I think I’ve got a bit confused with dates. My watch says it’s the 28th, but I’m sure it’s only the 27th. But if this the only thing to mar your enjoyment, I can cope with that! Whatever, today is Saturday…
We left the monks (assuming there actually are any) and walked the 3km to La Bastide. The weather was superb, especially up high. As we descended towards the misty village, we imagined the monastery animals smiling with joy and the monks dancing in the meadows. By the time we reached the village, the mist had lifted and we headed to buy our tickets to Mende. The one hour journey cost a whole Euro (about 85p): no wonder the French economy is struggling! Mind you, if I got on a bus from Achnasomewhere to Inverwhatsit, I’d not have to pay at all. So perhaps it’s not so daft. The train was actually a 22 seater bus and we were joined by two other passengers. As the bus was replacing the train, we drove to every small station on the route, but failed to collect or deposit any passengers.
When we arrived in Mende, we strolled along the riverside and reached Odile andd Gilles’ house where we got a great welcome and a lovely lunch sitting on the balcony. Laurie was obviously feel the effects of nostalgia after spending a year here – with Tina and the boys – almost 20 years ago. I could empathise with him a little bit as I was here with Joanna 12 years ago.
After lunch Laurie and I went for a wander into town, where he met some old friends.
In the evening, Odile and Gilles had invited round some ex-colleagues who would remember Laurie. These were Hubert and Josette, a remarkably lively 84 year old. We had yet another first rate meal cooked by Odile: simple food, served without pretention and absolutely delicious. A local variety of tomatoes, green when ripe and incredibly tasty, were followed by a sort of rissole and a tortilla-type accopniment made of grated potatoes and a little bit of egg. Dessert was accompanied by a glass of sweet white which nicely contrasted with the full-bodied red we had with the main course. Conversation flowed in English and French with the result it was quite a late night by the time we had finished the dishes. I can’t say I slept all that well, though I think Laurie did better as his room separated him from any snoring.