One Summer In France – Episode 06

For the next few days Libby and Chloe were busy sorting out the auberge. Libby was determined to give it a 21st-century make over, change the old-fashioned style of the place, and to put her own mark on it.

Six double bedrooms, sitting-room, dining-room, cloakroom and the kitchen. The bedrooms were all as Libby remembered them. Heavy bed frames, four-drawer chests with a mirror placed above each, wardrobes to match the wooden bed ends and en-suite salles de bains. Even with the large furniture the rooms were still spacious with plenty of room to add a comfortable chair and some side tables.

“Love the white bed linen Mum, but blankets?” Chloe said, opening the large armoire on the first floor landing where all the linen was stored. “Smell that lavender.”

“Definitely replace with duvets,” Libby said, scribbling a note. “Need some more towels, too.”

Some of the rooms could also do with decorating, she decided. Just a lick of paint on the walls to freshen things up. Large tins of paint went on the list.

“Now for my apartment,” Libby said as they climbed the final flight of stairs to the top floor and opened the apartment door. “It’s going to feel funny living up here alone,” she said, glancing at Chloe. “I’ve never lived on my own before.”

“Mum, stop worrying. It’s going to be fine,” Chloe reassured her.

The couple of occasions in the past when Agnes had invited them upstairs, Libby remembered the sitting-room being small and full of large old-fashioned furniture. Now, with her own furniture left higgledy-piggledy by the removal men, the room seemed bigger. Full of possibilities. There was a little balcony with room for one of those snazzy wrought-iron round tables and a chair. A perfect place to unwind overlooking the canal and the woods on the opposite side.

“Right, you ready to hit the shops?” Chloe asked, looking at the list in Libby’s hand.

Her mother nodded.

Three hours later Libby called a halt to the shopping, feeling that her bank account had been hit hard enough for one day.

“That’s it. I don’t think the car will hold another thing,” she said. “Time to go home and get to work.”

Turning off the main road on to the narrow canal path with the car filled to the roof with boxes and bags, Libby slowed down to a crawl to avoid the pot holes.

“At least we’re not likely to meet anything, thank goodness. There’s so much stuff in the car I couldn’t possibly see to reverse,” she said.

“I think you spoke too soon,” Chloe said, indicating a blue estate car in the distance moving at a fair speed towards them.

“Oh, dear,” Libby muttered. “I’m going to keep going. I’m sure there’s another passing place further on – hopefully they won’t mind reversing.”

As she continued to edge slowly towards the other car Libby was relieved to see it finally stop and then begin to go backwards quickly. The sun shining on the windscreen of the other car made it impossible to see who was driving, other than it appeared to be a man.

Thirty seconds later, as she drew alongside to pass, Libby raised her hand in acknowledgement and Chloe wound the window down to say thanks.

“If you’re going to live here you need to learn to reverse,” the man said, wagging a finger at them. “See you soon.” With that he was gone, churning up the road dust in his wake and leaving Libby and Chloe looking at each other.

“Bit rude,” Libby said.

“Wonder who he is?” Chloe said. “He was quite dishy in a laid-back French way. I wonder what he meant by see you soon.”

Libby shrugged as she pulled into the parking space outside the auberge.

“No idea. Can you take this box inside to the sitting-room? I’ll bring the duvets and then I’m going to put the kettle on. I need tea after all that shopping.”

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.