July has, for the most part, been unseasonably wet and cold. We’ve been dressed in jeans and sweaters for the last couple of weeks. The vignerons are happy, though, as the grapes are now full, fat and heavy and the vendage looks set to happen about 6 weeks ahead of time. But about 2 days ago the weather reverted to what one expects from SW France in mid-to-late-summer. We’ve lovely clear skies, temperatures in the low 90’s (that’s the high-20’s for those who deal in new money), the house martins are happily buzzing over our heads clearing out the insect population and we’re back to wearing shorts and t-shirts. OK, that may not be to everyone’s taste (our wearing shorts), but for us it’s having your cake and eating it too.
On Thursday evening there was one of the seasonal Marchés des Producteurs in Sainte-Foy-La-Grande. This involves local producers of wine, beef, cheese, duck (and foie gras), bread and so on gathering under the mulberry trees in La Grenouilleau and serving their products to residents and visitors who sit at tables and chairs on a first-come-first-served basis, which means that there’s a wonderful mix of people. The Mairie organises live music – last week it was swing, this week it was a Celtic duo, next week a Parisian accordianist, and so on. You can buy award-winning bottles of wine for €5.00, and supper (a belly-full) for less than €10 and enjoy the music and ambiance for free. I’ve tucked into bread and pate for the past 2 weeks and spent less than €6 for dinner each night.
Now we can sit out on the terrace at Les Terraces having enjoyed the people-watching at Sainte-Foy’s weekly market this morning and meeting lots of new folk and enjoy what I can only describe as a balmy evening.
At 20:45 the last stalwarts have just left the beach at Port-Sainte-Foy and locals are doing their version of the passaggiata on the quay-side in front of the house. Neighbours are barbequing. Graham has just finished listening to the last over of the current England-India test match from Trent Bridge. England were winning, I think.
Talking to people at the market today we’ve heard of a few new events to scope out and a couple of restaurants that merit a visit, which is always fun.
We had yummy raspberries and yoghurt for breakfast this morning and when I was out on my bike yesterday I noticed that the blackberries were already ripening, so tomorrow morning I’m going to take a walk over to Port Ste Foy to see if the blackberry bushes that I raided last year are ready for a quick plunder before setting out to explore a track that is clear on the hill above la maision de retraite opposite. Graham is so ready for a blackberry & apple pie (but it may be an apple & blackberry pie if there aren’t enough blackberries).
You know, you don’t have to have a lot of money to enjoy life …many of the best things are free or cost little …. the big thing is being able to afford the luxury to sit back and realise how good it can be. Oh boy, are we lucky, or what?