Added on Thursday 17 Feb 2005
Contrary to what many people think about the south west of France, we do not bask in very moderate temperatures in wintertime. I took this photograph some ten days ago and it shows the village square covered in snow. Fortunately it does not last long, only a day or so and now that we are in February the weather has become very Scottish. Drizzle, dreich grey days interspersed with brilliant sunshine. Makes me kind of nostalgic!
At this time of the year everyone hides inside their houses, only venturing forth for shopping, all the shutters are closed and the only telltale signs of life are the wisps of smoke coming out of the chimneys or the occasional growl of a central heating boiler kicking in. The kittens have adopted this very sensible way of life by lying on the chairs beside the fire for 90% of the time and resenting the fact that they are pushed off when I have visitors in the house! My neighbour, Valerie, was in the other day delivering a homemade curry for me, which was most welcome on such a grey day. Almost like a Glasgow curry, which surprised me immensely as she is French, but has lived in Cyprus and the US and has never been to Scotland.
Even more nostalgia! As Fiona is still in Scotland as I write, I think that she and Valerie had some sort of tacit agreement for Valerie to check up on me from time to time. Meals without wheels, I really feel like an OAP now! Very sadly it looks as though we may lose these great neighbours and friends as Arthur has gone to Baku on a contract for a year and the family may have to locate out there in the summer. It will be very sad for us if they do.
I wrote the above piece a couple of days ago full of confidence that the weather was improving, albeit slowly. It was not to be. After writing that I went along to the caf? for my traditional tea time glass of wine or two, leaving the house it was dull but dry, 5 minutes later I looked out of the caf? to see horizontal rain, winds at gale force eight and the sky had darkened something terrible. Even in Glasgow I have not seen rain come down so heavily or so quickly. When I returned in my car I tried to park on my usual position on the grass embankment across from the house. The car did not stop when I pressed the brakes but continued to slide gracefully down the slope, fortunately stopping before it hit the bench that overlooks the chateau. With the gale blowing and myself soaked I decided to leave everything until the next day and retire indoors to dry out.
The next day I went to the caf? at lunchtime to ask for some help in removing the car out of the mud, knowing that most of the workers that are doing the renovations in the village would be there and after all they had diggers and things. Within half an hour my car was surrounded with people and machines, diggers, dump trucks, vans and cars, all very impressive. It was at this point that I realised that almost everyone was called Phillippe, because when the advice that was being bandied about (of which there was plenty) it made everyone's head turn when the shout "Phillippe, what do you think?" After much pondering a JCB swung into action, attached a chain that would have held the QE2's anchor and wheech, it was out of the mud hole. And all in one piece as well!
With the car safely recovered, kind of mud splattered though, I suggested to the helpers that I would buy them a drink at teatime. When I arrived there later on the caf? was certainly busy with them all and I started to offer to buy them a drink. Not to be. They were all so grateful that they had been able to help a stupid Scotsman in difficulties that they started to buy ME drink! Thank you all in Salignac even if it has delayed the rest of this diary by a day or so! Sadly I don't have any photographs of this event but it will live on in my memory of the genuine courtesy and helpfulness of the people here.
Work wise things are getting slightly more interesting; my arm has improved enough for me to give a quote for one or two jobs, which look quite interesting as it involves filming/directing in this area of France. I also feel confident enough to start re-advertising my video techniques workshops as I can now use our equipment sufficiently well to them justice. So, despite these recent adventures, things are beginning to look up for this year. Although I had better be careful about what I say! The kittens have a habit of destroying almost everything in the house and I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth!
Rural France? I love it!
? Barry Paton ? Feb 2005