Rural France - hot And bothered

Added on Sunday 5 Oct 2003

What with all this heat wave that we have been having in France?1,000's of people dying according to the government??? with temperatures constantly over the 40's (that is over 100 degrees in old money) I am hardly surprised. The coolest place in our house, the cav?, was 96 one day. Pheww! All this last month we have been exceptionally busy, what with students, guests with the bed & breakfast as well as our other work of property management and various other bits of work that has come in unexpectedly. Fiona was asked by a neighbour to look after her garden while she was on holiday, just a quick watering and small maintenance you understand, once a day for a month, this happened two days before water restrictions came into force in Salignac! I have been asked to do some aerial filming (yes, real film) around the Cahors area for a major broadcaster involving me hiring a fixed wing plane and some specialized equipment. All of this is of course paid work (not greatly I may add but paid none the less).

In the meantime our students have required our undivided attentions (with one noticeable exception - but I shall gloss over that one), our varied guests at Chez Fenelon needed seeing to with yoghourts, croissants and coffees in the morning, gites having to be cleaned et al. We have also a series of visits from friends, just to add to the mayhem, but it has been very enjoyable for us both. A very busy time indeed!

Rocking in Salignac

Photo: Rocking Chair.During one of his recent visits to the house our pal, Alain, mentioned that he had a rocking chair very much like one of our chairs in the sejour and would we like it? We said that would be very nice of him - whereupon he put down his glass of wine (unlike Alain this!) and shot out the door. He returned about 15 minutes later and asked me to help bring the rocking chair from the back of the car, complete with cushions. When the chair was in the sejour we realised it was a very handsome addition to the house and it did look similar to our other chair. Alain explained that he had bought it eighteen years ago when his ex-wife was pregnant with his daughter and that she had used it as a nursing chair as well. Since his divorce it had lain in his cellar collecting dust and he now wanted to put it to good use, hence his gift to us. Opening up another bottle of wine both Fiona and I tried it out and it turns out to be very comfortable. More than that it looks very much the part sitting in the sejour. We cannot thank Alain enough for the kindness and help he has given us over the past few years. His motto is 'problem - Solution!' and is so generous having helped us out with one or two day-to-day problems that we have had recently. I have asked him to help with the restoration of our cave, which needs the walls rendered in Perigourdian style before I tackle putting in a new wooden floor. We intend to use this as a bed sit for us when we do our bed & breakfast and allowing us the use of another two rooms upstairs to let out. Alain is refusing to accept any payment for this despite the fact that I recently fixed his car radio and he insisted, despite my protests, on giving me 20 Euros, saying that a 'fair job deserved fair payment'! Such a generous man!

Fishing about!

One of our recent students doing our Dance for Camera course was a girl called Sophie who had come from Belgium. She was a dancer who wanted to learn about directing dance film. We had spoken to her on the phone before she came and had suggested that she would like to think up an idea that we could translate into a short film. When she arrived she said that she had brought an old child's tricycle with her and that she had the idea of using this a central part of the film. The basic idea was that the tricycle had a life of it's own and was constantly trying to throw the rider off. We started to plan the structure and scouted for suitable locations. There were several scenes where the tricycle had to appear moving on it's own and so we had to acquire some fishing line. After a few phone calls, which caused some amusement, I finally managed to find some - none of the local shops had any which is hardly surprising as the nearest river is several miles away. Now, one of the shots required the tricycle to appear to move up a hill on it's own, the location was chosen on a very quiet back road as it needed Fiona to lie flat just over the brow of the hill out of sight, pulling about 50 metres of fishing line with the trike attached to the end. This caused considerable interest and head scratching by the local farmers who were working in the fields nearby. After a few rehearsals to iron out any bugs such as getting the position of the trike on the road etc. we went for the real thing. As the camera was level with the road about 200 metres away from Fiona this involved a lot of shouting and running backwards and forwards! Just then the quiet back road suddenly became like the M1. Filmmaking is like that. every time the camera starts rolling there is always some complication with something unexpected happening. Sod's law. After about 2 hours and many takes we finally managed to get the shot that we wanted, all of 20 seconds worth. Who said making films is easy and glamorous? At the end of the week we had produced a short and very charming film of which Sophie is very proud. Fiona and I were delighted with the outcome and pleased that The Salignac Foundation had been able to help and advise another satisfied student.

Rural France? I love it!

? Barry Paton, Sept. 2003
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