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Sunday, 2 January 2011

What we have been doing and what we hope to do - and Christmas

We are enclosed today by a cold grey fog.















Each of us in our separate studies is thinking of what we need to do this coming year and what we must do and would like to do. I sit in comfort in the room we grandly describe as the library because it is lined with bookshelves and books. John is camping out in the attic with only a halogen heater for warmth. It is a very grotty space at the present because it doubled as John’s workshop and storage for building tools and equipment. Neither room is tidy or organised. Both rooms are about work in progress – John’s more obviously than mine. He is also fitting doors into the space and gradually will enclose it into a landing, a bathroom, and the attic study/sitting room. The presently phantom bathroom will be connected by water pipes to the dream of a pantry in the first half of the chai or what used to be the cattle-shed. Any plan for development tends to need something else doing first. At present the chai is overrun with rats and mice and I have had to move all foodstuffs not in glass or tin into the passageway. The cats keep the house vermin free except for dead offerings to us but the chai provides a million hidey holes for small creatures.
The garden makes no demands at the moment and the long period of deep frost has wiped out greens that survived last year. It was so mild on the 31st however, that John mowed the whole plot – no spring bulbs showing yet. You wouldn’t credit it looking at John’s workspace but he loves things to be tidy. When John finishes his constructions then I have to sew, mend and clean. My Bernina sewing machine is dying – it is coming up to 40 years of age – made clothes for my children, house furnishings, theatre costumes and recently objects for art exhibitions. I shall have to replace it as it is essential to our projects here. I plan to get into my roulotte and make some drawings soon. It is reasonably warm in there with the heater on though it is a very small space. I have very many ideas to work on all seeming equally immediate.
My project for the year is a French course through the Open University. It is expensive and I am nervous about managing the commitment it will require along with all the other equally important commitments to house, garden and friends.
John completed our sitting room before Christmas – it is tiled and painted and we have a student settee – a door on concrete blocks so we can relax in comparative luxury. It looks good.
John and I had a quiet and pleasant time over Christmas with lovely, thoughtful presents from John’s family. We had oysters on Christmas Eve and small lobsters on New Year’s Eve – today I must make fish soup with what is left. At times though, it did feel lonely just the two of us – we both love to socialise and very much value family and friends. In France families keep Christmas and New Year as a very private time. As yet our friendships are new and untried and life is an experiment right now. It happens to everyone after retirement and at that certain age that one is disregarded – we all have to cope with it and we manage it badly sometimes – sometimes well. No one escapes this ever. Anyway finding our niche here is not straightforward – we have moved town, country, work and also most obviously into a different age group. We hope that friends and family stay constant.
Oh – a few things about living here – constant tripping out of electricity. One day we had no power sockets in half the house – not logically explainable as half a socket worked! John changed every fuse – up and down the steps to see what was on – then he tested every reachable junction box – got the sockets working but the hot water went cold. It has just tripped out again. When it does phones and internets don’t function - I may have to rewrite this. Kettle and any water heating in washing machines causes the problems, we just have to live with it.
Bizarrely our mobiles have become expensive and useless here. Phone credit runs out each month so you buy as little as possible so as not to waste it.