The last few days were mostly about networking.
I used to really hate networking in my old life - talking to dull corporate people, who really did give a damn, about the latest accounting standard on acceptable depreciation practices, about the effect of the budget on corporate tax planning, about rights ownership of a squiggle somebody did somewhere, sometime that looks like one somebody else did somewhere at some other time ... Don't get me wrong, I was quite good at it in my own way - but really really interested? - well obviously I became less interested which is why I am now running a stylish and fabulous holiday escape destination in the South of France.
I constantly have to remind Debrah that when I am drinking wine, eating and generally having a lot of fun, that I am in fact networking. It is wholly, exclusively and necessarily for the benefit of my business and as such should be tax deductible.
So it was that last Thursday, International Cabernet Day, I was invited to O'Vineyards, based in Villemousstassou, to sample some local cabernet based wines including their own cabernet franc version. It was a chance to meet some local residents, growers and merchants, to taste some wines, to visit the cellars, to explain what an Englishman is doing in Carcassonne and to hand out a few cards.
Ryan O'Connell of O'Vineyards does a fantastic job of promoting Languedoc wines through his video blog, facebook and twitter and is a huge example to all vignerons (and everyone) of the power of promotion through social media. He and his parents also make some fabulous wines which are getting better with each year - the 09 cabernet tasted direct from the tank has masses of potential and could be their best yet. To see what Ryan gets up to go to http://love-that-languedoc.com.
Ryan was recording events and tweeting during the evening, which is when my car had it's five minutes of fame. I recently bought a new (15 year old) Audi cabriolet to replace my very tired, but faithful, old (18 year old) Audi. (Don't get me started on that - I know it's just a car but we have been through a lot together and I still feel bad about it.) The letters on the still British registration plate of the new car are CAB. I had obviously thought about it as representing cabriolet but it didn't occur to me until Ryan pointed it out that CAB meant CABernet on this day of all days - photo was taken, posting and tweeting ensued and my car became a star for a fleeting moment.
On Saturday we had a visit to 42rvh from Juliet and Sarah of Mr & Mrs Smith - we were added to the collection at the beginning of the year. They were in France for a couple of days looking at potential new listings and had wanted to stay but their enquiry came too late during this busy time of the season - happily we were able to offer them some supper, a chance for Sarah to see the apartments and for Debrah to meet them having missed out on Juliet's initial visit back in February.
Without going into the detail, they were not very enamoured with their overnight accommodation - and we were very happy to offer them a relaxed Sunday morning breakfast at 42rvh followed by a wander around the brocante at La Trivalle - one of the best brocantes of the year here in Carcassonne, always held on the first Sunday of September.
As always, we came away with a little something that we will put down somewhere until we know what we are going to do with it! Debrah picked up some pre-war copies of L'Illustration, a plate dating from the 50's, some big industrial type aluminium light fittings for a future project and Juliet carried off a yellow enamel coffee pot which needed to be stashed in her hand luggage before finding a home on a window sill in North London. I carried and Sarah paid and a good time was had by all. Please come back soon because you know you are always welcome.
Sunday felt like the last fling of high Summer before the slightly more relaxed heat of Autumn. There was a cloudless sky, no air movement and a baking sun. It was no hotter than many other days here this past month but the sun had an intensity that seemed to be saying 'goodbye to 35 degrees' (there were a couple of late afternoon ambulance calls to sufferers of heat exhaustion just to prove the point).
Today was cooler and cloudy and this evening full of rumbling and growling, flashing lightening and stormy rain - this is the Languedoc - dramatic and intense - not a dreary, limp-handshake, warm champagne, credit insurance moment to be had - thank God.