Voici un blog de Villiers-le-Roux, un petit village de la France profonde. Since we got here in early August the weather has been kind, but occasionally - at 38 deg - a bit hot for les ballades en velo, especially between the hours of 11 and 4, but since that interval is dedicated on most days to lunch in the shade, followed by a brief restorative 'sieste' to work up a thirst for the first aperitif before dinner, ca n'a pas beaucoup d'importance. Today however le temps a change (can't do accents on this French keyboard), and il pleut. So I have come to the bibliotheque (or to give it its proper name - La Salle Mediatheque) and take advantage of the Euro 4.20 monthly charge for internet access. Since this involves a 32 minute cycle ride, it kills deux oiseaux avec une pierre, mind you round here they are more likely to take out the oiseau with a coup de fusil ( or colloquially 'flinguer', which basically means blasting into oblivion anything in sight which moves).
I have taken the liberty of forming a Ragstone branch office down here (hence the title of this little piece). It consists of me, Dave and Jack.
Dave is an interesting chap. He is restoring a house for himself, and eventually his family, nearby. He is a man after Peter's heart; everything has to be renovated with painstaking care, mostly using recovered materials, with the result that from the roof tiles to the beams, from ceilings to flagstone floors, the effect is totally authentic and charming. Jack is helping him out, while enjoying an extended holiday. Next time you are down here Peter, I'm sure you will enjoy a chat with Dave and see his work.
Incidentally, Dave and Jack appear to have unwittingly broken the record for the largest number of empty beer bottles piled up in one garden anywhere!
We have completed a couple of rides, and hopefully when normal weather conditions resume, more will follow. Having spent more time down here than we ever have before, it has been possible to take longer rides and explore some fascinating new landscapes. We've even found some gentle hills! Nothing to compare with Hope Cove of course.
The other day I was admiring a field of late blooming sunflowers, when I was approached by a fellow cyclist. Turned out he owned the field, and many others as far as the eye could see. I was intriqued by the fact that, interspersed beween the sunflowers, were vast quantities of peas. The farmer picked and shelled a few, and offered them to me. Quite simply the best raw vegetable I have ever tasted. Apparently the peas will all be ploughed back into the soil when the sunflowers are harvested. Something to do with organic enrichment.
I asked if I might pick a few before ploughing began. I got the answer I had hoped for, and spent the afternoon filling two rucksacks and topping up the painfully acquired sun tan on the back of my legs.
There are three or four wild cats in our barn. A few days ago we heard a chorus of squeals coming from the roof space above the stable. Closer inspection via the ladder revealed three little kittens. Since then we have been faced with the dilemma of feeding the mum, with the result that she will be less inclined to keep our premises free of mice and perhaps larger vermin. I'm afraid our hearts have been melted, and each morning and evening she waits patiently outside the front door for a regular supply of succulent scraps of chicken, meat or ham. The neighbour has promised to take over when we come back, so we won't feel quite so bad!
Jeanne, proprietor of our favourite local restaurant, is taking us to see her holiday home on the Ile d'Oleron at the weekend. Will take a little velo pliante to check out possible future rides for next year.
Oh, and one other unusual encounter. Was taking a leisurely evening ride a few miles from home when a cute little baby owl half flew and half hopped across the road in front of me.
Sadly no time to get out the camera from knapsack, and the creature continued to hop and flutter into a freshly ploughed field. Before each hop it looked at me forlornly as if to say "I'm only little, please don't hurt me". I tried in vain to seek out the owner of the garden from which the owl had emerged, in case it was tame. Hopefully it has found its way home.
PS Have just read in the local English language newspaper that the least used letter in French is............? Think about it and then check the answer below.
PPS Can see from the window that the rain has stopped and sky blue once again. Oh dear, time to pedal back for lunch. Will try to get a few more kilometres in before supper.
It's W. When you think about it, apart from Wagon, Wow and WIFI, which are imports anyway, there aren't that many words beginning with W in French. A fact I have just been able to confirm with the delightful young lady librarian who has taken charge of me for the morning.