Week 499

Sunday, 15th July, 2018

The morning opened with claps of thunder but it soon gave way to hot sunshine and a temperature of 31C/89F. We were up at 6.15  am and out walking by 9.00 am. We tried a new route and found ourselves walking past a Pécharmant chateau. Chateau Terre Vieille or Old Land is a hidden establishment in idyllic countryside unhindered by modern life.

“Not sure why they put those pillars and gates there other than for show. If the gates were closed, which they probably never are, visitors could just walk around them.

Monday, 16th July, 2018

Woken up again by a thunder storm at 6.00 am. Apparently, they are a common corollary of the high, Summer temperatures round here. They hit phone services – both landline and mobile – plus power supplies. This morning, the power did go off for 5 mins but it soon returned and life moved on. Well, we boiled the kettle, put the radio on and downloaded our newspapers, updated our Twitter feeds, etc..

We went out for a walk around Bergerac. It has its own airport. It is a regional centre but it is just an overgrown village. We spent an hour exploring the backstreets. The French seemed to be suffering post-World Cup lethargy. Shops were opening very reluctantly. Traffic was light and parking easy. In these cities, I like to check out property shops and collect brochures to be read at leisure. Of course, I usually relate them to our Greek property owning experience. Today, I picked up an Anglophile, expat magazine.

It contains essential services provided by expats for expats. Particularly, I would have given my right arm for the following service advertised to those settling in the Dordogne. I did try to get Sky satellite feed in our Greek home. I even took my Sky box from Surrey to the house. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible and we ended up settling for a Greek/Albanian feed which gave me Premier League football and BBC News but was still limited.

Having said all of that and even though we have loved our time here, the Dordogne would not be our choice for a foreign home. It is hard to put one’s finger on that decision but, ironically, it is a bit too parochial, a bit too pastoral and a bit too isolated for my taste as I move towards my 70s. The buildings honour the past and the standards of the past rather than meeting the exciting expectations of the modern and the future. This may well appeal to those who are old at heart but not to me.

I want modernity and the services of the modern world and value them above all else. The Dordogne and its culture seems to celebrate values that are not mine. Even the markets feature small scale, pastoral production of things that swerve the standards expected of such products produced on a national scale. One cannot imagine this process to be sustained in the long term. It harks back to a romantic view of an earlier age just as the architecture does. In spite of this, it will go.

Tuesday, 17th July, 2018

A lovely but slightly fresher morning of sun and cloud. We have five days left here until we move on. After more than three weeks setting out most mornings to explore new places, we can feel our enthusiasm moderating and a more ‘normal’ modus operandi asserting itself. This morning I am taking the rubbish bags down to the village, communal bins. We will buy fresh fish from the visiting fish ‘shop’ and we will do our 10,000 paces plus half hour swim. I have tested my own INR this morning and reported it to Worthing Hospital who will send back advice on medication levels for my anti-coagulant and the next testing date by the end of the day.

This is how I prefer to approach travel – not tourism but living somewhere else however temporarily. I like the process of researching, investigating, learning and installing the elements of my life wherever I am at that time. I still follow largely the same diet and exercise regime, follow the same internet and political news passions but set against a different backdrop. It was just so in Greece, the same here in the Dordogne and will be when I live my November in Tenerife. It actually gives me genuine pleasure pulling one life through another.

We set out for an early walk towards a village/town called Mouleydier. We walked for an hour each way in warm but not burning sunshine. It was quite delightful. We walked in bright sunshine and wooded shaded. After an hour’s walk past the most delightful but isolated, country properties, we arrived in Mouleydier – just another, interesting but ‘frozen in time’ village/town

Mouleydier Town Centre

En route, we passed one of these common acknowledgements the French put at the side of roads. This was a small, quite overgrown memorial to a 9 year old boy who died when the Germans entered and set fire to the village.

Our walk took us two hours in total by which time, I had completed my 10,000 paces quite easily but, as soon as we got back, we went straight to the pool and did a strenuous, half hour swim. It was quite delicious.

Talking about delicious. Today we had pre-boiled haricot vert (green French beans) that we bought from the village market and mixed in a fresh, tomato sauce cooked with garlic and dill. After having digested that and watched the Daily Politics, we went for another half hour swim. So, two hours walking and one hour swimming. Our reward was a meal of smoked salmon, tiger prawns and tomato salad. Absolutely wonderful. We followed it with yoghurt and fresh blackberries picked from around the grounds of the Gite.

At 8.30 this evening, the temperature is still 28C/83F. All our windows are thrown open to cool the gite. The temperature falls very slowly at night. I must admit, I didn’t realise this about the Dordogne. It certainly feels more Mediterranean than I imagined.

