One Summer In France – Episode 46

Libby was setting the table for lunch under the loggia when they arrived.

“Is Bruno with you?” she asked.

“He’s joining us later,” Agnes said. “He sends his apologies but he had an appointment in Quimper. He said just to go ahead and start lunch without him.”

“It’s quiche and salad so it’s not a problem to keep him some back,” Libby said, looking at Agnes and Isabelle. “You’re both looking very happy with life today. Any special reason? Or just looking forward to your holiday?”

“I’m an expectant grandmother!” Agnes told her excitedly, unable to keep the news to herself a moment longer. Both Isabelle and Libby laughed at the way she’d delivered the happy news.

“Wow! Congratulations, both of you. I’d open a bottle of bubbly but I guess you’re not drinking!” Libby said, looking at Isabelle. “We’ll save it to wet the baby’s head instead.”

Both Isabelle and Agnes looked at her blankly.

“It’s an English tradition for after the baby’s born,” Libby explained.

“You pour champagne over the baby’s head?” Agnes asked.

Libby laughed.

“No. It’s what we call opening a bottle of wine or champagne to toast the new arrival.”

“You have it with toast?” It was Isabelle’s turn to sound incredulous.

“No!” Libby said, shaking her head. Some things definitely got lost in translation. “When the baby is born I’ll introduce you to the tradition. It’ll be easier than trying to explain it now. Shall we eat?”

Sitting around the table listening to her daughter and Libby chatting away, Agnes felt content for the first time in months. Since selling the auberge to Libby and moving to the village, her life had seemed to lack any sort of purpose, but everything was about to change.

There were things to look forward to now. Isabelle moving back to Brittany; a grandchild, a holiday in the south of France starting tomorrow. She reached down and picked up her bag.

“Libby, I forget to ask you. Would it be a problem for you to look after my houseplants while we are away? One visit in the middle of the week to water should be sufficient. I give you the key.” She put the spare house key on the table.

“That’s no problem,” Libby said. “Don’t forget to send me a postcard or two!”

The Saturday of the jazz festival was a busy one for Libby. Four sets of guests moving out meant four bedrooms to be cleaned, aired and beds made up for the next arrivals. Thankfully Agnes had introduced her to Odette, a young mum from the village who was happy to come and help on change-over day.

Libby had taken the decision as the summer became busier not to do meals on the evenings of change-over days, a decision she was thankful for when all the chores were finally finished and she could relax.

Not sure what the evening ahead would hold in the form of food, if anything, Libby made herself a ham and salad baguette and a pot of her favourite Earl Grey tea.

Chloe rang as she was finishing her food.

“Everything all right?” Libby asked. “How did the ball go?”

“It was wonderful. It seems like a dream now. Mum, I have been thinking about your birthday. Would you mind if . . .”

“Please don’t say you’re not coming over?” Libby interrupted.

“Of course I’m coming. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I just want to know if it’s OK for me to bring a friend.”

“You know it is.” Libby waited a second or two for Chloe to name her friend, but she didn’t.

“I’m off out to the jazz festival this evening, so I need to shower and get ready.”

“That sounds fun. Who are you going with?”

“Lucas.” Libby said his name reluctantly, knowing that Chloe was likely to make a big deal of it, but the answer surprised her.

“Enjoy. He’s a nice man. Got to go. Love you, Mum. Bye.”

“Bye,” Libby echoed.



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.