Autumn : Mists, mellow fruitfulness and sweaty runners….

I guess we are hunkering down for winter. Not that we are expecting Arctic weather but since coming back from Spain, I’ve lit the Rayburn and we regularly light the wood burning stove of an evening. The house now benefits from a double glazed front door which has improved the temperature on the ground floor no end. Replacing two broken cat flaps might have helped too.

Our lunch time habits have slipped back into our previous routine too, visiting Cafe Gourmand, L’Aromate and L’Abbaye each week. It’s been a delight to drive round locally and see the trees in wonderful Autumn colours. We had an opportunity to see a more extensive display on Sunday, with a visit to Briouze.

Why Briouze? To find out we must return to Seville. Whilst there we purchased the set of hand painted ceramic bowls featured above from Xavier, the owner of the apartment we stayed in. There was a show cabinet outside our apartment door and we fell in love with the brightly coloured ceramics Xavier had for sale. Sadly we couldn’t transport them back in our luggage, so Xavier agreed to post them on to us….

The postal service in Spain does not come out of this episode in shining colours sadly. Apart from not having ‘fragile’ stickers to put on the box, their carriage was very expensive. However, Xavier was due to meet his sister at a family gathering in the south west of France where he originates. His sister Christine lives in Alencon (about ninety minutes drive from us) and works for La Poste. The box was handed over to her for posting off back in Alencon. Christine has as much faith in the French postal service as Xavier has for it’s Spanish equivalent.

Briouze is about 45 minutes drive from us and a friend of Christines was going there to run in a half marathon (or some similar energetic race) which was taking place during Briouze’s autumn fair and he kindly agreed to bring our package with him. We arranged with Christine to meet him in front of the church before his race and collect our well travelled ceramics.

After a slightly hurried and stressful lunch at L’Abbaye we set off for Briouze. The afternoon was glorious and the Normandy countryside revealed it’s golden hues as we drove along. I wish I could say Briouze is a delightful, charming town. Our view may be coloured by the diversions blocking access to the town centre and the huge number of cars trying to park. I managed to find a space in a small field, leaving us our own ‘mini marathon’ to get to the church on time. Negotiating farm equipment, burger stalls and men selling helium filled kiddies balloons, breathlessly we found our contact, still waiting patiently despite us being ten minutes late. He was pleased to hand over the package and he jogged off to warm up for his race.

We walked back to the car at a much more sedate pace, resisting an urge to liberate a medal from one of the passing junior runners in recognition of our own seniors pass the parcel event.

Ah well, it was worth it in the end…..

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