One Summer In France – Episode 03

“Mum! Come here quickly!” Chloe’s urgent shout broke into her thoughts as Libby towelled herself dry. Quickly she pulled on some clothes and ran downstairs.

“Whatever is the matter?” she asked, her voice trailing away as she saw exactly what the matter was. The kitchen was flooded and water was pouring out through the back door and down the steps.

“Thought I’d put some washing on, but the machine won’t stop taking in water,” Chloe said. “Even though I’ve turned it off.”

“We need to turn off the stopcock,” Libby said. “I have no idea where that is. I’ll phone Agnes. But first I’ll turn the electricity off at the mains. I think the switch for that is in this cupboard by the door. Yes!” She pushed the big switch on the right upwards to the off position.

Picking up the phone she dialled Agnes’s number. Quickly explaining the situation she listened intently as Agnes told her where the stopcock was.

“Outside by the gîte. I send Bruno to help you. He knows what to do.”

Running outside, Libby found the stopcock under a large metal cover and turned the water off. By the time Bruno arrived, carrying his bag of tools, she and Chloe were busy mopping up the water in the kitchen.

Bruno dragged the machine out to reach the pipes behind and pulled out a piece of perished rubber hose.

“The machine is old. It happens occasionally,” he said. “I fix it for now, but a new machine might be better.”

“Thanks, Bruno,” Libby said. Looked like her shopping list had just got even longer.

Once Bruno had left and she’d tentatively switched everything back on with no mishaps, Libby breathed a sigh or relief. First crisis over.

“Everybody knows things go wrong when they move,” Libby said philosophically as she and Chloe began the final clean up. “Could be worse.”


Standing in the sitting-room while Bruno went to the auberge to help Libby, Agnes felt the tears gathering at the back of her eyes. Bruno, leaving to go and help Libby sort a problem in their old home, had served to make her finally realise her home was now here in the village, and not in the house she’d loved for so long.

Bruno might be full of enthusiasm about moving back into the house where he was born, but it was the auberge that had meant everything to her. Living in the maison de maître in the village would not be the same.

Crossing over to the window Agnes looked out over the village street. She missed the view and the noise of the canal already. Listening to people going about their daily business and the traffic trundling through the village did not have the same appeal.

To give Bruno his due, he had spent a lot of time down here sorting things out while she’d packed up the auberge ready for Libby. The house had not been lived in since Bruno’s mother died five years ago, and Agnes had made him promise to clean it thoroughly before she moved in. But it still needed a lot doing to it.

“We can decorate and get it to our taste slowly,” she’d told him. “But we need a proper bathroom and I want a new kitchen.”

For years she’d dreamed about having a kitchen designed just for her. Whatever Bruno said, it would be the first thing – after the salle de bain – to be done in their new home. It was her reward for leaving the auberge and her life there.

Agnes moved across to the boxes in the centre of the room. Better get on with it and at least try to make the place look a bit more like home.


Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.