Last night and this morning I read ‘Roman Britain’, Peter Salway’s contribution to the 1984 Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, another of Ann’s books.
Thierry and Geoffrey arrived early to continue the work. It won’t be finished before I leave, but, no matter, much was done. They had been awaiting instruction from Saufiene who was in Tunisia.
When, in August last year, I had walked with Judith (posted 10th August), a broad circular route on the perimeter of which lies Mescoules, the conditions had been so different. Then it had been a blazing hot day. Today was cold, damp, and overcast. Cattle seemingly lying in a field amidst tall grass stirred themselves into an ungainly gallop as I approached, and stood expectantly by a water-trough in a far corner they knew I must pass. The adults soon lost interest in empty-handed me and, whilst they were there, visited the trough, now surrounded by a quagmire. I retained the calves’ interest a bit longer.
This seemed a longer stretch than I remember it. Perhaps it does on a dull day without company. Had I held my nerve for a few yards longer, I would have passed a smallholding I recognised and not felt the need to reassure myself by asking for directions of the only person I met en route.
A gentleman was standing, legs astride, with his back to me, beside his van parked alongside a house. He emitted a stream, shook his right elbow, hoisted his shoulders in a shrug, and lifted the arm about a zip’s length. The French are more relaxed about these things. Perhaps it was his own house and he had forgotten to take a leak before he left it. Having politely waited for him to finish I asked him the way to Sigoules. To my relief, he confirmed my intentions and told me I had an hour to go. Fortunately it only took 45 minutes, as the rain soon came down again.
Lunch at Le Code Bar consisted of noodle soup; chitterling salad; tender beef served with penne pasta; and apple tart. I could have had salmon salad, but chose the chitterling because the only other time I had attempted to eat one it had been raw. I swear the butcher had told me this was an option. It hadn’t been palatable. When I told David this he curled his lip in distaste.
Back at the house the trapdoor remained a problem. Thierry is to make another, much lighter model, in his own workshop. Even with a new system this very heavy, subject to moisture, and knackered current door will be cumbersome and just as difficult to dislodge. I told him to stop struggling with it.
I shared great fun with the builders as I tried to explain the epithets ‘er indoors’ and ‘she who must be obeyed’ from the long-running television series ‘Minder’ and ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’. They had asked me for the English version of femme, as in wife or Mrs. I felt obliged to give them options.