Caiti, Chris and Benj

The summer holidays have got off to a good start. OK, we’re getting up a bit later than usual, but the animals don’t seem to notice that breakfast has been moved back a little. So long as food and water arrive, they’re happy.We’ve mended fences, cycled, swum, pottered, gardened, worked – all very satisfying.

And great news this morning. Benj passed his exams and has his Bac. He got a mention assez bien, which means he got between 12 and 14 out of 20. He’s thrilled with that, as one paper didn’t go well and he never really got on with philosophy which had a very heavy weighting for students taking Bac L (littérature). I explained how Bacs work in this recent post. So, Benj will be off to Unilim i.e. the University of Limoges in October, and I shall move into his bedroom as my office. Finally a peaceful place for writing where I can spread out a bit. I currently work at my tiny écritoir in the corner of the lounge, which is OK, but I’m happy to upgrade! Quite what will happen during the holidays, I’m not sure. I don’t think the llamas will mind Benj joining them!

We are going to be Organised this holiday. We had a family meeting yesterday and set a vague schedule of places to see (Beauval zoo, Sazeray castle, some Roman ruins near Argentan), jobs that must be done (polytunnel, fencing for sheep field, wood cutting) and when friends can come and stay. Rors will be starting on paper briquette production shortly. They take ages to dry so we need to start now! He’s also begun making things to sell in my shop. (We sell llama-y souvenirs to trekkers, or at least try to. French people are hard to part from their money.) We’ll be doing llama treks, but we’re not pushing that element of our business for the time being. We have enough with the gite and fishery, Chris’s web design and my writing. Plus we only have three trekking animals this year, and one of those, Brendan the alpaca, has had a sudden flood of hormones and gets bolshy when he’s taken away from Windy, the llama. He’s broken into the girl’s field four of five times now (hence the fence mending I mentioned in the opening paragraph). It’s a doomed love affair, she’s not the slightest bit interested in him. We’re hoping he’ll calm down soon.

The hot, dry weather continues. It’s the driest we’ve ever seen it in our five years here. Our lawn is dead and the veg need watering every night. The waterbutts are nearly empty though, so we’ll have to switch from showers to baths and use the water from those, otherwise it could be a pumpkinless winter and that would never do. We’re setting off early for bike rides since it’s so hot. I don’t know how the Tour de France cyclists cope with racing through the severe heat of the day. We were more than warm enough by 10 o’clock when we got back. It was a full family ride today. One of our family meeting decisions was that everyone gets up by 8.30am, so that we can get out on the bikes by 9. It was a nice ride, quite a hilly one. And I saw my first sunflowers of the summer, so it was well worth the effort.