|Early morning light in Melle, Deux-Sevres|
Time is a funny thing
Before the blackbirds began their pre-dawn chorus this morning, we were both up, showered and breakfasted. I’d rummaged in the freezer for a soup for lunch and a quick peek outside revealed just how dark it is before the village streetlights flicker into life. The washing machine and dishwasher had both run before the overnight cheaper electric ended at seven o’clock and the washing was hung out, albeit in the dark.
|Fresh off the ferry in Dieppe|
We have only been home from the UK for a few days, so we lost an hour last Friday lunchtime as our ferry crossed into French time. We then gained an hour in the early hours of Sunday morning as we said goodbye to European summertime and our early start today was because Adrian is working with clients from Abu Dhabi who are three hours ahead of us, or four hours ahead of the UK. By the time the village church bells rang the midday Angelus, his working day was almost over, even if our body clocks had no idea whether it was lunchtime, dinnertime or siesta time.
One thing I do know is that I need to make time for my yoga class this evening, even if it means more juggling of mealtimes. Time spent in the UK meant time away from the yoga mat, and yesterday was an off-the-scale busy day that saw us leave the house before seven thirty in the morning (for Adrian’s annual fasting blood test in Melle), followed by my last day at the Château, and I didn’t get home until fifteen minutes before my quarter to nine (in the evening) class was due to begin. Funnily enough I opted for time with Adrian, dinner, and a glass of wine, instead of yoga.
When we arrived in France eighteen years ago, Halloween was low key. Our village had a few enthusiastic mums and lots of elderly mamies keen to see the dressed-up little ones and ply them with sweets. Everyone met outside the village hall early in the afternoon and together with our little monsters we would traipse around the streets filling up on bonbons. Long before darkness had fallen, we were all safely home where the fatigue of a long afternoon walking, fought against the inevitable sugar-rush from the Carambars. Time has moved on; Ed has grown up and I’ve realised just how out of touch I am with Halloween.
|A hidden pumpkin at Château de Javarzay|
A few months ago, Halloween at the Château de Javarzay was mentioned. Should we close the season on a high with something special on Halloween for the children? It falls during the school holidays here in France and from November, the château will be closed until next spring. The answer was a unanimous YES. We found Halloween colouring sheets, all featuring castles with turrets and towers, just like our château. Decorations were hung in the entrance, and we teamed up with the library to end the day with a fun story time for the four-to-six-year-olds. Following on from the success of our Easter egg hunt, we hid twenty numbered paper pumpkins in and around the château, and each group were given an answer sheet to fill in where they’d found the pumpkins. Sweets and colouring sheets were given to all successful hunters.
|Halloween at the Château de Javarzay|
I was expecting a slow trickle of families throughout the afternoon, the children dressed up in simple outfits, like Ed and his friends had over fifteen years ago. I was wrong. From the moment we opened the doors at two o’clock, until we cashed up at half past six and let the librarians take over, we were inundated with families and groups. There were witches, devils, skeletons, mad scientists, super heroes and more, plus it wasn’t just the children who were dressed up, the mums and dads had 100% entered into the spirit of Halloween with outfits, face paints and accessories. It proved to be one of our busiest days of the season with the only downside being we massively underestimated the quantity of sweets needed. Some of our visitors had driven over an hour just to join in our Halloween experience and although it was an activity aimed at the children, there were plenty of triumphant parent faces too when they’d successfully found all the pumpkins, especially our golden pumpkin. We had so many positive comments on the château visit and the fun they’d had, I was blown away.
Yesterday was All Hallows’ Eve, today is a public holiday in France for Toussaint, All Saints’ Day and tomorrow is All Souls’ Day, a day to remember those we have lost. Nothing quite says Autumn to me like the carpet of flowering chrysanthemums we see outside florists and garden centres, destined to add colour to the cemeteries here in France. Family members will have made time over the last few days to tidy graves and leave their potted chrysanthemums to remember their loved ones.
|A carpet of chrysanthemums|
Our UK visit was for Dad’s funeral, which despite the circumstances, was a day filled with family, friends and a lot of laughter, just as he would have wanted it to be. Ed was nothing short of awesome as he played the guitar and sang one of Dad’s favourite Irish songs during the service and we couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s certainly come a long way since the timid little pumpkin of 2004, not too keen on scary costumes and always the last one in the doorstep sweetie grab. How time flies.
|Our little pumpkin 2006|