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from … Saturday May 8

Our driving from Montrésor to Pontaubert today starts in fine weather, but we’re soon in a downpour, which continues sans cesse for the next two days.

May 8 th is a date of significance in France; it’s “VE Day” — Victory in Europe, World War II — and marked by ceremonies at war memorials everywhere. We haven’t paid enough attention to this; we find ourselves being held up at little town after little town by local gendarmes, whilst the rain pours incessantly down upon their citizens as they stand through the rites. I’m sure that many an old soldier will die as a result of standing for a long time in a cold graveyard during this wet, wet day … They tell me that this is a regular occurrence, in all the countries of the world where people honour their war dead; that the honouring itself is the cause of the passing of many an old person …

At our Pontaubert hotel the rain’s falling just as heavily, and we’re not thrilled to find that we have to carry our own suitcases up two long flights of steep, external stairs (fortunately, they are under a verandah covering). This is not what we came to France for; and yet we’ve found that, with the solitary exception of Le Clair de la Plume in Grignan — where we were not allowed to even contemplate the possibility of carrying our own luggage ! — there’s no hotel that supplies someone to help we elderlies with it. The small room has everything one expects of a hotel room, however; just no space to move about in. Oh, and no TV. Bummer, in this weather.   :-\   But it is plain to see that, in sunlight, this place must be marvellous: its river, le Cousin, is quite stunningly beautiful.

One of the sisters of the family now running Le Moulin des Templiers gives me free use of their laundry, absolutely voluntarily, and in the kindest possible way. I’m able to do a load of washing and get it dried in their “boiler room” overnight, and that’s indeed welcome. We discover, too, that the hotel now offers a table d’hôte evening meal, of which we have no prior knowledge: having gone out on the Saturday night, we stay in on the Sunday, and it is a very fine meal indeed. The fact that it is the second time we do our best with an entire fixed menu without notable success is offset by the lentil salad and the cheeses, for me; I could live on these, I sometimes think …

And perhaps the most notable discovery I personally make in the Morvan is cheese — the wonderful, marvellous, soumaintrain. Which is not to belittle the superb plaisir au chablis … I would kill to find someone making something similar Downunder …

Memory: lunching delightfully with Sue and Henry; holding my breath while their beautiful cat, Nikki, makes up his mind about jumping onto my lap. He does.   :-)

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le Cousin
  Le Cousin: this is where all that rain goes
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