Hot and sunny with clear blue skies all last week. Trouble was, I stayed indoors most of the time editing and re-writing bits of my book. And when I wasn't doing that, I busied myself trying to figure out the questions (in French) on the form that Honda France had sent me in order for them to verify that my imported Honda motorcycle is in standard trim. The questions were mainly about part numbers. Sounds easy. However, trying to read a tiny number on, for example, an indicator lens is an almost impossible task even with the aid of specs and a torch.
Finished the book and Honda questionnaire on Friday. Posted the questionnaire on Saturday morning at Felletin then drove into Aubusson to drop off my garage rent cheque. Nice and sunny so I thought I'd visit the market (Saturday is market day in Aubusson). Bought a melon, some tangerines and a couple of punnets of strawberries from Isabelle's stall then retired for a coffee and a fag (had two of each) at my fave caff by the roundabout at the end of the main street. Good place to just sit (in the shade of a parasol) and watch the world go by. Sat there for about half an hour then headed back to the car which was parked up the hill near the old ruined castle.
By now it was about 12.30 and heading towards the hottest part of the day (hottest day of the year so far according to Christian - about 27 degrees apparently). Shoved the goodies in the car then decided to have a walk up to the old castle and check out the views. On one side, looking through trees with white-painted trunks (there must be a reason for this paint sploshing but I haven't a clue what it is) I could see people packing up their market stalls and heading off for lunch. On the other side, there was an almost sheer drop down to the river (ooh, vertigo). Yet, somehow, houses have been built into the hillside. And, even more surprisingly, some of these houses have little stepped gardens. Noticed one house had a mini garden in its guttering. Rather impressive (see photo).
Nipped home, had a spot of lunch (pate and gherkins on fresh bread) then realised it was Grand National day. Placed a couple of bets via the internet (didn't win) then watched the first two Aintree races. Was preparing to watch the main race but thought it would be a criminal waste of perfect motorcycling weather. So I switched the telly off, got kitted up, dragged the bike out of the shed and roared off towards Ussel - the Felletin to Ussel road is a biker's dream. Hit Ussel, turned around and headed home via the back lanes. Got lost but kept the late afternoon sun to my left so I knew I was heading vaguely north. Dropped into a forested valley and crossed a river bridge. Looked interesting so I doubled back for a closer look. There was a sign by the bridge which informed that this stretch of river is kayak territory. Massive boulders everywhere. All very pretty but no way would I paddle a canoe thing through those rocks. Suicidal.
Eventually picked up the main road and turned left. Took it easy through La Cortine (there always seem to be traffic cops there) but then gave it some serious welly on the sweeping downhill bends and fast curves towards Felletin. Had a funny feeling the weather was going to change tomorrow (Sunday) so this might be my last spin for quite some time (my three-month insurance expires soon and they won't renew it until the bike's officially registered in France - a process that could take months and months due to a combination of French bureaucracy and Honda's somewhat less than enthusiastic attitude towards imports). Arrived home, put the bike away (for maybe ages) and cut the lawn.
Sure enough, today (Sunday) dawned cloudy and chillyish. Really glad I grabbed that sunny biking opportunity when I did. Now, what's for tea? Hmm, strawberries and cream.
(Click pics to enlarge... and I've just discovered if you click again on the enlarged pic it comes up even bigger - I'm very slow about these things.)
A Winters's Harvest
1 week ago