UNDER A ROOF.
About ten days ago we moved into a flat in the same village as our house. A bittersweet goodbye to our woodland camp as we moved into a little one room flat, spanking clean and chandeliers in the entrance hall! No more night time forays to the compost toilet or perfectly clear morning light streaming through the trees but welcome to a comfortable bed and a life that is certainly a lot easier for us both despite being a little less adventurous. In fact, it's become terrifyingly domestic... Having a kitchen has inspired us to bake cakes and pies (in the trusty Trangia pan which is apparently less 'trusty' when it's used for pie baking... ) and jam nectarines (I still can't quite believe there is glut enough of nectarines that they can be jammed...). There's been a revolution in the kitchen and pesto pasta is finally off the menu.
Otherwise life continues as usual: Dust, puzzle-like building conundrums, rambling with the girls and discovering beautiful little corners of French countryside.
We've also welcomed visitors from Normandy and much missed Bristol. Seeing people we know and love has been amazing and we have only wished that we could really host people rather than show them around a house hazy with dust hoping they might think of something positive to say so we don't all feel too awkward... I think that welcoming people to your new home is one way of making yourself feel like it is your home. Having a fire by the lake with friends and an evening swim with the little ones erased a little piece of my homesickness and replaced it with a new memory of woodsmoke and stories (thank you friends!).
This is the time of year to see shooting stars. Yesterday evening we left the village, passing by the annual Lotto taking place under the covered market. Tables were arranged in lines with people diligently marking their cards and smoking cigarettes. Along the line of tables at the front sat the caller and invigilators (or men of general importance perhaps)... soixante et un, the whir and rattle of the machine, trente-trois and again the whir and rattle, dix-sept... We walked on past the open door of the Luthier (an instrument maker and repairer), tuning a piano baring its strings and hammers, his front door was open to the warm evening air letting the notes of the piano drift across the road. We climbed a hill that looks over the village and sat back to watch the last of the days light die over the silhouette of the mountains. As we lay down to spy out flashes of shooting stars the enormity of the sky loomed over head, almost crushing in its vastness. Perhaps the night sky is one of the reminders of what is universal to our human experience; our reflections on our insignificance and glimpses at infinity which are both terrifying and wonderful. Little L was not concerned with my moment of fear in front of the universe and became extactically happy, squealing in delight at her first time star gazing. "It's a rabbit with four eyes" she cried as she excitedly mapped out new constellations. Some shooting stars later and we made our way back and both girls fell asleep on our backs. We arrived into the village centre and the interminable Lotto was continuing under the haze of cigarette smoke: Treize, whir and rattle, cinquante-six, whir and rattle, soixante et onze...
There is even less of the house since I last wrote. More holes in more floors and ceilings, less plaster on the walls and just as much dust as ever. Now we're living in the village Florent and I can share the work out more evenly which is a relief to me and probably the children too. They are, no doubt, also fed up with trying to catch those bloody elusive fish. My first day was spent stripping wall paper. It was great, like a sort of liberation. Florent's was a trip to Lidl with the children and a flat tyre on the way back. His day was not so great. We've discovered walls made out of terracotta tiles which we will recycle as flooring for the ground floor. Some other partition walls have also (helpfully) been constructed out of floorboards and so, again, can be reused. We also finally got news of our planning permission application and it was mostly positive and so we can carry on with out any worries.