Monday 24th - for those still standing

 

Even Hotter !!!!

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7 am and zombie like figures were beginning to get up. Feet trod on tiptoe in bedrooms so as no to disturb those who could sleep on. Urgent messages were delivered in hushed whispers. There was an orderly procession to the one and only bathroom. No noise, no panic, no hurry. But everything got done.

 

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 Mary and her group had to take the hire car back to Chambéry and then catch a train to Geneva. They wanted to allow themselves enough time for a little sightseeing before heading on to the airport. Paul and Denise were also leaving early so as to arrive in Berne in Switzerland in time for lunch with an old friend of Denise’s.

 

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 We all got up. Even those who weren’t leaving until Tuesday. Even Pete, whose back was giving him great pain. As more and more people appeared voice levels got back to normal and we started talking and laughing. Cases were brought downstairs. Shep saw them, recognised the signs, knew what they meant and sat in a dejected heap in the garden with his head under his paws. He knew his friends were leaving.

 

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 For the first time we all had breakfast together. For the first time ever we fitted eleven people around my kitchen table as the kitchen magically expanded to make room for us all. Although sad that some were leaving our conversations retained their normal high spirits and the jokes and anecdotes flew around the table.

 

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 Denise told us that their son Patrick is off to Japan for a year to teach English. She filled us in on the impressive amount of documentation he had received. In particular she told us about the importance of ‘wa’ in Japan. ‘Wa’ is a Japanese word which means something like the importance of maintaining social harmony, not rocking the boat, not upsetting other people by your non-conformity. The example given was of not giving offence by arriving inappropriately dressed for work. Denise is a master story teller and we were entranced by her explanations. Much was said about ‘wa’ and ‘wa’ will long be remembered by those sitting round the kitchen table. We believe that our Lyttelton Road ‘wa’ is strong and healthy, and I for one will try to keep it so by sending you all wa-mails at regular intervals.

 

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Even our magic time ran out in the end and all too soon it was time to go. Mary brought her yellow car to the gate and we all helped with inserting the luggage. Shep stood disconsolately watching, his head resting on the low stone wall by the gate. Mary’s passengers folded themselves into their seats, bags were placed on top of them, doors were shut. One final wave and they were gone.

 

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Then it was the turn of Paul and Denise. They were already packed but brought the car to the gate for the final farewells. Shep’s eyes became sadder and sadder as he watched without trying to take part in the goodbyes. One last kiss and off they went.

 

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Luckily for us Sue Mike and Don were still here. There was time for a cup of tea and some happy chatting. Pete’s back was still playing him up so he had to go back to bed. I left Sue in charge of all the men and drove in to Belley to pick up Marie.

 

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By now it was starting to get hot. Marie was waiting for me in the tiny garden outside St Anthelme’s, all packed and fresh and bright with her lovely smile. We had a pleasant ride into Geneva – thanks to the air conditioning in the car. Getting out of the car at the airport car park was like stepping into a sauna. We hurried into the terminal where the air conditioning kept the temperature at a manageable level. I helped Marie check in at the automatic machine and then saw her through passport control. It was hard saying goodbye and walking away -. But I hope we’ll meet up again very soon.

 

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Then back to Belley. Even with the air conditioning full on the heat was oppressive and the sky leaden and heavy. I stopped to do a little shopping in the supermarket in Belley. The car park felt like a furnace.

 

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 I was very glad to get back to Meyrieu and to be served a cool drink and my lunch by Sue!

 

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 In my absence Don and Mike had helped Pete fill the 1,000 litre water container for the horses at the fountain in Meyrieu. Poor Pete’s back was still hurting so he had gone back to bed and stayed there all afternoon. I rang Heather in Geneva and she booked him in to see a friend of hers who is an osteopath the following Friday. I am glad to say that as the week wore on Pete got better and better, and that the osteopath could find nothing major wrong with him. I suppose we just have to pay a bit more attention to our posture as we get older or our bodies fight back!

 

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 It just got hotter and hotter. Too hot even to talk. Sue was getting itchy feet but it was too dangerous to walk out in the sun until well past 7 o’clock. In the end she waited until I went to feed the horses at about 8.30. She, Mike and Don walked the dogs down to the cross where I picked her and Shep up in the car. The two men walked on with Nelly while Sue and I went up to the field to the horses. We caught up with the others on the way back and let Shep walk back with them.

 

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  Supper was late again because of the heat. Instead of blackcurrant liqueur (cassis) in our kir we had peach liqueur (pêche) which went down very well! Then we had pork chops with sour cream and capers, knöpfli (a Swiss type of pasta) and a green salad followed by apple tart. The conversation was more intense and heated than on previous evenings.

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Once again I went to bed very late!!

 

 

 

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