We attend a lovely, if surreal party at our friends Jo and Martyn's house (the main purpose of our trip). What is great is that the couple have embraced the local community, rather than isolating themselves from it as the previous owners of their property had done.
The invited guests consisted of a local chap whose car Jo had written off on a previous visit (all accepted graciously with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders); the neighbouring farmer and his wife with whom they'd had a lengthy boundary dispute; the local butcher who supplied the most fabulous steak for the BBQ; and Yves - a 50-something year old guy, who lives with his 90-odd year old mother, and, I suspect has never ventured out of the village. Yves had rather too much wine and thoroughly enjoyed himself. I'd never been to a house party before and seen an almost totally toothless middle-aged man gyrating on the floor to 'The Eye of the Tiger' - but then I guess I've never lived!
Returning the next day, for a quite afternoon round the pool, we try desperately to disguise our envy as our friends Martyn and Jo show us around their new holiday home. It's tastefully furnished and kitted out by the french branch of Habitat online (who knew!). With it's stunning azure blue pool nestled into the reclaimed stones from an ancient ruin they also purchased.
Enjoying a cold glass of wine in the kitchen, Martyn's usually monosyllabic teenage daughter rushes in, jabbing her thumb in the general direction of the driveway and announces "there's some people". By this, she of course means French people, so we all look to Jo as the only decent french speaker amongst us. She saunters out to greet them with a hearty 'Bonjour!' expecting some distant neighbours.
When we join her however, we find a wild-eyed Finnish man, desperately asking for use of a phone. A female member of his walking party has collapsed and is now lying at the start of the mountain pass, foaming at the mouth. Not good. There follows a mad flap as everyone checks to see if they can get a signal on their mobile phone and eventually one is found. However, nobody knows the french equivalent of '999'. Luckily, I'd had a helpful text ping in on touchdown in France, welcoming me to the french network and advising that I was to ring '112' in the event of an emergency.
After discussing with the 'pompier' it was decreed that the injured party needed the air ambulance. Being in a very remote location, Jo tried to describe our exact wherabouts, and somewhat ingeniously explained in the manner of a posh Matt Lucas 'we have the only swimming pool in the village'.
This of course left Martyn quietly struggling with his own internal battle about whether to cover the pool and therefore obliterate the only aerial landmark, or leave it and risk his pool being filled with debris from the updraft. He of course realised that in the grand scheme of things, a bit of dust in the pool could be remedied.
So we waited, and waited. After about 30 minutes we heard the approaching helicopter. We all ran about like lunatics waving our arms to attract their attention. I threw a bright red Dora the Explora towel poncho to Jo as she clambered over the fence in her swimming costume (I have watched the Railway Children you know), and she frantically tried to pull it over her head. Realising it wouldn't fit, she called Martin for something to cover herself up with. Stiffling my hysterics, I had to point out it was meant to attract the pilot's attention, not to cover her cleavage!
The helicopter skilfully landed on a tiny patch of level ground and dispatched its crew. 10 minutes later they returned with the woman strapped to a stretcher, loaded her on and off they went.
And it was all over. Left with the certainty we would never find out the outcome for this poor girl, we wished her well, and prayed she had good travel insurance.