It’s no secret that winter in the French countryside can be ‘challenging’ and behind tightly closed shutters many of us are going quietly crazy during the long, dark evenings. Of the four winters I have spent in France, this one has seemed by far the longest. So arriving back in France last week I was delighted to find that the winter weather had given way to sunshine.
And so it's time to embark on my summer routine, which means get up (hopefully) by 9.00am, throw on clothes and run around a local lake with Biff, return home, have breakfast and then head to a cafe on the square for a coffee, before starting work around midday. In theory, I stay at my desk until early evening before heading out for a pre-dinner bike ride with Biff. (I've always wanted to be one of those people in the Sunday Times 'Day In The Life Of' feature who are at their desk- having done an hour's yoga - by 6.00am but I have had to accept that I am just not good in the mornings.)
For the past week, my routine has included a drive through early evening sunshine to walk friends' dogs while they are away. It's been quite a challenge as Dobbie, a very affectionate and friendly dog, is the size of a Shetland pony and hurls himself at me in a gesture of welcome, while Tally practically scales the high iron gates, performing cork screw jumps of excitement.
It's an interesting spectacle to witness. My friend Travis kindly came along to assist on Friday evening and watched as, pockets stuffed full of dog treats in order to gain some semblance of control, I attempted to put on their respective muzzles and leads.
Amid lots of barking and jumping, I am then dragged through the small hamlet by my ‘pack’ - all three of them straining on their ropes and leashes and Dobbie desperately trying to hump Biff. The French neighbours eye me with suspicion as if I am mad to be attempting such a feat. But once out in the open fields, it is such a joy to watch the three of them running through vibrant green fields or the yellow rape seed crops which (although you can't tell it from the picture) are currently in full flower.