked all over Europe long ago - there was always something to eat, perhaps harder in winter. But I expect they rested in winter for a lot of the time. I will be interested to try out some Aussie plants when I get back.

John is glued to the TV at odd hours watching the Rugby World cup - this morning he was up at 5.30am... he enjoys it a lot. Today, Sunday is the "vide grenier" in this village. literally translated means empty your attics - so a kind of village fair or sale of second hand goods, or flea market. We will walk down at lunch time, buy a hot dog and glass of wine to support it. Probably all good things for sale will have gone by then, but even so we will put in an appearance and show our support.

We are expecting some friends from Wales to arrive Tuesday - some former colleagues from our Moscow days. Both retired journalists, but continuing to write books. They will be here for a few days, and then on Saturday we leave for a trip south to the Alps Maritimes - near the Italian border, to a town called Embrun. It is National Heritage day on Sunday, and there will be a guided tour of the cathedral and treasury and in the evening a conference on the Lombards in the Alps region. The barbarian Lombards invaded Embrun in the 6th century and destroyed it – it is a fabulous fortified town high up in the alps.

The local historians are delighted to have a true Lombard attending the conference!! After that we go a little bit south to Apt, to meet up with some Russian/Americans - they found me through my book, as their grandfather used to live at Terenga in the Simbirsk region near Kathleen ffrench and knew her!!! They come to France twice a year on holidays, so a great chance to meet them.

After that we have some friends from Aus coming for a few days, then my flying visit to Ireland on 30th, back on 5th and we leave here on 10th!! Time will fly by and I have so much to do. Lots of pruning in the garden and my annual bonfire!!!

I can now genuinely say to Aussie friends 'see you soon'.

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