Fiona Alderman: November Blues

november. blues

The November Blues

It has been a busy month but things have been accomplished. I now have a sparkling new toilet which pleases me greatly after nearly three months of “waiting”. Thank goodness.  I had another which of course they knew.. I suppose though that this really isn’t bad, in French terms. A neighbour has been waiting for a new shower door to be fitted for over a year now ? Work has been started on another neighbour’s roof which is going to be a massive piece of work. The people who live there are English, and are not here all the time, so arranging when the work can be done plus arranging their visa is not exactly easy. The impact of Brexit is really “biting” with second home owners in France. The regulations and delays are both long and expensive.
Local news in the village is always interesting when I go to the ” bistrot ” and catch up. New owners have been found for the Tabac/PMU which will completely change the ambiance after all these years. It has been 23 years since we came here and obviously there are changes, some good some bad.

Coffee and Conversation

I have recently started” Coffee and Conversation” my idea for English lessons for French people and vice versa.  Noticing often that English speakers here have some difficulty with the language.
I remember when we first came, even with basic reasonable French, it was certain things that had to be learnt everyday to survive. When it comes to more complicated conversation ie medical and technical language, I think this is needed here. An example is how to cope with calling the ambulance in the middle of the night, in French ? What and who to call and usually under stress.
A young French girl who works in the bar is going off to Australia soon to work and to learn English for 6months. I was asking her about her trip and she asked me where I was from. Was I English? When I said I was from Glasgow in Scotland, she replied was that near Cardiff? People have a poor perception of us geographically in the UK. Maybe she will do a few lessons with me before she goes to Australia?

Le Barry

rue du barry

When Barry first came here, after looking at many houses, he walked up the hill by the Chateau of Salignac and encountered his name on a wall. Impressed already, he continued his journey up to Rue Fenelon and the house we would live in for 22 years. The name le Barry comes from Madame Jeanne du Barry of the 17th Century.She was born in 1743 of lowly background but became a favourite in the Royal Court of Louis XV. A great beauty, she was well known In chic Parisian circles, and had many liaisons . She did marry Guillaume du Barry but was also the mistress of Louis XV. Her status within the Court was mixed,  with some disliking her poor background . However, after the death of Louis, she went into exile living in the  beautiful Chateau de Louveciennes in the  Ile de France region of Paris.  This still exists and is surrounded by a magnificent park and marble statues.
She led a grand life there and hosted parties to influential names in France as well as Europe. By the time of the French Revolution in 1789, she was at the forefront of advocating reforms for the people, especially women. There was a burglary in the Chateau a few years later, jewellery was stolen and eventually found in England. Madame Le Barry was implicated and was taken to trial.
She was charged with Counter Revolutionary tactics and was poorly represented for her defence. She was subsequently sent to the guillotine, on the Place de la Revolution.
A sad ending but one of French history that continues today on name plaques throughout France.

French expressions to finish

frrying pans

Now that I told someone I liked to hear and learn some French expressions, there have been a few that made me chuckle.
“Tomber de charybde en Scylla or aller de mal en pis.” Difficult to say too. It means jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
“Un panier de crabes” is apparently climbing to get to the top. Imagine the crabs climbing up a basket ?
Someone who is called Chocolat is not because he loves chocolate. Oh no, he is being duped.
I also heard about” prendre pour une quiche” meaning not to be taken for a fool.
I can’t finish without a word about my namesake, Fiona the lonely sheep.She was living in a cave for nearly two years albeit with verdure and shelter near at hand. What a wonderful story and a difficult rescue up a steep cliff in the North of Scotland. She is now safe and sound in a Scottish farm. I watched her bravely being hauled up to safety and even shed a tear. There is hope, always hope I thought.
Until next time
Fifi’s stories from rural France
30 November 2023.
Fiona Alderman's Blog: Pictures and Short Stories
Fiona Alderman: Blogging from Rural France - Waiting for Godot

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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