Warm Weather, Waggy-Tails, Sticky Desserts and Wiping Whiskers

In common with most of Europe the weather over the last week has been dangerously hot.  In France they call it La Canicule (heat wave) and when this happens in Southern Europe the affects can be devastating to health and as we have seen, with the wild fires in Portugal, lives and the environment.

Here at Las Razes the rising temperature brought us to a virtual ‘stand-still’ things could only be done at about 6amand the second half of the day meant staying safely in doors and resting.

Opening the house up during the early hours – doors and windows flung wide and then closing them up by about 9am is about all you can do.  Closing shutters and curtains and keeping the sun out.  Fans become essential until it passes.

Well it’s passed and the joy of being able to go outside and breath real air is one that always surprises.  A simple thing but it becomes a real pleasure.

So as the weekend approached a little cooler and our new guests were safely installed in the gîte for their holiday. It was time for our plans for the weekend to be considered. 

Just outside Tournon d’Agenais some friends were organising a charity dog show to raise money for canine causes and so we thought that our Mimi should go along and strut her stuff. She’s the least likely mutt to ever agree to be groomed and cooperate, however it was worth a try.

Close to the ‘show ground’ there is a restaurant called the Auberge de Brelan and so we decided to go and have a late lunch and then be prepared to quickly wipe any duck from Mimi’s whiskers and get her entered into a class or two. 

It was a stunning afternoon and we sat outside with the tables laid out under the trees – we did indeed eat many variations of duck and some very splendid looking desserts.  Mimi sat quietly and watched all that was going on – there were many people eating and there was plenty to see.  She tried to keep her whiskers clean whilst eating her treats and then we set off for her big moment.

By mid-afternoon it was actually getting a big hot again.  So everyone clung to the bit of shade there was.  Mimi agreed to enter every class she was eligible for, she tried her best, showed the judge her backside more often than her facebut did ultimately win the ‘dog with the waggiest tail’.  All in a good cause!







Celebrations, Fabulousness and a Hairy, House-Guest

All things festive this week!  Nearby there’s a huge wedding this weekend and Las Razes is full of wedding guests from Dublin here to celebrate the marriage and enjoying a very hot weekend here in the South West of France. It has been a very hot weekend!

Just before the weekend started we’d a visit from Karla Wagner who does the catering for guests at Las Razes who want a celebration or special meal without leaving the house.   Karla lives not very far away and we do wonder just where she gets her boundless energy from!  So we’re sure that there will be some delicious party nights, here, during August.

Then the weekend started with plenty of comings and goings. Much to the delight of our canine meet and greet team.   We had wedding ‘goodie bags’ delivered by the bride’s family for their guests’ arrival.  Gradually, throughout Friday, all the guests arrived, mainly by hire car from Toulouse airport and a couple who arrived by bicycle; they’d flown into Toulouse a day or two earlier with their bikes and then cycled their way to Touffailles.

On Saturday a coach came to collect everyone and take them to the Bride’s parent’s house.  The coach turned out to be too large to make its way up the drive and so everyone had to make their way down to the bottom of the drive and meet it there.  Everyone looked fabulous as they left.  We did not see their return trip as this was scheduled for the early hours.  Nobody was up very early on Sunday morning!

We’ve also had a very hairy, house-guest for the last few days.  Both Katherine and Tom have been away and so, Jack, their lovely border collie, has been having his very first ‘sleep-over’ with Bob, Mimi and I. He’s missing his Mum and Dad but being a very good boy.  It’s too hot for dogs at the moment and so it’s a case of them finding a cold floor and seeking out a fan for some cooling relief.

Butterflies, cows and chocolate cake

Well, it is a lovely Sunday (if you are in the shade and maybe with a fan) the temperature has just turned up a few notches. The countryside and the gardens look well.  However, if this heat continues we’ll start to see things browning and crisping up fairly quickly.  We’re used to summers with no grass growing and the miracle of those few weeds that keep going however hot it gets but it always a bit sad to watch things go from green to brown.  Right now we’ve the benefit of the prolific late spring flowers with the bluest of summer skies and swarms of summer butterflies covering the early lavender plants.

Another annual event took place in the last couple of days.  The arrival of the cows; the local farmer grazes his cattle in our pasture and there’s always that slight regret that the lovely wild flowers and endless orchids are just about to meet their maker.  However, when you go into the garden and hear rhythmic munching and see the peaceful cows and ever-so-sweet calves standing in the shade it’s sort of forgiven again.  The wild spring flowers and orchids will be back next year and for now we have the company of these gentle beasts.

The gîte is being prepared again today for a large party of wedding guests arriving this week.  We have been watching the weather forecast for the wedding planners, hoping that they do not hit a period of thunder and lightning or indeed that it is not simply too-hot for the many people that are arriving to the area to celebrate.  Standing about in new shoes and possibly even suits can, surely, damage your health very quickly in extreme heat.

Yesterday we said goodbye to a lovely family who had to get their flights back from Bergerac to Liverpool and then onwards.  There were lots of little children with them and they seemed to all enjoy playing in the pool.   It is lovely to hear happy voices and excitement.  This family went out for a birthday lunch on Friday to Le Caillau (www.lecaillau.com) and had a wonderful time, bringing back (and sharing) a rather delicious and extremely chocolaty cake from their lunch party.