Today is Armistice Day, 11th November. It’s a national holiday in France. We went down to the ceremony at the war memorial in Nouzerines – we go every year (and also in May to mark the end of the Second World War). It’s a short yet poignant ceremony. Today it was held in bright sunshine, the perfect day for it. Ruadhri and the other children recited a poem written by a local man, and they did it beautifully. The mayor and his adjoint did readings, and we stood in silence for a minute as the three flag bearers lowered their colours. Then we walked to the other side of the monument to commemorate the dead in the Second World War and the African Wars. And then it was over. There’s a ‘cup of amitié’ in the auberge afterwards, but we’ve never partaken. Ruadhri usually wants to get back and today the three teenagers (we have an extra one, Goran, staying with us over the break) had already set off home on their bikes, so maybe next time.

That’s the last ‘day off’ until Christmas now. The time in between brings with it ever shorter, darker, colder days. But there are some bright spots. We have Benjamin’s 18th birthday to look forward to in three weeks’ time, then Chris’s birthday, then the Christmas preparations (but not perhaps Ruadhri’s school’s Christmas do which has been known to go on for four hours!). And hopefully at some point Windermere will decide to give birth. She’s going to explode soon. Poor Caiti is beside herself with impatience – we all are. A llama’s long pregnancy means you get very worked up towards the end. A year, or very nearly, is an awfully long time to wait.

three french hens teacosyI’d hoped to have another handmade Christmas this year, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. With moving from one of our two buildings to the other, and doing up what’s now the gite, we’ve been very busy. And when we’re not busy, we’re exhausted! Other admin jobs need doing too, not to mention the daily livestock routines – the time has just vanished. But with a bit of organisation I might be able to rustle up a few bits and pieces. Is that a threat or a promise, you’re probably wondering …! (Actually, I’m not a bad craftser – here is one of my Three French Hens tea-cosies and matching egg-cosies that I mass-produced last year.)