Added on Wednesday 30 Mar 2005
The welcome return of Fiona to Salignac from Scotland last week coincided with a dramatic change in the weather, turning from - 10c to a glorious 20+, all within a couple of days. Unfortunately the strong sunshine immediately started to show up all the dust and dirt in the house, making it look as though I had done nothing in the last two months! Despite my protestations and the, still, limited use of my arm I had actually been doing some housework and a considerable changing around of our sejour. However Fiona has for the last few days set about doing a thorough clean up, and the house is, I must admit looking much cleaner and tidier than before. But then, I am a mere male!
In between all this cleaning I have been catching up on all the news and gossip from her about our friends and acquaintances in Scotland as well as her very successful teaching work there. All this was very good to hear. The only sad news was that I learnt that someone who I classed as a friend has let me down very badly which distresses me greatly. On the upside though, it was great to have all the news from Fiona about what people are doing these days, especially out and about in the west end, the changes that are going on there and I know that Fiona loved it. I think that on her visit to Pat she promised to add her point of view at the bottom of this piece so I had better not steal her thunder and let her talk about it. And it is wonderful to have her back!
With the new owner of the caf? there have obviously been some changes, although nothing major, but the most noticeable was the addition in the bar of what looked like a rather garish bubble gum machine. Although I was somewhat surprised, I really thought no more about until several days later when I saw a girl put her two Euros in and out came a plastic bubble. On opening it the girl proudly displayed to all and sundry, a G-string! Now I have seen many vending machines dispensing all sorts of products but never this. I am still somewhat mystified by this and why it should be in a bar. I am just thankful that I am not a bubble gum addict!
Recently, France celebrated the end of the Algerian war with ceremonies throughout the country. Salignac was no exception and the villagers were invited to attend the ceremony at the war memorial at 6pm. This was to be a double celebration as a new tree has been planted to replace the 250 year old elm tree that died last year and this was to be dedicated to those that fell during the war. By 6 o'clock there still were discussions about discussions taking place (this is France after all) but some 3 quarters of an hour later proceedings began. By this time a large crowd of villagers had turned up to watch, many of them had, of course lost relatives during the conflict. With the veterans lined up, bearing banners and wearing their medals and the mayor in place, it started with the playing of "The Marseillaise". After one or two speeches by a retired general and the mayor there came the ceremony of presenting The Legion d'honneur medals to three of the veterans.
A playing of the last post followed by a minute's silence and the laying of the wreath at the memorial more or less completed the proceedings. All a very touching and simple ceremony as can only happen in rural France. After a brief dedication of the new tree, they all went over to the Mairie where a large table was laid out with all sorts of drinks and food. Naturally, many of the local populace where in attendance there all enjoying atmosphere of a serious ceremony but conducted all in a very French way. They after all do it in such a beautiful way.
Rural France? I love it!
As promised Pat, I wanted to say a few words about my time in Glasgow. We met up for a lovely lunch in one of my favourite haunts, Bonham?s. So here goes: -
Well, as you all probably know, I have been back in Scotland for the first time in nearly 2 years. In spite of increasing litter on the streets the welcome "hame" is always a good tonic. The other tonic i.e. the wine is vastly overpriced, but that is another story!! Walking down Byres Road can take quite a time when meeting friends I haven't seen for a long time, and everyone has a story to tell. The weather was wonderful too, perfect blue skies, all such a contrast with the deep snow in our village in France?a strange reversal? Especially when people in Scotland imagine that we have perfect weather ALL the time?
I was teaching Contemporary Dance whilst there for Dance House in Glasgow, Dance Base in Edinburgh and Scottish School of Contemporary Dance in Dundee. I must say thanks to all those in these establishments who made my time there very happy as a teacher.
Coming back to Salignac I found a great welcome! Barry busy cooking a wonderful meal of "Boeuf Bourguignonne" the 4 much BIGGER cats on parade, nearly with bows on their necks, and a complete change in our sejour i.e. the kitchen / living area. Goodness knows how Barry managed to move furniture and heavy film equipment with his bad arm? I can only suspect that a few good French wines would help greatly!!!
Yes, Rural France? It is something else!
? Barry Paton & Fiona Alderman. 2005