Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer is over

Not officially -- that's in a little less than a month. Not weather-wise -- it already happened, or maybe we just skipped summer. This morning, the British contingent left to go back to England. We had a lovely weekend with them. Constance is quick on her knees -- halfway up the stairs before you realize she's left the living room. If she can grab a hold, she'll stand up, but can't let go, yet. It looks like she's going to master letting go, soon, and will stand up without grabbing onto a support, soon after that. She almost stands up, now, but falls back to sitting just before it happens. We went for a walk, yesterday, and she talks (squeals) to all the animals she encounters -- dogs of all sizes, cats, ducks, and especially ducklings, swans, geese, pigeons. She loves the trampoline as she tries to crawl around while Aurelia jumps, as long as Aurelia doesn't jump too hard. And Aurelia loves the trampoline, not just to jump on, but also to do cartwheels and somersaults.
We celebrated Aurelia's birthday a week early, yesterday. She helped me make the cake and decorate it. She's in the "I love horses" phase and got a lego set -- a horse farm -- and a playmobile set -- a farm with a horse -- in addition to a diabolo, a fresh bag of elastics for the rainbow loom elastic bracelet fad (It's a fad, here and in England; I don't know about elsewhere.), and "My Little Pony". She's very, very happy! Anne spent the afternoon helping her build the lego farm buildings after doing her stint on the trampoline with her.
We thought Charlotte would be with us, too, but she's off finishing her vacation with her mum -- she'll have spent absolutely the whole school vacation in France, this year. We got to see her just at breakfast the day we left the Verdon, but since we're planning to go up to Northampton in a month, or so, we'll see her, then.
During the week, we went down to Gwen's parents' and spent a lovely afternoon with the family. Sacha is now pedaling a bike, with training wheels. The big step is the pedaling. He's also learning to balance himself on a bike without pedals, because the new theory is that one learns to bicycle better that way, without pedals and training wheels. When the kid gets the balance down and braking, you put the pedals on and he's off. Chloé is growing fast. She looks just like Sacha.
Instead of going straight home, which was the original plan, we spent the night in a hotel and went off to St. Aignan the next day. We stopped off at a wine co-op that Ken (Living the life in Saint-Aignan) recommended -- just across from Chenonceau. Nice; they gave us his discount and put the fidelity points on his account. We then meandered slowly to St. Aignan, where we stopped to look around and have lunch. The church is interesting. Ken has written about it and posted pictures. The lower part, the crypt, pre-dates the more recent (early gothic, 12th century) church on top. The paintings, apparently, were done later, but it is still amazing that they have survived. The main church is clean as a whistle; if there ever were any painted features, they've been scrubbed away. There were a few people inside setting up some decorations for something -- maybe a wedding. From the side of the church, there is a path to the Cher (river)-side of the château. We wanted to get the view - nice - and then continued walking until we got to the side entrance of the château grounds. It's a private château, but one is allowed into the courtyard. As you enter, there is the 10th century tower, followed by a beautiful Renaissance château -- not very big, really. In another corner of the courtyard, there is an 1830 structure, not nearly as nice. From the courtyard there is a majestic staircase that takes you winding down to the church entrance, and from there, back on to the main street. The town was empty. We stopped at what we thought was going to be a mediocre creperie for lunch, Le Crepiot. It turned out to be an excellent little restaurant that happened to serve crepes. We took the plât du jour, pork filet mignon with Meaux mustard sauce and pasta. They served wine by the glass and it so happens that the wine they served was from the winery whose grapes grow just behind Ken and Walt's house!
So, on to Ken and Walt's for post-lunch coffee. It's a pleasure to see them. When they come up to Paris, it's always one at a time, because Callie, the dog, doesn't like to travel. Ken took us over to the Renaudie winery, where we bought some more wine, we had our coffee and just a short visit before heading home.
The week before, we went to the Musée de la Grande Guerre, but I'll write about that later.

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