26 June 2011

I hate tourists!  I know what you're going to say, but it's the English particularly.  I remember one particular (OK Yah) woman in our old place showing some friends around:  '...and here's our Mary....'.  I looked around, expecting to see some cute little girl, only to see her pointing grandly at the castle ramparts where resided the French town hall (mairie). 
So, it was with some trepidation that we showed our son around nearby Albi, capital of the Tarn.  Success. Not only did we not encounter a single other tourist, but we found that rare place - a French vegetarian restaurant. (I remembered our old neighbour, on learning that one of us didn't eat meat:  'Mais...c'est un catastrophe!).  The Albi central streets are charming, full of cobbled alleyways and delicious little shops and boutiques. We trudged up the slope past the Musee de Toulouse-Lautrec and found the surprising Jardin du Palais de Berbie, which winds down stoney steps to the cool waters and the Pont-Vieux over the Tarn beneath. All in all, a great day.  Even Him Indoors enjoyed it. Normally he just rushes us around so he can get a beer back home. Some Englishmen never change.

19 June 2011

Thought you might like to see our new home - taken last winter. Lots of refurb needed, but it has a certain faded charm - a bit like me really, some would say! This last week I've struggled to make various utility people understand we'd rather like some electricity and water. Same old irritation with centralised phone systems - trying with my best French to make someone based in the wilds of Martinique understand. That, combined with the dratted 'if you want this, press 1....'. Grrr!
Sunny day yesterday so we strolled down our long garden to the little abri (shed) at the bottom, only to discover a deluge of water pouring out of an open pipe within. Great lakes soaking into both our land and our new neighbour's! Him indoors says the plumber looked like Monsieur Poireau...... (French for leek). Oh well, It all makes work for the working man to do....

12 June 2011

Bonjour to Gaillac and le Gaillacois!  Where exactly is it? It's midway between Toulouse, Albi and Montauban. For wine lovers, it's the best place in the world, famous for its Pays des Bastides, with rows of vines regimented like soldiers up the rolling hillsides.
Well, that's the tourist ad. Now down to the nitty-gritty.  It's very hard work, this moving lark. TG I changed my mind at the last minute and decided against the do-it-yourself move.   At last we found a local removal firm who charged less than 1000 euros. I know..everything costs here.  It would have killed us to do it ourselves. How on earth I'd managed to accumulate so much stuff, I don't know. But, we're acclimatising ourselves. Gaillac has 3 market days per week, all a cycle ride away. And, there's a group from the tourist office at the Abbey St. Michel who welcome new arrivals.
Now all I've got to do is locate the electricity and water meters - know they must be around somewhere? And, find the dogs and Him indoors - hiding in the long grass, or should I say meadow at the bottom of the garden.

5 June 2011

The bells are tolling in Paradis. As I walked around the village yesterday, touching ancient crepi walls, I bid a silent farewell to our home of six years.  Nothing much had changed. The swirling waters of the Aveyron were still gurgling over the weir at the Moulin; the charming old men still doffed their hats. So why? 
Nothing in life's perfect. Village life's a bit like Trumpton of yesteryear:  there the miller, there the firemen, there the grocer.  But, can life be lived permanently like this?  For those of us who've reached that benchmark of 60 years, it becomes increasingly obvious that more is needed. A car here is a necessity. But, what if eyesight fades so we can't drive any more? What if we can't reach the shops? Idealism is all well and good, but at some point reality kicks in.
So, merci beaucoup Paradis but we're now moving on.  La vie francaise must continue but tweaked a little. Like the French Derby winner yesterday, Pour Moi is now tout important.