Added on Saturday 4 Jun 2005

Our friend, Alain, recently asked me to take some photographs of a local building as he has been commissioned to do a painting of it. Amongst his many talents he is an amateur artist, and a good one at that. However, the building is quite wide and I had to shoot several shots side by side and it gave me a chance to use for, the first time in anger, a piece of software that came with my new Nikon camera called ?panorama maker?. This impressive software literally stitches several photos together side by side automatically without any joins. This is all done in a matter of seconds and how it knows defeats me but it does it seamlessly and with wonderful results. Truly awesome!

Photo: building. I include the result here and I defy anyone to see any joins.

Slashed tyres and dead dogs

Who would have thought that in little Salignac we would have had a mini crime wave? Four cars outside our house recently had the tyres slashed, including mine. The culprit turned out to be the seven-year old son of a near neighbour, no doubt egged on by some older children. His mother was terribly embarrassed and offered to pay for the new tyres through her insurance. As this involved the Gendarmes it took about a week to organise but it was all done eventually. The awkward bit came a day later as Fiona was baby-sitting this little boy, which she does occasionally; needless to say the evening was not a particularly pleasant for Fiona!

Several days later posters went up all around the village to warn us all that some miscreant had been spreading poisoned croquets (little dog biscuits) around and that at least one dog had died a 'horrible' death. The Gendarmes, with their usual efficiency! are investigating this heinous crime at the moment, but I may add that they have been very noticeable by their absence!

Photo: new kittens. In the midst of all this I banged my shoulder and arm, which was recovering slowly, against a door thereby setting my progress back by several months and the following morning our little cat, Fifi, produced two more kittens at seven am in our bed. She insisted that our bed was to be her resting place with the new born for the time being so Fiona and I had to move through to the spare room! This lasted for a week with Fifi and the new tinies had the comfort of a king size bed all to themselves. After a week they were then moved into the foot of our wardrobe, then to beside our bed under a table and currently they are now residing in our sitting room in the floor below. At three weeks old they are terribly cute but I am afraid that they will have to go in a month or so, the thought of having six cats in the house is just a little too much, let alone the cost of the cat food. So, if anyone wants a little French kitten???.?

After a distinct lack of activity regarding enquiries for our courses earlier this year things are now beginning to pick up with several bookings made for July and August and requests for information are coming in daily. It would appear that people are now making up their minds much later in the year than it was a few years ago. Most of these are dance related as I am not as mobile as I would like to do the camera ones with this wretched arm, I can, however, do the editing courses as that just involves sitting at the computers. I would prefer not to be sitting inside during the beautiful summer months! As far as location filming is concerned it has been very thin on the ground this year but I suspect that this has a lot to do with the reductions in budgets (for UK companies) and the poor dollar/euro exchange rates for US filmmakers. UK companies are constantly pleading poverty and are always trying to reduce prices and costs, as witnessed by the current problems at the BBC and other broadcasters, but it doesn?t make it any easier for me. Fortunately though, Fiona has made some good contacts in the dance field recently and has been asked do some work locally as well as having some new students here so things a looking a bit brighter for her. Meanwhile, we are still battling with some parts of French bureaucracy, some of which is involving The Inland Revenue in the UK who seem to be as incompetent as the French. So there is some good news on that front.

At long last I have managed to update our web site with some new pictures and fresher content without changing the look and feel of the site. A long labour of love, I may add but the response has been good. Because of our presence on Pat's site and we come up in Google at the top we do have many enquiries from people seeking our advice about buying a house in the region. This is always a difficult one to address as so many people have different ideas about what they want, how much they wish to spend, what sort of lifestyles that they envisage in France. Fiona and I always try and give unbiased advice but this can only be based on our own experience. We are always happy to point people in the right direction and are eager to respond but, if I may point out, the essentials to living in France are ? speak the language and want to integrate. That is my rant over but we are amazed that the number of people come here without even considering this. I don't think that anybody would move to the UK without speaking the language. Or am I wrong? This diary piece, and I apologise for this one being so late in appearing, has tended to focus on the problems, and hopefully the humorous side of life in Salignac. Both Fiona and I have a great love of the place and lifestyle even when it gets us down at times. But is that not true of anywhere that you live?

Rural France? We love it.
Barry Paton ? June 2005.