Update August 2001
I'm sorry for the long gap since I last did a newsletter in April, but many things have happened since then. We enjoyed the stay of Caroline and family - they had a good trip to Italy and saw Ferrara where they will be living from October. The weather did warm up when they got back but was not hot enough for playing in the pool, but there was plenty else to do and they managed a few days on the beach. After they had gone we had the shutters fixed up and painted, so that they could be opened and closed without difficulty.
Our friends from early Ottawa days, Mike and Jenny Patriarche arrived in early May to spend a few days with us. We all took off together the following week to visit Venice, it took about 7 hours easy driving on the autostrada and we arrived about 4.30pm, in nice time to garage the car in one of the huge parking garages at the end of the link to the mainland, and to catch a water bus to the stop for our hotel. We had a great three days and nights in Venice, ate well and saw a great deal. It was surprisingly crowded given the time of year, but mainly with parties of schoolchildren. The hotel was well located and adequate, but as our room was on the 4th floor and no lift, Beryl found it hard work!
After Mike and Jenny returned to Redmond, we got on with some jobs in the house, and tried to get some tiles to match those in the kitchen. No luck there so we are going to try and make them! We had a welcome surprise visit from Henk and Elly van Es from Netherlands who we had known from when they spent a year in Ottawa a decade ago. Beryl's sister Pam and her husband Bill arrived in the last week of May and we had a good time with them, including visits to the local brocante (flea market), the street market at Lorgues with the obligatory trip to Sillans la Cascade for lunch at the Restaurant Les Pins, and the street market at Le Muy. They took a day trip to Italy and the rest of the time we spent around the pool. Their time with us was soon over, then we had a few days to get organized before Alan's brother Geoff and his wife Erni arrived. We did some of the same things with them as we had with Pam and Bill plus going to the Jazz Picnic at the Chateau de Berne and wandering round the village on the days of Art in the Street and Music in the Street. Then it was their turn to move on, to a place they had rented in Regensberg.
We now have a break in visitors until late August, perhaps as well as we started to have problems with the water supply. The well pump would switch off with an indication of lack of water. Panic! Various test were done which suggested that the pump controller was faulty so it was replaced but the indication of no water remained, so there was nothing for it but to pull the pump and pipework up out of the well. When this was done (and we had 17 metres of pipe over the parking area) we found that the cable down to the electrode which senses water was broken and there was a good amount of water in the well, which was very reassuring. When the electrode and cable were replaced with a new one and everything put back, it all worked OK and has continued to do so. However, the experience has induced us to ask for a connection to the public water supply in the road, so that we will not be totally dependent on the well.
On 1 July we had our annual Canada Day lunch. We invited 28 people but finally 23 sat down on the terrace, pushing our tables and chairs and glasses to the maximum. Everyone had a good time and lots of wine was consumed. In July we had the rest of the house interior painted and the ceiling of the salon replastered to cover up the cracks that had developed. It now looks very good and we are pleased as we won't have to worry about painting inside again for a few years! I put up a wire fence between the back garden/terrace and the parking area to discourage future burglars, and it looks quite nice, especially as the oleander is now growing through the fencing.
As I noted in the April newsletter, we had a lot of rain in April and it was quite rainy in May also (unusual here) but since the end of May we have had only two days on which rain fell, totalling 6 mm, so everything is very dry now. It has also been consistently hot with a few mistrals, which dry things out even more.