Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Its always good to think that I have learnt a new French word or useful phrase each day. Today it was the word for dust ( and plenty of it).

Having warned us that it would probably be February before he could fit in fixing our bedroom floor we got back from a walk yesterday ( fabulous by the way) to find a massive oak beam in the drive a certain clue that the work was more imminent.

At 8 oclock this morning sharp a team of workers duly arrived and proceeded to produce huge quantities of poussière. ( Haven't you heard that gris de poussière is all the rage for Christmas decorations? - if only I hadn't been so keen to get festive!).

By lunchtime the beam to support the sagging ceiling beams in the salon below the main bedroom was in place and we used the lunchbreak to take down the decorations and remove remaining ornaments and the morning's poussière

Some of the bedroom floor is already down this evening and is impressively flat and immobile - a brilliant job!

Once again we are so impressed with French workmanship and energy. No coffee breaks all morning, one hour for lunch and then back to work without a break till home time. Its no wonder the job is almost finished in one day. The end result in the bedroom is going to be better than we had dared to hope for. Once the beam is stained to match the old ones we will tell ourselves it was always there and anyway anything is better than the ceiling caving in!

Now the problem is finding somewhere to sit this evening after eating - it may be an early night is called for or we may end up fighting over the computer.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A night to remember.

Auberge Lou Bourdie presided over by the wonderful cook and hostess Monique Valette was a great discovery. We were introduced to it by friends and have returned many times. Jamie Oliver discovered it too and it was featured in one of his TV series. Whenever we have visitors we try to take them there - try is the word as we have been dissappointed by it being fully booked before now. Even at this time of the year when all of the tourists have departed it is always full which is not surprising when the food is so good and such good value.

During a recent visit, thanks to the intervention of TC's sister( never backward at coming forward) a conversation about music and musicians resulted in us somehow wangling an invitation to a special soiree in honour of les vins nouveaux ( Beaujolias, Gamay and Gaillac) on 18th November, and TC would be able to play as well!

We duly went along a couple of days later not really knowing what sort of event to expect and feeling somewhat apprenhensive as to what we had let ourselves in for. But what a night we had!

When we arrived TC was introduced to the band and invited to show what he could do with his instrument and the usual musicians mutual admiration exchanges took place. The room was filling up around us and we were not sure what do next when we were introduced to a Belgian couple who were on their own and told to sit on what turned out to be the table where members of Monique's family would sit. People kept pouring in until the two rooms were packed, the mayor came in and did a tour of the tables and we got to know our fellow diners.

We were then served a fabulous meal of soup, confit duck. cheese and gateaux to accompany the vin nouveau of our choice. As the meal progressed the music started and so did the dancing - no dance floor just gaps between the tables. By the time we had finished eating the room next door was still being served and great trays of confit duck were being carried perilously through the dancers. On their return to the kitchen the waitresses would stop to join in the dancing in their aprons. Every so often Monique herself would come out of the kitchen and join in ( also still in her apron) on one occasion pulling me up to dance with her. During one dance another partner danced me straight into the kitchen! The music was fabulous, and TC did a "turn" too which went down well, the French clapping along to the Irish jigs with no problem.

It was a brilliant evening and the highlight of our time in France so far. To round the evening off on our way home we saw two sangliers (wild boar) at the side of the road. Unfortunately I had forgotten to take my camera so there are no pictures to share.

We went for lunch at the auberge again this week and Monique was effusive with her welcome as always and full of praise for TC's musical talent hoping that we will go again next year - just try and stop us! Lunch of course was delicious as always. We have promised ourselves to indulge in the "menu de Truffe" at some point over the winter truffle season.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

We have cracked the Mazurka!

"Autre fois" ( or before we moved here) our social life centred almost entirely around our folk music and dance friends. TC is a musician and played with a celidh band as well writing and singing his own songs. We helped to run a folk club and I was a member of a clog dancing side. We always knew that it would be this side of life in England we would miss most and were very keen to get involved in what appeared to be the thriving traditional music scene in Quercy.

Just four days after moving into our house we spotted a banner outside a nearby Salle de Fetes advertising a "Cours des dances traditionelles" with a phone number. We discovered that the course had started but we were not too late to join and it was that very evening. So there we were after just a few days welcomed into the class alongside about 50 French and three other English people. Now Tuesday evenings are a highlight of the week. We dance non stop for two hours and stop at 11pm for cake and apple juice! I can't help contrasting with our weekly clog practice in England - barely an hour dancing then off to the pub. (Mind you we do miss the chance to sit with friends for an hour in the pub).

Many of the dances we are learning use figures that are very familiar from English dances and are easy to pick up besides which, as in an English celidh, no one cares much if you get it wrong although they do take it very seriously. Easy that is until we tried the Mazurka - it looks easy and indeed I could do it when dancing with the teacher but let loose it was hopeless! We did feel encouraged when one of the old club members said it took him two years to learn it!

Anyway - this week we have practised all week and finally we have cracked it. The breakthrough for TC was getting a written breakdown of the steps from the internet - he always needs to analyse what he needs to do before his feet will cooperate.

This week was also my turn on the rota to provide cakes - a bit scary as every week there is a feast of home made goodies and I am still getting to grips with finding familiar ingredients and also coping with a ridiculously small oven. Anyway apple and cinnamon shortbread and bakewell shortbread went down well AND I was asked for the "recette" so a good week all round even if it has been freezing! Now all I've got to do is translate the recipe - should give evryone a laugh anyway.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Ségala snowfall

The news has been warning of snow expected all over France so we should not have been surprised. Yesterday was cold but very bright and I spent a glorious day working in the garden, reshaping beds which we want to change, clearing up leaves and hedge cuttings and wrapping plants against the cold.Just in time it seems, as we woke to that strange silence which seems to accompany snowfall and a winter wonderland view. We walked down to the village and found the roads were still passable, also the snow was melting fast. Also just in time to edit the Carter Christmas card!

We are discovering the best ways to keep our stone house warm - the office is the easiest room in the house to get warm which is great for spending "too long" on the computer. We do not have central heating so we can concentrate on heating the rooms we are using and the log fire is very cosy.

Tomorrow we are due to have lunch with some friends in a village nearby. It is too far to walk really so we hope for a further thaw. More important we hope that driving conditions won't be bad on Thursday when we are off to Limoges airport to fly to England for a few days pre Christmas visiting.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Worth waking up for!

When you move into a new house it's the unexpected extras, positive or negative, which make the difference!

When we woke up to this sight out of our bedroom window on our first morning living here we knew life would be good.

We have now been "chez nous" for 6 weeks, it took us no time at all to feel at home and our only real problem has been getting the internet connection sorted.Living without the internet has been a real bind, not just for keeping up to date with "contacts" its just that everyone we have had to deal with from the notaire to the bank just expects that they can contact you at a moments notice by email. The most frustrating part was we had all the necessary receivers ( no ADSL here ) left by the previous owners but the providers of the signal (relayed from the local church tower) insisted on sending us a new antenna. Erecting that looked like a simple matter but there was no signal. We tried to get someone to come help put the aerial higher but TV aerial man said "non" (don't do computers) and the computer man said - you've guessed it "non" (don't do aerials). Eventually back to the do-it-yourself approach and a phone call to the provider company - this time they seemed to accept it was them and we suspect did the standard computer geek trick of switching us off and switching us back on again and ureka it worked.

So now at last we are back on line and touch with the virtual world again.

As we drove along the beautiful Aveyron gorge yesterday we discussed how right we were to make the move here. Ségala sunrises will be an occasional diary of our life in this lovely corner of France. Yet another blog of an expat in France - but why not?