Fiona Alderman: New roofs and new beginnings
From new roofs to constant health concerns but we are on the up and enjoying the promise of Spring. Yes, everywhere there is the annual wake up after a very cold winter. We thought back to February 19 years when we first came to look at the house here. Will we? Won’t we? The weather was a factor then. We sat in a local cafe and even got a bit of sun burn. We saw our possible house in great sunlight and the roof was fine even after the big storms.
I can’t believe we have been here for so long. The longest place I’ve lived anywhere since I was a child growing up in Glasgow?
I look at the beautiful stone buildings here bathed in early sunshine and marvel at it.We bought our house and are still happy with our decision.
The house next to the Convent just up the road from us has had a huge renovation which thas taken 2 years now, but this is quick in French terms.They have completely restored the top window on the roof which is I think, a pigeon refuge
They have restored the roof to its original state with the famous lauze stone and it looks great. Not sure what happens next as it is still a ruin inside but it is a very important part of history and needs to be protected. It is 11th century and maybe will become a museum.We went to a meeting with the local mayor and architect recently but it’s still uncertain what will happen.Time and money as usual.
Of Armenian descent, this astonishing composer, arranger and pianist, died recently and 86 after a long and interesting career. Born in Paris in 1932 he was already playing the piano by 5 years old. His parents knew he was special and recognised his passion.
He went to the Paris Conservatoire at 11 years old where he graduated with huge honours and by the 1950’s he was arranging the music for Jacques Brel and Maurice Chevalier.
The next period of his life would be in the USA where he met the jazz greats, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson and Miles Davies, who would become a firm friend. Wild parties and amazing musical partnerships would be forged. His skill as a pianist is well recorded from this time and he is very exciting to watch on YouTube.
The 60’s, he himself would say were of the Nouvelle Vague, the NewWave. Avant garde French cinema and working with Jean Luc Godard. His orchestrations for the film Umbrellas of Cherbourg with the young Catherine Deneuve would win him an Oscar.
The list of who he worked with becomes endless from Orson Welles to contemporary musicians like Sting. He orchestrated the films The Go Between, Summer of 42 and Yentyl with Barbra Streisand.
Most memorable for me perhaps is the haunting soundtrack of the film Thomas Crown Affair and the famous chess scene with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway and the song The Windmills of your Mind.
With over 200 film and tv scores, 3 Oscars and 5 Grammy awards he remained a modest but brilliant man. Right up to the end he was working returning to his roots in classical music.
He married three times, finally to Macha Meril, a French actress that he had first known for 40 years. He died in her arms. Tributes are still pouring in nearly a month after his death.
The Water of Life
L’eau de vie is the French term for the highly alcoholic drink served as a digestif, after a meal.
It is made from fleshy fruits that are fermented and then doubly distilled to create a strong sweet liquid bottled in clear glass. Others are aged in wooden casks and conserved for up to 20 years. This includes Calvados from the NW of France – a strong apple based drink that is required by law to stay 2 years in wood.
There are over 100 specialist distillers in France with Alsace and Ribeauville being the most well known.
Here in the SW France we have the powerful Poire William a whole pear in a beautiful bottle, there are others too, Framboise, Mirabelle and Peche.
Homemade eau de vie is very popular too and has been created centuries with farmers using the last days of the harvest to cook their fruit and store it before leaving it to distill. I think that there are now restrictions on this bootleg liquor – similar to the Prohibition!
Other countries have their own eau de vie, like German Schnapps, Balkan Rakia and Sri Lankan coconut Arak.
Lovely but only in moderation!
That’s it for now from sunny Salignac. Until the next time.
Fifi’s stories from rural France.
February 2019. Salignac Foundation for short courses in dance and film.
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