Book Thief wasn't our first adventure. That was the meeting ups: Angela at Portsmouth ferry terminal all according to plan; Wilma and Elaine on the catamaran in a flurry of hugs of recognition and Fran with a firm handshake and a thousand yard stare. Plan A continued when we picked up the foot passengers' luggage from the terminal and drove off promising to collect them from Lison Gare, the station nearest le Rieu.
A trolley dash at Isigny Lidl notwithstanding, we made it to Lison only minutes after we should have arrived. No matter - they weren't there. Time now to drop off co-pilots and return for the next train. Nope, still not there and not even stretching time by buying bread at one end of Lison and milk at the other made it come quicker. Lison is not a big place. Nor did this guarantee that Wilma, Elaine and Fran would be on it which is probably just as well because they weren't.
Back at the gites, plans B, C, and D weren't forthcoming so it was timely that a taxi appeared, the contents our much missed colleagues. For all the parting had only been hours before this was a truly emotional reunion on both sides but fortunately Kaye arrived with the food shortly after, so normality was resumed.
Is it a 'snifter' or a 'gulp' of red wine drinkers? We are blessed with more than our fair share and the Super U Merlot seems to fit the bill. (At 17 Euros for a 10 litre box and an exchange rate of 1.25 to £1 that makes it cheaper than bottled water.) Unlike last time this lot are happy to indulge at lunch time.
Day three and the rain in May stayed mainly persisting down. External adventure was inadvisable but indoors the members of the jury assembled for the trial of the Little Boy Lost. Defence attorney Jarvis put up a sterling opening statement and it was apparent that this was a case that might be turned. And from small beginnings so it proved with a ground swell of appreciation helped, not least, by the DVD of the 1952 film starring Bing Crosby and a child actor who looked the spit of Gyles Brandreth.
In theory, a retreat would be a success if the protagonists/combatants/participants were locked away for the duration to emerge wiser and fuller people. However, the fact that the weather broke and the sun came out on Tuesday lifted all our spirits. Outside informants - Kaye and the man from SAUR - still held that Wednesday would be the hottest day so far although it may tail off a little beyond that. In fact, it's now Thursday at 6pm and it's been glorious, looking set to stay the same until Saturday at least, which is all we ask at present. Yesterday we allowed ourselves a day off and the majority of the party decamped to Bayeux. Being so close - 15 miles - meant it was the perfect opportunity to visit the tapestry which is genuinely worth the 8 Euros admission. And as a freebie, Bayeux Cathedral is a stunning celebration of religious faith, regardless of your personal stance.
We stayed out in the late evening sun until about 9 and only came in then because the midges began to bite. Ham and endive in a cheese sauce for the meat eaters with a ricotta and (something) tortellini for the vegetarians, since you ask.
Last night we re-convened in the living room around eight to discuss The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. It was encouraging to hear similar approval of this debut after one of the Winchester reading groups had given it such a downbeat assessment. I realise it shouldn't make a difference to a personal opinion what others think of . . . well, anything, but it does. My worry for this author - although I don't think she's having sleepless nights - is that having poured the last several years into Lotus Eaters how does she produce a second novel of a similar calibre? Indeed, it will be interesting to see if her follow up is even published in the UK.
Tonight a more light hearted and playful time - circular storytelling and charades of book titles. We've run the gamut of literary quizzes etc but are comfortable in each others' company and laugh out loud easily.