The town is unchanged. But then it’s only a year since we were here and the town has been here for two and a half thousand years, give or take.
The Maison d’Estella still has its star picked out in stones on one wall and - like the town of Agde - still shows its own layers of time, here so carefully uncovered by its owner Allan, who restored the house and brought up his family here.
We managed one blue sky’d fine day when we went along the estuary to the sea at Grau d’Agde where we walked along the wonderfully kitsch promenade, ate highly specialised ice creams and watched men who looked like pirates disentangling their fine nets from the detritus from the last trip. They could have the right bloodline. Real pirates were a feature of life here in the seventeenth century.
But the wind whistles round the courtyard and we keep protesting to our friend Pat, who is with us this year, that the weather has not been itself. The skies have been grey and lowering, T here has even been a patter of (warm…) rain. We have been looking out our wraps and jackets. We keep telling Pat how usually in June it is fine and bright. Honestly.
My friend Avril arrives on Wednesday to complete the party and tell us that it is raining cats and dogs in England.
But despite the lack of blue sky it’s all still wonderful here. Yesterday was the big market day. I sat on the corner and watched again the kaleidoscope of faces and types. Lots of children. I smile at a glorious cherub and he pulls his tongue out at me. I go with Debora and Sean to the food-market and am dazzled again by the colour and variety and freshness of the food laid out there with artistic precision and artisan pride..
A very handsome young man with dark curly hair selects large tomatoes one by one for Debora, who tells him she’s making stuffed tomatoes for our dinner. She buys courgette flowers which, she says, she will stuff with cheese and deep fry for starters.
There’s talk in the house of football and some concern that the referee for one of the England matches who has a questionable reputation. There is the problem of where to watch the matches significant to us – on the small French TV in the house or out at the Sports Bar down the street, among the French fans.
(I might have an eye to the football but really I’ll be reading Wolf Hall, a reward for ploughing through The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with mounting disbelief.)
Things are looking up. Last night before dinner we walked along ancient basalt pavement of the quayside through the heavy scent of a fantastically blossoming jasmine. We went to the cafe on the Place de La Marine for a pastis. whose owner recognised us from last year and gave us a hug, pleased that we had returned.
Later we had the courgette flowers (stuffed with cheese, covered in light frothy batter) and the stuffed tomatoes. There was applause.
Next – another walk to la Ganguette..