Sunday, 18 August 2019

So what has been happening in the last 4 ½ months?

In April we flew to England to see family and friends. Went with Easy Jet from Bordeaux to Southend, as obviously very convenient for Nick in Leigh on Sea. OK flight, and great to see everyone at the Essex branch. From there to Kingston for the South London Cliftons (and Bourne). Next day to Marlborough to stay with Dave Lockie, then Dorset with Posy Clayton, Fossebridge with Rennie and Peter Thompson and finally North Leigh with Jim and Angela Wiggle. We had a great time, and are very thankful to have such nice friends and relations!

I'm still doing my before and after photography of local villages – see

At a cattle show in Objat I took a picture of a little girl sitting by the animals – it won a prize and was published in the French Property News magazine!

Just a couple of kilometres from us is the hamlet of Ceyrat. There is a large quarry there, and looking at the map I found some ruins marked in the hills behind the quarry. The dogs and I went to investigate and found “Les Ruines de Patel” - the remains of a chapel built around 800, and demolished in 1745.

I had rather let our garden go – I say garden but when I got a chap in to cut it all down I advised him to bring a machete! It wasn't quite that bad – he did a good job and we can actually see the garden now – pity it's still on a 30 degree slope....

Still going out for our picnics. One of the best places we have found is above the Viaduc des Rochers – where an old train line crossed a valley. The picnic tables are on platforms overlooking the depths. Nearby is the Garden of Sothys – they are a big cosmetics company and here they have herb and flower gardens and a very nice looking restaurant – almost sorry we had had our picnic!

We got to see Rachel for the first time in almost two years. She was with friends in San Sebastien just over the border in Spain. We drove down, stayed in a nice hotel in a lovely Basque village on the French side then picked her up. Great to see her – if only for a few days. She took us to our favourite chocolate shop and made drink their diet busting hot chocolate...

After finding the ancient chapel ruins near Ceyrat I had another look at the map, and Finn and I found a menhir near the village of Espartignac.

At the start of July I had to travel to England again – for the funeral of my cousin Linda. Thanks again to Dave Lockie for putting me up for a couple of nights. I was glad that I could be there for Keith, Lin's husband – just sorry we hadn't seen each other for so long.

I still play bowls every Wednesday, I'd like to say it keeps me fit but that would be a bit of a fib. Anyway the couple who mainly ran the club have sold there house and moved to Britanny – so I was elected as the new club secretary – such an honour. Actually I haven't had much to do yet – hope it stays that way!

I won't talk about the weather – we've had just about everything! Love the sun – but 40 Celsius is just a tad too warm.

Another picnic day out took us to the hamlet of Sarran. We found a nice picnic place on the top of a hill where three crosses have been erected – a Calvary. In Sarran
itself is the museum containing all (?) the gifts given to former President Chirac. It's a big place – didn't visit it this time I'm afraid.

A few days ago was our annual visit to the opera at the Chateau du Saillant with Rhonda and David Lush. This year it was Madam Butterfly, and it was excellent. A very enjoyable evening.

Friday, 29 March 2019

I found a couple more places frequented by Brits where I could rattle my British Legion Poppy collection tins, and this year we managed a very healthy 315 Euros.

We have carried on trying new places to eat, and we found a lovely little restaurant in a village about 30 minutes away over the border in the Dordogne. It's called the Auberge de Tilleuls, and I think we'll be going there a few times this summer.

This does not mean we have neglected our culinary visits closer to home – heaven forbid!

On Christmas Day we had a superb lunch at the Auberge in our village. Absolutely delicious. We had friends over on Boxing Day for lunch too.

Christmas mostly involved the swapping of Amazon vouchers with family. Why is it that when you have a goodly sum of vouchers you can't think of anything to spend them on, as soon as they are all gone you remember something you have always wanted.......

Just after Christmas we were invited to a neighbor's house where we were invited to share the Galette des Roi with them and some other neighbours. It celebrates Epiphany, and deep in the cake is a small model of a king and whoever finds has to wear a cardboard crown.

I was asked to do some English conversation classes in the village. These are not as easy as I thought, and I ran out of inspiration after a couple of months. Pity as they were good fun.

Lots of days out as the weather improved. The plan is usually to buy some sandwiches and drinks for a picnic, and then hope that a tempting restaurant lures us in....sometimes works.

We have had days out in the Dordognes, and in the last few week the Lot, which is the department south of us. On one trip to the town of Figeac we did succumb to the attractions of a very nice restaurant...

On other trips we have had lakeside picnics and the dogs have had a great time. We have seen chateaux, churches and lovely villages. It's a great area with so much to see. Finn even made a new friend.

 Limeuil in the Dordogne

Judith Margaret in the Dordogne

Assier in the Lot

Fortified Church in Rudelle, Lot

Chateau near Gourdon

Picnic Time

Chateau near Concores, Lot

Finn's new chum...

We have had the Gilets Jaunes in our area as well. They have been congregating near to motorway junctions, and we were initially held up a few times. They are still around (end of March), but don't seem to be stopping traffic any more. However the speed cameras they torched are still a testament to the strong feelings they have.

We applied for our Cartes de Sejour last August and we were told that we would get a text message when they were ready. As the end date of our receipts approached we asked a friend to contact the Prefecture in January and chase them up. They assured him it was all in hand and we would hear soon. A friend who had applied at the same time as us asked someone from his Mairie who had contacts at the Prefecture to try – and after some pushing we found all three cards had been issued in October and were waiting for us. A couple of weeks after we collected them I had a text message to say my card was ready – with a totally different reference number....

We seem to have had a pretty good winter – we had a little bit of snow which cleared quickly and for the last few weeks we have had a number of lovely sunny days. This encouraged me to do some more of my “Then and Now” photography – results on my YouTube Channel – just search for CliftonDJ.

At the end of January we went to a Burns Night, held in our village Auberge. A friend organised it and the great Fabio, proprietor of the Cadran Solaire, learnt how to me a haggis – and very nice it was. There was a god mix of expats, older French and a a number of young French people, and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Modern technology is wonderful. I discovered I had mislaid my mobile, then remembered I had installed a a “Find my Mobile” app on my Ipad. Two minutes later I had the exact location and could pick it up the next day.

A couple of RAF Association events so far this year. Once again we attended the memorial service in the village of Grun Bordas for the RAF crew who crashed after dropping supplies to the Resistance. As it was the 75th anniversary it was very well attended, including Australian relatives of one of the crew.

A couple of weeks later I went to the RAFA SW France AGM in Bordeaux. Great meeting people and much swapping of stories. The actual AGMs can always be a little dull – and when everything is read out in English and French it can definitely drag. Great meal afterwards though!

Now that Spring is definitely here, and the central heating is about to be switched off, I'll stop and get on with gathering some more stuff for my next missive.