It was time for a change…and anyway, I had made a slight mistake with a ‘change’ of hair colour and it had turned a subtle shade of green….brown green……
So with much hoo-ing and haa-ing I took a chance on a different hairdresser in the village and decided to go short and hopefully get it back to the usual blonde. As with many villages in France, there seem to be an abundance of three services and our local village is no different. As small as it is, there are 4 hairdressers, 3 optometrists and 3 patisseries. It’s almost as though you need to ‘see’ your new haircut REALLY well and the either celebrate or commiserate it with a pastry. Either way, it’s become a joke between us to count the number of all three in the tiniest of villages. I hadn’t had time to go to a hairdresser and eventually thought it might make me feel less frazzled after a busy Summer so I went to one..which was a total disaster as the whole salon was as quiet as a graveyard and about as serious..and the lady in charge attacked my hair with a ferocity that bought tears to my eyes. So when I say ‘I took a chance on a different one’ I went there in slight fear and trepidation but armed with a photograph of what I was hoping it would look like..sort of.
When I stepped through the door and walked inside, it was to be met with violet walls and a vibey relaxed atmosphere. The hairdresser came towards me with open arms saying ‘Don’t worry! I can speak English’ which I discovered was the only sentence she knew. And after being pampered with coffee, being told off for having green hair and for much discussion in fast french about the photo, she began by ‘returning it to it’s original colour’ and then ‘flourishing it with highlights’. Cool! I was delighted and we had a good chat. I wanted to practice my French which I did, she wanted to practice her English, which she didn’t and we got on really well. When I expressed my delight in finally finding a great hairdresser she informed me that ‘finding a good Coiffure is more important than finding a good husband!’ The Dear One wasn’t so impressed when I told him that but I came out of there feeling a million bucks and decided to go clothes shopping as well.
It’s weird how you have moments in life where something clicks and you feel a little more comfortable or at home. It’s not very often that I get to go out totally on my own as the Dear One and I usually run various errands together and sometimes Samuel comes along as well. But there I was driving this giant sized Rexton Jeep along the country roads and attempting to park it (but carefully avoiding parallel parking!) I’ve got to the stage when I can chat a bit to the lady behind the counter or at least pass the time of day with the man who comes to fetch the laundry. I have no idea of his name, all I know is that he and his wife own Normandy Pressing and they now answer to Monsieur and Madame Pressing which they find hilarious. But they are a very sweet hard working couple in their sixties and fortunately they have a great sense of humour.
Anyway, as I was driving down the road, a ‘something’ was coming towards me on the pavement. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what it was until I got a little closer and it seemed to me like a big soft toy ball on wheels! The traffic slowed and so did I to just about a stop when it came adjacent to the car. It was the dearest round elderly lady in a big woolly jersey and gracing her head like a dollop of jam was a floppy velvet purple hat. Round eyes and button nose had been pushed into her moon face like currents in a bun and she was singing (or talking to herself) with a mouth devoid of all teeth. Her bicycle, a battered piece of equipment held together with string teetered along the path at a speed so slow that it barely remained upright and tied to the back mudguard was a bright green plastic crate filled with cabbage leaves. Funny, but it was at that moment that I felt a little more at home here. She made me smile, she made me laugh out loud and she was everything that the French countryside is….strong, natural, peaceful, abundant, hard working and full of character. I wished I could have taken a photograph of her, she’ll be with me in my memories for a very long time.
The beloved and I went to the market on Friday for the usual fresh veggies and to have a coffee in the shadow of the old church with the hustle and bustle echoing down the cobbled street. We are known now and various store owners yell bonjour and offer a taste of something new. We were looking for monk fish for a dinner party that evening so we approached one of the fishmongers who reminds me of the fish monger in Asterix with the unfortunate name of Unhygenix. No he didn’t have any but his cousin might and he pointed two stalls down to a younger version of himself. And that’s how it is… the market and villages are filled with cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. All have grown up there, follow a similar line of work and get together for long summer evenings of gesturing conversations over cheese, wine and baguettes. As we sat having coffee the young girl at the coffee shop came out with glasses of rose wine and past them down the rows of produce laden tables covered in colourful umbrellas (this is 11 in the morning) and the stall owners toasted each other with teasing and loud laughter. It’s moment like these that you feel you’re finding a place in a brand new country, that you’re slowly being enveloped in a hug of local activity and are part of the ebb and flow of French village life. It’s a warming feeling as Autumn touches the landscape with gold, orange and copper.
On Monday I fly back to South Africa for a two and a half week visit and to catch up with family and friends. It’ll be my first trip home in two years and I wish the butterflies in my stomach would fly in formation instead of giving me this fluttering mayhem feeling inside. The Dear One is staying here with the mutts and will have Samuel for company. The season is closed at the Chateau and we are looking forward to cosy evenings by the fire,, a chance to finish the cottage and do some indoor bits and pieces of maintenance around the Estate and for me to have a chance of facing my easel and pencils again. We’re looking forward to the quiet.
For all of you along the path with me, whether you’re heading in to Summer or Winter, take care and ‘see’ you soon
A la prochaine