Friday, 6 January 2012

Apart from a short frenzied spell at Christmas – no we didn’t totally avoid it this year – it’s been a pretty quiet few weeks. The weather has been reasonable – a couple of frosts, but no snow – yet. Quite a few grey rainy days, but mustn’t grumble. Judy has taken some lovely photos of different days in our valley.

In November our Writers’ club met in La Souterraine, a town in the adjoining Departement of the Creuse, and a mere two hours’ drive away. One of our members runs an English Library in the town, and we met there. It is very impressive, with over 6,000 books, DVDs, CDs etc, and the premises are provided free of charge by the local council. Before anyone thinks it is simply an ex-pat amenity, its real purpose is to provide a central point for English speakers to obtain information and help, to host French (and English) classes and to act as a meeting place.
On our (long) drive home, Sue (who founded and runs the Writers’ Club) and I thought how useful such a facility would be to us in the Correze. When will I ever learn not to volunteer………? So as President elect of the Correze English Library (or whatever we call it), I can say that we already have 1500 books, duplicates from La Souterraine, and we have decided to start off in a simpler way, utilising the empty library in the small chateau owned by another member. Being France we have to register as an Association, so that is my next task. Watch this space.
We had a new water meter fitted a few weeks ago – done very promptly and efficiently. Happily the new meter is just outside the house – the old one was in the bedroom with the bunk beds and was tight squeeze to read. One of the men from the water company who was explaining what was going to happen apologised for not speaking English as “It is the international language.”!! Funnily enough a builder who did a small job for us turns out to come from Swindon, and worked repairing mains for Thames Water when I was with them – so remembers my team calling him out.
Talking about Franco-British relations – I have been asked a few times whether David Cameron’s “Non” has led to any friction. Well as far as we can see the locals hate Paris and everything that comes from there anyway – so as long as the farmers are subsidized I don’t think they care. And they still don’t like Germans round this way. Francoise Hollande, the socialist presidential candidate is the Deputy for Correze – so we might have national leaders in our old and new homes. Hollande is apparently not as rabid an EU supporter as Sarkozy as well. Chirac was from the Correze too!
We posted early for Christmas, and got all our cards off. We have a small artificial tree which we put up a couple of days before the big event. We sent everyone gift cards. Really into the spirit I am. To put me right our daughter Rachel arrived on the 23rd, and decorated the tree for us. As she took us to a match at Twickenham last year, we took her to watch Brive lose to Clerment-Ferrand the evening she arrived.  Not the greatest game ever, but the fans were all very vocal, and the steak et frites after tasted extra good.  Rae had to leave on the 28th – but she seemed to enjoy herself. And we did leave a stocking at the bottom of her bed. We had some lovely presents and Judy cooked some super meals, so I suppose it wasn’t too bad.

We had a bit a shock a few weeks ago when we thought that the boulangerie just up the road from us was going to shut. In fact it did, but reopened the following week with new owners. They run several shops in the area, so I don’t think the bread is baked on the premises any more. Anyway it is good to know that we can still get basics just a few metres away.
After doing my SSAFA course I have my first case. Obviously can’t say anything about it, but hopefully we can help.
New Year was celebrated very quietly – just the two of us. At one point we had thought of going to an organised party in a friend’s village, but they decided that €70 a head was a bit pricey, and we agreed. The French seem to take the New Year – or the festival of St Sylvestre almost as seriously as the Scots!
Took the dogs for a walk by the Vezere this afternoon - its a wonderful river which eventually joins the Dordogne.

Further downstream from us the "Valley of the Vezere" is where a large number of traces of early man have been found. Anyway the boys had to have a rest afterwards!

End of the year – seems a good place to stop.

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