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  • Something a bit different... I'm going to share with you the diary I kept when I first moved to France last year, hoping it was going to be permanent... my furniture had been delivered but no boxes were unpacked and the garden was a jungle

    Day One

    I wasted no time this morning and before the heat arrived in all its tropical abundance I had removed the vegetation in front of the house and polished my sadly neglected table, to name only my major achievements. My neighbour Jacques is being extraordinarily kind and ubiquitous and has dropped past on numerous occasions. Thus I have been introduced to Benoit who, for a sum of money, will lay waste to my neglected lands and thus allow me to indulge in some cultivation. “Nettoyer” is apparently the French for “slash and burn”. This act of vandalism is due to commence on Friday and I only hope the damselflies will not be too put out.

    I also later found a fat old man in my garden eating my cherries and he turns out to be Bernard, the owner of the piece of land adjoining my own which I have half a mind to acquire. Extraordinarily he told me within five minutes of our first conversation that he would sell it to me if I wished to buy. I feigned astonishment and asked how much. Bottom line. He told me to make an offer and I said I would think about it. Thus negotiations have been opened which may yet lead to the next third of an acre of Aquitaine passing into my hands. Ha!
    I told him my name was Helen or Helene in French and he did a double take, so I asked him if he remembered Helene Doreau who owned the house before the creepy little Liverpudlian arrived and hacked it about. It turns out he did, and I now have an invitation to come and meet his wife and reminisce about the old days. Apparently she was ninety-four ( four-twenties-fourteen) when she died. Helene, not the wife.

    Now it is very very hot indeed. And I didn’t even tell you about the man in the yellow car who did a U-turn when he saw me weeding in front of the house at cock crow and told me I was very pretty and said could he come and say hello to me this evening? I was laughing too much to remember the French for be off with you, scurvy knave.

    And anyway if he does come back I can use my favourite deterrent which is to inform unwelcome suitors that I am a grandmother, at which point they usually turn pale and back hastily away.

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