We’re back in French mode. Mum is with us and Dan, Ems and Lola are waiting to greet our arrival. Lola is thrilled to show us the little house, with astronauts in residence, that she has made with grown-up Lego. Dan is thrilled to show us his fully functional Batpod with working suspension that he has made with grown-up Lego. My how the years have evaporated!
After supper Mum is installed in her room on the top floor. Lola is still sleeping in the mauve princess bedroom with the mosquito net which serves brilliantly as a coronet arrangement to hang round the little Ikea metal day bed she sleeps in. So Mum has the room with my favourite floral bed linen. She has everything she needs up there, and I decide to sleep on the top floor to keep her company.
On Saturday the house is very awake by the time I surface. Mum gets tea and tartines on a breakfast tray. La tartine is the French word for a slice of bread and butter, a suitable word for the English to adopt I’d say. She gets hers with some of my homemade rhubarb and ginger jam. This has proved very popular and it’s easy to make. The Hackneys are keen to have a jar to take home.
There will be a market expedition during the morning but first I have to take two chairs that need recaning to an artisan caner who has a pitch in the market where you can drop off, and collect the following Saturday, chairs that he reseats either in cane or rush. These two chairs go back a long way, to my Great Aunt Jessie, who had a full 8-piece Art Deco bedroom suite. Mum has some of the pieces in her room at Chestnuts but the other bits are going elsewhere in the family and perhaps some day all 8 items will be reunited.
I drive in and the town is chocolate block with traffic and parked vehicles. There are a number of festivals taking place this weekend, the Festival du Livre de Mer et d’Aventure for a start. I went to this the first summer we were here and really enjoyed it. Unlike most Book Fairs in England, where you can expect to buy a huge range of books old, new, second-hand, this event hosts about 60 regional writers, ten exhibitors, book signings, round tables, films, exhibitions …. all against the backdrop of the Fort de la Hougue which was renovated in the 17th C by Vauban.
Luckily I find somewhere to park by the church to drop the chairs off but am not so lucky when I try, a bit later, to drive Mum to a convenient spot to leave the car and slip through into the market. But we manage and eventually meet up with Dan and Co. Because Lola has dropped the piece of spring roll sample she was given to taste, we end up buying some of each kind from the stall selling Chinese food and which we take back to the house.
Dan has bought some mackerel which he is going to cook for ‘lunch’ later. So we sit down and have a spring roll tasting – would you believe the French call them ‘rouleaux de printemps’?! It’s about 1.30 and with a glass of white wine and the prawn crackers which were thrown in with the rolls, I count this as meal number 3. Mum and I have already had our breakfast tartines, followed an hour or so later by a Spanish omelette cooked by Dan. You just go with the flow…………..
The afternoon is taken up with pottery stuff, Lola mows the lawn with Nick. Ruby, we are told, has spent much of the holiday playing with the little toy mower. It has a rather piercing clicking sound as it rolls along and I think this noise must be very satisfactory to young ears. Ruby escorts Great Granny round the garden to inspect the flowers.
Somewhere about 4-ish Dan cooks lunch: mackerel with rosemary and lemon from the garden. We eat these with a bit of salad and the girls have tea-time pasta. We try to keep this meal light as Dan and Emma are going to Le Cabestan for supper on their last evening here, and I have defrosted some crab claws for a little plate of risotto. After her bath Lola is allowed to come downstairs for a story or two. She is hungry so snacks on bread and wild strawberry jam (bought in the market earlier in the day). Nick, Mum and I eat our risotto with a few of our own mange-touts. Dan and Emma are not back late.
None of us intends to make it a late night but I make the fatal error of reading my emails and pick up a message from Bas which requires answers. I am just too dog tired to craft an email so I pick up the phone. An hour later I come out of the office to find the house in darkness. I tiptoe to bed.