Friday, 12 May 2017

We have been very thankful for a comparatively mild winter this year, although it has been a bit wetter than normal. Still we seem to go through our central heating oil pretty rapidly – buying a new tankful and paying for it all at once really squeezes the wallet!

We bought some tickets to watch Brive Rugby play – discounts for three games. We chickened out for one game as it was a freezing cold night, but did get to watch them play against Grenoble and Newport.

For Judy's birthday we had a very nice meal at the village auberge – special birthday cake provided!

I suppose being fairly rural we should expect a few power cuts, and with some high winds we had a few this month – a pain as of course the central heating stops as well.

Went to Brive to watch Lala Land, a very enjoyable film. Afterwards went for an Indian meal in what I believe is Brive's only Indian restaurant. Not a great success – our American friend Rhonda is not a fan of Indian food and this didn't convert her!

Since my last effort I have been taking lots more photos to produce my short then and now videos, plus I have updated some of the older ones. If you want to see any go to YouTube and search for cliftondj. 

Our new windows were fitted in February (well almost all of them). Tim and Barry started fitting them when we had a power cut which lasted overnight. Luckily it came back the next morning, as we had planned to take a short break and leave them to it!

We headed off south and found a very nice hotel to stay in near the town of Mirepoix in the Ariege – we had been there several times before and its a lovely area. The hotel has wonderful views of the Pyrenees from our bedroom, and we had three very nice nights there.


As well as Mirepoix we visited a number of other places, including the impressive town of Foix, and the breathtaking fortress of Montsegur. Well it would have been breathtaking if we hadn't stayed at the bottom...

Another interesting day out was to Carcassonne. Again a magnificent mediaeval city, perhaps a little over restored, and very much a tourist magnet. Still a must see though.

On our last night we met up with our friends the Nobles at their holiday cottage in the delightful village of Esperaza. Nigel was in the RAF with me many years ago! With them we visited the village of Rennes le Chateau, famous in modern legend for tales of buried Templar treasure – very Dan Brown!

The Nobles


Back home to find all the windows bar one fitted – the house now seems very quiet. This is quite lucky, as soon after we got back they started digging up the road outside our house – work which is still ongoing as I write this in May. First they laid a new water main, filled it all in, then came back and dug it up for a new sewer. The road itself is often shut without notice, which can be a real pain. Our Mayor assures us it will all be worth it!

Shrove Tuesday – Judy made some delicious pancakes, and I almost managed to persuade a couple of friends in UK that as dedicated ex-pats we ate them with Marmite!
We have tried to get out for our picnics as much as we can. One good day ended up at the Gallo Roman site at Cars again – the 2,000 year old picnic table! Occasionally we chickened out, as we did a couple of weeks ago when we chose a very rainy day to venture out, and ended up eating in a restaurant – we did have the picnic for supper at home.

Bent over one day to put my socks on and my back “went”. Very painful for a few days, but gradually cleared up by itself, and hasn't reappeared thank goodness.

Our Auberge has carried on with its special evenings – a Couscous Night was very enjoyable!

For our 44th anniversary dinner we went to La Treille Muscate, a restaurant and hotel in a very old building in the lovely town of Uzerche.

Our village historical society had an evening meeting, at which I learned I was a guest speaker. In fact we just showed my short video of Voutezac then and now. It would have been rather more impressive if there had been sound with it. The main talk was about the bridge in Le Saillant, just down the hill from us. There were several references to the various times Les Anglais and Le Prince Noir had “visited” the area, and a few pointed (I hope humorous) glances in my direction. Interestingly the current chatelaine of the Chateau du Saillant, Madame Lasteyrie, was there. She is the sister of ex President Giscard D'Estaing. The Lasteyrie family have owned the chateau for over 600 years. Revolution? What revolution?

The couple who run our lovely Auberge, Fabio and Marie, got married a few weeks ago and very kindly invited Judy and me and Rhonda and David Lush to the wedding(s). It's in the plural as here the only legal wedding is that held in the Mairie before the mayor. The church service after is presumably more a blessing. We were all asked to wear clothes from between 1890 and 1950, and the groom wore a kilt! No I have no idea why! During the ceremony at the Mairie the couples dog, a very laid back golden retriever, wandered in and lay down under the mayor's table – she never blinked! From there to the church to be met by two highland pipers! After that the vin d'honneur back at the Mairie – a great day.

One very busy day to describe last week before I sign off. Had to wait in for an oil delivery – when he came he couldn't use his normal spot because of the roadworks, so he just parked in the centre of the road and carried on. Then to check chez Makepeace at Malavaud and read the meter. Almost sure I switched everything off....

From there to lunch at le Tilleul de Sully in Montgibaud a lovely restaurant in a tiny hamlet. Wonderful food. From there a walk around Uzerche – very photogenic. Then to see Janie at Chateau Bellefond for high tea – her welcome to all her friends on her return from the USA. Just couldn't do it justice......