Saturday 22nd - more festivites

 

Hotter Still !!

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Morning came and we emerged slowly to croissants, pain au chocolat and the joys of talking. Saturday morning is market day in Belley so Pete took Mike and Sue there while Don squeezed into Mary’s little car and went with them. I stayed in Meyrieu as Paul and Denise, the last to arrive, were expected that morning.

 

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The morning passed quickly and at last their car drew up at the gate. They got out of the car into the midday sun thankful that their car had air conditioning. Now our party was complete. Once again, as they came through the gate, I felt we were just picking up from the last time we’d seen each other. No gaps, no omissions – just pleasure.

 

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Like the others, Paul and Denise came laden with gifts – a beautiful CD of their choir, the Crouch End Festival Chorus singing Verdi’s Requiem on March 18th 2006, and some delicious sticky pastries. We first heard the CD after all our guests had left and it will be a lasting memory of this very special weekend. The pastries went back to Geneva so that we could share them with Terry, Heather and Judith.

 

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Then Pete came back with Mike and Sue. And I received another gift! A most magnificent umbrella sporting the Welsh flag. Mike had bought it for me while on holiday in Pembrokeshire earlier on in the year but had been unable to bring it with him on the plane as easyJet deemed it a dangerous weapon!

 

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Undeterred, he took it halfway across London to Paul and Denise who very kindly brought it with them in the car. What friends!! What foresight!! What can I say? The umbrella is a definite statement and I hope it rains a lot in Geneva this winter!!

 

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At this point Mary and Don returned from the market, their arms full of its wares. Mary brought melons, tomatoes and luscious peaches and Don brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers which is still in pride of place on my kitchen table as I write. (In fact the flowers lasted without wilting for over 10 days – the weekend really was full of magic.)

 

 

 

Because of her unease in the presence of the dog, Marie had elected to stay for lunch at St Anthelme. The rest of us tucked in at a late hour to various quiches, new potato salad, Waldorf salad and three bean salad. For afters we had yoghurts and fresh fruit, finishing the meal with tea, coffee and small Neapolitan Swiss chocolates.

 

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It was too hot to go to the lake. It was too hot to go for a bike ride. It was too hot to go for a long walk. Some of us discovered the joys of a siesta. Some of us just sat and talked.

 

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Later, much later, when the air cooled a little, we were able to start moving. Several people went for a walk. Pete and I took Siobhán for a short ride on the horses. Mary and Bernadette came too. We caught and saddled the horses who were very pleased to have a bit of company. Siobhán rode James and I rode Hefn Star, the others followed on foot. We went up the hill from the field to visit the idyllic little mountain stream where Bernadette was able to cool her feet in the ice cold water. Siobhán and I left them to make their own way back to the field and went on up the hill with the horses and Shep for a couple of good gallops. Then we went back to the field and changed horses. This time with Siobhán on Hefn Star and Pete on James they set off for another short ride, down the hill this time. Shep stayed with us ladies and protested very vocally at being left behind.

 

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When we got back to the house we found that Marie had arrived – by taxi! She had tried to ring when we were all out. When no-one answered in spite of letting the phone ring for a long time, she engaged the help of the by now friendly concierge and ordered a cab. We were glad to see her as we had missed her at lunchtime, but I felt rather guilty that she had had to make her own way.

 

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The evening was by now well advanced and the air temperature was pleasant so we were able to enjoy to the full that great French tradition – the aperitif. Good wine, good company, good conversation. It was just like every evening at Lyttelton Road before supper.

 

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Then we adjourned to the candlelit table under the trees for beef curry with almonds and cream, rice, dhal, green lentils and green beans and a dessert of plum, apricot and apple tarts. Eating only mildly interfered with the conversation. What stories! What limericks! None of those present will ever forget Mary’s ‘Tit for Tat’!

 

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They say that perfection is an absolute. So how can it get better? I don’t know, but it did! I just hope that our neighbours in Meyrieu appreciated the repartee as much as we did!

 

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We might never have got to bed that night had it not been for the papal blessing delivered by His Holiness Mike Duggan the First delivered from a first floor window.

 

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Pete, Mary and Bernadette took Marie back to St Anthelme’s. There, the gates were still wide open and the sound of loud music kept her awake most of the night. They called at the cathedral in Belley to find out the time of Mass, but there was no notice on the door. Connor had already established that there was no service in our local church of St Germain that Sunday.

 

 

 

In spite of the heat, we slept!!

 

 

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