Wednesday, 18th July, 2018

Gloriously hot and sunny day which had hit 31C/89F by 11.00 am. We are in the 4th week of our time here in the Dordogne. This morning, we have done our lst, major shop at Intermarche. They have already latched on to our custom and we were able to use a loyalty voucher to reduce our bill by €9.61.

We leave on Sunday to drive to Orléans for a couple of nights and then on to Coquelles for a night before crossing to Folkestone on Wednesday. Here, in the Dordogne, Intermarche, holds sway but, back in northern France, Auchan and Carrefour are the dominant retailers so Intermarche will have to whistle.

Thursday, 19th July, 2018

First person to greet me this morning – after my gorgeous wife, of course – was my holiday buddy, Brian. OK, he is a snail and a snail in France but never be derogatory about snail’s pace. Brian moves like lightning. Well, Brian moves quite fast. Every morning, he is there to greet me on the front step. Every evening, he is there to wish me goodnight from the back step.

This morning is absolutely gorgeous with very strong, early sunshine from cloudless skies. We are forecast to be 33C/92F today so swimming and walking will be done relatively early so Pauline doesn’t shrivel up in the intense heat.

We are already preparing for our drive home although we don’t leave until Sunday and cross to UK on Wednesday. My job this morning is to examine two contracts that end and need to be renewed/replaced as soon as we get back to Sussex. Our dual fuel power provider contract finishes in a couple of weeks and I have virtually concluded that a new, fixed price contract with British Gas will provide me with the best, all round service for the next 15 months. I am going to also choose their offer of ‘Hive’, digital heating controls because I love innovation.

The other contract I have to resolve is our mobile phones which are complete the week after we return. We are entitled to ‘free’, new handsets and to renegotiate the terms of our plan. We expect to travel a lot in Europe over the next couple of years which the contract will cover so we like to have plenty of ‘data’ to take with us until that cross-border facility runs out if there is a transition period. Because of ‘old eyes’ we would both prefer a bigger screen and the camera is really well used now. I think I have decided on Huawei P20 Pro. It has 3 cameras including ‘zoom’ and ‘low light’ capabilities plus ‘facial’ and ‘fingerprint recognition’ unlocking. The contract is only £43.00/€48.22 per month although we will need two so £86.00/€96.44 per month. For that we each get 8Gb of data per month plus unlimited texts and calling minutes plus ‘wi-fi’ calling which is useful in our house. And, in two years, we will do it all again with a new handset. Keep you posted.

Friday, 20th July, 2018

A very warm and humid night which made sleeping uncomfortable. We have booked this Gite until Monday – 28 nights – but had already shortened that by adding an extra night on the way back in Orléans. Now we have truncated it by another day and booked a night in Limoges – the porcelain city – for Saturday night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It splits the first leg of our return journey into two, relaxing, 2 hr. drives and assuages our feeling that we have largely exhausted this area for now. We are always like this anyway. Wherever we go and for however long – be it for 6 months or 6 days – we get itchy feet in anticipating the moving on. We recognise it in ourselves after all these years travelling and embrace our weaknesses.

Last night, we discussed the possibilities. I identified Limoges as a easy, en route possibility and searched Booking.com for hotels. I chose the 4* Novotel Limoges Le Lac. It has a pool, gym and good Wi-fi. The price for a ‘Superior Room’ with Breakfast is €177.00/£160.00 and the hotel is sited on the banks of Lake Uzurat. Check in & out by 12.00 pm. Ideal for one night. We will leave on Sunday for another 2 hr drive to Orléans and two nights there followed by a 4 hr drive to Coquelles on Tuesday.

Saturday, 21st July, 2018

Closed our Gite. Reclaimed our €200.00/£178.00 Deposit and set off for Limoges. It is a lovely, 2 hr drive on good motorway. Just two days ago, we had booked the 4* Novotel Limoges Le Lac. When we arrived at a really lovely hotel, we found the Lake…..completely dry. Not the weather like the UK but because work was being carried out on the ‘basin’.

View from the window of Room 436.

The only water was in the hotel’s pool which was too busy in this very warm weather for us to seriously swim. Anyway, we thought we would retreat to our hotel room and pamper ourselves with a bottle of wine and some pistachio nuts. I know, we really go for it when we let go!

How it should have looked.

We will settle back and listen to the BBC 1.00 pm News on Radio 4. It is wonderful now that Hotels across Europe realise that wifi provision is as essential and expected as bathrooms. Until recently, hotels thought they could charge for the ‘privilege’. Then they thought they would provide ‘free access’ to an impossibly slow service and charge for a provision that was actually useable. It soon became apparent that they were charging for the air their customers breathe. Now, they accept that good, reliable and useable wifi access is a taken-for-granted facility which defines their establishment. I would never return to a hotel where my internet access was compromised.

In this hotel, I am downloading pictures from my phone and editing and updating my Blog while receiving BBC Radio 4 simultaneously. I would expect nothing less.

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