Early this morning I wandered around Sigoules. Despite the fact that the last few days have been gloriously sunny, yesterday was the official ending of summer in France. Today the children returned, surprisingly eagerly, to school. They were certainly not, as Shakespeare put it, ‘creeping like snail unwillingly’.
Signalling autumn, the low sun cast long shadows from fallen leaves. Conkers looked ready to drop. Morning glories mingled with the ivy climbing the walls of the War Memorial garden, and flowers still bloomed in the old cart resting in the grass around the community centre.
I discovered a wooded footpath I had not noticed before. Signed ‘rue de la Moulin Cave’, it ran along the backs of houses until it emerged on the outskirts of the village on the road to Bergerac. A stream accompanied it on the final stretch. Beyond this, stone steps led up to a private garden.
On my return to the house, the female partner and one of the young men who had been occupying it, were waiting to collect their clothes and shoes. I helped them carry out the eleven bin bags, two travelling cases, and one briefcase. I also handed the woman a batch of letters I had managed to extract from the box on the wall outside.
Later, Brigitte drove me to Bergerac airport.
On the day of Michael’s Shampers birthday celebration, Tess was also rejoicing in having passed the UK Citizenship Test that day. She is now officially one of us. The flyleaf of Iain Aitch’s ‘We’re British Innit’ claims that unlike Tess’s test, ‘this is the real Britain’, that of mushy peas, haggis, corner shops, Coronation Street, horse racing, and fox hunting. Those of us around the table struggled with some of the historical questions Tess reported, but all would have recognised what goes with fish and chips.
Aitch casts his humour over all levels of society and all corners of Britain. He mixes clearly invented facts with those that are accurate, in a most amusing, often rather scurrilous, way. The book’s title had made it impossible for Becky and Ian to resist buying it for my birthday. It provided welcome light relief over the last harrowing week. I finished reading it in the airport lounge.