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from … Saturday April 17

It’s stopped raining unceasingly, and is light and sporadic throughout the morning as we drive to Carennac. Get only a bit lost in Figeac: but manage to find both a Credit Lyonnais ATM (by now we’ve worked out that this is the sole French bank by which our debit card is going to be accepted) and a very nice salon du thé; although it resembles nothing so much as a slightly seedy Moroccan drawing-room, the owner serves marvellous tea and some very yummy goodies, so we’re pleased with her and with ourselves. Finding parking in Figeac is a bit challenging (stick to the churches' environs !), and you have to keep a weather eye out for where dogs have been, here and there …

Upon arrival at our gîte, we find that the owners live next-door, during the letting season, and use its ground floor as their storage room. Problems with the furniture for sleeping on … not the best introduction to gîtes (but the next two negate the first impression created by this one).

Carennac is pretty, but limited; it takes about twenty minutes to do, and that’s that. It has one shop, which is run by an extremely grumpy man who turns up when it suits him, regardless of the advertised opening hours on the door; and the shop’s wares are very far indeed from those indicated on its Website. You must shop elsewhere, basically; and if you want your breakfast baguette before 9.30, you must get that elsewhere, also. However ! — CS’ opinion and mine of Carennac vary wildly; he says I am unfair to it, and he may be right. So you must make your own judgement.

Memory: CS noisily and thoroughly rearranging all the furniture in the ‘loungeroom’ so as to render it more liveable — and he succeeds. Of course !

Do the laundromat at St Céré. Very soothing, that … Read, while waiting, various contemporary French magazines that seem all to be full of articles about Johnny Hallyday; amazing that he’s still so newsworthy ! Ah yes, those movies in which he co-stars with Jean Reno — now there’s someone worth reading about … (Juan Moreno ?!!!)

Weather poor again, with light but persistent rain. So, having failed in our attempts to do a Leclerc shopping run in Gramat (this one is closed on Sundays), we go back to the gîte and stay in; which is when we discover its really severe limitation — its chairs … There are no less than five different kinds/styles of chair, all cheap, and not a single one is in any way comfortable (no exaggeration whatsoever). This gîte has the furniture from hell, and that’s the last I shall write about it.

Memory: wandering around Carennac in great puzzlement, with garbage-bag in hand, looking for the Council garbage bins into which I'd dumped yesterday's bag ... They move them around, it turns out !

Next day, finally get to the Leclerc at Gramat; feel all the better for the familiar surroundings. Also find that they have fuel outlets where the prices are significantly lower than anywhere else, so have a viable reason for seeking out Leclercs wherever we go !

We discover A Truly Dreadful Thing in Gramat: they’re playing piped music over PA systems, all over the town, and it’s both hideous and almost indescribably loud. Impossible to escape, in fact. Someone has gone to a good deal of trouble to put together tapes of ‘50s and ‘60s music, but hardly any of the songs are the originals: and cover versions of things like “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Wake Up, Little Suzy” are just how you’d imagine. We laugh a great deal, but with our hands over our ears.

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  Threatening skies over Carennac
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