La Roquette is an old village about 15 minutes from Cannes by rail and 30 km from Nice, on the Côte d’Azur. It has hardly been beach weather, though. Gaby told us that this has been the worst winter the area has had in 30 years. It’s been anywhere from 40°-60°, which has been fine with us, but it’s also been very cloudy and we wish it were bluer. Shabbat (Saturday) was the nicest day and our first full day here, so we took a 15 km walk (almost 10 miles!) to the Vieux Village area of the town of Mougins . Besides having amazing views of the Alps and Mediterranean Sea, the town is very arts-oriented, with many galleries, museums, and restaurants. We saw many photographs of Picasso, who once lived there.
Ton and Gaby must trust us a lot, because they left on Monday for a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands and left us in charge of their estate and pets, a fat cocker spaniel (Charlie) and a surprisingly social cat (Minou). The main house is locked up, but Ben and I are staying in the original “old house,” which is about 200 years old. It is pretty great for us; it’s been refurbished with heating, electricity, a sweet shower, and even a dishwasher. It’s an old, masonry house with very thick walls and exposed heavy-timber beams in the ceiling. Charlie and Minou seem to like it too, and having them makes it feel very homey.
We have already finished most of our work for the week. Monday we had a full day cleaning the yard by sending two enormous piles of branches through a small shredder to make compost. It took us about 8 hours, and by the end of the day we were exhausted and bruised, but Ben still managed to make a nice fire and we had a relaxing, early night. We spent yesterday sanding and varnishing 9 pieces of outdoor furniture. It feels really good to be doing this kind of work—just what I had hoped for.