A dining experience...

Tonight we treat ourselves by dining out in another little upmarket restaurant that Adrian

has again recommended. (!!)

With our table pre-booked for eight, we get ready to make our way over to Vaux-sur-Mer.

I have made an effort to ‘posh-up’ (well apart from make-up) by wearing one of my new dresses, the moss green one with little twisted spaghetti straps cut loosely falling in ruches at the sides.

I’m hoping it looks a little more flattering, hiding a multitude of holiday tummy pâtisserie sins and finish by adding one of my mala style necklace’s with colourful tassels to brighten up my look.

We arrive at ‘La Cottage’ deciding to dine outside on the terrace. It’s such a lovely evening though there’s an unusually warm whip in the air. Madame comes over and greets us in perfect English offering an aperitif. We learn she is the owner along with her Irish chef husband.

A young family arrive and are settled into their seats with menu's but soon call Madame back, who quickly disappears inside returning with a small aerosol. The family seem to have fallen prey to a few thirsty mosquitoes as Papa coats his children with Madame’s spray. The adults apply themselves in turn and the repellent soon gets passed around the terrace tables. When offered to us Roddy refuses and so do I, then I quickly change my mind -if the locals are applying it, they know something I don’t -the mozzi’s must be real beasts here on the coast and perhaps the warm musty air is attracting more of them, especially as we are sitting near the stream.

I glance at the grand willow, weeping its branches long and low now swaying in the gentle wind, causing its delicate leaves to flicker their reverse shades of silver and sage.

As we devour our delicious main course of Poulet de Challans, I’m quite relieved the mozzi’s haven’t decided to pick on me yet. Roddy is dressed more sensibly in a long sleeved midnight blue linen shirt and smart black jeans. Thinking it’s unusual for us both to be glammed up - well apart from high heels in my case, I notice sudden movement in the trees surrounding the terrace shaking away the last day light blues in the sky. A storm is definitely brewing and I have a feeling it may surprise us with an early showing...

I watch as the playful balmy breeze entices increased dancing in the tree’s elongated branches as they float and curl, moving in motion as if to a graceful waltz gliding to the rhythm of the wind’s music. A swift gust lifts them high then the rain comes quickly.

Distant thunder joins in until a flash of electric, daggers through the dark conducting nature’s symphony. The sky beyond the willow is heavy and dense, the colour of slate grey. As the rain gain’s pace turning from light showers to a strong fierce pelt, giant terrace umbrellas meant for shading the sun become our shelter. We scuffle our chairs tightly into the table leaning in a huddle. Huxley is not fazed but Biba, now on Roddy’s lap seems more edgy.

An sudden abrupt angry punch of wind lifts an umbrella from its base and sends it travelling through the restaurant’s garden ending on its head in a ditch by the stream. A table of four guys clasping hold of their umbrella deterring it from flying off finally give up, trying to fold it closed fighting against the strength of the wind inside it desperate to burst out. Abandoning it, they run inside trying the dodge the random stabbing darts of rain as they go.

We soon follow.

A waiter runs out into the vicious downpour to rescue the up-turned umbrella as thunder claps loudly overhead. Madame braves the storm with him, speedily clearing glasses and china from the tables. Lightening cracks the sky illuminating the darkened charcoal grey to a nuclear bright light lasting seconds. The dull roar of thunder accompanies the lighting’s sharp cackle sounding a clashing duo as ghostly flashes of light continue.

Madame and the waiter at last enter the restaurant, now completely drenched to a welcoming applaud inside. The waiter returns to busy tables after peeling off his sodden shirt and replacing it with a spare. Madame, grabbing a towel dries off promptly as best she can, then after repining a couple of escaped tresses of wet hair coolly returns to a table of four ready to take their order as if nothing at all has happened. The calm atmosphere in the restaurant replaces the chaos outside, apart from a couple of waiters briskly rushing around, attending to tables with orders that have been delayed.

I savour my last mouthful of crémé brouillé as Roddy requests the bill. The rain hasn’t ceased but is easing and slightly concerned of the prospect that Huxley may launch an unexpected tornado of a poo on the restaurant’s pale cream carpet at any given moment, there’s no choice but to make a dash for it to the car park.

The diners will probably think we are mad not waiting a while longer and all I really secretly want to do is stand out in it with my arms stretched to the sky above, embracing this storm’s dramatic power. Roddy has already disappeared whilst I still contemplate this.

Reluctantly, however, in my strappy dress, I run as much as my flip flops will allow me to, refraining from dancing under the sheet of water pelting down and thus denying the diners a theatrical end to this extravaganza of a storm.

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