Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
147Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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The five of us had finally settled down for a game of Trivial Pursuit after a busy day of walking, eating, visiting, swimming, shopping, eating and eating and eating.
It's been really hot lately, too hot for me, but the evenings cool down, nice and balmy and we sit out till the small hours talking, drinking and playing games.
Oil lamps, candles and an exotic copper Bedouin lamp Mieke found at a flea market, casting mysterious light and shadows.
Peter and I are sleeping in the barn now, which is as good as outside, as it has no doors and you can see the sky from the old French bed standing where once the cows slept. I love it, so Peter humors me, though I fail to understand why anyone would rather sleep indoors.
Anyway, the term 'trompe l'oeil' came up and Mieke, who likes to play dumb, insisted she'd never heard of it.
Us clever clogs hurried to explain; to trick or deceive the eye, a painting technique to create a false impression. Get it?
Suddenly, Patsy's chocolate Labrador George starts barking. That's unusual, I wasn't even sure he had a voice. Patsy jumps up to go see what's wrong and returns, acting unnaturally calm though the panic beneath the surface is almost palpable.
In a quiet, low voice she informs us there's a man standing in the dark on the road near our house. She thinks he must be scared stiff of George cos he's just standing there, rigid. (Ha, George is a pussy, by no stretch of the imagination can he scare anyone).
A man? This isn't funny, what's he doing, what does he want?
'How do I know,' cries Patsy, losing her cool, ' he's just standing there, not saying a word.'
'Alright,' says Peter, ' just calm down, I'm going to investigate.'
We cowardly stay behind, offering up Peter to the horrible stranger, speculating on the creep's intentions. How long has he been lurking in the dark, spying on us? What does he want, money, sex, blood? We shiver.
I think I hear Peter boldly requesting the man to explain the nature of his presence.
I hold my breath - silence, then Mieke smirks: ' Do you still fancy sleeping in the barn tonight?' She must be joking, we're gonna lock the doors if we survive this ordeal.
Peter calls out - he sounds alright, maybe I'm needed to interpret. Anyway, I ought to stand by him - I go. He's standing by the gate, alone.
Oh no, what has he done? Where's the man?
' He's over there,' says Peter, switching off the torch, and sure enough, there he is, propped up against our neighbors barn, stripped to the waist, hand on the hip, in a defiant pose. I gasp - he's evil. 'What's he doing?' I whisper to Peter. ' I'll show you,' he says, turning the flashlight back on full. The figure disappears, gone - was never there. It's was a trick of the eye, an illusion created by the shadows and light coming from our terrace, making the low roof, drainpipe and rocks look exactly like a man.
Patsy starts to giggle now. ' We were talking to him,' she says embarrassed, 'and when he didn't answer Peter said he must be very drunk. And look what George was really barking at....' She holds out an adorable hedgehog, George proudly wags his tail.
So it all ends well.
Mieke won't soon forget the meaning of a trompe l'oeil, and I of course went to sleep in the barn, feeling very safe
for I had George by my side.........