Added on Saturday 17 Jan 2004
Phew! I am glad that all this log-gathering bit is over now. At least it means that we are nice and warm in the house. With the help of Alain we recently put together a decent log pile which has kept us going over the last few weeks and it now means that I can get my head round our new computer system in the warmth. All nice and cosy while I battle with our new software which I am finding not so daunting as I first feared, mind you the manuals that came with it all would keep the fire going for about a week alone! Mind you, with all this new technology I have had to replace my desk to accommodate three screens! Our new cat, Fifi, enjoys the heat as well and has even taken an interest it computing as she comes and sits by the screens while I go through the learning process - every morning I have to clean the screens from paw prints! Although the winter here in Salignac has not been very cold we really do appreciate the cosiness that a log burning fire brings, it seems to animate the house and to sit beside the stove in the rocking chair with a glass of wine is pure heaven, or is that me just getting old?
Christmas and New Year have been very quiet in the village, as usual the decorations were up all around the village, though done in a very discreet, non-commercial sort of way, which was nice. Sadly, one of our excursions out on Hogmanay was cancelled at the last minute so we just quietly celebrated by ourselves in the house, which again was quite nice. We have not been very busy over the last month (apart from myself having my nose in computer manuals) but this has been a bonus, as I need to get myself up to speed on the new technology so that I can explain it all to our students for the coming year. I hope.
Despite the warmth in the house, and of course, the loving atmosphere, Fifi decided one night to go and explore the village. Shooting out the back door one of the colder nights, obviously fed up with our sedentary lives, she decided that it was time for a big expedition - at 5 months old who could blame her. However, she didn't return that night nor the whole day following. We, of course, mounted a search and rescue mission throughout the village but no trace of her anywhere. Saddened and thinking the worst - run over by a car? caught by a fox? we went to bed that night rather disturbed that we might have lost her. At 3 am we were woken up by this loud purring on our pillows and there she was as though nothing had happened. She just wanted lots of food and then proceeded to wash furiously. Everyone that we have told this to have said, and I thought this myself, that maybe little kittens will be forthcoming? Perhaps I am really getting old and cynical-back to the rocking chair. The next step that I see is the acquisition of a pipe and some slippers. Surely not, I am far too young! Computers or cats - I am not sure which is the most exasperating.
In between all this Fiona has been asked to set up a Contemporary Dance company, which, surprisingly, would be the first in The Dordogne, and I am still working on a proposed contract for video training in Iraq. This is taking a long time; I think that this is due to complexities of the American management of the situation in Iraq, the more that I have delved into all this, the more confused it seems to be. All a far cry from the little village of Salignac that continues in its own little sleepy way. I know that many of the locals are mystified when they pass our door and see me slaving over a hot keyboard but, at least, they are too polite to ask or question. To compound the mystery several different cars have been seen parked outside our door recently. Nothing sinister in that as it has just been some new friends that we have made coming to visit us but I am sure that some tongues are wagging somewhere! Not that we have heard anything in the Caf? - they are all still welcoming as usual and it is good to go there to socialise and get out of the rut of being in the house. That's true for me especially, Fiona still has a couple of weekly classes to do whilst my nose is firmly stuck in front of screens and trying to drum up business for the coming year. January, I suppose everywhere, is such a low month with everyone recovering from the 'Festive' season and it always seems slow to get started. Having said that, there are lots of things happening in Salignac, we even have a new funeral parlour just up the road in a renovated mediaeval merchants house. A wee shade too close for comfort for me though! Also an hotel that used to belong to an Englishman (I believe that he became a little too fond of the wine) is being converted into studio apartments over the next few months, one of the local garages has closed - sadly for me as I preferred it to the other one but thankfully my car has not needed their services recently - touch wood! Almost all the derelict houses in the village have now been, or are undergoing, renovation; a new hand-made jewellery boutique has opened in the square and a central heating, plumbing business has been established on the main road. All a big difference since we came here some four years ago when Salignac was looking rather forlorn. I like to think that Fiona and I as The Salignac Foundation have made our little contribution to village life as well. Must go and light my pipe, put another log on the fire, pour a glass of wine and sit in the rocking chair?????.
Rural France. I love it!
Barry Paton ? Jan 2004