We're off heading back north very shortly. Yesterday was a lovely quiet interlude. Andrew managed to get the chainsaw going and he cut logs while I stacked them. The timber came from trees along the banks of the Herault, at the foot of Tom and Sally's land. The commune came and felled a line of trees near the water after there had been terrible high floods - the idea was to remove these potential hazards in case the river should rise again, sweep them from the banks and thus risk the bridges downstream. So they have a fine pile of wood to cut.
We also had a grand tour of the house - the huge old room upstairs which once housed the trays of silkworms (magnanerie) has been transformed into a salon of great beauty with a new wooden roof and ceiling (Dutch elm), a polished wooden floor (chestnut), a mezzanine of elm approached by a wonderful elegant and easy spiral staircase, and with such space and height - it could be used for concerts, parties, card games, yoga, theatre, what-have-you.... It has taken Tom and Sally 20 years to plan and execute this (and pay for it) and it is superb.
Later in the evening, during supper, a friend of theirs arrived bringing with him on a trailer a fine upright piano. The friend and his son deemed it best to unload this tomorrow (today) using a tractor to lift it off, but in the meantime we had a short impromptu concert with Andrew leaning over the edge of the trailer to give us a couple of numbers. Then the Bechstein was careful led back down the lane to an agreed parking spot, wrapped lovingly in plastic against further rain, and we all went back inside.
Now it's time for breakfast - I hope Sally will be able to give me cuttings or babies of two of the most wonderful plants from her garden - we will stay at a new cheapie Ibis near Bourges tonight, and get to Calais tomorrow. Our holiday has been dogged by rain and storms but we have had an interesting time and it's been lovely seeing friends. Right now, the sun is shining on those magic steep woods opposite, and a sea of (3) cats are weaving round Sally's ankles waiting to be fed, like the cats in Gormenghast.
We will be leaving in an hour or so.