One Summer In France – Episode 11

When he heard what they were interested in buying, Pascal left his assistant to finish with the delivery and walked down to help them decide which willow tree would be the best for their garden.

They settled on a well-established one at about eight feet tall.

“I have a fancy for an olive tree, too,” Agnes said. “I know it’s a Mediterranean tree, but there is a very sheltered part of the garden that gets lots of sun. An olive tree would be just perfect there.”

“I’m sorry, Agnes, but I don’t have an olive tree in stock. I can get you one and there is no reason why in the spot you describe it wouldn’t prosper. You’d have to protect its roots in winter from frost, of course.”

“How long will I have to wait for one?” Agnes asked.

Pascal shrugged.

“Two, maybe three weeks. Leave the willow tree here and I deliver them both together, yes?”

“Perfect,” Agnes said. “Thank you.”

Leaving Pascal to return to work, Agnes and Bruno made their way back to the car.

“It’s such a shame Pascal has never married,” Agnes said. “He should really have a wife and family by now. He has to think about his own inheritance, too. Perhaps it will finally encourage him to find someone. I would like to see him happy.”

“You’re forgetting about his mother,” Bruno said. “It will take someone special to cope with her. Someone who is strong enough to stand up for herself.”

Agnes glanced at Bruno. Sometimes he still surprised her with his insight.

“Ah, yes, I’d forgotten how she likes to control his life.”


On her way to the kitchen to make herself a coffee, Libby picked up the reservations book from the hall table. Ever since Agnes had said the rally was marked in there she’d been meaning to look and see if there were any other bookings she needed to know about.

May appeared to be a popular month. June, too, was busy and there were several Saturday night dinner tables already reserved throughout the year. Lots of bookings for July and August, several for September and the vintage motor club were already pencilled in for their Christmas do.

Maybe they would cancel if the rally tea this week didn’t come up to their expectations. Now she’d agreed to do it, Libby was determined it would be a success. If only to show Lucas that she wasn’t as ditzy as he’d thought she was that day on the canal path.

In between the bookings Libby found little notes that Agnes had left her.

Boiler service this week; Habitation Tax due this week; Châteauneuf market is the first and the third Wednesday every month.

Heavily underlined on the first page of August was: Remember everyone goes on holiday this month! It is impossible to get a plumber, electrician or carpenter – or a dentist!

Libby realised Agnes had left her a veritable handbook of how to run an auberge for the inexperienced. She had this feeling she was going to come to regard this reservation book as her how-to bible over the coming months.

At the back of the book under Contacts was a list of useful telephone numbers, including one for the French magazine advertising department that Agnes used on a regular basis. Resolutely Libby picked up the phone. She needed to keep the business coming in so she’d stick with Agnes’s advertising while she worked out an advertising strategy of her own.


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.