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?