Fiona Alderman: Christmas is Coming

christmas salignac
It  is with trepidation that I begin to write this month’s blog from Salignac. The first Christmas without Barry in 37 years. Mixed emotions.
However, I have been trying to get out and do things, one of which was helping with the decorations for the village. I answered an ad in the local paper asking for volunteers and went along one sunny afternoon a few weeks ago to begin painting stars and elves. Cut out of hardboard, several men were hard at work already, cutting out the shapes. Reindeer, Christmas trees, Gingerbread men and big round snowballs. It was surprisingly warm and we were outside, at someone’s house/farm with huge grounds, part of the beautiful landscape.
I painted so many stars and snowballs, that I was covered in white paint when we finished. Another afternoon though was quite different? The weather had really changed, cold and damp and we were painting the green elves in one of the barns.
Anyway, they are now up on display in the village and I am quite proud of my small achievement!
Salignac had a Christmas Market in the village, just for one day, but with a lot of preparation beforehand. Council workers up tall ladders hanging pretty twinkling lights in the trees and music installed to play on the day. Just up the road is La Halle, where most of the entertainment was held, and open from 10 a.m. to 10pm. It was very cold and I thought the stall holders were very brave to last all these hours. There were pretty homemade Christmas decorations and baking, a visit from Santa – this year with a donkey to help him with the parcels. Others donkeys went around the village for the children to ride on. We ate hot sausages and burgers to keep us warm. Mulled wine was on offer and I got a free glass for helping with the decorations!

salignac christmas

Strange Encounters

One day, the door bell rang, and two people were standing, or rather jumping from foot to foot with the cold. I recognized him, as he and another man had been before. Jehovah’s witnesses. Very charming, but not my sort of religion. This time he was with his wife, who was bearing the most beautiful basket of flowers. I ushered them in for hot coffee. They knew I had suffered a loss recently, and this was a gift.
Little Missy was most intrigued by these flowers and smelt them constantly. The couple live not far away and have a flower farm. Thousands of bulbs they had chosen for the Spring were coming from South Africa, to a small village in France – an unusual move? Maybe not, as we were always asked why did we come here from Scotland.
Why not, was usually our answer?
I was recently asked to lunch by some French neighbours, and it was a surprise. They are not here all the time, as they have two other houses around France, so they are kept very busy. He is a retired doctor and she works in musical theatre, staging children’s shows. We had Scottish salmon for lunch, then when sitting by the fire drinking coffee afterwards, he shouts out “Alexa, what’s the time?” In French of course. I jumped. Yes, the little computer that talks back! Artificial Intelligence it’s called, like the robot in the film 2001 Space Odyssey. Lots of questions were asked and replied to correctly. How funny. I asked if I could do it? I did it in English. What is the Capital of Scotland? Right on the button, Alexa replies. Edimbourg, in French.
I was laughing a lot by this time, but the neighbours didn’t quite understand why. The difference, once more, in the French/British humour.

A French Omelette and a fond memory

french omelette

I came across this lovely photo of Barry recently. I remember I took it, in Glasgow around 1990,when he was making us a meal. A keen cook, he was doing an omelette.
He told me he had learnt the best way, from a French lady, that he and his family had met while on holiday. Barry made these fluffy omelettes often here in France. But I didn’t pay attention as to how he did them? I can’t remember now. Happy memories though.
Stay safe and well, and see you in the New Year.
Fifi’s stories from rural France. December 2022.
Fiona Alderman's Blog: The End of the Holidays
Fiona Alderman's blog: One Evening in Salignac

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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