Saturday 6th October
October has arrived in a volley of flash storms and heavy rain – still warm and sunny much of the time, but a morning sun against a clear blue sky lulls you into a false sense of security, sends you out in shorts and T shirt, waits until you are too far away from the house to reasonably get back in a jiffy, and disappears suddenly behind magically appeared-from-nowhere black storm clouds which open even as you stare up at them wondering if it’s going to rain! I have to admit though that I rather like it – we have so much fantastic, bright, must-be-out-in-the-open weather here that it’s rather nice to have a good excuse to sloth around with a book or stick the telly on at indecent times in the early evening!

The Hairy One (Bisou, not Olivier) is absolutely terrrified of thunder and lighting. On the first peal, she starts huffing like an old puffing billy and heads for the protection of ….. wait for it…….the television! She cowers behind it in a tangle of wires as the lightening flashes away. She’s not very bright !(apart from when food is involved)

The new PO Life is out and we have spent the week taking it round to all the tourist offices, supermarkets etc. Leroy Merlin, our principal distributor, have removed our display unit until they find someone to replace Brian, the English speaking advisor, so if you speak French and English and would like a job at Leroy Merlin, get in there quick! (I say this from purely selfish reasons so we can get our display unit back!!) You can still find PO Life there on the counter and in their A5 info packs at the entrance to the shop but it’s not the same as it being ‘in yer face’ as soon as you walk in the door.

Right. Off I go to see England thrash Australia. They have some nice round little bottoms for such big men – a pleasure to watch!

Friday 12th October
Whoooopeee! There’s snow on the Canigou and it is just oh-so pretty, you cannot do anything elso but jump around and scream with pure joy! Days are now bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, but nights and early mornings are definitely growing a little parky – just how I like it! The world of P-O is still green with kaleidoscopes of wild flowers sprinkled amongst the vines, fields, orchards and forests, and the odd red or russet leaf peeping our timidly in an attempt to assess the seasonal situation.

And yes! They won! Come on England – you can do it again, I just know it! We were interviewed yesterday for France Bleu Roussillon and France Info and I made a complete arse of myself (and I don’t mean I turned into a bottle of wine ‘though maybe it would have been a safer option!) They wanted to do a ‘reportage’ on an English/French family and how we’re dividing our loyalties. Over a perrier tranche at the café de France in Céret, I warbled and whinnied into the microphone about how I wasn’t bothered who won, it is the ‘aesthetics’ of the game I’m interested in, and there’s a cute little blonde who plays for France (turns out he actually plays for England) and who looks great tripping down the pitch, and I like the way Johnny always says a prayer before he kicks the ball….. and on…. and on…and on… a monologue really, interspersed with very bad jokes, which only those possessing my total lack of maturity would understand anyway, with Olivier and friend John trying to get a word in edgeways and bring the conversation back to the touch line…..oh, la honte!

We went for a long walk around Maureillas at the weekend and ended up next to the second lake at Saint Jean Pla de Corts. Would you believe it? They charge for the picnic tables!! I think that is absolutely iniquitous! To have to pay 10€ to go and sit around an extremely grubby table and eat your sandwiches is scandalous – not question of money but question of principle! It is so lovely there, with dramatically changing views throughout the year as the seasons change, fabulous facilities for kids with a small adventure park with tree top rope ladders and pulley swings, and waterside bar/restaurant (open only until end September) So why spoil it by fixing this silly charge which surely would put people’s backs up – or am I just being a grumpy old mousse?

I went into Perpignan yesterday to meet Claude, the lady who has set up the British food shop in Perpignan. She’s having a hard time of it – getting herself known and attracting enough customers to make a living. She says that she opened the shop so that she could prove to the French that British food isn’t all boiled beef and carrots but as she is not in the centre of Perpignan, she doesn’t really benefit from passing trade (she is based near the Palais des Rois de Majorque, just down the road from the Roussillonnaise) and is struggling to stay open. She will order anything you want, deliver it, make up presentation baskets (rather nice idea I think if you’re trying to find ideas to offer French friends and neighbours – at least it’s a little bit different) and make you tea and coffee on the house (shop?) together with providing a pleasant little corner if you want to sit and chat in French or English (she’s fluent in both) I was surprised to see that her prices are very reasonable and compare favourably with British products in the large supermarkets. She is introducing Wednesday morning coffee mornings so if you happen to be in the area, pop in for a chat.

