Sunday September 2nd
Wow! September has arrived in a flurry of sunshine, with a fanfare of summer still to come. It really is one of the most lovely months of the year in the PO – a kind of shy summer season that hasn’t been introduced, so doesn’t want to flaunt itself, but knows it’s got style!

August is an ‘in limbo’ period for the PO. Many businesses close (unless they’re tourist based) and getting a plumber, a builder, a tiler or a candlestick maker is a long and complicated process. With the arrival of September, the artisans are fresh and up for it again (for at least a week) and everything starts bustling. Nice.

Right, Coronation Street is starting – got to go (not that I would dream of watching it) but that Casey – she’s going to cause trouble, you mark my words!

Wednesday 5th September
The weather continues to be fantastic – not a cloud in the sky (no doubt blown away by a rather stiff Tramontane yesterday) and temperatures to make you wish you weren’t going back to school – which I’m not!! Time to spare a thought for those poor, harassed teachers who are starting all over again. I still get a feeling of panic as the new term approaches, to be quickly replaced by a light headed release of breathy relief as I remember that I won’t be packing my satchel and heading off to Colditz! Lulu trotted off to collège in Céret this morning for a first school day which started at 9h and finishes at 12h! Can’t be bad!

At the end of this year, his final year at collège, he will sit a written exam, the Brevet des Collèges or BEPC. This is a type of entrance exam to lycée, and will be particularly difficult for Lulu as he has not been brought up reading and writing in French. His spoken French is fluent and his understanding more or less 100% but until the age of 11, he was in the English system, meaning that history, geography etc were based around Britain and its past and geographical situation, maths was presented in a different way, and French was only learnt as a foreign language.

Many children in this situation end up not realising their full potential in the French system as there are no compromises or special allowances. He must perform to the same standard as French children of his age. In England, we may write to an examining board and request special conditions for a non-English speaker – a papal dispensation so to speak – and the child’s circumstances will be taken into account when marking. Not so here! Anyway, we will wait, hope and if he doesn’t cope, he will need to go to a lycée which is based more around practical subjects (a lycée professionnel) and change his direction in life. His ambition has always been to be a lawyer but I think he might need to look at other openings – maybe with languages as he is bi-lingual. As long as he is happy, healthy and ‘bien dans sa peau’, I really don’t mind what he becomes.
Friday 14th September
September has been fantastic so far! Hot days, warm nights, and not a whisper of autumn to come. Woke up this morning ‘tho to the pitter patter of raindrops on the pool cover, and this afternoon, despite a weak sun trying to break through the thick cloud, which has made a very uneasy truce with the raindrops! And yes! Of course! Dad’s coming over on Sunday so wasn’t it just bound to rain?

We have had such a fun couple of weeks, with dinner out several times with friends – and a great laugh had by all between the karaoke, the French language games, and the red wine! Who says that middle age is boring! We guffawed our way through an afternoon in Nefiach, giggled our way through another in Lesquerde (How lovely it is round there – if you haven’t been, you really should head for Tautavel and Lesquerde – it’s like being on top of the world!) and generally bathed in that warm feeling of being with people who you like and feel comfortable with. What more could I ask for? (Yes, a good singing voice – I know…!) I managed to take very few photos for some reason. I am normally permanently on the lookout for a likely victim, but have been going through a ‘can’t be bovvad’ stage which I will shake off as soon as I get rid of this hangover!

Wednesday 14th September
Well, the temperature has certainly gone down by a degree or five, mainly I think, due to a saucy wind whistling raucously through the rafters! Still no snow on the Canigou ‘though and a sweet golden sun and bright blue skies to accompany the rogue as it huffs and puffs its way around the P-O!

We have just taken my dear old Dad back to Barcelona, Leeds-bound. We stopped off on the way in one of the small resorts on the outskirts of Barcelona and feasted on fish soup on the port, accompanied by do-it-yourself pà amb tomaquet (lightly grilled slices of bread rubbed with garlic and tomato with a trickle of olive oil.) I say ‘do-it-yourself’ as it really was the toast, two tomatoes and several cloves of garlic, but it was quite nice to be able to regulate the garlic quantities – you never know when some tall dark stranger might want to kiss you and it’s always best to be prepared on the garlic breath front!

Last week was Dad’s birthday, so we drove down to Rosas and celebrated with Tequila sunrise on the sea front followed by a birthday dinner in a fish restaurant on the beach. We totally underestimated the quantiles and ordered hors d’oeuvres of breaded whitebait and deep fried squid followed by pizza, paella, suquet and zarzuella. Easily enough for two in each dish, so Bisou did rather well out of it as fish rained down under the table where she was waiting open gobbed! We were all totally pogged and headed back for France with lots of ‘I’m too full’ ‘Why did I eat so much?’ ‘I feel sick’ so a great evening had by all.

Despite continual protests that he is no longer a spring chicken in his mid eighties, Dad takes quite a lot of keeping up with! A brisk two mile stroll every morning, drive out and tea and cakes in the afternoon, gin and tonic with nibbles and a catch up with the news in the early evening, and a walk, dinner, DVD….. he only stops when he is asleep. Long may you continue!

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