19 July: Karil wrote the other day to say the weather was warming up nicely for my home-coming. It used to take me a couple of days to acclimatise but today I felt like an old hand the minute I’d left the noisy propeller-propelled little plane behind on the runway at Avignon Airport.
The morning, that for me had begun at 3.45am, was overcast. However, even though I’d abandoned similar temperatures at home, the heat here still hits with its intensity. There was only one surprise. I’d purchased a new holdall of a design that would be easily identifiable on the carousel: it has a black background covered in swirls and squiggles and geometric shapes of purple, blue and green. It makes me think of observing a gigantic sack of licquorice allsorts whilst experiencing a particularly bad migraine. It’s an especially unpleasant object but one I felt would do the trick to the extent it was unnecessary to adorn it with labels of identification. The surprise was that, for the first time ever, my holdall was the first to appear on the carousel. On reflection, perhaps the very sight of it had caused the baggage handlers so much distress, they had got rid of it as soon as possible.
Early retrieval of the hateful bag meant I was second in the bad-tempered queue for the hire-car pick-up. Madame, the receptionist, enquired whether I’d prefer to conduct business in French or English. I bravely replied that it was of little consequence; whereupon, she remarked that as my French was so good, I should reserve English for more important matters. I took the compliment on board somewhat dubiously: what can be more important than ensuring one doesn’t sign up for expensive premier insurance? Having once been hospitalised for eight days in Avignon, at a venue where no-one confessed to speaking English, I failed to think of an appropriate example. Still, I had to give my mobile number in English; let’s face it, I can’t remember what it is at home, let alone try to recall the correct sequence whilst simultaneously translating. And the crowds behind were becoming restless.
Next, off on that familiar road with a short pit-stop at Intermarche to collect supplies: salad, fruit, cheese, bread, wine and toilet rolls before onwards to Rognonas and a very long siesta.
The heat is oppressive and a storm looms. I would have liked to swim but the business with the stitches means I had to content myself with sitting in the water in the company of Diary of a Nobody. I am reliably informed that I may arrive, without appointment, at the medical centre next Thursday whereupon someone will remove offending stitches.
So now I sit writing on my little patio along with the chattering cicadas and another old friend – the Rasteau. In the Cabanon, two globe artichokes are bubbling away and a round of St Felicien is crawling along the counter. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I will go to Chateaurenard to purchase a chicken from the market which should see me through until France re-opens on Monday afternoon. Bon nuit.