Visitors' Tales

Fi · Gillian

Aug 2001

Imagine the scene if you will. Asleep in bed. Its 2.30 AM, its a bit windy outside the house is hardly what could be described by a Neighbourhood Watch policeman as secure . It is also completely isolated up a small track where the only traffic is a bloke in a pale blue Citroen Dyane who heads off every morning at 8.00 for his baguette in the nearest shop 20 minutes away. Get the picture?

Suddenly at 2.30am a hideous noise of running feet. I have never been so scared in all my life. Catherine was too but we each pretended to be a lot braver than we are. Plans of escaping through windows, hiding in a loo or even just legging it down the road all seemed very attractive. Catherine came up with a brilliant plan of putting a torch on our heads and shining it straight at the face of the intruder. All very well for her, she had a small Maglite - mine is the sort that New York cops use so rather difficult to get on my head.

Anyway after about 20 minutes things had calmed down and I thought we were pretty safe again and was just trying to go to sleep when this time definite footsteps running hell for leather up the hill (I should add that the house is built on the road so you can see why I was so nervous). I was very brave and got up with my torch (in my hand, not attached to my head despite whispered instructions from C). All in vain I could see absolutely nothing. To make things worse by now a vicious thunderstorm had started so not only was I contending with imminent death from an intruder but now completely terrified for the first time in my life by thunder and lightning. All in all this may have been a good thing as it took my mind off the intruder scenario. Not for long.

Out of the darkness and out of the blue suddenly many, many footsteps on the road heading fast for the house obviously I am now convinced that I would have been brilliant in the resistance because scared as I was I got up when I first heard them and stood at the window. What did I see?

You are going to find this very hard to believe but we had been in imminent danger of being mugged by a group of escaped donkeys. Yep, there were eight of them plus baby having the time of their lives. Marauding up and down hillsides, in and out of gardens, munching their way through acres and acres of luscious corn and generally behaving like donkey hooligans. It was completely terrifying but boy did I laugh.

Obviously the authorities have taken this civil disobedience very seriously indeed as all day the house has been surrounded by low flying planes and helicopters who I am convinced are looking for the escapees. So, never let it be said that my holiday has been uneventful.

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Sept 2001

Just to let you know the extent to which I enjoyed my time at Escoulin…
Marina (neighbour up at Le Cheylard) explained it well when she spoke of how that valley seems to weave a spell over everyone who stays there. I certainly felt it and can safely say that so did each of my friends. It is an absolutely magical place, and I can't thank you enough for giving me the chance to remind myself of its seductions and pleasures, small and large. I can't remember anywhere where I fell quite so in love with the landscape, with the possible exception of West Cork! But of course the weather means that Escoulin must come out on top. … felt like I was away for months.

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