Oh my goodness, THANK YOU for the brilliant response to my holiday money dilemma. Such wonderful suggestions and tips! I don't quite know where to start but the main thing is I am no longer worried, I am instead very excited, so that is good. I suspect I am doing a fair bit of stress displacement here, ie. worrying like mad about holiday budgets instead of big things like jobs and how far redundancy money will stretch.
We (six children, seven adults) are staying in a self catering villa in a tiny village in rural south-west France. If you imagine a triangle between Cognac, Bordeaux and Angouleme, we will be roughly in the centre of that area. Most of our meals will be eaten at home I should think, so lots of opportunity to save money there. I will make sure I'm super organised and have drinks and snacks at all times for even the hungriest child. And adult. I've had a look further into boring things like mileage, diesel and toll road costs and satisfied myself that budgets will accommodate the smooth, quiet, expensive French motorways. There may even be shopping! There will certainly be wine. I am hugely cheered to learn that wine is cheaper in France than here which is no bad thing at all.
So, the garden. I've worked really hard on the garden this spring and summer and feel like I'm starting to get a tentative feel for what works where. I'm also realising what a responsibility it is in that, like a pet, it needs looking after if you go away. Thankfully, there have been lots of rain showers recently so I haven't needed to water anything for a while, but I suspect that gardens can be very tying
The thing I'm most proud of is my tomatoes.
They are still very green, but there are lots of them.
I grew all these from seed. They are lined up in against a west-facing wall where they benefit from lots of sun. Last winter the wall looked like this:
Bleak. The bricks belong to the side wall of my neighbour's garage. Between our garden and the wall was a gap about one foot wide, just big enough to lose all garden toys down and make the area annoyingly useless. Our garden is very small so every corner has to earn it's keep.
My lovely dad lined and filled the gap with gravel and it now holds a row of plant pots with my tomatoes and a few sunflowers too. We washed all the kids' smudged chalk off the wall. The ugly plastic table and chairs went and I found this little wrought iron set in the sale last autumn. It all looks much less bleak. It's almost pretty.
But the thing is, I have a horrible feeling that our tomatoes will be just perfect for picking while we're on holiday. That pains me! I'm not sure what to do about that yet.
We also have a lot of raspberries. Every year they just appear and I do nothing to them. They are starting to spread and poke spiky heads through the lawn so I think that, come autumn, I may have to do something pro-active and unfriendly to them before they colonise the entire garden.
The fig tree is showing fruit for the first time ever and I do hope it ripens. I would love to eat home grown figs. And the flowers that some of you very kindly identified as a type of allium have turned the most beautiful colour.
So, for the first time, I have grown rhubarb (a little), strawberries (a handful each day - enough to put on my muesli each morning for breakfast), raspberries (by accident) and tomatoes but we haven't eaten those yet. And possibly figs. An eclectic mix, but one I've enjoyed very much.