Well…so much for November being quiet! We have both been quite busy in our own ways much to our surprise. I don
t really like November normally as it seems to drag with very little going on here. But not this year. We started the month off with some B&Bs staying overnight after a family party in St Etienne sur Usson. They were absolutely no bother & even came home in good time as they had their 5-year-old granddaughter with them. A nice little boost for my bank account without a lot of work. And we are ending the month with B&Bs in residence too, this time a couple who have bought (or more accurately at the moment are buying) a house in the next hamlet up the hill from us. Although they dont actually sign the final papers until Friday, they have the keys & have already moved all their goods & chattels into the house. However, they are not really allowed to sleep there (I suspect because of insurance issues perhaps) & so although they are spending all day up at the house emptying boxes & sorting stuff out, they return here each evening to sleep. Perfect guests! They are also very amusing & have made us laugh a lot especially with their stories of trying to catch their cat Charlot, who does not want to move from their old house. Fortunately, it is only about 45 minutes’ drive from here & so they are going back each day to feed the cat & try & lure him into his basket, so he can be transported here to his new abode. He is not playing though! He eats the food, resists all attempts to be caught & then disappears into the village very quickly! They are at their wits ends! Very amusing for us…but a real problem for them. They are a really nice couple but seriously, we are very surprised they have bought the house they have, as it is quite a big new build & has never been finished off properly, so there is a lot of work still to do, & they are no spring chickens. They say they were captivated by the view, which is fantastic, but I hope they can adapt to living this far out in the country. We have sent them off to try & get some snow tyres on their car today, as snow is predicted for us this week & they will be really stuck if they are not equipped for it. This had not seemed to have occurred to them at all. Anyway, they are sweet & they will make nice near neighbours when they get settled in.
The weather has turned really wintery in the last couple of weeks & there is already a good covering of snow visible on the mountains across the valley. As I said, snow is forecast for this altitude too this week which I`m not looking forward to really. It is a bit early. The ski stations are starting to get excited about the prospect of an early start to the winter season…but I am not!
Fortunately, with this drop in temperatures, we have had our new wood burning stove finally installed & it is working well. We find that it does not pump out as much heat as we had been told (all these sales guys are a little economical with the truth aren`t they?) but it is much warmer now that we have had the fan sorted too. And our bedroom, which now has a duct feeding hot air from the stove to it, is the warmest we have ever known it since we moved here! It’s a real treat getting ready for bed in warmth at last! We have also painted the fireplace at long last too, having given up on our preferred option of restoring it to its original stone work. The nasty black has been painted grey & the difference to our living room is amazing. We should have done this years ago. All in all, we are very pleased with the whole thing…& hopefully we will be warm now no matter what the winter throws at us.
I ended last months post saying that we were off to Paris for a treat weekend. Well, we had a really good trip…if a little short timewise…but very enjoyable. Geoff had decided, knowing how much I miss being able to go to the theatre & see shows here, that we would go & see a production of West Side Story at the newish venue of Le Seine Musical, in the Boulogne Billancourt area of Paris. It was really good & the area was one we had never visited before, so it was great to experience a new part of Paris. It is obviously a very trendy place to live with lots of new apartment buildings, cafes & restaurants very near to the Seine. We had a very nice hotel room in an apartment type hotel complete with a small kitchen. However, I was not tempted to use this kitchen as the costs for breaking any of the equipment or not cleaning it properly were a bit off putting! The show venue itself was an old Renault factory which has undergone a complete transformation & it was a very good place to see a show like this. Although we felt that we had paid a lot of money for the tickets, we had an excellent view & could hear very well. I was very amused by the screens which attempted to translate some very untranslatable script into French, but was less amused by the 6 loos which were supposed to cater for the needs of lots of ladies in the interval! Geoff was also not amused by the price of the meagre glass of wine he managed eventually to get served in the interval! The day after the show was November 11th so we made our way up to the Arc de Triumph (well, as close as we could get due to the heavy security there) to watch a bit of the Remembrance Ceremony on the big screens which had been erected there. We did manage to get to the barriers on the Champs Elysee to watch M Macron depart in his car. He waved to us & of course we waved back! It was then possible to go & see the floral tributes & messages around the tomb of the unknown warrior & we also got the see (& sit in) the named seats the big wigs such as Holland & Sarko had been sitting in to watch the ceremony. Very amusing! All in all, we had a really good weekend & it was great to be in Paris again. We should do it more often…but it is expensive!
