January in the Tarn et Garonne region started snow-free but it's icy cold at night. Most days seem to follow the same pattern of minus degrees overnight, followed by early morning givrage then by noon the cold mist clears to reveal sunshine and blue skies.
But it's not just the weather that brings shivers. Some English people in our village have decided to return home. I can certainly feel an unsettled air around the place. Of course, the main problem has been fuelled by the global economic woes which are affecting people everywhere, coupled with the general air of depression that winter always brings. Most English people we know who have returned home do so for 2 main reasons: 1) to be near their grandchildren (...I wish.....but that's another story) and 2) because, fueled by so many TV relocation programmes, they miscalculated by confusing capital with income. I reiterate my important economic message to those contemplating moving here: make sure that your income is sufficient (e.g. at least 1000 euros p.m.) and regular. Don't forget that, although UK pensioners receive annual increases in State pension (unlike those in Canada/Australia), they don't receive additional benefits such as pension credit. Many can easily fund the purchase of a nice French house here via the often considerable capital from the sale of their homes in the UK, but it's the regular income that always proves the sticking point in the end - especially in these days of 0% interest from the banks!
But all this doom and gloom is bound to clear, like the weather, in a few months. I can't wait for the swallows to return, flying higher and higher to catch the insects in the summer heat, and for our annual difficulties treating the water in our swimming pool. We're such novices and still haven't got it right. Ah! such difficulties. Bring it on.