Finally, I have an ’emplacement’ at the Maureillas vide grenier on Sunday so that should be fun – I’ve never done this before and am a lousy saleswoman so why not come along and take advantage of me?

Friday 19th October
Wow! What a week! It started last Saturday when FR3 rang to ask if they could come and film us watching the France v England rugby semi-final. “Well yes”, we said, “but not at home. It will be a bit boring filming us watching telly” ‘Non, non” they said “We want to see eef you and your ‘usband come to ze blows ovver eet” “But no” I said “We don’t really care that much who wins but if you want to film us, you can come to our local caff” “Zat weel be verrrry good” they replied. And so we did. What a laugh! The cameras followed us round for three hours, then only broadcast the 30 seconds at the end of the evening when we were all looking a little the worse for wear!! Unfortunately, I didn’t see much of the match as there was {{no way}} I was going to wear my glasses in front of the cameras, so, although I cheered every time other Brits in the café made noise, I couldn’t actually see the ball for the majority of the evening! Hey ho! What an actress! John very kindly allowed me to paint his head white with a red cross! What a great sport considering that he has seen examples of my artistic talent!

The next day was the Maureillas vide grenier – another superb day – fabulous weather and great fun. There is a kind of community spirit at these events, as most people tend to come from the village or around, and everybody has picnics and bottles of wine (I just had the wine – got up too late to prepare the picnic!!) and shared and chatted.

Monday however, brought some bad news, as a trip to the vet diagnosed Bisou as diabetic. She now has to have an injection every day (administered by Olivier – I am needlephobic) and double amounts of love and cuddles! The vet only cost an arm, not a leg, and at 150€ after three days of blood tests, injections and other ‘soins’, we felt we’d got away lightly!

Today, we sat on the Racou beach at Argelès in a hot sun and blessed our fantastic fortune in life. It doesn’t get much better!

Saturday 27th October
The beginning of this week dawned in a series of fantastic sunrises – the Canigou was soaking in a halo of glowing pink – quite amazing to wake up to. This morning though, for the first time, there is a thick coating of snow on the peaks, unlike the sprinklings we’ve had so far this year . No, this is serious stuff – the real thing – and it is absolutely beautiful! Against the background of a cloudless blue sky, there is an ethereal quality to the scene. As Rudyard Kipling said “I came here in search of nothing more than a little sunshine. But I found Canigou, whom I discovered to be a magician among mountains, and I submitted myself to his power. ………………… I watch him with wonder and delight. Nothing that he could do or give birth to would now surprise me, whether I met Don Quixote
himself riding in from the Spanish side, or all the chivalry of ancient
France watering their horses at his streams, or saw (which each twilight
seems quite possible) gnomes and kobbolds swarming out of the mines
and tunnels of his flanks.”

We took Lulu for a scan last week as he has problems with his shoulders which keep coming out of their sockets! Take a look at these photos of the scanning unit at the clinique Saint Pierre in Perpignan. Immaculately clean, water and drinks machines, potted plants and no more than a five minute wait before our turn! The appointment with the specialist took place only three days after our initial phone call and the scan followed four days later. I don’t like to knock the UK, as there are advantages and disadvantages of living anywhere, but even private treatment these days in England doesn’t compare to that!

Last saturday we went back to El Tap, in Maureillas centre next to the town hall (soon to be abandoned and rebuilt on the main road) to watch England get beaten in the Rugby world cup. Afterwards, people kept coming up to us and saying “désolé” – I didn’t like to tell them that it really didn’t matter to me that much! I have to admit that I would never have thought of eating in the restaurant there before as the bar looks rather scummy but the small room tucked away at the back of the bar was clean and pleasant and the food in my opinion was excellent value for money – three good courses for 15€ including home made crème catalane – yummy, yummy! Not too sweet – just right!

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