A Hectic Summer

Added on Thursday 27 Sep 2007

Photo: barry. Wow! Two months on since my last update and I just don't know where to begin. So many things have happened here in sleepy Salignac. However I will try.... We have had several students here over two months, from Peru, America and finally one from Scotland, a first for us, which has kept us busy over the summer months. My ancient Fiat has been in the garage for some time recently with some electrical faults and the parts are having to be obtained from England! Our neighbours and friends, Valerie and Arthur with children have left for northern France for good, this is because of Valerie's mother and brother being ill and they live up north. Another couple who lived across the road, with four children, have also moved away, he to prison! and her to another house in the country. We are not sure why he was sent to prison just a few days before their removal date but something happened in Montignac but we believe it was to do with drink and a fire in a house there. This involved us looking after the children for a few days before she moved. Another local has just been released from prison having served two years for rape!

Photo: poster. A couple of months ago I was commissioned to make a video of the local fete which takes place on three Mondays at the beginning of August and, as this is the 20th anniversary, there had to be particular emphasis on the speeches by the mayor and the local dignitaries as well as the many participants and animations taking place during these days. Sadly the second Monday it started to rain in the afternoon, which curtailed my filming. I am, however, starting to edit the documentary and have to deliver the final version by the end of this month and will have to premiere it in the local hall before it goes on the Internet. It is very important that I make sure that everyone gets equal time in order to satisfy the egos of all involved as the fete is a very important event in the local area and, as an outsider, I am sure that I will get something wrong! Hence the reason I am taking the day away from the edit suite today to write this as most people think that editing is dead easy (which it is not) and I need time away from the screen in order to clarify the shots that I am going to use in the video. In between all this Fiona and I have been teaching our students dance for video courses, which, hopefully, explains why I have been a little late in getting this update on-line!

Photo: cooker. Birthdays & New cooker

Fiona celebrated her birthday in August closely followed by mine in September; it is amazing how they always seem to come around each year! However, Fiona's was to turn out as anything but happy, having spent the evening wining and dining at the cafe we started to walk down the road to the house. As the road had recently been the subject of some local repairs there was a lot of gravel on the surface and as we were approaching the house both Fiona and I slipped and fell down in the road. On getting to the house we discovered that she didn't have her handbag, nor the house keys, with us and this involved us having to "effect" an entry though the back door. With Fiona nursing rather sore ankle we decided to go to the doctor the following morning, which resulted in a trip to hospital for x-rays which fortunately just showed a torn ligament (not good for a dancer!) with nothing broken thankfully, we then went to the cafe to see if she had left her bag there. No one could shed any light on the bag situation but it was seen just before we left as far as we could gather, it was then Fiona began to realise that in the bag was all her cards, passport, birth certificate and a whole host of personal items including 50 O in cash. It began to dawn on us that it had been stolen in the cafe as there were quite a few strangers in the night before, we later heard that a friend had had her bag stolen around about the same time. Now quite why Fiona had to have her entire life in her handbag is a mystery to me but all women's handbags are, I'm sure, a total mystery to most men anyway! Reporting all these things as stolen is not very straightforward in France involving trips to the gendarmerie, the mayor's office and numerous phone calls and letters to various offices. All very tedious.

When Valerie and Arthur were about to depart they asked us if we would like their cooker which we gratefully accepted as our old one was getting decidedly long in the tooth with a gas leak in the oven part. As it is slightly wider than our old one it meant that I had to remove a brick partition between the cooker and our wood burning stove which filled me with apprehension, however that turned out to be very simple at the end of the day and the new cooker was installed successfully. The only problem that we had is that the new one is all computerised and we had no handbook! Now after 3 weeks I think I have cracked the operation of it and it all works perfectly, albeit with much head scratching on my part! It certainly is much quicker and more efficient than our old one and we are becoming more adventurous with our cooking these days, such a joy, and who would have believed that a simple thing like having a new cooker could make such a difference in life?

Rural France? I love it.

(c) Barry Paton. Sept 20