Saturday, 15 January 2011

unexpected callers

the lake across the field in front of our house

"Autre fois" (as we call our life before moving here) we had very few callers at our front door even though we lived in a fairly ordinary suburban area. When the doorbell went more often than not it was our next door neighbour telling us they were off on holiday for a few days. Now we live in splendid almost isolation an unexpected knock at the door is certainly a surprise! Last week it happened twice. The first occasion I opened the door to find a man I didn't recognise talking extremely fast and very heavily accented French at me - I managed to catch the words "voisin" and "apero" and realised it was the neighbouring farmer ( we had met him briefly to introduce ourselves when we moved in but I hadn't recognised him) inviting us for a drink. I summoned TC who appeared out of the shed a whiter shade of pale covered from head to toe in white dust as he had been busy sanding a ceiling ready for painting - he looked like the ghost of old father time. A quick change and dust off and off we went up the lane and spent a pleasant (if linguistically challenging) hour or so over a bottle of champagne with Alain and his wife.

Just a couple of days later more callers - this time the daughter of another nearby farmer and her partner. She was keen to practise her already good English so conversation was easier. She also told us about a biligual conversation group which meets weekly in nearby Limogne. Its good to feel that our neighbours getting to know us a bit even though they are a few fields away and probably think we are very strange!

Its been another busy week, lunches with friends, dancing ( another "bal" tonight), more reshaping of the garden in preparation for Spring, painting the new bedroom and after a couple of dull drizzly days some welcome winter sunshine gave us the opportunity to enjoy being outside. We have also taken the plunge ( sorry) into the deep and chilly waters of the world of swimming pools and await the quote in the next few days.

site for the pool

We are also preparing for our trip back to England on Wednesday, we have found someone who is willing to "borrow" the chickens which is a relief. I have been practising my clog dancing so that I can join in at the celidh- its been good to discover I haven't forgotten everything.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Bonne année

Our first French Christmas and New Year is over and the decorations will soon be packed away for next year.

It was certainly different this year - the first Christmas in 30 years when I haven't cooked Christmas dinner for a houseful! We had a good time though despite missing family and friends.We were uncharacteristically sociable, met new people, enjoyed good food and company, went for a wonderful Boxing day walk in the snow and even had to turn down an invite for New Years Eve as we had already booked to go to the local salle des fetes for the bal with some friends.

TC retired officially on the first day of 2010 and the months which followed had rather more ups and downs than we thought strictly necessary although as it turns out all those people who said there was a reason were right ( don't you just hate it when other people are right?). In this case they were right as this house was definitely the one for us. Thanks to all those whose encouragement kept us going even when it all seemed hopeless and we were ready to give up.

We have loved our first few months living as French residents and have no regrets about our decision to come here. We were very content and comfortable in England and had a good social life and many friends but retirement offered us an opportunity to have an adventure and follow a dream. This weekend we will have been in our new house for three months - it seems much longer we feel so much "at home". Getting to know other English people has been easy - there are plenty around and it is nice to be able to relax and have a conversation in English after a day struggling to master French. It is harder to get to know French people ( although those we meet are all very friendly to us). We are so pleased that our traditional dancing classes have worked out so well as they have brought us into contact with lots of people and provided us with regular social events ( we could easily go to a dance every week).

We are now busy preparing for a two week trip back to England where TC has a booking to perform at a folk club giving us an opportunity to visit family and also have our "leaving party" in Stoke. We had always planned to have a grand farewell celidh but our eventual sudden departure prevented it. Our old folk club traditionally has a January celidh so we have decided to sponsor that as our leaving bash. It will be great to see everyone and I am sure we are going to have a great time but I am also sure that we will be glad to get "home"- Spring will be just around the corner and we have so many plans and projects lined up.

The year ahead will see some significant birthdays and anniversaries - I look forward to celebrating them in the French sunshine.