One Summer In France – Episode 21

When Pascal rang on Monday to say he’d received the olive tree earlier than expected and could bring it and the willow tree over, Agnes agreed immediately.

“Thanks, and could you bring a couple of bags of compost with you, please?”

Between them she and Bruno dug a hole by the pond for the willow and a smaller one at the far end of the garden for the olive tree. Now, as she waited for Pascal to arrive, Agnes wandered around the garden, visualising how it would look in a few months’ time when all her new plants and shrubs were settled in.

She was pleased to see that the old wisteria plant over the loggia was already leafy and in bud. The teak table and chairs placed underneath it would be a perfect spot for lunch with Libby later in the week.

When Pascal arrived Bruno left the kitchen, where he was doing the final grouting of the new tiles behind the work surfaces, and gave him a hand carrying the trees into the garden.

“Do you want a hand planting them?” Pascal asked.

Bruno shook his head.

“No, it’s fine. We manage between us.”

“Pascal, would you like to come to lunch on Thursday?” Agnes asked impulsively as she walked back to his truck with him. “I’m planning a mini celebration now we’re more or less settled here.” Knowing how notoriously shy Pascal was she added, “It’s only us and Libby.”

Pascal smiled his thanks.

“I will be here. I look forward to it.”

“Good. Now I will go to give Bruno a hand,” Agnes said.

The olive tree was quickly planted in its new home in the sunniest corner of the garden. The larger willow took some time and persuasion to stand up right by the pond, but finally it was firmly placed in the ground and secured to a tall stake.

“Right,” Agnes said. “I’m going to walk up to the auberge to see Libby. She’ll be missing Chloe today, I think. Are you coming?”

Bruno shook his head.

“By the time you get back I should have finished the kitchen completely.”

“I can’t believe you’ve done it so quickly,” Agnes said. “I do love you,” she said, leaning forward to kiss his cheek in a rare display of emotion. “I will cook you a special meal tonight.”

“Chicken in your wine sauce? Raspberry pavlova?”

“I’ll be back in an hour to organise it,” Agnes promised, picking up her bag and coat.

Making her way through the village, Agnes turned left and took the long flight of narrow steps down the side of the post office and stepped on to the canal path. Five minutes later and she was opening the auberge gate.

The door of the gîte was open and Agnes could see Libby inside, re-arranging furniture.

“Hi,” Libby said, panting from the exertion of pushing the two-seater settee into its new position under the window. “I’ve just given the place a bit of a clean and thought I’d change things around a bit. What do you think?”

Agnes nodded.

“Looks better. You have bookings for it?”

“No,” Libby said. “I wanted to get it ready for the summer.”

She glanced across at Agnes.

“Did you use it much? I can’t remember anybody staying in it any of the times we visited.”

“People seemed to prefer the auberge itself,” Agnes said. “I did rent it out for winter a few years ago, but there are so many gîtes around that people are spoiled for choice.”

“I’ll keep it for visiting family and friends, then,” Libby said.

“Did Chloe get off all right?” Agnes asked.

Libby smiled.

“Yes, and she arrived safely. She sent me a text at midnight last night to tell me!”

“She woke you up?”

“No. Evie and I were still in the kitchen talking. I’d invited her to join me for supper,” Libby explained. “Seemed silly not to when we were both alone.”



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.