One Summer In France – Episode 51

Libby was busy tidying the auberge sitting-room when her sister-in-law Helen rang on Friday morning.

“We need to talk about your birthday party,” she said without any preamble. “It’s not long now.”

“It’s still weeks away,” Libby protested.

“And time flies when you’re not ready,” Helen continued. “Now, do you need me to bring anything for the party you can’t get over there?”

“I’m not sure you’d call the nibbles and champagne I’m planning a party.”

“Libby, people expect more from you. Champagne, of course, but nibbles? You have to mark the occasion with a proper party. Have you made a list of people you want to come?”

Libby sighed. Helen was clearly in no mood to listen.

“I don’t need to write a list. It will just be you and Peter, Agnes and Bruno, Isabelle, Lucas, Evie, Chloe and her friend. That’s about it. Talking of Chloe, how is she?”

“She’s fine. She told me the other night she’s really looking forward to coming over.”

“Who’s the friend she’s bringing?” Libby asked casually. “Presumably they’ll travel over with you?”

“I think they intend making their own way. I’ve booked the ferry tickets for the day before so I can give you a hand getting ready. Now, you’re sure there’s nothing you want me to bring?”

“I can’t think of a single thing,” Libby said. “No, wait, there is one thing I can’t find over here and that’s large bags of peanuts for the birds. If you could bring a few with you that would be great.”

Helen gave a loud exasperated sigh.

“Libby, you’re impossible. I’ll talk to you later.”

It was only after she’d put the phone down that Libby realised Helen hadn’t answered her question about who Chloe was bringing with her.

Libby glanced at her watch. It was eleven thirty. Just about time to walk along the canal path to the village shop before they closed for lunch. She took Agnes’s house keys from the hook. She would check on her houseplants at the same time.

As she set out a group of cyclists were leisurely making their way along the canal path, carefully avoiding the worst of the pot-holes and the tree roots that were pushing up through the tarmac in places. By the time Libby was climbing the steps up to the lane that linked the path to the village, she’d said hello to a number of walkers who were out enjoying the sunshine and the peaceful countryside.

Quickly buying the baguettes and milk she needed from the shop, she walked on down through the village to Agnes’s house. As she pushed open the wrought-iron gates that separated the house from the road, Lucas pulled up alongside her.

Bonjour. Ça va?” he asked, winding down his car window.

“I’m fine. You?” Libby asked, smiling. That was the thing with Lucas – seeing him invariably made her smile.

“I was on my way to see you,” he said. “My sister is here and I wondered if you’d like to come to lunch tomorrow? I would say supper but I guess you have visitors to feed then?”

“I’d love lunch tomorrow,” Libby said. “Thank you. Can I bring anything?”

Lucas shook his head.

“Just yourself. About twelve o’clock. I have to go – I’m running late.”


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.