Monday, 30 October 2006

Chilly and chilli

Standing at my open study window, sipping a freshly-made espresso, I look out on a day turned grey. It's not cold, but the weathermen forecast a change tomorrow as fresher winds blow down from the north and the first frosts of autumn may arrive.

I've sorted out the duvets and decided the time has come to switch the 11.5 Tog for the 13.5 one. I've had friends stay for the weekend, and as I coped with washing the bedding today I took the opportunity to check what was on each bed and cull the spare duvets that fill one of the cupboards in my bedroom. I also need to sort through the bedding, for I seem to have piles of sheets and duvet covers that never get used, as well as a growing mountain of pillow cases.

This was not the case in France a couple of weeks ago. I carefully packed the bedding for the three of us, and it was only as we unpacked at the Gite that I discovered that I'd not taken any sheets. It was a quick trip to the local E. Leclerc hypermarket the next day to remedy the omission. Therefore I now have three more sheets in the airing cupboard! (And just what does the initial E stand for in the Leclerc name? We've had a tradition of some 20 years of calling him "Eddie Leclerc", but as good as it sounds it won't be right.)

The trip was relaxing, and an opportunity to revisit some sights and see new ones. I descended into the depths of the earth at the Gouffre de Padirac again, complete with its 450 or so steps down into the main cave, and then its boat trip across the underground lake. I trod the paths of Rocamadour once more, and found that the Chapel of the Black Madonna had been cleaned, and much of the candle soot removed. Unfortunately, along with the darkness has gone some of the atmosphere. I went into the church of St. Andre at Monflanquin to find it too had been cleaned, as had the Abbey at Fontrevaud where lie the tombs of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Richard Couer de Lion. I also managed to get into the Castle at Bonaguil which I have only observed before. This was the village where, many years ago, the local restaurant owner came over a chatted incessantly to us as we were eating. She wanted to practise her English, and we were the recipients. She asked us to return. We never did.

Now within a week of returning home the clocks have changed and the dusk rushes upon us. A fortnight ago the evenings were still reasonably light and we were walking around in shirtsleeves. Now I've changed the duvets and the fleece is out. So the world turns and the seasons change. Summer salad gives way to winter veg. Baked potato and chilli-con-carne was on the menu this last weekend for my guests. It was good, and there was enough left to put two tubs into the freezer. As the land cools down it will be a welcome supper.

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