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Monday, 27 December 2010

Joyeux Noel - Christmas in France

John and I want to start the year by rebooting our blog.It is difficult to upload photos because our internet connections are so poor but we both feel it is important and a way of keeping in touch with you all. So once again I shall ‘have a go!’

Today - 27th December is cold and beautiful – not as cold as Christmas Day. John has gone to Cauterets to ski. He is really keen on this new - for him -
(The Pyrenees from the garden)

sport and wanted to go yesterday but for once we were very late getting up. I am very happy not to be up there. I would not enjoy the Cable Cars and I have no interest in downhill skiing at all whereas John is not interested in Nordic skiing. Instead I am at home fighting with my new laptop because it doesn’t have the programmes I need on it.

We tend to go to bed rather late because of watching British TV which is an hour behind us and last night watched the Geldof Live Aid story with interest. This means we get up between 7.30 and 8.30. John leaps out of bed to feed the cats, open the shutters and let the chickens out. Today after John left, I took out hot water for the chickens – not for them to wash but to drink – smashed the ice on the fish pond and brought in more wood for the fire.

The logs had frozen together. John has an improved chain saw and has done a great job in cutting and stacking the log pile. We keep pretty warm in the house by keeping the fire going all day. Our heating is all electric and the power tends to trip out frequently. Heating water in the kettle, dishwasher or washing machine seems to cause the problem – not just in our house but in other homes too. I worry about the damage this constant tripping out does to all our electrical equipment. We are getting used to it. Our logs are delivered in 1 metre lengths and most weekends John saws up enough for the following week.

We did by the way have a pleasant Christmas. Our first in Labatut.

We made a small party the weekend before – a very informal supper for 9 friends – salt beef that I pickled and cooked myself – we mostly spoke French and it felt like a very good celebration of our first full year here. Christmas Eve we had oysters and Christmas Day a walk by the river and supper of roast lamb with R’s redcurrant jelly. It feels a very significant mark/day for us. We talked about what it means to be here and so far from family especially as this year has made it clear how much we are at the mercy of changing weather patterns. Christmastime and family – is this a specifically Christian conflation – families – or tribes predate Christianity but may not survive this new century – what might happen to Christianity if families change into individuals. We both missed our families - the choice of living here is economic – not to escape.

(The newly completed Living Room)

The French here are very family oriented over Christmas and it is celebrated quietly at home and seems not to be as consumed with consumerism as in England - makes it more pleasant for the time being.

Finally a picture of Topaze and Arthur relaxing in the tent where our tenderer plants overwinter.