Thursday, 19 July 2012

Once again rather a long time between entries – a fair bit has happened so I had better get on with it….
We tried to set up a bank account for our Library in mid-April at the local post office. Should have been fairly simple? I got the letter opening the account a couple of weeks ago, after several exchanges of correspondence and urgent requests for documents for which we had never been asked. And we still don’t have a cheque book. The Library itself is moving along nicely – we have around 50 or so members and I hope to start planning more activities after the summer. Update mid-July – nobody knows where the cheque book is.
Quick medical update – eventually got over the shingles – not recommended at all. Apart from that we are both staggering along nicely.
We went to an “English Day” in a small village in the Creuse, the department just to the north of us – a mere two hour drive. It was actually set up by the local English speakers to show their French neighbours some of the highlights of British culture. There was a stall from our friend’s English library in the Creuse, some cricket videos, a local micro-brewery, British cakes etc. I felt that it began to lose the French with the welly throwing and the morris dancing.  The arrival of the fish and chip van helped save the day, but sadly we had to leave just as the folk singing really got going.
We had another Vide Grenier in the village - a car boot sale that takes over most of the centre of the village. Probably useful for childrens' clothes and toys , but we still haven't spotted anything very exciting.

I have completed my first case as a SSAFA caseworker! I am very pleased that I was able to arrange a sum of money from the RAF Benevolent fund to expedite urgent repairs to the roof of my “client” – I hope that we can help a few more people.
Rachel came to visit us for a few days.  Very enjoyable, although all the photos I took of her seem to have been in bars or restaurants – very unfair of me. We had a very good day in Sarlat where we met a friend Diane for lunch. It was a public holiday (there are a lot in May) and there was a country fair in the centre of the old town. Far too soon Rachel had to return to UK and work.

Very soon after this we flew to UK for a memorial service for our niece Theresa, who died in Canada. Judy and I stayed one night at the Mistley Thorne hotel on the Essex coast, and then had lunch at a wonderful pub in a small village called Pinn Mill.  

After a very moving and tearful service in Stevenage we took Rachel home to London. We followed the car’s Sat Nav so had the interesting experience of driving down Oxford Street – albeit at 9pm. The next day we visited my brother Martin and his family in Kingston and then spent a very enjoyable night in Essex with Nick and his family.
When we got home the ansaphone was flashing, and I learned that one of our oldest friends, Juliette Lockie, had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sadly the prognosis of just a few days proved accurate, and I returned to UK on my own a couple of weeks later. The funeral was held in Marlborough, where we lived 100 yards from the Lockies for about 10 years. I saw lots of old friends from the RAF and from Marlborough – just as we had in Stevenage we all wished we were meeting under more pleasant circumstances.
I stayed with an old friend Romney Pargeter who runs a very posh B & B in a National Trust property in the village of Buscot in Oxfordshire.  How she manages with guests, teenaged daughter, toddler and visitors like me (not to mention the dogs and horses) I will never know.

To keep myself occupied I have a little business which does photography and floorplans for estate agents and others. One of my main selling pints was to take photos from a height of some 50 ft using a mast I carried on top of our Discovery. Well, the first job this year I had a major failure – damaging the camera and the rotating head it is carried on. I have to say that I have never been very comfortable using the elevated gear – watching a camera wave about on top of a pole 50ft up was always a little worrying. Rather than repair the gear I have decided to retire it and concentrate on floorplans and ordinary photography. This also means that we can get a more modern car as we don’t have to tote the mast around. Unfortunately our choice is still somewhat limited as we have to fit an Irish Wolfhound into it.
Of course the day after I made this decision there was a ring at the door, to reveal a French lady who wanted some elevated shots…..Anyway see in a week or so for my relaunch!
To advertise the Library we have attended a couple of very ex-pattish evenings in the lovely local village of Segur le Chateau – a fish and chips evening and a pie night. OK, not very Gallic, but sitting outside a bar in a mediaeval village with a beer or glass of wine makes the fried cod or steak and kidney seem charmingly cross-cultural. We also found a café bar not too far away run by a couple from Liverpool – hope to go there a bit more often.

Two of our oldest friends, Dave & Juliette Makepeace came over for a few days’ house hunting – having fallen in love with the area on a previous visit.  They found a delightful little place about 40 minutes from us – all the legal stuff is going through so they should soon have a really nice holiday bolt-hole.

Sadly one of our walnut trees dies last year, and as it was rather close to the house, we had a tree surgeon come and take it down. Pretty skilled work – and in a couple of hours you would never have known it had been there – apart from the huge pile of wood and branches I still have to clear up.

The Library had a stall at a Mediaeval Fair in the nearby town of Uzerche last week – I was selling duplicate books to raise funds and generally publicizing the Library. Luckily we were inside a building, because it was a rotten day weather-wise – with little sunshine and lots of showers – some really heavy. The fair itself was pretty good, lots of people in mediaeval garb – knights, priests, executioners, archers, jugglers etc, plus, for some reason, three full sized camels. I was interested to see while someone was giving rides on two Shetland ponies and insisting helmets be worn, rides on the camel just involved clinging onto a hump for dear life. We had been told to arrive by 7am and we left about 7pm – a long day but  a lot of fun.

When we bought our house we had a “plan cadastral” showing all the land we owned. We knew that there were a couple of plots away from the house – particularly a small isolated plot in the middle of the woods across the valley. What I hadn’t spotted was that we also owned a patch of land about 10m x 5m adjoining the stream bank by the watermill about 150m from the house. So when I got a letter from the Prefecture to say that the bank had collapsed and it was our responsibility to clear it all – bit of a shock. Anyway a friend of a friend is coming with his JCB next week. We wouldn’t want life to be too quiet….

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