From Glasgow to Salignac: 20 years on. Fiona Alderman.
This time 20 years ago, I was amidst boxes and paper packing up for the big move to France.
How quickly the time has whizzed by? I can’t believe it but it’s true.
I remember that my beloved had gone on ahead to start preparations at our new house in France. Setting up the phone, electricity and water to start with, and deciding where the furniture might go. I have to say he did a great job! I came out in February in a big white van plus our beautiful Scottish cat called Gemma with her newly furnished Pet Passport.
We quickly got installed in Salignac and starting on our path integrating fully into French life. The language was, of course, a challenge and I had been to the Alliance Francaise for classes in Glasgow beforehand. Barry had already lived in France but was a bit slower to learn. Only by being in the country and having to deal with people and everyday situations can one improve. That, plus the real willingness to learn is a must.
We slowly built up our work and contacts with people and launched into the world of the Internet.
At that point,the old “dial up” system was on the go but it has really changed now with fibre optic, soon to be had in every home here in rural France. Still lots of blips, storms and powercuts – when we dine by candlelight!
Throughout the following years we set up dance and film courses and even used our house to welcome students to stay during our summer courses.
In the last 10 years or so things have changed, both with tourism in the area and fewer students. We have survived by doing many other activities, notably English lessons and house management for Dutch owners.
Now fully integrated into French village life, we know everyone and we participate in
all the daily news and events.. The latest being a local girl, working in the bar, has just won the Loto, 25,000 Euros on a single 2 euro ticket! She hasn’t given up work, yet. There is trouble brewing too with the mayor and the new doctor who arrived in December, lots of heated French discussions , as to whether the doctor will stay or not. Lastly, the Post Office may close, which would be a big blow. Already it has very irregular opening times, but now there is a petition to save it completely. Rural life again, whether that might be Scotland or France.
Apart from that we will continue to enjoy our life here , no regrets at all, to savour all that is good and positive with new friends, a new language and a rich culture. Sometimes baffling however!
Cirque Du Soleil
Maybe you will already know about and enjoyed this marvellous theatrical event? It originally started in Quebec in 1984 with street performers and it quickly found its audiences who were enthralled by a real contemporary circus performance but with no animals. By the 1990’s, and directed by the immensely gifted director Franco Dragone, who also created the Giant Puppets, they have become an International company with sell out shows throughout the world including: the UK, France, Las Vegas, China and Japan.
They employ 4000 people from over 50 countries and their tours take 8 days to set up in each of the venues. Huge striped tents are constructed using 100’s of local people in each place. Kitchens are housed too to deal with all the varied diets and cultures.
The artistry is phenomenal, high-flying trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, dancers, puppeteers, and with live music throughout a two hour performance. The acts range from an acrobat suspended by her hair, turning and twirling with grace, to a contortionist who is a beautiful young girl twirling hoops around her body. There is also a breathtakingly difficult act with” Russian” swings. The timing is immaculate as one performer jumps from one swing to the other and tumbling without a safety net or harness. The work always has a theme and in LA, one of their spectacles has all the performers dressed as insects or birds. Stilts are used to elongate and often distort the image of the body. Handsewn costumes and intricate makeup complete the story.
Auditions to become a member are rigorous and it can take many years for someone to be accepted.
Talent scouts go around the world and monitor the progress of these athletic future members and its Casting department is reputed to be the strictest in its field.
The Las Vegas show is a permanent one with a daily audience of 9000 people. Numerous prizes have been awarded to Cirque as it is called, from the Emmy award, Juno award and a star on Hollywood Boulevard.Permanent shows were also installed at Disney World in Florida and an Ice Show was also inaugurated demonstrating different skills and techniques.
To finish, when you watch Cirque du Soleil, either on YouTube – or better still live, you will really enjoy and immerse yourself in a very unique experience. The combination of great set design and incredible performers that love what they do, then add a twist of humour, et voila!
That’s all for now and until next time with probably an exit Brexit theme for us x Pats.
Fifi’Stories from rural France. January 2020.
Dance and Film courses from SW France. www.salignacfoundation.com
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