Wednesday, 5 June 2013

April 14th was our 40th wedding anniversary, and we were able to celebrate it in Paris with friends and family!
Our friends from RAF days Nichola and Paul Cannock live in a fantastic flat in the centre of Paris and were not only kind enough to put us up, but also helped Rachel organise everything. We met up with Judy’s sisters Carol and Gill and their other halves Terry and Phil, Ian and Di Harrop, Dave Lockie and Richard and Clare Allnutt (and the Cannocks and Rachel of course) for a superb lunch on the Sunday. Judy and I also did a bit of romantic sightseeing of course.

As Paul was kind enough to let us use his underground car parking space, we were able to take the car to Paris. Thus we could pick up Carol and Terry and bring them back to Voutezac with us. They seemed to enjoy their stay with us, although the weather wasn’t as good as it might have been.

One of our ways of contacting friends is on the dreaded Facebook. When I had a quiet evening I put in a few names and got back in touch with several old friends – we may even get some more visitors!
We have a lovely new Mairie in the village -according to the sign it cost 760,000€, and all the work was done by local firms. It houses all the offices, a library, the relocated post office and meeting rooms. The village already has an almost new Salle Polyvalente or village hall. Our boulangerie has shut, and our mayor has said that having no fresh baguettes is unacceptable, so the Commune will buy the shop and house, do it all up and get new tenants. Oh, and there are 1,550 people in the whole Commune!

We had a good day out visiting the Cascades de Murel – when we eventually found them. Lovely waterfalls and pools in a very quiet location.

One of our friends here, Ross Hill is a volunteer on a heritage railway in the lovely village of Martel, about an hour south of us. We had an excellent day there, and it is very impressive. We were lucky enough to be on the trip pulled by their steam engine, which takes an old track which takes a course high above the Dordogne valley, so there are some wonderful views. There were a couple of coach parties from UK who were including the railway in their trip to France – and it certainly went down well. Highly recommended.
May was an interesting month – with four public holidays. May 1st for Labour Day, May 8th VE Day, May 9th Ascension Day and May 20th Whit Monday. Interesting how religious holidays are still observed despite France being an officially secular country.  And of course if any holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday then many people “Fair le Pont” – make the bridge and take the Monday or Friday off as well. Conversely if a public holiday falls on a Sunday, bad luck, no alternatives!
My oldest friend Dave Makepeace (and the saintly Juliette) visited while they finished work on the holiday home they have bought about 40 minutes from us – and very nice it is too! They moved in and have also been back for a break (teachers – more holidays than you can shake a stick at!). Really nice to have them so near.
Finally bought a Kindle Fire HD – very natty bit of kit. Actually ordered it at 4pm, and it arrived at 10am the next morning! Only problems are that the battery life is poor, and because I can’t get any apps from either the French or UK Amazon sites as apparently I live in the wrong place for both of them. Very useful to be able to make Skype calls from anywhere I can get a wi-fi signal though.
We have a favourite character called Bruno Courrèges in books written by an author called Martin Walker. Bruno is a municipal policeman (i.e. employed directly by the Mairie and not a Gendarme or Police Nationale), and the stories are set in a fictional village, but in an area in the Dordogne we know quite well. We knew the village was based on one called Le Bugue, so one quiet Sunday we jumped in the car and drove there to compare fiction and fact. Ah well, Mr Walker does say he has invented most of his places and characters, and it was a nice day out!
Bertie is flourishing. We thought he wasn’t missing Faust, but when we left him in my study when we went out he tried very hard to scratch a hole in the door – which he had never done in all his 12 years. We do take him out a fair bit – he is really a nice little dog to have around. His favourite toy is a retrieve dummy, which he happily fetches back to me when I throw it. He then trots off to his bed with it, where I expect he would happily demolish it if I didn’t take it off him.

One Sunday when we visited Objat market we found that it was also the Fete des Petit Pois. This actually involved stalls selling lots of peas, but also folk singing and dancing, horses and carriages, and a farmer with a pair of very gentle yoked oxen.
Last week had some friends from UK visiting – Jim and Ange Wiggle. A very enjoyable few days, although the weather could have been a lot better – naturally it improved as soon as they left. WE did have some good days, including a nice visit to Sarlat. They took us out for a very nice meal on their last evening with us – for which many thanks.
As a caseworker for the charity SSAFA I went to London to do a couple of courses, one on the on line form used to progress cases and one on loss and bereavement. I went over a couple of days early so that I could travel with CityJet and not the dreaded Ryan Air. I stayed at the Union Jack Club, which is a very nice club / hotel right next to Waterloo station. I managed to meet up with Rachel and Nick, and we had an excellent meal at a very posh restaurant called Rules. I also met an old friend Verena, and we met Nick at his place of work the “Gherkin”. He took us up to the top for a coffee and some fantastic views. A good trip, but glad to get home, of course.

Last night we rushed out at 11pm to watch the International Space Station pass over. I have found a website which lets you find when it is passing near you and is visible. We always find it exciting to think that there are actually people whizzing past up there!


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