As the great tennis circuit inexorably grinds into Wimbledon I thought I should wander over to our tennis court in Bon Abri. From the service line at the northern end there is a wonderful view of Puymangou château which coupled with the position of the sun at certain times of day would put any players at this end of the court at a severe disadvantage. The view, however, is superb.
This play area has a lovely surface and is a fantastic asset to Bon Abri having been lovingly constructed and maintained prior to our taking over. It is a pleasure to walk on (especially with a glass of pineau) and exciting to play over but it just gets far too little use.
On the subject of games we joined in a ‘Treasure-hunt’ a few weekends back. This was part of a celebration of 10 years living in France for some friends. It was also an excellent way of getting to see some of the quiet corners of the local area that perhaps one would not normally have seen. After several hours of winding through the beautiful countryside in temperatures that would fry your brains we stopped in Aubetterre-sur-Dronne for a drink in the square. As the few teams that had started after us vanished into the haze we wandered towards the ‘Monolithic church’ where a well sited shop produces artisan ice-cream. Needless to say after this rather self-indulgent delay we were well behind the other teams. As we kept reminding ourselves it was not a ‘first-past-the-post’ race. However despite our dawdling we ended up in ‘silver medal’ position. We put this result down to our team size; the teams were planned as ‘fours’ but our partners were unable to make it so we ended up as the only team of two. However in the true spirit of ancient Greek Games it was ‘winner takes all’; and so second or twenty-second was the same result.
As ever there is plenty to do in and around Bon Abri tinkering with the gites and tidying up the grounds. There was a small dark cloud a few days ago when I was stung by a rather belligerent wasp. With the sting still fresh in my mind I was listening very carefully for sounds of angry buzzing as I removed some old ‘rock-wool’ insulation from a box insulating an outside tap. I was not, at the time, thinking about snakes when a three foot chap suddenly dropped out of the rolled insulation and raced towards another quiet, dark spot. He/she and I went in different directions but this time I grabbed my camera and was able to snatch a few shots of its retreating back. I shall definitely be getting some chickens next spring and thanks to Ronald for that suggestion.
We also took a few hours out to visit the Moulin Sartier which opens to the public for a few days each year. The mill closed down in the 1970’s and was re-opened by the present owner and a group of ‘friends of the mill’ a few years ago. The mill sits over a small but fast-flowing river and is split into two. The smaller part is used to make walnut oil using a huge rotating vertical stone wheel. The other part is a flour mill with some beautiful, bold, and functional machinery that was left in working order when the mill closed. It is delightful to see such practical machines built with taste, skill and an artists eye for design; It is a beautiful place and very atmospheric in a lovely setting of rolling hills and walnut trees.
I had planned, and I suppose I am still planning, that at some stage I would write a short blog about what happens here when the summer season is over and most of the visitors (to the Region in general rather than Bon Abri) have gone home. Recent events however have not only changed my rose-tinted view but have forced me to make a short note now. In general terms then the local people return from their summer holidays, the extra shops, restaurants etc., close and the maintenance teams set to work on the disruptive works that cannot be done during the tourist season without frightening away the tourists. Alas for St Aulaye (our nearest ‘big’ town) the road works through the center of town were given to the Chuckle Bros. French cousins, Le Glousser fréres. There is still no sign of an end to the disruption, diversions and general mayhem the works, started last September/October, have caused.
So, as another thunderstorm rolls over us and silhouettes the trees on the hill it is time to sign off until next time. Please take this opportunity to visit the website that drives this blog and take a virtual visit to Bon Abri.