Added on Saturday 2 Feb 2008

Photo: barry. For some obscure reason I have not realised that we are at the beginning of February. Another year on and quite a time since I last updated this column. I just don't know where the time goes, must be my age I reckon! However, here goes with some updates with what has been happening in sleepy Salignac. Very unusually we had a student arrive on the 2nd of Jan for a film/dance course but unfortunately they decided to leave after just one day of workshops with Fiona and I. We are always curious when this happens as to why on earth travel to here and then give up after 24 hours is it something to do with us? The location is not nice? Is our training not inspiring? Who knows what hidden agenda lies behind it all. Fortunately this is a very rare occurrence, it has only happened to us about 3 or 4 times in the last 8 years but it does leave us feeling a bit flat and deflated thinking that we have not done the job properly. My take on it is that if they wanted to do a several days, or the complete five days, then they express dissatisfaction afterwards (which I may add that no one has done) then that would be understandable. All great mystery to me!

However, on to the good news, I got my car back from the garage the following week and it seems to be running fine, although there are still one or two little things still to be done to it but nothing too dramatic, but it is funny after it has been away for so long that I could not remember where reverse was! Still what do you expect when I am running a nineteen year old car, I really do think that I should get something a bit more up to date but I like it and it seems to quite like me despite it's odd quirks. The wonders of Italian design!

Plumbing problems, Again!

Over Christmas and New Year our upstairs toilet started leaking once more, the tap in the bathroom basin started to drip and of course it all happened when everyone was on holiday, naturally! I just do not understand why French plumbing is always so fickle, with me at least and it always happens when you can't get any assistance, is it because that I have a degree in electronics but not in plumbing? Is this some sort of conspiracy? I am convinced of this, as I now have to shell out for a new toilet and new taps, of which none of the local suppliers have in stock at the moment. " Not the time of the year" apparently...God knows what the right time of the year is. One would assume that toilets and taps were always required irrespective of the time of year but then what the hell do I know, it is France after all. I just end up totally mystified. I just am thankful that we have two toilets, three sinks, a shower, a bidet and copious amounts of hot water in the house. Well at least at the moment!

Photo: no smoking. On the village front the news is that our local cafe is closed until mid February as the new managers take over and do some renovations which include some comfy chairs and a re-vamp of the restaurant, I just wonder if they are not going too upmarket (i.e. price rises) but it will have to be an improvement over the last manager's somewhat chaotic style of running the place (or not as the case may be). We have been going to the other cafe in the meantime, which is only 100 yards along the road, which has been a very pleasant change as Francois is always very warm and welcoming whenever we go in, it also happens to be much warmer despite the fact that since the complete smoking ban is now in force throughout France, the doors are kept open in order to let the smokers out to have a drink (and a smoke) on the outside of the bar. This makes me laugh as one sits inside there are usually 5 or 6 people outside at the tables puffing away looking into the bar. All very surreal! I suppose that this will all settle down during the year and people get used to it all, I know that as a smoker of small cigars I do not have the least temptation to venture outside and, although I am not a big smoker, it will at least cut down on my consumption but I have noticed that some of our friends have broken off in mid conversation to shoot outside in order to light up! Having said this I do notice that even though the ban has only been since Jan 1st the lack of smell and general cleanliness is very noticeable and that surely must be a bonus. While writing this I am reminded about a gentleman who was a music hall entertainer in the mid 1920's, deciding to change his stage name he looked at the stage doors and saw a no smoking notice written across the two doors and when one was opened it showed up as nosmo king. Henceforth he became Nosmo King!
All very true.

Luckily the weather here has been very kind as, we have had no snow (as yet) this year and only a few days of frosty stuff. In fact the last week or so we have had the sun shining through the windows in the morning with beautiful blue skies overhead. What a great difference to the last couple of years. It does make such a difference to the way one feels at this time of the year. The only trouble is that it shows up all the little stains and dirt on the walls...time to think about a spring clean!

Rural France. I love it!