Sunday, 28 October 2012

Weathering the weather

Ask any English ex-pat for reasons why they left England and its a pretty safe bet that the weather will feature in the list. We lived near the Peak District in England and loved to visit the Lakes, both beautiful areas, but there's no escaping the fact that the weather was too often too cold and too wet and the summers too short.

Its not just that the weather is better here in France it is the change in lifestyle that comes with it. Since moving here our lives are spent almost exclusively out of doors from April until October. We cook, eat and relax outdoors as well as spending many hours gardening and our sitting room sits empty until the cooler evenings start. Just last weekend ( October 21st) my son and his family visited and the children went in the pool while we sat in the sun, had a barbecue and then sat out til 2 in the morning.

Its not always hot and sunny of course, the good weather last week was a particular bonus as just a couple of days before we had suffered three nights and two days of non stop gales. The weather forecast warned there would be strong winds - the Autan word was mentioned - and by jove did it blow. For three days and two nights it blew " fort" non stop giving precious little chance of sleep and as the local paper said it was not weather "to put your nose outside the door".
The "excitement" culminated in 21 hours without electricity and it was really worrying thinking about all of the food in the freezer which could have been lost ( luckily it stayed well below freezing so all was well)

It rains here too just not all the time! We often have long spells without rain and watering the potager is a daily necessity if the vegetables are to grow. TC despairs every summer as the grass turns yellow.  When the rain comes at last it is usually in the form of a storm ( none of that drizzle stuff hereabouts) the water butts are replenished and the garden revives. Even that yellow grass quickly recovers.

Yesterday and today the wind has changed direction bringing cold air from the north, there has been a rummaging through wardrobes to find thicker trousers and  long sleeved shirts. We had to eat lunch as well as breakfast indoors! This evening we even plan to light the fire for the first time this year. Oh well - at least we know spring is not too far away and with a bit of luck we won't have a repeat of last years big freeze.

I love the sun and warm weather but I also love the green hills and trees and the rivers and valleys of the countryside in this part of France which we wouldn't have without some rainfall so I guess we'll weather the weather whatever the weather as they say.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

a universal language

Another milestone this week - two years since we moved into Ségala - and what a wonderful two years it has been. In some ways it seems much longer as we feel so much at home here and in other ways the time is just flying by (hence no blog since April!).

We had a really busy summer with visitors arriving constantly as the previous ones left. It's great having visitors, we love seeing people and sharing this fabulous corner of France with them but it does cause a significant problem - my French speaking and listening skills went into dormant mode! After they all left and the rentrée commenced  I felt I had taken more than several steps back when I started to try my French conversation skills again with our French friends at our dance workshops.

Although we do know some other English people in the area most of our socialising is with French speaking people who we have met through our interest in traditional music and dancing. I have TC to thank  as his musicianship ( he is an accomplished concertina, guitar, piano player) has opened doors to some superb soirees and fun occasions throughout the year with people of all ages and backgrounds sharing common interests.  TC has also enjoyed the challenge of learning a new instrument the diatonic accordion ( melodeon to us English) which he is now confident to play in public! Last week we went to lunch at the Auberge Lou Bourdie and how thrilled was he when Monique invited him personally to play at the vin nouveau soiree again!

Luckily our French friends are very patient with me as I massacre their language and hopefully over the coming months I will make some progress again - in the meantime at least we can play music and/or dance - a universal language.

April - end of year bal for los dancaires

First time out for the accordion

Bals sous les Halles was a brilliant series of outdoor traditional dances in various villages with market "halles" over the summer

Les musicians de Salles à Milhars

The musicians were pleased to be asked back Le Troubadour for the annual occitan festival in Laguepie

The boy's toy

"The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music. Bodies never lie"

Agnes De Mille