Chez Sue (in my dreams…) and a confession.

As many of you know, Sam and I went to France for six months many years ago when he was 11 and he is now coming up 30! We didn’t know anyone and just took a stab in the dark and found a converted barn in Campgast, a tiny fishing “camp” in the Pyrenees. See the tab above for more details- A Little Adventure in the Pyrenees. The waters receded several centuries ago from the “camp” and it is no longer a fishing village. Instead, it is a farming area.

Sam outside our place in Campgast

Since then I have been back twice and have booked to go again in July. When we first went I took loads of photos of this little house. I always felt it was “mine” even though it was abandoned and not even a particularly typical French house of the region.

Photo #1 from our first visit nearly 20 years ago. (Sorry about the blurriness)

Both times I have been back I have been hosted by my fantastic friends, the “Dubs” and they live in a little village called Puivert, nearby where we lived. We met because their daughter was in Sam’s class at school. They owned the Gite Des Marionnettes, so called because they make the most exquisite puppets. Michelle taught Sam how to make one and even though it turned out looking a bit like a drag queen, it was a pretty good first effort. They made all the clothes and the clay faces and then hand painted them. Over the years I have gathered quite a collection.

Spot the drag queen.

The Dubs have been to NZ and their son came and stayed with us to learn English which was a lovely time. When I last stayed with them in 2017 it was summer and a wonderful new experience as I had always been in the winter. Of course I took a pic of “my” little house.

Photo #2 still abandoned 16 years later, but still coveted by me.

Coincidentally, when the Dubs retired a year or so ago, they bought this little house to restore as a project, unbeknown to them that I have coveted it for 20 years. It is directly across the road from their house and they have made a wonderful job of it, completely renovating it with a new kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms and decking and it looks fantastique.

Soooo, how could I not return to stay in “my” house and visit the Dubs again. My tickets are booked so fingers crossed all is possible by July 12th. I feel destined to sleep in that wee house and am really looking forward to it.

I intend to do what I did last time and travel with a small cabin bag and a knapsack as I will be moving around with a friend and catching trains etc. So far my loosely planned trip is:

Toulouse-Puivert-Grasse region-Bordeaux-St Emilion and environs-Scille for a walking week staying at the Moulin Du Chemin- Loire Valley- Paris all taking around one month. I’ll probably come back…but may stay on longer for a bit of “flaneuring”.

I chose the Moulin for the walking trip, partly because it looked lovely and partly because it is one of the few places that don’t charge a single supplement, yay for them.

Another good reason is they do all meals and make comments like, “If you don’t feel like walking, just relax by the pool..”, I like their attitude! They are also adding a spa experience. Sounds tough.

This is one of the rooms. They look adorable.

The group is limited to 12 people but you choose whatever walk you want to do independently and can vary the length of the walk or hire an electric cycle or …relax by the pool. Each evening the 12 guests gather to eat around a large table and sample 12 wines during their stay. Of course, I’m just going for the walking (not).

I’ll fill you in with more details once I’m on my way.

In the meantime, I’ve been tripping about locally and have just been to Christchurch to visit family and friends. I caught up with my nephew and his wife and wee daughter as I hadn’t met the family as they have now come to live in Aotearoa from Vancouver Island. I also had a hold for the first time, of my new (ish) grand nephew and that was pretty special. When I came back to Auckland I decided Christchurch can get quite chilly, so I knitted the wee one a merino hat for the winter months. I hope he likes woolly things on his head, some find it itchy but it feels pretty soft. It was a pattern that was simple to do but you do need to concentrate so there was no telly-watching while I knitted.

However, I have managed to catch up with the new season of The Split. I can’t binge it though as it only drops each Tuesday. I highly recommend it for a bit of good old British telly so if you missed Seasons 1 and 2 you can binge them. I also think these two are great -Steven Mangan and Nicole Walker.

Also, a confession- having despised motor racing all my life, I mean who wants to watch rich boys going round in circles right? Well it turns out, I do. Check out Formula 1 on Netflix. I never thought I’d care whether Louis Hamilton or Nick Verstappen won the championship but it’s pretty compelling.

My movie recommendation this time is Nowhere Special. It concerns a 35 year old window cleaner raising his son alone, yeah I know, why do they get brownie points when women do it all the time but… Rotten tomatoes gives it 100% in its review. The cleaner is dying and has to find someone to adopt his little chap. Sounds tear jerkery but actually it isn’t really, just beautifully crafted and unsentimental. And the little boy is a star. Not sure I’d give it 100% but its a lovely wee gem.

I hope you are egging it up right now. I bought Sam two (expensive considering their size) vegan eggs and left them in my car on a hot day. Big fail as I ended up with a paperbag of liquid chocolate. Do I admit that I put it in the fridge and ate the sticky mess later? The egg shape had completely gone. I’ve solved the mystery though, the chickens came second and the eggs went first. Happy Easter, FG

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