2011 Christmas Newsletter


Hello friends:


              Late as usual with my newsletter, but I am in time for Christmas! We shall be spending Christmas, as usual, here in Plan de la Tour and on the day we will be joining a small group of friends for lunch. As we all know each other very well, it will be a comfortable get-together, and the food and wine will be superb. We will be thinking of you.


              As for the events of the past year, as usual, it started with Beryl going off to spend a couple of weeks with her sister Pam in Florida. She had good trips over and back with no alarms from snowstorms at the intermediate stops and had a great time in which food and shopping for bargains played a big role. While she was away, I had the masons in to replace a large wood beam over the terrace which supported the tile roof and which the water had got to at one end and rotted it away. Not cheap, but we should not have to do it again! As the weather improved, I did some pool jobs including replacing the pump as the one which had been put in after the flood was not powerful enough to circulate water properly. We had a clump of oleanders that were by the terrace removed as they had gone leggy and took up a lot of space but had few flowers, and grassed over where they had been with a linked bamboo fence for privacy. Beryl planted honeysuckle against the fence so it has now grown to cover the fence and have flowers.


              At the end of April our fist visitor of the year arrived to spend a few days with us – Celine Palmer, wife of Frank who worked with me at DREO for a number of years. On retirement, they moved to BC and live at Gibsons, just north of Vancouver. It was Celine’s first visit to France and as she is Quebecoise she was very interested in everything. She had spent a week with one of her daughters in Western France, where they had rented a gite, before coming to us.


              While Beryl was in Florida, my car, the Honda Accord, had broken down on my way back from Ste Maxime and had to be towed back. Fixing it proved difficult as we were trying to avoid buying new parts, which are extortionately expensive. In the end, my garagiste took the car for himself and found me a very nice second-hand Lexus with which I am very pleased.


              Our olive plantation survived the winter OK but I found that I had to water the trees throughout the summer, so back went the drip system I had installed last year but removed after the first summer. Beryl had tried growing strawberries in pots, with such success that she decided to open a strawberry patch at the back, which we made with the beam from the terrace I mentioned above, cut up into suitable lengths.


              We decided to have a Canada Day dinner this year, particularly as Rick and Hella Bertrand (our neighbours from Kanata) were visiting over this time, so 24 of us sat down to a well-decorated table on the terrace. It was great fun, and everyone enjoyed it. Rick ran the bar for me and Hella helped with the food side, so we acquitted ourselves collectively very well. We had a great time during the rest of their stay and were sorry when they left to attend the Paris Air Show.


              Caroline and the girls, Anna and Julia, arrived in August and spent three weeks in Europe, two weeks with us and the middle week they went to revisit their former haunts in Ferrara, Italy. It was lovely to see them all again and we thoroughly enjoyed their visit. The pool was, as ever, popular, especially with Julia! Caroline and the girls went off in the Lexus for their trip to Ferrara, which gave the car its first real run for us and they found it went well and was very comfortable. It went so well that Caroline collected a speeding ticket on her way back!


My 80th birthday occurred in September and our friends from Kanata, Ann and Gordon Marwood, arranged to be here for it, so we were able to celebrate in more ways than one. On the actual day, we all went to St Tropez for lunch at La Ponche, an excellent restaurant with a view over the gulf and it was a lovely day and we could watch the boats from our table. We went over and back on the ferry from Sainte Maxime, which added a pleasant nuance to the day. The following day we had planned an aperitif for a number of our friends in the evening, which went off very well and Gordon and Ann gave a lot of help in dispensing drinks and food. The rest of their visit was quiet in comparison but we enjoyed their company, a good gossip, and they enjoyed looking around and the nice warm sunny weather.


              In mid-September Christine Marwood arrived from Perth, Australia to stay with us for a few days and we enjoyed seeing her again and travelling around to visit or revisit some nice places in the region. After she had left, we went to Camogli for what was supposed to be a few days, but we came back after two as Beryl developed diarrhea. That seemed to be the signal for colds, stomach upsets, and more diarrhea to beat up on both of us – nothing serious but unpleasant and takes you out of circulation. Later, Beryl had a coloscopy that she should have had some time ago, which went off OK with no problems, but involves a lot of seeing doctors and getting tests of one sort or another, and then a day in hospital. Around this time we thought it might be a good idea to get some help around the house and we heard about someone reliable being available, so we now have a femme de menage, who comes in once a week for 3 hours and performs wonders. I am also calling on our neighbour, who does gardens, for help in maintenance, as I can’t do it like I used to!


              Weather this last few weeks has been unusually mild and sunny, and a week or so ago we went off for a drive along the coast and stopped at Cavalaire for lunch. Being a seaside resort, it was nearly empty at this time of year and we had some difficulty in finding a restaurant open, but we had an excellent lunch at the one we found.


              That brings us pretty well up to date, so we now only have to wait 23 days and it will be Christmas Day. This is the social season here, so we shall be involved in various dinners and things before long, health permitting! We hope you will all have a great holiday season and a wonderful Christmas, and we will be thinking of y’all.


Love from Alan and Beryl