The last days of summer

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Autumn is coming and it’ll be a hell of a shock.

Just back from the annual vide-grenier at Passais. You thought last year was bad? Jeezy Creezy. 

Last year I was weirded out by endless needlepoints of scary-assed clowns, but this year, all told there were only about 20 stalls, all loaded with absolute crap; a bunch of oldsters doing line-dancing on a raised stage, in mock country and western gear; the usual kiddie roundabout thing with rocket cars; and a troupe of people walking through the village dressed in the fashions of yesteryear, singing a traditional song.

And that was that.

Sadly, due to a nuit blanche last night, I was feeling too parlous to drive all the way to Bion, where there is meant to be another fair, but I am also a little tired of wild goose chases where these things are concerned. Ten or 15 years ago, these vide-greniers were a good laugh. Between 50 and 100 stalls, and packed with people, they were a fun day out and you always knew you’d come home with a little something.

But today all I came home with was a couple of bits from a local second-hand shop that I’d already had my eye on a few days ago – a little wooden box decorated with agapanthus and a bud vase in turquoise ceramic.

Oh la. And the weather’s not helping, as this dull, grey day is a sudden shot across the bows to remind us that in actual fact, it’s nearly autumn.

Traditionally here at our house in France, we light the first fire of winter on 1 September, to get the house nicely stoked up before the temperature drops. And 1 September is now only a week away.

It will come as a great shock after one of the sunniest, driest and hottest summers for a long time to realise that no, it’s not actually going to last forever. My body and skin have gotten used to warm air and comfort, to the touch of linen and the thinnest of silks. We have spent most of July and August out on the patio under the pergola, hosting barbecues and lunches for friends.

Even my beloved cabin was way too hot for comfort and has been sadly neglected this summer. On Thursday I was lounging in the deep shade of my friend John’s hedge as we waited for principal photography to finish on my husband’s film, while his cast and crew were sweltering indoors with all the lights on, and plagued by flies. 

But last night for the first time in a couple of months, I actually felt cold in bed and found myself reaching for an alpaca throw to top off my thin linen nightie. And at the next bed change, the electric blanket will be going back on, followed, not long after, by the move to our new winter bedroom, and the closing off of the top floor thanks to our new stair door, which is being installed this week. 

I cannot say that I welcome the idea of autumn this year. Normally I find September an energising month, redolent of all those back-to-school days when you got to see your friends again after six weeks with the family. And normally August is a sultry month, peppered with thunderstorms and often grey skies, so that by the time the cooler days return, you’re utterly sick of being hot and sweaty and you welcome the drop in temperature. 

But not this year. The summer has been – after its very late start – so preternaturally perfect that I would really love it to go for a while – say a couple of years. It’s not easy to tire of these cool, refreshing mornings and evenings, and warm, relaxed days. Waah. I am SO not looking forward to bundling up in fleeces again.

Nevertheless, I have been a sensible girl and recently ordered some winter clothing – winter walking boots, new trekkers, winter snow boots and a couple of fleece items all from Lands’ End, along with some long socks from Corrymoor, including Woodlander Plus Fours that come up over your knees like your old school socks. Now all I need do is order new Uggs and I’m all set for the season. 



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