Another outing I had before we went to Paris was to the Creatif exhibition I go to every year at the Zenith at Clermont Ferrand. I usually go with my friend Linda, but as she is now back in the UK, I asked another friend Muta if she would like to go. We were having a really nice mooch around, noting stalls we wanted to go back to buy stuff, when Muta suddenly realised her purse was missing. There was no sign of it & we assumed it had been stolen. Not nice at all. We reported it to the security guys, who although were very nice, did not seem inclined to do anything. Poor Muta was very upset & just wanted to get back home to cancel her cards etc. I gave her some cash to get her home & off she went. The really big problem was that she was going to the UK for a month at the end of the week & all her medical cards, driving licence & papers for the car were in the purse. All these things can be replaced but it all takes time here…not easily done in a week . The good news is that the purse was found – minus the cash of course - when they took the exhibition to bits, a couple of days later, so we assume it had been kicked under a stall. Geoff collected it from the Zenith & I returned it to Muta when I met her for lunch in Clermont. All her papers & surprisingly
her cards were still there so she was able to set off for her trip to the UK feeling much less anxious.
I managed to fit in a lunch with another friend Judith who is also going to leave us soon. She has decided that, after her husband died a couple months ago, she no longer wants to live here & is planning to return to the UK too. I think it is the right decision for her – her house is really beautiful but is big & a bit isolated, & she hates the winters here. The house is up for sale & she is planning to rent somewhere nearer to her family in the UK for now. We are due to meet up for lunch later this week so I will find out more then. Again…I will miss her but hope she will be happy.
I have also been doing some serious internet research this month into our proposed trip to the States next year. We celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary next September & plan to do a two-centre trip to get to see the fall colours in New England (always on my wish list) & then to visit San Francisco & some of California, allowing Geoff to fulfil a lifelong wish to “hug” the huge General Sherman tree. The investigations have begun…watch this space for progress as they continue & any help or suggestions would be appreciated. I need also to renew my passport which expires in September 2018 & then there are visas etc to sort out…& I
m not sure how complicated that will all be - so Im starting early…well for us anyway!
I have also started (reluctantly) to make some preparations for the festive season next month. I have set up my workshop in the gite & Christmas card production is well under way…although it is being done in very short stretches as its freezing over there! I plan to take some of the cards with me when I have a stall at the Marche de Noel at Chameane, along with quite a lot of paintings I`d like to sell! Our trip to the UK is getting sorted & I think our house sitters are looking forward to coming here…so long as there is not too much snow for them to cope with! The shops here have begun to get more & more into the bad habits of the USA & the UK by putting up decorations & filling the shelves with more Christmassy stuff than I have ever seen here, in November. When we first came here you did not see any reference to Noel before the 1st of December. We do intend to start buying some presents soon though & the mince pie manufacturing marathon is well under way already!
I had a very bad experience last night as I drove down to my art class, one I could have well done without too. A huge sanglier ran out of the woods in front of the car. Fortunately, I was going quite slowly as it was dark, snowy & the road is very narrow, so although there was a bit of damage to the front of the car, it could have been a lot worse. As for Papa Pig…he must have been hurt as I really did hit him, but as sangliers are dangerous at the best of times, neither Chantal or I were keen to get out of the car to investigate I
m afraid. There was no sign of him when we drove back home, so either hed sloped off to lick his wounds or some passing motorist had taken him to provide Christmas dinner. It has always been a huge worry, that we would hit animals like this. We often see sanglier, badgers & deer here, especially at dusk & they always run suddenly across the roads. It was still a big shock though & now we have to decide how & when to get the car repaired - “le sigh”
Well my friends I think that is it for this month. As the weather deteriorates rapidly (it is now snowing heavily as I type), we are well stocked up with food for us & for the birds due to our usual purchase of sunflower seed from the LPO last week, we are warm thanks to our new stove, my stupid hen Milly, is re-sprouting her feathers after moulting last week, & so all is well in Chabanol! I only hope that it stops snowing soon & that Geoff gets home safely this evening. Also, as this will be the last post until after Christmas, can I wish you all (albeit a bit early!) a very Happy & Peaceful Christmas.
A bientot mes amis